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Recap / The Twilight Zone 1985 S 1 E 6 Examination Day A Message From Charity

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Examination Day

A young boy must take a government mandated intelligence test.

A Message From Charity

A teenage boy finds himself in telepathic contact with a teenage girl from 1700.

This episode contains the following tropes:

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    Examination Day 
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: Dickie Jordan wishes on his birthday to do well on the government exam. He does and it turns out people who do too well are killed.
  • A Birthday, Not a Break: On his twelfth birthday, Dickie Jordan wishes that he will do well on the government's mandatory intelligence test. After the test is conducted, he is found to be too intelligent and he is killed by the government.
  • Death of a Child: The totalitarian government gives tests that identify child prodigies—who are then killed before they can grow up to question or threaten the power structure.
  • Downer Ending: Do too well on the government test, get killed.
  • Dystopia: Child prodigies such as Dickie Jordan are killed for scoring too well on government tests.
  • Named by the Adaptation: Dickie Jordan's parents are named Richard, Sr. and Ruth. In the short story by Henry Slesar, their first names are not given.
  • Persecuted Intellectuals: The government exterminates anyone who scores too high on a mandatory examination at twelve years old. Dickie Jordan is one such victim.
  • Truth Serums: Dickie Jordan is given a truth serum to ensure that he answers all of the questions on the government intelligence test as truthfully as possible.
  • Would Hurt a Child: The totalitarian government gives tests that identify child prodigies—who are then killed before they can grow up to question or threaten the power structure.

     A Message From Charity 
  • Adapted Out: The parson of Annes Town in 1700 is only mentioned briefly and is not named. In the short story by William M. Lee, Parson John Hix is a minor supporting character.
  • Age Lift: In the 1967 short story of the same name by William M. Lee, Charity Payne is 11 years old in 1700 when she begins communicating with the 16-year-old Peter Wood in the present. In the adaptation, she is several years older. Although her age is not stated, she is seemingly closer to Peter's age. This change was made because the episode places more emphasis on Charity and Peter being each other's first love than the original story. There is also the scene in which Squire Jonas Hacker attempts to rape Charity after claiming that she needed to disrobe so that he could check her for the mark of a witch, which is toned down in the episode compared to the short story. She manages to fight him off in both versions.
  • Artistic License – History: Squire Jonas Hacker tells Charity Payne that he will have her burned at the stake for witchcraft. In reality, the most common method of execution for convicted witches in The Thirteen American Colonies was hanging.
  • Attempted Rape: Squire Jonas Hacker attempts to rape Charity Payne, claiming that he needs to look for the Devil's mark, after she is accused of witchcraft. After attacking Hacker, she manages to escape unharmed.
  • Burn the Witch!: Squire Jonas Hacker tells Charity Payne that he will have her burned as a witch after she manages to fight off his attempt to rape her.
  • Canon Foreigner: Peter Wood has a younger brother named Bobby. In the short story by William M. Lee, he is an only child.
  • The Constant: There is a rock near Harmon Brook in Annes Town (later Anniston) called Bear Rock, which is so named because it resembles a bear bending down to drink from the stream. In 1700, Charity Payne carves a message of love for Peter Wood, their initials in a heart, under the bear's jaw on the left side. He finds it in 1985.
  • Death by Childbirth: Charity Payne's mother died while giving birth to her.
  • First Friend: Peter Wood skipped two grades when he was younger and therefore found it very difficult to make friends. When Charity breaks off their telepathic contact, he tearfully tells her that she was the first real friend that he ever had. The closing narration makes it clear that they were also each other's First Love.
  • Grade Skipper: Peter Wood tells Charity Payne that he skipped two grades when he was younger.
  • Mark of the Beast: Squire Jonas Hacker tells Charity Payne to strip so that he can search her body for the Devil's mark. She immediately realizes that Hacker intends to rape her as Faith Tanner was extremely upset when he subjected her to the same search the previous year.
  • Please Select New City Name: The village of Annes Town was renamed Anniston in the late 19th Century.
  • Seeing Through Another's Eyes: Charity Payne, a Puritan girl living in the colonial Massachusetts village of Annes Town in 1700, and Peter Wood, a teenage boy living in the Massachusetts town of Anniston in 1985, gain the ability to communicate with each other across time and see through each other's eyes after they both contract cholera. Charity and Peter can also experience sensations from the other's perspective. For instance, Peter introduces Charity to the unimaginable luxuries of his time such as orange juice and chocolate ice cream and she quickly becomes drunk when Peter has a glass of wine.
  • Seers: After she is accused of witchcraft, Charity Payne claims to have second sight and obliquely reveals that she is aware of the bodies of two murdered sailors hidden in Squire Jonas Hacker's root cellar. She had in fact learned of the bodies from a history book that Peter Wood found in 1985. As a result, Hacker finds her innocent of witchcraft, saying that second sight is a gift from God which his own grandmother possessed.
  • Setting Update: Peter Wood's native time is 1985. In the short story by William M. Lee, it is 1965.
  • Third Eye: Master Croft's ewe has a lamb with three eyes. This is used as evidence when Charity Payne is accused of witchcraft. After Squire Jonas Hacker finds her innocent, he holds that the deformed lamb was as a result of a noxious plant growing on Croft's farm.
  • Witch Hunt: Charity Payne is accused of being a witch after she tells her best friend Ursula Miller of the wonders of 1985 that she has seen through Peter Wood's eyes or that he has told her about such as cars, television, airplanes, men walking on The Moon and The American Revolution. The "evidence" against her is her family's well being the only one in Annes Town whose water is not tainted and Master Croft's ewe giving birth to a lamb with a Third Eye. While searching for references to Charity's trial in books on colonial Massachusetts, Peter finds a reference to Squire Jonas Hacker being posthumously convicted of the murder of two sailors in 1704. During her trial, Charity claims to possess second sight and describes the root cellar in which the bodies are hidden. Squire Hacker holds that her second sight is a gift from God and proclaims her innocent of witchcraft. However, Charity reluctantly breaks off contact with Peter to ensure that nothing like this ever happens again.
  • With Friends Like These...: Charity Payne tells her best friend Ursula Miller what she has learned of the future through her telepathic contact with Peter Wood. Ursula then brings Charity's claims to the attention of Squire Jonas Hacker and Charity is accused of being a witch.
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