Twilight Zone – If She Dies (10/25/85)

tzifshedies04Nine year old Cathy is making her father one of those breakfasts that only a parent would find edible.  I must admit she is pretty adorable as she presents him with a crudely wrapped birthday present — a wallet that she made.  He opens it to find a family picture of Cathy, himself and his dead wife.  For Father’s Day she got him a mug with his prostate exam results on it.  Dammit, this is not what I want from the Twilight Zone!  But it is heartbreaking.

Cathy says she wishes she was small enough to fit into her father’s pocket so she could go with him to work. [1]  I was hoping Dad would call in sick and take her to SeaWorld or something, but no — he drives her to school and she is killed.  A biker-boi comes from behind a car and in front of him.  He swerves into a parked car rather than let Darwinian evolution takes its natural course.

Dad is OK, but Cathy is in a coma and her vitals are failing.  As he is going home, he sees a little girl standing on the roof of a nearby orphanage.[2]  He runs over to the where the tzifshedies15nuns are just wrapping up a rummage sale.   A nun tells him that is impossible because all of the children have been adopted.  No wait, they just moved to a new building.  As he is leaving, he sees the girl on a swing.  She points to a large lump under a tarp.  When he looks at it, then back at the swing, she is gone.

Why do people on TV always look away from weird phenomena?  What happens to entities like this?  Do they blink out, or fade out, or shoot off like a rocket, silently explode, break down into nanites, disappear into the earth?  But I digress.

Under the tarp is a small bed.  It is almost more like a coffin with a wooden headboard and wooden sides.  Frankly, I think most kids would be scared to sleep in it, unless they were in a com . . . oh.  He hands the nun a wad of bills and takes the bed home.

tzifshedies36That night, the little girl comes walking into Dad’s bedroom.  She says she wants Toby, and that the Sisters will be mad if they find her out of bed.  She leads him back to the bed he just bought and climbs in.  She introduces herself as Sarah and asks Paul to tuck her in.  He looks away for a second — at nothing! — then back at the bed to see that she has just disappeared. Come on!

Paul goes back to the orphanage to ask about Sarah.  The nun says Sarah died of TB before he was born.  Paul asks her if she believes in ghosts, and she replies, “the Holy Ghost.”  Zing!  For some reason, she did hang on to Sarah’s tubercular Teddy Bear Toby for 40 years.  Paul asks the nun if maybe God did not take Sarah’s soul, that maybe she had something to do here.

He goes to the hospital and infuriates them by carrying Cathy home before her insurance runs out.  She is totally non-responsive as her father places her in the antique bed.  He falls asleep exhausted by her side.  The next morning as he is looking out the window, he hears Cathy’s voice, “Daddy?”

tzifshedies49He is, of course, overjoyed to see his little girl awake.  However, he is a little taken aback when she asks for Toby.  But then she smiles and nothing else matters — like, what happened to Cathy’s soul.

And if this is Sarah, then why did she call him Daddy?  Or are both of them in there together?  Or if dead Sarah’s soul could import into this body, then why not Cathy’s?  Did she die — is that what enabled the switcheroo? And why did Sarah’s soul hang around for 40 years until this particular moment?

It is a tear-jerker and not what I want out of this show, but it was well-done.


  • [1] This is just begging for a Prince Charles reference, but it seems inappropriate.
  • [2] A similar unnerving shot was in It Follows of a man standing on a roof.  There is just something creepy about a person standing on a roof as anyone who has known a roofer will attest.
  • That was just gratuitous — everyone know it’s painters that you have to keep an eye on.
  • Cathy (Andrea Barber) went on to be a regular on the unwatchable [3] Full House. Unwatchable except by the people who kept it on TV for 8 years.
  • Sarah (Jenny Lewis) has had quite the career, including a series with Lucy which seems like it must have required a time machine.
  • Available on YouTube.

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