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Recap / The Twilight Zone S 5 E 128 Uncle Simon

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This is the sense of "it."

Rod Serling: Dramatis personae: Mr. Simon Polk, a gentleman who has lived out his life in a gleeful rage; and the young lady who's just beat the hasty retreat is Mr. Polk's niece, Barbara. She has lived her life as if during each ensuing hour she had a dentist appointment. There is yet a third member of the company soon to be seen. He now resides in the laboratory and he is the kind of character to be found only in the Twilight Zone.

Air date: November 15, 1963

Simon Polk (Cedric Hardwicke) is an inventor. His niece Barbara (Constance Ford) can't stand him, particularly since he constantly nags her for hot chocolate. However, as he notes, she keeps waiting on him in hopes of gaining his wealth after he dies. While she does indeed become heir to his estate, the will has some very strict conditions, one of which is caring for an undisclosed robot Simon created before his death. Thinking nothing of it, Barbara decides to go along with it; however, as she interacts with the robot, she finds it increasingly taking on the traits of her dead uncle, right down to his habits, personality, and eventually his movements and voice. Since Mr. Schwimmer shows up regularly, as per the will's stipulations, Barbara realizes that the only way to inherit Simon's fortune is to continue looking after his property. Especially the robot.


Rod Serling: Dramatis personae, a metal man who'll go by the name of Simon, whose life as well as his body has been stamped out for him; and the woman who tends to him, the lady Barbara, who's discovered belatedly that all bad things don't come to an end, and that once a bed is made, it's quite necessary that you sleep in it. Tonight's uncomfortable little exercise in avarice and automatons, from the Twilight Zone.


Uncle Tropes:

  • And There Was Much Rejoicing: To say that Barbara was pleased that Simon died is an understatement; he even lampshaded that very sentiment. Doesn't last long, though.
  • Asshole Victim: Both Barbara and Simon, she for being greedy and he for being a chronically crotchety complainer as far as she's concerned.
  • Batman Gambit: The terms of the will make it a textbook example. Simon's plan to continue making Barbara miserable after his death wouldn't succeed if she just decided the money wasn't worth it.
  • Bookends: The episode begins with Barbara waiting on her uncle and ends with her waiting on the robot that has taken on his traits.
  • Both Sides Have a Point: On one hand, Barbara calls out her Uncle for being ungrateful that she takes care of him despite his abuse. On the other hand, Uncle Simon points out she's only taking care of him not out of sentiment, but because she's doing it out of greed for his fortune.
  • Bottle Episode: The episode only features two sets: the Polks' living room, and Simon's laboratory.
  • Brain Uploading: Ambiguously. It isn't clear how or why, but, despite starting out with it's own separate identity, by the end of the episode the robot has become so like Uncle Simon (such as being voiced by the same actor with the exact same tone, inflection, and personality) that not only have the other characters switched to calling him a he, but Barbara explicitly refers to him as Uncle and Rod Serling refers to him as Simon in his closing narration.
  • Crazy-Prepared: Simon specifically designed the will so that the university would get all of his money no matter what, which means he must have known that Barbara would kill him eventually. He also designed the will so that Barbara would have to take care of his robot in order to keep the money, and might have even uploaded his consciousness into the android for good measure.
  • Determinator: If waiting on Simon for 25 years doesn't qualify Barbara as this, nothing does. And that's to say nothing of Simon himself.
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance: Uncle Simon has rather archaic views on gender roles, even by the standards of the show's era.
  • Drink-Based Characterization: Uncle Simon's obsession with drinking hot chocolate doesn't sounds harmful, but the fact that he constantly orders Barbara to make it for him and is not polite when doing so doesn't paint him as a nice man. When the robot starts demanding hot chocolate, it shows that there is some part of Simon within it.
  • Electronic Speech Impediment: The robot repeatedly says "According to plan" soon after it is first activated.
  • Evil vs. Evil: Barbara vs. Simon and later the robot. Well, more Jerkass vs Jerkass, but the principle is the same.
  • Feel No Pain: Simon's robot is functionally immortal. It needs no sleep and proves to be immune to anything Barbara can thrownote  at it.
  • Flowery Insults: Simon has a knack for these.
  • Greed: Barbara's motivation (specifically, his money, rather than his worldly possessions). She doesn't like her uncle (which he lampshades), but she's his only heir.
  • Ironic Hell: As indicated in the Bookends, Barbara was hoping for a financial inheritance and a brand new life; instead, she is stuck doing exactly what she was doing at the start, this time with a functionally immortal robot. Laser-Guided Karma, indeed.
  • Lack of Empathy: Another core function of the robot is to have zero sense of how Barbara feels about what the will requires. In effect, it operates like a newborn, only with hot chocolate in place of the infant formula and an English bone china cup in place of the teat, 24/7.
  • Magnificent Bastard: Simon, considering what he pulled off on his niece.
  • Minimalist Cast: This episode only features three credited actors: Cedric Hardwicke, Constance Ford, and Ian Wolfe. Vic Perrin is uncredited as the voice of the robot.
  • On One Condition: There is almost nothing ambiguous about the stipulations in Simon's willnote ; thus, Loophole Abuse is averted. If she sells or destroys or otherwise disposes of anything, refuses to take care of his inventions, or leaves the house, Barbara forfeits everything to the state university. And his legal team has been instructed to visit every week to verify that she's following through on it.
  • Single-Task Robot: A variation that inverts the norm: Barbara has to be its servant and caretaker.
  • Staircase Tumble: How Simon dies, and how Barbara attempts to destroy his robot, except that it doesn't break.
  • Tempting Fate: Following the Staircase Tumble, and the demolition of a few possessions, this little gem:
    Barbara: “As of this second, as of this very second, I have quit suffering because of you. I am no longer sowing, Uncle Simon. As of right now, I am going to reap! Hey, world, I’m back! I’m really back!”
  • Thousand-Yard Stare: Barbara, when Simon's lawyer shows up for the weekly investigation of the premises ("he makes his wants known"). Schwimmer's response indicates that at least several weeks have passed.
  • Wins by Doing Absolutely Nothing: The will was cleverly set up so that the university would get all his money no matter what, without having to do a thing. Exactly when that happens depends entirely on Barbara, who will either eventually decide that the money isn't worth it, or die of old age. All because she didn't think to read between the lines.
  • Worth It: The reason the Batman Gambit on which the will is based works. Barbara still believes she can get the inheritance.

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