Musings in the Dark: My Twilight Zone Tribute: S3E5


My Twilight Zone Tribute: S3E5

 "A Game of Pool"

Jesse Cardiff is a hard-core pool player who spends every waking moment bettering his game.  Alone at a pool hall one evening, he laments that he can’t ever truly be known as the best pool player of all time because of the legendary Fats Brown.  Jesse wishes aloud that he would give anything to play Fats one time.  Fats Brown materializes in the pool hall.  He has returned from the afterlife to grant Jesse his wish.  Fats says that if Jesse wins, he will be known as the greatest pool player ever, but if he loses, he loses his life.  Jesse accepts the wager.

The two men begin to play pool.  As the game goes on, Fats learns that Jesse has done nothing with his life other than play pool.  He says that he was able to be the best pool player in addition to living a full life.  Jesse is convinced that Fats is trying to distract him and ignores him.  As the game is nearing its end, there is one ball left on the table and both men need to sink it in order to win.  Fats tries first and misses his shot. 

Jesse leans over to line up his shot but Fats interrupts him with a warning that he will get more than he bargained for if he wins, but Jesse is determined to beat the best.  He sinks the ball and wins the game, pleased that he is now the best pool player ever.  Fats thanks Jesse for beating him, but Jesse believes that Fats is a sore loser and calls him such.  In the middle of Jesse going off, Fats disappears.  

Some time later, long after he has died, Jesse is sitting with his head down at a pool table in the afterlife when his name is called.  He is summoned to travel to Sandusky, Ohio to Mason’s pool parlor to play against a challenger who invoked his name.  It is understood that Jesse has to spend his entire afterlife defending his title as the greatest pool player ever and is weary.  Meanwhile, Fats Brown--having relinquished the title--has gone fishing.

I love this ep.  It’s simple and to the point.  The dialogue between Jonathan Winters as Fats and Jack Klugman as Jesse is great.  The writing is on point and every scene adds to the tension.  My favorite line comes from Fats when he is trying to tell Jesse that there is more to life than just playing pool.  He says something to the effect of, “It might not look like it, but I’ve made love, walked uphill…”  I lost it completely when I heard him say that the first time because walking uphill isn’t something I consider a life pleasure (no offense and apologies to those who are not able-bodied).  Even when I rewatch the ep, I still chuckle at that line.  Anyway, fantastic episode.

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