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Recap / The Twilight Zone S 4 E 109 Jess Belle

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Rod Serling: The Twilight Zone has existed in many lands in many times. It has its roots in history, in something that happened long, long ago and got told about and handed down from one generation of folk to the other. In the telling the story gets added to and embroidered on, so that what might have happened in the time of the Druids is told as if it took place yesterday in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Such stories are best told by an elderly grandfather on a cold winter's night by the fireside in the southern hills of the Twilight Zone.

A girl strikes a bargain with a witch to win a young man's heart.

Jess Tropes:

  • Be Careful What You Wish For: Jess-Belle wanted to win back Billy-Ben's heart and soul. Thanks to Granny Hart's potion, she does. But not only does Billy-Ben become increasingly obsessed with her, she treats him so coldly at times.
  • Deal with the Devil: If you try to barter with Granny Hart with anything other than money, chances are your soul will be in the bargain as well.
  • Demonic Possession: Jess-Belle's vengeful spirit possesses Ellwyn on her wedding day.
  • Disappeared Dad: Jess-Belle's father is absent from the story.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: After Jess-Belle's many attempts to get between the two lovers, the story ends with Billy-Ben rid of her and able to begin his life with his newly-wed bride Elly in peace.
  • Everybody Has Standards: Although Jess-Belle wants nothing more than to get back with Billy-Ben, she's mortified at the idea of (A) getting his love at the expense of becoming a witch and (B) the risk that her changing into a leopard will potentially kill him. Even when Granny Hart insists she make the most of it, Jess-Belle weeps "I can't do that to Billy-Ben!" Later, however, her resolve wanes when she gives in to the temptation to take up Granny Hart's advice.
  • Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: Even before she was turned into a witch, this mindset is part of why Jess-Belle couldn't accept Billy-Ben's engagement to Elly-Glover. In her mind, she thinks Billy-Ben only loves her because of "pretty clothes and her daddy's money", rather than Billy-Ben's explanation that Elly-Glover offers "gentler" love that goes beyond passion.
  • Forced Transformation: Every night, in payment for the love potion, Jess-Belle must turn into a leopard upon the stroke of midnight.
  • Foreshadowing: When Jess-Belle offers Granny Hart a pearl pin with a silver stick to bargain, the latter winces from the pin and asks Jess-Belle to take it away. This provides a clue that witches are vulnerable to silver.
  • Freudian Slip: During their conversation about how Elly-Glover seemed to be falling ill, Ossie decides she'll bring the girl some of her home-brewed tonics to help her feel better. Bemused by her mother's tendency for making tonics, Jess-Belle remarks "You're worse than Granny Hart" before she realizes she's said a little too much. Sure enough, this sets off some alarm bells for her mother, who soon learns the truth.
  • Genre Savvy: Billy-Ben goes to Granny Hart for information on how to stop Jess-Belle. She requests a lock of his hair as payment. Billy-Ben immediately sees through this attempt to ensorcel him and insists on paying in coin.
  • Hair of Gold, Heart of Gold: Elly Glover is blonde and has a pure, sweet heart to match.
  • I Know You Know I Know: Elly knows something "not-right" is what made Billy-Ben fall in love with Jess-Belle. She practically accuses Jess-Belle of using witchcraft on him when they meet on the road.
  • Love Potion: Jess-Belle bargains Granny Hart for one.
  • Meaningful Name:
    • Jess-Belle is named after Jezebel from the Books of Kings.
    • Jess-Belle obtains a love potion from Granny Hart.
  • Oddball in the Series: This is the only episode not to feature closing narration from Rod Serling.
  • Silver Has Mystic Powers: Silver can be used to kill witches.
  • Stealth Insult: Jess-Belle finds Ellwyn gathering flowers after she has won Billy-Ben's love using Granny Hart's Love Potion. She tells her that she saw a patch of old maid's fern up on the mountain. Elly replies that she has noticed a lot of vixen wort around.
  • Sympathetic Magic: Billy-Ben finally kills Jess-Belle by placing the dress she made for her wedding on a dummy and stabbing the dress through the heart with her silver pin.
  • Time Skip: A year passes between the third and fourth acts.
  • Tragic Villain: Jess-Belle sacrificed her humanity and soul to win Billy-Ben's love and happiness. She ends up with neither love nor happiness, and finally dies as a witch.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: So what will Jess-Belle's mother Ossie do with herself now that the poor thing is both widowed and childless?
  • When the Clock Strikes Twelve: Jess-Belle turns into a leopard every night at midnight.

"Fair was Elly Glover,
Dark was Jess-Belle.
Both they loved the same man
And both they loved him well."