The Twilight Zone – Complete Series Review – Season 5 Episode 16 – The Self-Improvement of Salvadore Ross

Salvadore Ross is a selfish, angry young man who is in love with Leah Maitland, a gentle, sensitive young woman.  He tries to get her to go out with him but his lack of empathy convinces her that although she finds him attractive that they could never be happy together.  When she closes her front door in his face, he angrily punches the door and breaks his hand.

Forced to stay overnight at the hospital prior to the bones being set, he shares a hospital room with an old man with a respiratory infection.  When Ross questions why the old man is in the hospital for just a cold, he tells Ross that for the elderly a cold can become pneumonia and that he would trade his cold for a broken hand gladly.  Ross jokingly says, “it’s a deal.”

The next morning Ross wakes up and when he accidentally bangs his bad hand on the furniture, he discovers that it isn’t injured anymore.  But he also finds that he is coughing.  He checks on his roommate and discovers that the old man has a broken hand.  But when the old man changes his mind about the broken hand, Ross laughs at him and tells him all trades are final.

Now Ross realizes that he has the ability to make deals for unbelievable exchanges between himself and other people.  He approaches a rich old man he knows and offers to exchange his youth for the old man’s age and a million dollars and a beautiful apartment.  The old man jokingly agrees and the next morning Ross is old, rich and living in the apartment.

Now Ross cleverly offers a number of younger people like the bell hop and the elevator operator a thousand dollars for a year of their lives.  Soon Ross is young again but still very rich.  He goes to see Leah and although she is amazed and happy for his prosperity, she tells him straight out that she could never marry a man that wasn’t kind and gentle like her father.

Ross goes to Leah’s father and tells him that he will give him one hundred thousand dollars for something hard to describe.

In the next scene Ross is driving Leah home from a date and he is courteous and affectionate and sincere.  He goes to Leah’s father and asks for her hand in marriage.  The father refuses.  Ross asks whether he has any compassion.  The father says, “you bought it from me yesterday,” and then shoots Ross point blank.  The drama ends with Ross dead on the floor.

Okay, so this sounds like a pretty dopey concept and I guess it is.  But I actually liked it despite myself.  There’s some cleverness to the set up and it moves right along.  The ending is predictable but I took it as kind of a joke ending.  B+.