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Recap / The Twilight Zone S 1 E 28 A Nice Place To Visit

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Rod Serling: "Portrait of a man at work, the only work he's ever done, the only work he knows. His name is Henry Francis Valentine, but he calls himself Rocky because that's the way his life has been: rocky and perilous and uphill at a dead run all the way. He's tired now, tired of running or wanting, of waiting for the breaks that come to others but never to him, never to Rocky Valentine. A scared, angry little man. He thinks it's all over now, but he's wrong. For Rocky Valentine, it's just the beginning."

Air date: April 15, 1960

We open on Rocky Valentine (Larry Blyden) in the middle of his "job," robbing a store. He stops when he hears a police siren and starts to make a break for it. He turns into an alley and opens fire on the "dirty screws" that are in pursuit while trying to climb a fence. He's hit several times in the back and falls to the ground. He comes to, seemingly alive and well, with a fat man in a white suit (Sebastian Cabot) standing over him, calling his name. He wonders how "Fats," who informs Rocky that he can call him Pip, knows his name. Pip simply states that it's his job to know. He also knows several facts about Rocky's life, including his childhood. Pip makes the situation plain: it's his job to see to Rocky's comfort and give him anything he could want. All of this for nothing in return, at all. Rocky is disbelieving but after a demonstration of that his bullets will do "Fats" no harm, he works it all out: he died in that alley and now here he is getting anything he can ask for from a kind old man in a white suit, he must be in Heaven! This realization, combined with "a dame that never quits" and a million bucks in loose change on a whim, he changes his tune.


We cut to Rocky living it up in a casino. He's hot tonight and rolling in the dough, winning round after round. He lives the highlife, with "Fats" giving him anything on demand. It's all wonderful, except for one thing: he can't quite figure out how a crook like him managed to get through the pearly gates. He asks "Fats" if they have a hall of records around this place, which they do. So they go there, "it's always open," and pull up his file. With such wonderful notes as "Age of 6, slaughtered small dog," Rocky wonders if there's been some misunderstanding. Pip assures him, there's been no mistake. He's right where he's supposed to be. And Rocky brushes it off—if it don't bother The Big Man then it don't bother him none.

We cut back to the casino. Rocky is winning again. He always wins. It's the same back at his fancy pad, the dames are getting dull and he wins a game of pool on the first stroke. He summons "Fats" and explains his boredom. "Fats" makes a suggestion—perhaps he would be happier if he went back to his old ways. This gets Rocky excited, finally some action, some risk. But "Fats" would have it "exactly as he requested" and that's no good. There's no point. It's not the same, artificial risk. He'd "know" and it's eating him up. He goes into a frenzy, telling Pip, "I don't belong in Heaven, see? I want to go to the other place." "Fats" then delivers the Wham Line that this episode is famous for: "Heaven? Whatever gave you the idea you were in Heaven, Mr. Valentine? This is the other place!!" As the realization dawns on Rocky's face he frantically tries to open the now locked door while "Fats" laughs at his desperation and the camera pans up.


A Nice Place to Trope:

  • And Then What?: Rocky runs into this dilemma early on, not knowing what to do now that he has everything he ever wanted. It's the first sign that it's actually a punishment.
  • Beard of Evil: Pip's beard is initially meant to project an air of godliness, fitting in with the initial presentation of Rocky's fate as heavenly, only for it to get turned on its head when Pip reveals that Rocky's actually in Hell, turning his facial hair into a way of accentuating his status as a tormentor.
  • Bewildering Punishment: Rocky doesn't know that it is a punishment... at first.
  • Bloodless Carnage: No squibs or blood appear on Rocky anywhere when he's shot dead — especially since Pip states that Rocky was shot in the head. The censors would never allow it on television at the time.
  • Brooklyn Rage: Rocky is from Brooklyn and speaks in a very thick accent.
  • Complete-the-Quote Title: "...but I wouldn't want to live there."
  • Cool and Unusual Punishment: It may be boring but it does beat a lake of fire.
  • Dead to Begin With: Rocky Valentine dies in the first minutes of the episode.
  • Divinely Appearing Demons: Though he looks nice, Pip is not really Valentine's guardian angel.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: When he was six years old, Valentine slaughtered a small dog for biting him.
  • Enfant Terrible: In addition to killing the dog, Rocky stole 14 toys from a store, organized a street gang, and broke into a bike shop all before he turned ten.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Rocky thinks back on his childhood gang fondly, calling them a good group. He also asks Pip about the whereabouts of some fallen friends, wanting to see them again. These are about the only times he's thinking of someone other than himself.
  • Evil Laugh: The episode ends with Mr. Pip doing one after saying the Wham Line.
  • Exact Words:
    • Rocky calls Pip an angel. Pip never describes himself as an angel, merely a guide.
    • Rocky mentions the place must be Heaven. Pip says, "Something like that." Only one major difference.
  • Fatal Flaw: Rocky Valentine's Pride and Greed. He wanted everything in life and did nothing but take, now he is stuck in a paradise where he gets everything he ever wants. He always wins. He has women for miles around. He has money lining his pockets, but he becomes bored. Even when Pip offers to arrange for him to lose and have some hardships, Valentine's pride stands in the way and he still isn't satisfied. Because of Valentine's self-absorbed ambition and greed, he will suffer of boredom in his Ironic Hell for eternity.
  • Fat Bastard: Pip, who Valentine even nicknames "Fats", is actually a demon who is amused by Valentine going mad with boredom.
  • Faux Affably Evil: Pip turns out to be a demon who is only being courteous and obedient to screw with Valentine by making him live with boredom for all eternity. He drops the affable facade at the very end when he breaks out laughing after delivering the Wham Line.
  • Freudian Excuse: Possibly. As the opening narration states, Rocky calls himself as much because he's lived an exceptionally difficult life, filled with crime and poverty, and is bitter about never having the chance for anything else and he seems unable to grasp the idea of getting whatever he wants for free, saying "anything I got in this lousy world, I had to drag out of it". It's not a stretch to see his selfish behavior as a reaction to his tough upbringing.
  • Fluffy Cloud Heaven: How the Celestial Bureaucracy is depicted, albeit stark.
  • Gang of Bullies: When he was eight years old, Valentine started a street gang called the Angels.
  • Ham-to-Ham Combat: Sebastian Cabot and Larry Blyden take turns seeing who can out-ham the other.
  • Hell of a Heaven: Subverted; Rocky thinks this is where he ended up, and that's why he wants to go to the other place. But, of course, this is the other place.
  • Immune to Bullets: Pip to Rocky's absolute bewilderment.
  • Ironic Hell: Rocky is a sociopathic hedonist who treats other people as mindless automatons to be used up for his own, shallow pleasures. As a result he winds up in an afterlife where everyone is a mindless automaton who only exists for his immediate pleasure.
  • It's All About Me: Valentine is clearly very self-absorbed.
  • Karmic Twist Ending: Turns out Valentine was in Hell all along.
  • Kick the Dog: Valentine killed a dog who bit him while he was only six years old and expresses no remorse for the act when recalling it as an adult.
  • Lonely at the Top: Rocky Valentine is at the top of the world. He is the boss. He gets everything he ever wanted and more, but quickly grows bored, and ultimately miserable.
  • The Magic Poker Equation: Rocky is playing poker with his women. One of them draws a straight flush only for Rocky to win with the rarest and best hand in poker, a royal flush. Justified in this instance as part of Rocky's Ironic Hell is that he can never, ever lose at games of chance unless he specifically asks to. Which, in of itself, take away from the risk of the situation because the outcome of losing would have been pre-planned.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Valentine's women, whom he calls "The Dolls."
  • Mundane Afterlife: The afterlife appears to be just like the living world except that everything always goes right for Rocky. He enjoys it at first, but eventually grows disillusioned with the endless pleasure.
  • No Challenge Equals No Satisfaction: Valentine's eternal punishment. He grows very frustrated and exasperated that every roulette round is a win, every card hand is a win, even the first shot on a billiards table results in all balls sinking with one strike. Every woman is a hot babe who's perfectly willing to have sex with him. Even when he wants to rob a bank, he knows he will get away and hates the idea Pip has to plan in a chance he would get caught because it will still feel fake to him. Turns out it wasn't the material and money that Rocky was seeking, it was the sheer pleasure and thrill of taking that gave him satisfaction.
  • Not Using the "Z" Word: The afterlife Rocky ends up in is never explicitly referred to as "Hell" although he does believe it to be Heaven at first and says as much. It's only referred to in the finale as "the other place".
  • Personalized Afterlife: Rocky asks Pip if he could meet up with some of his old outlaw friends who had died before him, but he is told his afterlife is his own "personal domain" separate from theirs. Not only does this fit with the idea of each person's hell being tailormade to make them as miserable as possible, but if he were to be able to spend time with "real" people other than Pip, he likely wouldn't grow bored with it as quickly.
  • The Sociopath: In life, Rocky cared for nothing and no one but himself, and was a thrill seeker who enjoyed the pleasure of taking from others, which makes his Ironic Hell so strong. What's the most effective punishment for someone who has done nothing but take? Put him in a paradise that gives him anything and everything he wants.
  • Spiritual Antithesis: Think the nonstop party world where all your desires are instantly satisfied would be a great place to spend the afterlife? The Black Mirror episode "San Junipero" agrees!
  • Stealth Hi/Bye: When Rocky dials P-I-P, Pip appears without warning over his shoulder. Averted at the Celestial Bureaucracy, as Pip simply vanishes in plain view.
  • This Isn't Heaven: The famous twist ending provides the page quote for that trope.
  • Thrill Seeker: Rocky. Sadly, his eternity loses its luster very, very quickly...
  • Troubling Unchildlike Behavior: Rocky was a thief and gang leader as a child. He even slit a dog's throat when he was six.
  • Victory Is Boring: Why it's an Ironic Hell. Rocky initially finds joy in his inability to lose after a lifetime of high risk, only to slowly grow disenchanted with the fact that everything he does always goes exactly as he intends it.
  • Villain Protagonist: Valentine is a self-absorbed, violent, and quick-to-anger thief who shows little remorse for harming other people. He does become slightly nicer after thinking he's in heaven, though.
  • Wanting Is Better Than Having: Valentine doesn't want money or luxury or women just handed to him. What he wants is the thrill of 'taking' those things. Too bad his new accommodation doesn't allow that.
  • Wham Line: "Whatever gave you the idea you were in Heaven, Mr. Valentine? This is the other place!"

Rod Serling: "A scared, angry little man who never got a break. Now he has everything he's ever wanted and he's going to have to live with it for eternity, in The Twilight Zone."

Video Example(s):


This is the other place

Bored with his afterlife, Valentine suggest his guide Pip, or "Fats" to send him to "The other place".

Unfortunately, "Fats" reveals to him that he was in "The other place" since the start of his afterlife.

How well does it match the trope?

4.91 (43 votes)

Example of:

Main / ThisIsntHeaven

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