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Recap / The Twilight Zone S 1 E 29 Nightmare As A Child

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"I know all about you..."

Rod Serling: Month of November, hot chocolate, and a small cameo of a child's face, imperfect only in its solemnity. And these are the improbable ingredients to a human emotion, an emotion, say, like—fear. But in a moment this woman, Helen Foley, will realize fear. She will understand what are the properties of terror. A little girl will lead her by the hand and walk with her into a nightmare.

Air date: April 29, 1960

Helen Foley (Janice Rule) is a schoolteacher with a troubled past. She comes home one afternoon to her apartment and meets a young girl, Markie, sitting on the stairs of her apartment building. Markie is an odd child with a deadly serious manner. More disturbingly for Helen, Markie is strangely knowledgeable about Helen and about Helen's past. Markie demands to know about Helen's past, and about a terrible trauma Helen suffered when she was a child.

Rod Serling: Miss Helen Foley, who has lived in night and who will wake up to morning. Miss Helen Foley, who took a dark spot from the tapestry of her life and rubbed it clean—then stepped back a few paces and got a good look at the Twilight Zone.


Nightmare as a Trope:

  • Anti-Hero: Markie, while creepy, solemn, harsh, and mouthy, wants to help Helen recover her memory of her past and learn who her mother's killer was.
  • Bottle Episode: This episode takes place entirely in Helen's apartment and the corridor outside of it.
  • Catapult Nightmare: Helen after dreaming of the death of her mother.
  • Creepy Child: Markie, with her demanding manner and dead-eyed affect. She's revealed ultimately to have good intentions, but she's still creepy.
  • Creepy Children Singing: Helen hears Markie creepily singing "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star" in her mind.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: Helen saw her mother be killed by a close family friend and suppressed the memory.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: After years of being subconsciously haunted by the memory of her mother's murder, Helen can finally close the chapter on her past and move on.
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  • Foreshadowing: Peter Selden tells Helen he was the first to find her mother's dead body. Now think, who would be the first person to see a murdered body?
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Peter Selden dies trying to kill Helen to get rid of any witnesses of his crime.
  • Ignored Epiphany: Helen verges on realizing Markie was her when she was younger when she checks Markie's arm for the same burn she has, but her memory suppression keeps her from putting the pieces together.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Peter Selden dies falling down the stairs, a result of trying to kill the daughter of his murder victim, the only living witness to his crime many years ago.
  • Repressed Memories: Helen repressed the memory of witnessing Peter Selden murder her mother in her bedroom when she was ten years old.
  • Staircase Tumble: Selden dies falling down the stairs after a struggle with Helen.
  • Took a Level in Kindness: Downplayed, as Helen was never mean to begin with, just cold and distant. However, it's worth noting she becomes a lot more open and tender after coming to terms with her past.
  • Troubled, but Cute: Markie.
  • Tuckerization: Helen Foley is named after Rod Serling's favorite teacher.
  • Wham Line: Peter Selden mentioning that "Markie" was Helen's childhood nickname.
  • Wham Shot: Peter Selden provides a picture of Helen when she was a little girl. The latter is taken aback to see her childhood self looks just like Markie.