Twilight Zone – The After Hours (10/18/86)

Terry Farrell knocks on a door and a man won’t let her in.  That might be the single most unbelievable scene in this episode.

Marsha Cole begs the security guard to allow her into the Galleria Mall which is closing . . . just for the night, not permanently like most malls.  She begs him, and he lets her in because she looks like Terry Ferrell. A couple of creepy guys watch her walk to the elevator; also because she looks like Terry Farrell.  She goes to the toy store across from Athlete’s Foot.  The store is dark but suddenly lights up like every room she enters, because she looks like Terry Farrell.

A clerk appears and she asks for a Cornfield Kid doll.  While the clerk goes to get one, a boy scares Marsha with a toy spider.  She asks his mother how the boy knew her name.  Weird thing is, the boy never said her name.  I can’t see any story-related reason for her mistake, so I guess it is just an editing artifact.  The boy begs her, “Take me with you when you go!  Please!”  This also makes no sense if you know what’s coming.[1]

The clerk returns with the doll.  Marsha wants it as a gift for her landlord’s daughter.  When she moved in a month ago, the landlord waived the first month’s rent because she had no money and looked like Terry Farrell.  She says the girl’s birthday is Saturday, and the clerk asks why it was so important for her to get to the mall on Wednesday night.  She says she was at home reading and felt a sudden urge to go to the mall.  The clerk then asks her all kinds of questions about her past and her family, but Marsha has no answers.  As the clerk gets more persistent, Marsha freaks out and runs from the store.

She passes numerous closed stores, just like in any mall, except they will open again in the morning.  She goes back to the store she entered through, calm enough to remember where she parked.  She is able to muscle through the store’s mall doors, setting off an alarm.  She bumps into the security guard who let her in.  He falls to the ground and his mannequin head shatters.

Followed by the creepy guy, she runs through the store.  She finds her way to the offices.  There are some great scenes of disembodied mannequin heads and limbs that come to life.  Marsha is terrified as the heads begin chanting her name and the arms grab at her.  She runs away, knocking over a couple of naked mannequins in the hall. Unfortunately, they are the only ones who do not come to life.

Creepy guy is not very subtle when he yells, “We’re all mannequins!”  Marsha doesn’t believe him, but then one leg turns to plastic.  Creepy Guy and the clerk follow her as she limps away.  Creepy Guy tells her that she had her month to go out and experience the world like Rumspringa, now it is someone else’s turn.  Unfortunately, he does not explain this down by the Victoria’s Secret.  Piece by piece, she becomes more and more plastic just like a real actress mannequin.

This was, of course, previously a classic episode of the original series.  As with Shadow Play, neither is clearly superior, and both are good.  One nit-picky thing that bugs me about both versions is the treatment of the main character by the other mannequins.

  • Why did the security guard only grudgingly allow her into the mall?  She was expected, even required to return.  Sure, she later bashed his head in, but he had no way of knowing that would happen.
  • Why did the clerk spend so much time going through the motions of selling her the doll?
  • Why were they so menacing to Marsha instead of calmly explaining what was happening to her?  Margaret White was more sympathetic to Carrie’s body issues than this group.

Of course, all that is for dramatic effect.  When it works, all is forgiven, and it works here.  Good stuff.

Other Stuff:

  • [1] She is on the way back from her time in the real world, not just heading out. You could say he’s just a dumb kid, but he seems to know the routine.  Also, given the twist, he might be just as old as all the grown-ups.
  • Classic TZ Legacy:  Duh.
  • Skipped Segment 1:  Lost and Found.  Time-traveling tourists steal a girl’s pencil cup.
  • Skipped Segment 2:  The World Next Door.  George Wendt brings Norm Peterson’s energy and work ethic to a TZ episode.

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