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Recap / The Twilight Zone S 3 E 88 The Last Rites Of Jeff Myrtlebank

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How did he light that match? Maybe it's best not to ask...

Rod Serling: Time, the mid-twenties. Place, the Midwest - the southernmost section of the midwest. We were just witnessing a funeral, a funeral that didn't come off exactly as planned, due to a slight fallout - from the Twilight Zone.

Jeff Myrtlebank (James Best) sits up at his own funeral, causing the townspeople to flee the church in terror. Jeff follows them, angrily demanding to know why he was put in a coffin. Only his little sister Liz and his girlfriend Comfort Gatewood (Sherry Jackson) are brave enough to approach him, and they confirm that Jeff is not a zombie. Everyone testifies that Jeff had a terrible fever and the doctor declared him dead. The doctor, to save face, makes up a disease that causes suspended animation and proposes that Jeff caught it. Everyone accepts this and goes home.

After a few days, Jeff's family get concerned. Before his "death", Jeff was a slacker, but now he works furiously on mending the fence and other chores. In addition, his eating habits are different.

Jeff visits Comfort at her house. He tries to give her some freshly picked flowers, but they suddenly blacken and wilt. Frightened, she won't let him touch her. Jeff gets angry; everyone's been avoiding him since his revival, and it seems she's no different.


As Jeff tries to leave, Comfort's brother Orgram, who always hated him, orders him to never come back. Jeff refuses to give in to his demands. Orgram boasts about how he always beat him up when they were younger, but Jeff takes him out with a few punches before leaving.

The town holds a meeting and discusses Jeff. An angry Orgram reminds everyone that Jeff had previously been a wimp compared to him. The doctor insists that he was sure that Jeff was dead, he poked his corpse with a pin and held a mirror to his lips to check for breath. After some debate, the people conclude that Jeff's body must have been possessed by a demon.

Jeff is taking a walk when Comfort runs up, warning him that the townspeople have formed an angry mob. Jeff thanks her and proposes. Before she can answer, the mob arives, demanding that Jeff leave town or else. Jeff says his decision depends on Comfort's answer. Comfort says yes, she will marry him and so Jeff tells the mob he will stay. If he is Jeff Myrtlebank, they have nothing to worry about. But if he is a demon like they say, they'd better leave him and Comfort alone... or else.


Jeff: I might raise my right hand and send a swarm of locusts on your crops! I might raise my left hand and send the buzzards to steal your chickens! And I might snap my fingers... and burn a barn or two!

Terrified, the mob leaves. When they are alone, Comfort asks Jeff if he can really do those things. Jeff replies that he was bluffing. He starts to smoke... lighting his pipe without striking his match! Shocked, Comfort asks how he did that. Jeff says she's just seeing things, takes her hand, and leads her home. The gate closes by itself.

Rod Serling: Jeff and Comfort are still alive today, and their only son is a United States senator who's noted as an uncommonly shrewd politician - and some believe he must have gotten his education in The Twilight Zone.

The Last Tropes of Jeff Myrtlebank

  • Affably Evil: Assuming this is not the real Jeff, the demon who stole his way into Jeff's body counts for this trope. He's hard-working, affectionate towards his girlfriend Comfort, and rather than use his powers to enslave them, arranges a peaceful co-existence with the mob (they don't bother him or his girlfriend, and he won't bother them).
  • Back from the Dead: Though whether it was Jeff that came back is the mystery...
  • Bat Deduction: They go to 'possessed by a demon' pretty dang fast.
  • Bullying a Dragon: Jeff points out that if the townsfolk are right and he's some sort of monster, they had better be nice to him because he's powerful enough to make their lives miserable.
  • Came Back Wrong: Whether it's really Jeff or a demon wearing his skin, something clearly changed about him after he came back.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: When Orgram warns him to stay away from Comfort, Jeff manages to beat him up with little effort. Before Jeff's death and resurrection, Orgram had been whupping him ever since they were children.
  • Demonic Possession: Hinted at. If it is though, it's a surprisingly well-mannered demon all things considered.
  • The Last Title: The title of the episode.
  • Make Them Rot: The fresh roses that Jeff picks for Comfort die within minutes of his touching them. This causes her to worry that the townsfolk's fears that Jeff Came Back Wrong may be justified.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: Is there something supernatural about Jeff? The episode doesn't give a definitive answer till the end.
  • Playing with Fire: In the final scene, Jeff demonstrates this ability when he lights a match without striking it. He tells Comfort that it was just her imagination.
  • Possessing a Dead Body: The townsfolk certainly believe that Jeff is being possessed by an evil spirit. Whether it's true is never clarified, though something happened to him.
  • Torches and Pitchforks: They don't do much once Jeff reminds them, if he's really a demon like they think, he can do a whole lot worse to them than they can to him with a few torches and pitchforks.
  • Tuckerization: One of the mailboxes has the name M. Pittman on it, a reference to this episode's writer and director Montgomery Pittman.
  • Where Are They Now: In the closing narration, Rod Serling notes that Jeff and Comfort are still alive and their only son, a United States senator, is regarded as "an uncommonly shrewd politician."


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