Recap: The Twilight Zone S 2 E 39 Nervous Man In A Four Dollar Room

Left to right: John Rhoades and Jackie Rhoades.

Rod Serling: This is Mr. Jackie Rhoades, age thirty-four, and where some men leave a mark of their lives as a record of their fragmentary existence on Earth, this man leaves a blot, a dirty, discolored blemish to document a cheap and undistinguished sojourn amongst his betters. What you're about to watch in this room is a strange, mortal combat between a man and himself, for in just a moment, Mr. Jackie Rhoades, whose life has been given over to fighting adversaries, will find his most formidable opponent in a cheap hotel room that is in reality the outskirts of The Twilight Zone.

Jackie Rhoades (Joe Mantell), a cowardly, insecure gangster, waits in his hotel room for his boss George. George (William D. Gordon) enters. After mocking Jackie several times, George hands Jackie a gun and orders him to kill a bartender who won't pay George protection money. Jackie says he's never killed anybody in his life and he's scared, but George angrily tells him to do the job by 2:00 or else he will come back and kill him. George leaves.

Jackie nervously considers the gun, and eventually decides he has no choice. Suddenly, his reflection starts talking and moving on its own. The reflection mocks Jackie and says he's tired of him being a total loser. Jackie was an unassertive coward his whole life, which led to him joining a gang instead of graduating and getting a real job. The reflection then laments about how Jackie blew his chance to be with a girl named Janie Reardon. The reflection says if Jackie doesn't stand up and quit the gang, all he will ever be is a lackey, and he will eventually be killed.

Jackie can't muster up the courage to quit, so the reflection says he is taking over. Terrified, Jackie rips the mirror off the wall and tries to escape, but finds more mirrors everywhere. The reflection gets larger and larger...

At 2:30, George comes back to the hotel room and yells at Jackie for not doing the job, then threatens him with a gun. George asks, "Whattaya gotta say for yourself, Crumb?" Jackie answers, "I resign! You can have your gun back plus the following." He casually knocks the gun out of George's hand, then beats him up and throws him out of the room. He calls the desk clerk and checks out, referring to himself as "John Rhoades". He looks into a mirror and it is revealed that Jackie and the reflection have switched places. John tells Jackie that he is going out into the world and finally making something out of their life.

Rod Serling: Exit Mr. John Rhoades, formerly a reflection in a mirror, a fragment of someone else's conscience, a wishful thinker made out of glass, but now made out of flesh and on his way to join the company of men. Mr. John Rhoades, with one foot through the door and one foot out of The Twilight Zone.

This episode contains examples of the following tropes:

  • Bottle Episode: The entire episode takes place in Jackie's hotel room and the hallway.
  • Cigarette of Anxiety: Jackie tries to light one, only to find he has no matches. His reflection, on the other hand, does.
  • Death of Personality: John switches places with Jackie and leaves to make something of their life. This is one of the rare times that this trope is played for a Happy Ending.
  • Morton's Fork: Jackie thinks his situation is this — either he doesn't kill the bartender, and gets killed by George, or he does and gets killed by the police.
  • Rage Against the Reflection: A possible inversion — the reflection is annoyed with the man.
  • Talking to Themself
  • Take a Third Option: John Rhoades' response to George's ultimatum.
  • That Man Is Dead: Jackie's name change was probably supposed to signify this.
  • The Man in the Mirror Talks Back: For the whole episode. At the end, he takes over.
  • The Slacker: Jackie's reflection alleges that much of Jackie's trouble is his own fault.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Jackie — er, John — at the end of the episode.
  • Unintentional Period Piece: A hotel room at 4 dollars a night would be a great deal and sound rather shifty in modern times, but back then 4 dollars had the spending value as about 31 dollars as of 2015