The Twilight Zone – Complete Series Review – Season 3 Episode 25 – The Fugitive

In the first scene we see some boys playing softball.  When one is called out by the umpire a little girl with a leg brace (Jenny) complains about the call.  An old man (Ben) with a big moustache chastises her for contesting the umpire.  Then the old man is up to bat.  He hits the ball and it disappears over the trees like a rocket.  The kids lament the loss of the ball and the old man promises to make up for it by playing a game where they are space rangers and he is an outer space monster.  When the kids sneak up on the monster’s lair (a large bush) a real monster comes out and the kids “shoot” it with ray guns (really just their fingers pointing like a gun and making a ray gun noise).  The monster pretends to be shot and falls behind the bush.  And immediately the old man jumps out and says to the kids, “I think you got him.”

Old Ben carries Jenny (because of her disability) back to the apartment building where they both live.  Ben lives alone and Jenny lives with her very unpleasant Aunt Agnes (played by Nancy Kulp who was Miss Jane Hathaway on the Beverly Hillbillies).  Aunt Agnes is unhappy because she’s been forced to take responsibility for her orphaned niece.  And Agnes hates Ben whom she thinks encourages her niece to misbehave.  When Ben brings Jenny home, they both get abused verbally by Aunt Agnes.  Ben heads to his apartment.

Two men who claim to be police detectives show up at Aunt Agnes’ door and want to know information about Ben.  They imply that he may be a fugitive that they are chasing.  Hearing this, Jenny sneaks away to Ben’s apartment to warn him.  When Ben hears about the two men, he tells Jenny that he really is a fugitive but from a different planet.  And that he must leave Earth to escape these two men.  Suddenly the two men and Aunt Agnes are banging at the door of Ben’s apartment.  When they come in, they find Jenny but Ben is gone.  After interrogating her they bring her back to her room and the two men leave.  Aunt Agnes yells at Jenny and sends her to bed without supper.  As soon as she is alone, she takes a mouse out of her hand and putting it down it becomes Ben.  Ben tells her it is time for him to leave but before he goes, he has something for her.  She closes her eyes and Ben takes out a hand held device that has a whirling propeller and gives off a light and a noise.  He plays the light over her crippled leg and she is cured.  Ben turns into a fly and disappears out the window.

Jenny runs down the stairs to go after Ben but before she gets out the door, the two detectives point another device like the one Ben used before and Jenny falls unconscious to the floor.  A doctor is summoned and tells Aunt Agnes that Jenny seems to be dying.

Ben returns to Jenny’s room as a fly and then becomes himself.  Using his mysterious device, he wakes Jenny and tells her that the two men did this to her to force him to return.  And now they enter the room.  But what we discover from their talk is that Ben is a runaway king of a far distant world and these two men are loyal servants sent to bring him back to his loving subjects.  Ben acquiesces to returning home.  Jenny begs to go with Ben but the men say it wouldn’t be allowed by their laws.  When Jenny asks them to leave to the room to allow her to say goodbye to Ben the agree as long as Ben promises not to escape.  When they return Ben has changed himself into a twin of Jenny.  Since neither of the twins will admit which is Ben, the detectives will be forced to take both Jennies back to Ben’s world.

Serling’s closing monologue confirms that Ben doesn’t appear as an old man back on his planet.  A picture of him seems to be a boy of about sixteen, even though chronologically he’s hundreds of years old.  And Serling says when Jenny grows up, she’ll be a queen.

Most of the episode is a somewhat sentimental science fiction version of Cinderella.  But I found the idea that Old Ben who was very grandfatherly toward ten year old Jenny would eventually become her husband quite creepy.  Honestly, it ruined the whole thing for me.    F

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