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

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In this case, the Lord strongly taketh.

Crypt Keeper: (throwing skulls into a basketball hoop, which shatter on impact; wearing a basketball jersey and armbands) There you are, sports-fiends. You know, dead people like me make excellent point guards. When we can't get off a shot, we simply pass... away, that is. (tosses another skull into the hoop; he cackles) Speaking of which, allow me to be your fear-leader for tonight's half-time show. It's a putrid playlet about my personal favorite sport: being a mortician. I fittingly call it: Fitting Punishment.

Following the death of his parents in a car crash, teenager Bobby Thorntonberry is sent to live with Ezra Thorntonberry, his uncle and only living relative. Ezra is a despicable old miser who runs a funeral home and cuts every corner he can, 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 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.


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.


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 his nephew's reanimated corpse, 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.


  • Agony of the Feet: After Bobby dies, Ezra saws his feet off to squeeze him into one of his cheap coffins. The feet subsequently become animate and kick Ezra down the basement stairs, crippling him.
  • Ain't Too Proud to Beg: Ezra's final moments see him begging Bobby to not kill him.
  • Animate Body Parts: Ezra is attacked by Bobby's reanimated severed feet, which he sawed off his nephew's body so he could stuff him into one of his cheap coffins.
  • Armor-Piercing Response: When 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.
  • 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.
  • 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, being a crooked funeral director who abused his nephew and later killed him.
  • 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, and he clearly regrets that he can't actually prove it.
    • Ditto for the doctor who 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, 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 Bobby with a crowbar so severely that Bobby is permanently crippled. Bobby so gladly returns the favor to his uncle at the end of the episode.
  • 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.
    • Plus he was crippled by falling down the stairs. His own excuse.
  • Dirty Coward: Ezra. He spends the whole episode being a horrifically 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 uncle, 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, albeit unable to prove it.
  • 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? He uses tap water instead. Getting a decent casket? He uses cheap ones made from Taiwan. Keeping the corpse intact? Yes, albeit with a suspicious absence of fillings and gold teeth.
    • He also didn't care one damn bit about his own sister and her husband dying, and was actually fascinated by the horrible way she went out, expecting a lot of money for the repairs he may have to make on the body.
  • Establishing Character Moment: Ezra is introduced being an all around pleasant man to his customers. Behind closed doors, he's an absolute jerk to Bobby and Clyde. While this certainly paints a picture, 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 paralysis) 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, and even at Ezra's name itself.
  • Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: Ezra complained that all the warnings he's been given (especially about morals) is "strange things" and wacky nonsense, and is completely baffled by what these people want from him.
  • 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 how 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), and he also wants nothing but the best for the service, not wanting to go the cheap route to save himself a few bucks.
  • Formula-Breaking Episode: This is the only episode in the series to feature an entirely black cast.
  • For Want of a Nail: The pine casket Ezra mistakenly ordered 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 gold teeth he can find in a corpse's mouth. Much to his irritation, he finds that Bobby has no gold teeth because the kid brushed regularly.
  • Greed: Ezra's biggest flaw after his Lack of Empathy.
  • Grew a Spine: Clyde takes a lot of abuse from Ezra, but what his boss does to Bobby is what finally prompts him to stand up to Ezra and quit 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.
  • Hair-Trigger Temper: Everything can piss Ezra off.
  • Hates Everyone Equally: The only person Ezra loves is himself.
  • 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 vowing to tell the sheriff about what really caused his injury.
  • Hiding Behind Religion: Ezra's piety and Godliness in front of others is demonstrably insincere, and he mainly uses it as a means to act morally superior or otherwise excuse his actions. Bobby notices how most of his "biblical" quotes don't even come from The Bible.
  • Honor Before Reason: Certain that Bobby was murdered, Ezra's assistant Clyde quits.
  • Hypocrite: The only time Ezra is truthful in the whole episode is when he begs for his own life.
  • It's All About Me: Ezra only cares about himself, and he always gets angry when something is not like he wanted.
  • 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. This is followed by Bobby's severed feet kicking him down the stairs, and Bobby himself bringing the crowbar down on Ezra's skull.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Jerk: Erza acts all nice and innocent before he does something truly horrible, or the occasional act of Pragmatic Villainy.
  • Jump Scare: While alone in the basement, Bobby sees Mr. Jefferies' son experience a rigor mortis-induced muscle twitch and is understandably spooked.
  • Kick the Dog: Ezra does this repeatedly to Bobby, crippling him over a mistake that was his own fault tops the list. And then there's also his deriding the kid being about as stupid as his recently deceased mother.
  • Lack of Empathy: The only person Erza is truly pitiful toward is himself. The suffering of every other person in the world means completely nothing to him. He's so detached that when he hears news of his own sister dying in a violent car crash, the first thing that comes to his mind is how much cash a mortician can make to have someone who dies like that look good at a funeral.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Every vile action Ezra performs is sent right back at him.
  • Misanthrope Supreme: Ezra says by the ending that he hates everyone on the planet.
  • 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 with a crowbar. Ezra just says nothing in response to this.
    • Ezra had also blamed Bobby for ordering a pine coffin instead of oak, but Bobby insists his uncle told him oak 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 around the funeral home.
  • Pre-Mortem One-Liner / Ironic Echo:
    Bobby: Like it says in the bible, Uncle Ezra: Blood... is thicker than water.
  • Psychological Projection: Erza puts every one of his flaws on others and thinks that he's the only smart and righteous individual around.
  • 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: Clyde, Ezra's assistant. After he finds out Ezra killed Bobby, it's to be assumed he had a role in the climax. It's actually all Bobby's doing.
  • Revenant Zombie: Bobby comes back as one of them, 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 cripple Bobby and then murdered him, before mutilating his corpse by filling him up with water instead of embalming fluid and then sawing 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 stairs 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.
  • The Sociopath: Ezra, natch.
  • 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.
  • Surrounded by Idiots: Ezra's point of view. He's actually just a greedy, cruel man and a Bad Boss.
  • 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 pine coffin that was already delivered. While this guy just wants the best for his beloved son, his complaint unknowingly leads to an enraged Ezra beating 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 and depravity, 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 charitable and religious façade, manages to run a rather successful funeral 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.
  • Would Hurt a Child: Ezra has no problems crippling and later killing Bobby.
  • Wrong Genre Savvy: As the climax begins, Ezra is certain the apparent hauntings are just his former assistant messing with him. Yeah, he wishes.

Crypt Keeper: (wearing and tying the laces of Bobby's sneakers) Well, looks like old Ezra learned raising a teen is no walk in the graveyard. Now he's going to need one of his cheap coffins for himself. That's what he gets for having a name like "Ezra". As for poor Bobby, he got a pretty nasty case of athlete's foot, didn't he? I mean I've heard of footloose, but yikes! Oh, well. I guess the next best thing to making a goal is becoming a ghoul. Right, kiddies? (cackles)