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Recap / Tales From The Crypt S 2 E 12 Fitting Punishment

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Following the death of his parents in a car crash, teenager Bobby is sent to live with Ezra Thorntonberry, his uncle and only living relative. Ezra is a despicable old man who runs a funeral home and cuts every corner he can, such as stealing gold teeth from bodies, using water instead of embalming fluid, and ordering cheap caskets from Taiwan that are six inches shorter than those made in the U.S.

Ezra demeans and verbally abuses Bobby while constantly (mis)quoting the Bible, makes him sleep on a body gurney in an unlit closet, and starts to teach him about the funeral business. Bobby's "mistake" in ordering a casketnote  leads a potential customer to take his business elsewhere, and a furious Ezra retaliates by beating Bobby with a crowbar. The assault leaves Bobby paralyzed from the waist down, and Ezra finds himself saddled with escalating medical bills.

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As Bobby hobbles up the basement stairs after cleaning up one night, Ezra throws his prized basketball at him, knocking him back down the stairs and killing him. Not wanting to waste money on a casket, Ezra decides to use the one Bobby ordered - only to find that Bobby is too tall to fit into it. He saws off Bobby's feet to get around the problem.

Ezra's long-suffering assistant Clyde figures out that Bobby's death was no accident and quits. That night, Ezra's nap in his office is disturbed by a series of odd occurrences - a knock at the door, a dripping faucet, a light left on. He blames them on Clyde, but the combination of Bobby's basketball bouncing down the stairs and the suddenly flickering basement lights throws a scare into him. A foot suddenly kicks him from behind, causing him to fall into the basement.

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Ezra tries to get up but finds his legs paralyzed. He is shocked to see Bobby's severed feet walking down the stairs on their own, followed by the reanimated corpse with crowbar in hand. Ezra begs for mercy, but Bobby uses his own Bible-quoting habit against him, saying "Blood is thicker than water" before bringing the crowbar down on him.

Tropes:

  • Ain't Too Proud to Beg / Villains Want Mercy: Ezra's final moments see him begging Bobby to not kill him.
  • Artistic License – Religion: invoked In-universe: After Ezra quotes "A penny saved is a penny earned" as a Bible verse, Bobby points out that the phrase actually came from Benjamin Franklin.
  • Angry Black Man: Ezra is always in a foul mood.
  • Animate Body Parts: Ezra is attacked by the feet he amputated off his nephew Bobby's body so it would fit in the coffin.
  • Armor-Piercing Response: Clyde announces he's quitting. Ezra literally waves him off and acts like he's barely aware of him, but this line certainly gets his attention.
    Clyde: Look, I know that nice, young man didn't die in no accident. [Ezra looks up at him] I know it. I can't prove it, but I know what I know.
  • As the Good Book Says...: Ezra is quick to offer such quotes, though Bobby notices how many of them actually aren't biblical quotes. To add to the irony of Ezra's death, Bobby's final line is an example of this trope.
  • Asshole Victim: Ezra to a tee.
  • Bad Boss: When no customers are looking, Ezra repeatedly insults Bobby. He also yells at Clyde for playing the organ during services.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: About to open up a delivery, Ezra tells Bobby to give him the nearby crowbar. Bobby's only too happy to do that in the last scene.
  • Being Good Sucks:
    • Clyde knows the truth about what Ezra did to Bobby; he clearly regrets that he can't actually prove it.
    • Ditto the doctor that examines Bobby's injuries. His line of questioning to Ezra make it clear he suspects the truth and doesn't like how all he can do is ask questions.
  • Big "NO!": Ezra screams this in his final moments and right before the episode cuts to black.
  • Big "OMG!": Ezra twice, first when he realizes he's been crippled and then when Bobby appears.
  • Bookends: The story begins and ends with organ music being played.
  • Chekhov's Boomerang: Bobby's basketball.
  • Crowbar Combatant: Ezra beats his nephew Bobby with a crowbar so severely that Bobby is permanently crippled.
  • Cut Himself Shaving: When the doctor asks how Bobby suffered a severe spinal injury, Ezra claims the kid carelessly fell down the stairs while running in the house. The doctor's tone makes it clear he has a good idea what really happened. Later, as Bobby's coffin is lowered into the ground, we learn that Ezra used this lie again, but the doctor (who was attending out of respect) not too subtly notes how unusual it is such an accident happened again so soon.
  • Death by Irony: Not only does Ezra wind up being crippled by Bobby's severed feet, but Bobby uses the same crowbar used on him to kill Ezra.
    • Even more ironic is that Ezra was distracted by a basketball when he was shoved down the stairs. The same basketball he used to kill Bobby.
  • Dirty Coward: Ezra. He spends the whole episode being a horrific, abusive bully to Bobby and is reduced to a pleading wreck when Bobby comes after him in the finale.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Your nephew costs you a valuable client? Why not cripple him with a crowbar!
  • The Dog Bites Back:
    • After all the abuse Bobby suffered at the hands of his guardian, he gets to return the favor in the end.
    • In a lesser sense, Clyde quitting on Ezra and getting under his skin by saying he knows what happened to Bobby.
  • Due to the Dead: Inverted. After killing Bobby, Ezra decides to bury him in a cheap coffin ordered by mistake. Bobby is too tall to fit inside, so Ezra saws off his feet.
    • This also applies to the other corpses he had to take care of. Embalming fluid? Nah, water's just as good. Getting a decent casket? Nah, cheaper is better. Keeping the corpse intact? Well, that's all well and good but- is that a gold tooth? MINE.
    • He also didn't care one damn bit about his sister dying.
  • Establishing Character Moment: Ezra being all pleasant to customers but a jerk to Bobby and Clyde in private certainly paint a picture, but it's how he's almost delighted to learn his sister is dead and how he's more interested in how much money could be made off making a mangled body look presentable that demonstrate what a truly awful person he is.
  • "Eureka!" Moment: After Bobby threatens to call the sheriff on Ezra (for causing his spinal chord injury) after it comes to light that he sold his shoes, Ezra (in the middle of issuing more threats to Bobby) cracks that those shoes weren't going to be of any use anymore, "just like that damn pine... coffin..."
  • Even Evil Has Standards: The Crypt Keeper scoffs at Ezra's cheap coffins.
  • Evil Uncle: Uncle Ezra. To a tee.
  • Failed a Spot Check: Averted. The doctor observes how the rather tall Bobby was placed in a rather small coffin.
  • Faux Affably Evil: Ezra is friendly and cheery to all of his customers, but few have seen his shady dealings behind the scenes, and don't know how sinister he really is.
  • Fearsome Foot: An interesting variation since the feet in question were severed prior...
  • Five-Second Foreshadowing: After the doctor observes Bobby was placed in a small coffin, Clyde can be seen glaring at Ezra. In the very next scene, Clyde quits his job and confronts Ezra about what he knows.
  • Foil: It's brief, but Mr. Jeffries offers a contrast to the miserly and hypocritical Ezra. Jeffries is a sincerely religious man grieving the loss of a beloved relative (roughly the same age as Bobby, no less). He also wants nothing but the best for the service and won't go the cheap route to save himself a few bucks.
  • For Want of a Nail: The pine casket is what results in Bobby and Ezra's deaths.
  • From Bad to Worse: After being certain that strange noises and occurrences are the result of Clyde trying to get to him, Ezra hears a basketball bouncing around and sees it come down the stairs. He realizes that this is bad, but it gets worse when he gets knocked down the stairs, is paralyzed, and greeted by a certain someone that's so eager to see him again.
  • Gold Tooth: Ezra gladly helps himself to any body's gold tooth. Much to his irritation, he finds that Bobby has no such item because the kid actually brushed regularly.
  • Grew a Spine: Clyde takes a lot of abuse from Ezra, but what happened to Bobby prompts standing up to him and quitting in protest.
  • Hate Sink: Ezra is a miserly, cheap, bitter, abusive, and cruel Hypocrite. You're really not supposed to like him, and cheer for his death.
  • He Knows Too Much: While being burdened by a crippled nephew is Ezra's main motivation for killing Bobby, there's also how Bobby started making noises about telling the local sheriff about what really caused his injury.
  • Hiding Behind Religion: Uncle Ezra's piety and Godliness in front of others is demonstrably insincere. Bobby notices how most of his "biblical" quotes don't even come from The Bible.
  • Honor Before Reason: Certain Bobby was murdered, Ezra's assistant quits.
  • It's Probably Nothing: After firing his assistant, Ezra is suddenly disturbed by mysterious happenings going on in the funeral home at night. A knock at the door, dripping water in the basement sink, lights turning on by itself, he thinks its his former assistant messing with him, but he really gets spooked when he hears Bobby's basketball bouncing around upstairs (where Bobby slept), before bouncing down the stairs towards him. Unfortunately for Ezra...the worst is only yet to come...
  • Jump Scare: While alone in the basement, Bobby sees Mr. Jefferies's son experience a rigor mortis muscle twitch and is understandably spooked.
  • Kick the Dog: Ezra does this repeatedly to Bobby. Ezra crippling him over a mistake that was his own fault tops the list, but there's also deriding the kid being about as stupid as his recently dead mother.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Every vile action Ezra performs is sent right back at him.
  • Never My Fault:
    • Ezra berates Bobby for being crippled. Bobby himself points out that he'd have never ended up that way if Ezra hadn't beat him in the first place. Ezra just says nothing in response to this.
    • Ezra had also blamed Bobby for the pine coffin being ordered instead of oak, but Bobby insists he told him the right order. When tasked with checking the tag and measuring the body, Bobby did indeed see the order was for oak.
  • Nothing Is Scarier: We cut to black the second Bobby swings the crowbar.
  • Orphan's Ordeal: Bobby's parents died in a car accident shortly before the episode begins, and Ezra's his only living relative, so he has nowhere else to go. More emphasis is put on how awful it is living with Ezra, but Bobby is noticeably displeased when Ezra insults his mother.
  • Pragmatic Villainy: Ezra only considers taking Bobby in because he's strong and could be useful doing various tasks.
  • Ironic Echo:
    Bobby: Like it says in the bible, Uncle Ezra...
  • Race Lift: It has more or less the exact same story as the EC Comics tale of the same name, except everybody's black.
  • Red Herring: The assistant. After he find out Ezra killed Bobby, it's to be assumed he had a role in the climax. Nope.
  • Revenant Zombie: Bobby comes back as this, and the only thing he has on his mind is vengeance towards his cruel and murderous uncle.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: What Bobby came back for, and he clearly gets it.
  • Robbing the Dead: Ezra is shown pulling a gold tooth out of a dead woman's mouth before he closes the coffin.
  • Scary Black Man: Bobby, after he comes back to life and kills Ezra. Ezra himself can qualify as he did crippled Bobby and then murdered him, before mutilating his corpse by filling him up with water instead of embalming fluid and then saw off his feet.
  • Schmuck Bait: After picking up the basketball, Ezra hears the lights in the basement flickering and goes to the top of the steps to check it out. He's soon sent tumbling by one of Bobby's severed feet.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: Clyde quits after he realizes what Ezra did to Bobby.
  • Smash Cut: Done when Bobby swings the crowbar at Ezra.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: As Bobby's about to claim his vengeance, we hear pleasant organ music playing. It's both a bookend and an ironic touch, as Ezra had twice expressed disdain for Clyde playing such music.
  • Staircase Tumble: What kills Bobby and later cripples Ezra, the latter caused by Bobby's severed foot.
  • This Cannot Be!: Ezra, as the undead Bobby closes in with a crowbar.
  • This Is Gonna Suck:
    • Bobby when he realizes Ezra fully intends to hit him with a crowbar.
    • Ezra when he sees the basketball come down the stairs and hears the lights flickering in the basement.
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: Mr. Jeffries ordered an oak coffin for his dead son and doesn't want the already delivered pine coffin. While this guy just wants the best for his beloved son, his complaint unknowingly leads to an enraged Ezra hitting Bobby with the crowbar.
  • Villain Protagonist: Ezra Thorntonberry. Being a cheap two-faced businessman isn't the worst thing in the world, but as the episode goes on, we learn of the true depths of his cruelty as Ezra continues to cross the line. Abusing his orphaned nephew Bobby, then flat out murdering him just to cut himself of any responsibility.
  • Villain with Good Publicity: Ezra thanks to his great facade, still manages to run a rather successful funeral home business.
  • Villains Want Mercy: A paralyzed Ezra pleads for someone to help him, as Bobby closes in, but he definitely ain't getting it.
  • Who Names Their Kid "Dude"?: The Crypt Keeper doesn't think much of Ezra's name.
  • Wrong Genre Savvy: As the climax begins, Ezra is certain it's just his assistant messing with him. Yeah, he wishes.
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