Twilight Zone – Wong’s Lost and Found Emporium (11/22/85)

tzwong22As I’m watching this on YouTube, I am distracted by the other videos listed off to the side.  It’s like how you think “Look what he’s having” as the waitress carries a tray to a nearby guy with a really cute date.  I see Cold Equations — a sci-fi classic.  Nightcrawlers — a great episode already viewed.  Escape Clause from the original series.  And here I sit with . . . what?  I was going to name some mundane Chinese dish, but all of them I thought of seemed pretty tasty now that I think of them.  Plus, racist.

Or maybe that’s appropriate.  The only blatantly Asian name in the TZ cast & crew — William F. Wu — just happens to write the episode about Mr. Wong?  Hu knows, maybe he sought them out.  Write what you know, they say.  But this was season one and they never brought him back.  It just smacks of Tales From the Crypt’s infamous African-American episode.

David Wong enters a San Francisco porn shop seeking the titular Lost and Found Emporium.  Since the title is Wong’s Lost and Found Emporium, I bet he finds it.  The clerk [1] is pretty slippery — more slippery than the floor of his shop, I imagine.  He says sometimes the emporium is there and sometimes it is not.  He suggests Wong try in the rear, as he does with many customers.

tzwong17Wong sees two doors in the back of the store.  One opens into a rat-infested alley.  The other opens into a space where the alley should be, but actually leads into a large storeroom.  Which, I guess makes sense, as it is a room in a store.  He enters and inexplicably closes the door behind him.  The door then disappears from the wall.

As he is searching for a clerk, Wong sees another magical door appear.  It opens and he correctly guesses that it is sunny Fort Lauderdale outside.  A Springbreaker walks in, although sadly from Spring of 1936. She says she is searching for lost time.  She became an artist late in life but confesses she didn’t have the patience or discipline to stick with it. I would think those were actually virtues more likely in an older person, but I ain’t no artist.

As Wong is whining — and he really is obnoxious — about how long it took him to find this place, he spots a floating orb behind the woman.  They follow it until it settles on a box of white mice.  There is an instruction card which says to stroke the mice until calm, at least five minutes.  The woman places the box on the floor, but the mice scamper away on little cat’s-dinner feet before she can find relief.  She is distraught as she has lost her last chance at happiness.  “Well, those are the breaks,” Wong says to the heart-broken old woman.

tzwong31Wong soon encounters a man wandering through the aisles.  He has been a self-absorbed jerk up, but he’s really started getting to me now.  He is just pointlessly belligerent and sneering at the man.  “Tell me something, Pops.  You lose anything valuable?  Lost hope?  Lost dreams?  Lost love?”  The old man speaks of losing the respect of his children.  Wong sympathetically responds, “If I hear one more sob story, I’m going to puke.”

He sees another orb, though, and follows it to a mirror.  The instructions tell the man to stare into the mirror for five and a half minutes.  The mirror shows him as a monster, so he shatters it, squandering any future reconciliation with his children.  On the plus side, he did give Wong a good laugh.

Wong next meets a young woman. He explains his bad attitude by saying what he lost and what he seeks is his compassion.  What really pushed him over the edge was the murder of Vincent Chin.  He tells the tragic real-life story of Chin who was murdered by two idiots in Detroit.  Despite being Chinese, they mistook Chin for being Japanese and blamed him for the collapse of the US auto industry. [2]   They beat him to death with a baseball bat and were given probation for their actions.  She agrees to help him find his compassion in exchange for him helping her to find an item to be named later.

tzwong35

Oh yeah, this disembodied head shows signs of life a couple of times. I have no idea why.

He sees her orb descends on a canister.  The instructions tell her to inhale for five seconds.  She does so, and the magic seems to work for a change.  She bursts out laughing, so I guess she had lost her sense of humor; or just noticed Wong’s haircut.

She sees Wong’s orb and they follow it to three bottles, one of which contains his compassion. Yada yada, Wong screws up the test tube that contains his compassion, and just uses the bottles that contain his integrity and childhood memories.  The woman assures him he will still regain his compassion because that comes with integrity.  Not sure I go along with that. Integrity is being honest and living by solid principals.  Ayn Rand novels are full of such people, but I must have missed the chapters describing their compassion.

Wong becomes compassionate enough to stay on at the store as the new manager.  The woman decides to stay on with him.  She hangs a sign on the door which says “Under New Management, Wong’s Lost and Found Emporium” — an ending efficiently spoiled by the episode’s title.

Again with the kindler, gentler Twilight Zone.  In this 1980’s series, To Serve Man really would be a book about curing diseases, ending poverty and driving people to the airport.  Still not what I’m looking for from TZ.  I’m starting to think I’m looking in the wrong place.

Post-Post:

  • [1] The porn clerk is such a doppelganger for Best-of-Show-era Christopher Guest that it is distracting.
  • [2] Maybe they also mistook him for Roger Smith.
  • [2] I guess it would be churlish of me to point out the producers apparently also think Asians are interchangeable as they cast an actor of Japanese heritage to play a man named Wong — typically a Chinese name.  But it’s OK when our moral superiors in Hollywood do it.
  • Also, one incident that led to Wong losing his compassion was the reaction of some bigots when he was out with a Caucasian woman.  I notice the producers were careful to have him end up with an Asian woman in the episode, though.  But it’s OK when our moral superiors in Hollywood do it.
  • Brian Tochi (Wong) was one of those punks on Triacus.
  • TZ Legacy:  None except to make me long for a cruel, ironic twist of fate.

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