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Recap / The Twilight Zone S 2 E 58 Long Distance Call

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Rod Serling: As must be obvious, this is a house hovered over by Mr. Death, an omnipresent player to the third and final act of every life. And it's been said, and probably rightfully so, that what follows this life is one of the unfathomable mysteries, an area of darkness which we, the living, reserve for the dead—or so it is said. For in a moment, a child will try to cross that bridge which separates light and shadow, and, of course, he must take the only known route, that indistinct highway through the region we call the Twilight Zone.
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Air date: March 31, 1961

Billy Bayles (Billy Mumy) and his grandmother (Lili Darvas) are very close, and so he is sad when she dies. Then, however, he begins to say that Grandma called him on his toy telephone and wants him to visit. At first, the parents ignore this as the ramblings of a child, but events will soon force them to see that the truth is far more sinister. It seems that Grandma is lonely in the afterlife, and she using the telephone to talk Billy into joining her. Billy attempts to kill himself several times; when he tries to drown himself in the family's fish pond and is on the verge of death, his father Chris (Phillip Abbott) grabs the phone and begs Grandma to let Billy grow up and experience life... which she does. To his parents' relief, Billy recovers completely.

Rod Serling: A toy telephone, an act of faith, a set of improbable circumstances, all combine to probe a mystery, to fathom a depth, to send a facet of light into a dark after-region, to be believed or disbelieved, depending on your frame of reference. A fact or a fantasy, a substance or a shadow—but all of it very much a part of The Twilight Zone.
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Long Distance Tropes:

  • Adult Fear: That another person could have so much influence over your child that they could convince them to hurt themselves.
  • Bottle Episode: This episode takes place entirely in and around the Bayles house.
  • Doting Grandparent: A very dark example.
  • Driven to Suicide: Just barely subverted with Billy, who attempts to drown himself and is rescued at the last minute thanks to his father's heart-to-heart with Grandma.
  • Evil Old Folks: Grandma.
  • Heel–Face Turn: At her son Chris' urging, Grandma eventually lets Billy live.
  • I Have No Son!: Grandma Bayles has never forgiven her son Chris for marrying Sylvia and leaving her.
  • No Name Given: Grandma Bayles' first name is never revealed.
  • Outliving One's Offspring: Grandma Bayles' Back Story is that two of her children died and she doesn't get along with her surviving son Chris, which is why she dotes on Billy so much.
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  • Phone Call from the Dead: For extra creepiness, we only hear Billy's side of the conversations.
  • Punny Name: A very clever one. The doctor's name is R. Unger which looks like "rongeur" which is a surgical tool.
  • Supernatural Phone: A recently deceased grandmother calls her five-year-old grandson on his toy telephone.
  • Together in Death: Grandma urges Billy to kill himself so that they can be together again.

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