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Recap / The Twilight Zone S 4 E 103 In His Image

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Rod Serling: What you have just witnessed could be the end of a particularly terrifying nightmare. It isn't – it's the beginning. Although Alan Talbot doesn't know it, he's about to enter a strange new world, too incredible to be real, too real to be a dream. It's called the Twilight Zone.

A man named Alan Talbot finds a mystery on his hands — he hears strange noises in his head; he feels homicidal urges, and things he remembers as recent appear to have happened years ago. His attempt to discover the truth leads back to his hometown, but the truth may not be something he wants to hear.

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In His Tropes:

  • Adaptation Name Change: In the short story by Charles Beaumont, the respective names of the protagonist, his fiancée and his supposed neighbor are Peter Nolan (a tribute to Beaumont's friend and fellow writer William F. Nolan), Walter B. Cummings, Jr., Jessica Lang and Agatha Cook. In the television adaptation, their names are Alan Talbot, Walter B. Ryder, Jr., Jessica Connelly and Jenny Cook.
  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: The flaw in Alan's design manifests in what appear to be psychotic episodes, characterized by auditory hallucinations and an urge to murder. It's not even like Walter has any repressed homicidal urges that Alan is acting out; he's just broken.
  • Ambiguous Clone Ending: Subverted; near the end of the episode, Alan and Walter get into a fight. Shortly afterwards, one of them visits Alan's fiancée Jessica's apartment in New York City and reassures her that everything is okay. The scene then cuts to Alan's body lying on the floor of Walter's lab with his inner workings exposed.
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  • Book-Ends: In the first scene after the prologue, Alan comes to Jessica's apartment and jokes that he belongs to the Junior Woodchucks. In the final scene, Walter does the same thing.
  • Flawed Prototype: Walter shows Alan the two failed prototypes in his quest to create an android: Alan Talbot 1 and Alan Talbot 2. It turns out that Alan is flawed himself due to his frequent homicidal urges.
  • Fourth Date Marriage: Alan and Jessica got engaged after only knowing each other for four days. Jessica never learns that Alan was an android or that his identity was assumed by his creator Walter.
  • The Fundamentalist: Alan meets an evangelist in a subway station who tells him that God sees and hears everything and that Satan plans to have him. He only manages to shut her up by pushing her under a train.
  • Meaningful Name: According to The Twilight Zone Companion, Alan ended up with the last name "Talbot" as a reference to Lawrence Talbot, who also discovered he wasn't human and had intense homicidal urges.
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  • Ridiculously Human Robot: Invoked; Miserable genius Walter Ryder Jr. creates robot lookalike Alan Talbot specifically as an improved version of himself, with a nervous system that will function just like a human one. The chief glitch is Talbot's uncontrollable urge to kill.
  • Tomato in the Mirror: After murdering a woman on the subway platform, Alan Talbot returns to his home town with his fiancée Jessica, but discovers that nothing is as he remembers it. Then he discovers that he is really an android created 8 days ago, and all his memories were a fiction of his creator Walter Ryder, who wanted to build a more perfect version of himself.
  • Younger Than They Look: Walter reveals to Alan that he is an eight-day-old android.

Rod Serling: In a way, it can be said that Walter Ryder succeeded in his life's ambition, even though the man he created was, after all, himself. There may be easier ways to self-improvement, but sometimes it happens that the shortest distance between two points is a crooked line – through the Twilight Zone.
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