The Twilight Zone – Complete Series Review – Season 1 Episode 12 – What You Need

The good news is there isn’t anyone screaming and crying for the world to hear him in this episode.  The bad news is this is one of those fantasy episodes where someone can see into the future.  But the good news is it’s the first one so I give it a pass.  And actually, the story is pretty good.  The characters you’re supposed to like are likable enough and the bad guy is dislikable enough so let’s give it a whirl.

Pedott is a peddler who sells matches and shoelaces out of his suitcase.  He’s a harmless looking little old man with a quiet voice and a faint smile.  But every now and then he looks at a customer and he tells him, “What you need is this.”  And then he’ll give the customer a small bottle of cleaning fluid or a bus ticket to Scranton PA.  And then the customer will discover that what’s been offered is exactly what he needs.

The scene is a bar where a few customers are sitting around and a surly tough guy named Fred Renard has watched Pedott magically give two people exactly what they need.  When Pedott leaves the bar, Renard confronts him in a threatening way and demands to be given exactly what he needs.  Pedott gives him a pair of scissors.  Later on, Renard catches his scarf in an elevator door and only the scissors save him from asphyxiating.  When Pedott returns to his hotel room he finds Renard lying in wait for him.  Renard demands that Pedott provide him with something to make him some money.  Pedott gives him a leaky fountain pen that spills a drop of ink onto a newspaper directly in front of the name of a horse running in a race the next day.  Renard wins several hundred dollars and immediately comes looking for Pedott to cash in on some other item.

Renard makes Pedott understand that he will never be rid of Renard and that he will risk violence if he doesn’t keep furnishing Renard with miracles.  Pedott lets him know that he can’t produce these things without wearing himself out.  But Renard forces him to produce something right away or risk a beating.  Renard takes a pair of shoes from the suitcase and asks Pedott if they are what is needed and he is noncommittal.

Renard puts on the shoes and says they’re too tight and have leather soles which makes them slippery to walk on.  When he demands to know how the shoes will benefit him Pedott hurries away and Renard chases him through the street.  But a fast-moving car come up behind him and the shoes are too slippery to let him sidestep the car.  Renard is struck and killed.  Pedott speaks to Renard’s inert form on the ground.  He explains that in the bar the first night he saw a vision of Renard trying to kill him.  And finally, he knew that the shoes were what he really needed to escape Renard.

So, this kind of story becomes another predictable staple of the Twilight Zone stock in trade.  But this is the first one and I actually enjoyed watching this one.  In fact, I don’t remember seeing this one before.  I’ll give it a B.

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War Pig
War Pig
2 years ago

It was a novel approach when it was first aired. As a lad I was intrigued by the premise. Many of the episodes seem dated now, but were pretty fresh when they were first shown.