Outer Limits – In Another Life (02/16/98)

TV is never satisfied.  Ya got a dude, he has to have an evil twin.  Ya got twins, ya got to throw in an evil triplet.

We get a fabulous walk through the fabulous offices of Eigenphase Systems.  And I mean, they are really fabulous — modern, open, airy, well-lit, great views and a dude crying in his office.  Mason Stark is looking at a picture of his dead wife Kristin, and remembering how he was more useless than Thomas Wayne in an alley protecting her from a mugger.  It doesn’t help his mood that he has just been sacked for, as far as I can tell, wearing a sweater-vest to work.  A co-worker helpfully reminds him that his severance package includes psychiatric coverage.

About a dozen people are staring at him — stupid clean, open, airy, well-lit offices!  He slams the door and closes his vertical blinds.  He pulls a pistol out of his desk drawer and moves it toward his head.  Before he can do anything crazy, he is transported to an alternate reality where he ends up nekkid on the floor.  Thankfully, a couple of guards show up immediately with a gown and drag him away.  He is shown three cells which each contain a duplicate of him.

Mason is strapped to a chair.  Another duplicate wearing a necktie enters.  We’ll call him Mr. Stark.  See, maybe if Mason had worn a proper suit to work instead of a silly sleeveless sweater, he’d be Mr. Stark.  He begins interrogating Mason.  He asks about the time when he was 15 and his father beat him.  Mason just took it, but Mr. Stark says he kicked the old man’s ass.  Mr. Stark asks if Mason married Kristin.  He says he did, but describes how she was killed because he was too scared to try to save her.  Mr. Stark explains he invented a Quantum Mirror to bring Masons from other realities.

He plays a hologram of the first Mason he brought through.  He arrived nekkid with a huge wound on his forehead.  On the screen, he is called Mason #001.  For some reason, Mr. Stark took him home.  That night, he found #001 with a knife to his wife’s throat.  In a rage, he slit her throat and escaped.  Mr. Stark brought Mason here to stop #001 before he kills again.

Now that Mr. Stark has a relatively sane Mason, he can start returning some of the other Masons although he can only get store credit.  He fires up the Quantum Mirror, and brings in one of the Masons.  Pictures of thousands of other Masons flash by.  Mr. Stark explains that the QM is searching for the right reality to return him to.  What’s weird is that the QM finally stops on #001, and that Mason is transported back to his reality.  But wait, this can’t be right — homicidal-headwound Mason was #001!  And just search in order next time!  You went through 500 of these before finding the right one was #001, dumbass.

#001 commences killing Mason’s friends, or whatever you call people who gawk at you as you are weeping in despair and seconds from suicide.  Meanwhile, Mr. Stark tells Mason that in this reality 1) Kristin is alive, 2) she and Mr. Stark are not married, and 3) she got a D-cup boob job (although, frankly, I think the last one was just a ruse to reel him in).

Mr. Stark believes #001 is “killing everyone close to me — my wife, my business partners.”  Mason corrects him that he is looking at this from his point of view, not #001’s.  He confesses that before he was beamed to this reality, he was going to kill himself, and also thought about massacring everyone in his office.  He even had a flash of other realities where that actually happened.  He thinks #001 is “just trying to put things back the way they are supposed to be.”

Wait, I thought the Mason with the head wound was #001.

They agree “that jerk Balmer” is most likely to be next.  Mr. Stark says there is a car waiting downstairs, hands Mason a key-card, and a gun, and tells him to go to Balmer’s office and kill him.   So Mr. Stark’s plan is to send a man — who looks just like him, uses his car, uses his key-card, leaves behind his identical DNA and fingerprints — to commit a murder?  How did this guy get to be successful CEO?  The callous murder, I understand; but the inattention to detail!

Mason goes to Eigenphase Financials, a division of Eigenphase Systems, a subsidiary of The Squim Group [1].  He finds #001 has killed a woman and has Balmer tied to a chair.  #001 says, “Come on Balmer, how do you like my version of a severance package?” and belts him.  Oooooh, sorry — the correct follow-up would have been to sever his pinky with a cigar-cutter.  See, sever?  Has this guy seen no 1980’s action movies?  #001 shoots Balmer and gets away because Mason hesitates to shoot him.

Mr. Stark sends Mason to a park where he sees his wife, dead in his reality, sitting on a bench.  #001 shows up and Mason punches him out, telling him “to leave Kristin alone!”  #001 says he is just there to spare Mason some embarrassment.  As they watch, a man joins Kristin on the bench.  They are clearly a couple, or else this guy is one smooth operator.

Mason and #001 talk it out.  #001 explains that Mr. Stark, despite his wealth — and they agree, his devilishly good looks — is not happy.  He was using the Quantum Mirror to find a happy version of himself.  He then planned to switch places with him.  He ended up grabbing #001 because he “looked happier than any other Mason he’d ever seen.”  #001 admits this was true “because I had just killed everyone I hated.”  Woohoo!

#001 blackmails Mason into helping him kill Mr. Stark.  They go back to Eigenphase, but Mr. Stark shoots #001 first.  Mr. Stark then forces Mason back into the Quantum Mirror.  There is a merry mix-up — #001 and Mr. Stark are beamed back to the wrong realities.  Mason stays behind in Mr. Stark’s reality where he approaches Kristin in the park, totally c*ckblocking the dude she was smooching earlier.  I’m sure they will be very happy . . . until DNA, eyewitnesses, fingerprints, phone records and security cameras link him to multiple homicides.  So, happy until then.

Another fine episode.

Other Stuff:

  • [1] Where did I get that?  It feels like Arrested Development or the criminally underrated Better Off Ted, but is too obscure even for Google.  It was randomly weird enough for me to remember for several years.
  • All this Mason talk and I couldn’t work in the Illuminati anywhere?

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