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Recap / The Twilight Zone S 5 E 141 Spur Of The Moment

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Rod Serling: This is the face of terror. Anne Marie Henderson, 18 years of age, her young existence suddenly marred by a savage and wholly unanticipated pursuit by a strange, nightmarish figure of a woman in black, who has appeared as if from nowhere and now, at driving gallop, chases the terrified girl across the countryside, as if she means to ride her down and kill her, and then suddenly and inexplicably stops to watch in malignant silence as her prey takes flight. Miss Henderson has no idea whatever as to the motive for this pursuit. Worse, not the vaguest notion regarding the identity of her pursuer. Soon enough, she will be given the solution to this twofold mystery, but in a manner far beyond her present capacity to understand, a manner enigmatically bizarre in terms of time and space - which is to say, an answer from... the Twilight Zone.
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Anne Henderson is a wealthy young woman in the prime of her life. She has a comfortable life on a nice ranch, she's getting married to a nice investment broker, and is the very picture of health. One day while riding a horse, a bedraggled woman on a horse starts chasing her and screaming her name.

Spur of the Tropes:

  • An Aesop:
    • You can't change the past, no matter how hard you may try.
    • A secondary one is, marriage shouldn't be done on a spur of the moment. It takes more than perceived "true love" or "childhood romance" to make it work; but rather time and good judge of character on one's part.
  • The Alcoholic: In 1964, Anne and David are both alcoholics. Anne's mother scolds her for drinking and ignoring the fact that their house is going to be repossessed but Anne retorts that it helps her. She clearly drinks as an attempt to escape her miserable life with David.
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  • Awful Wedded Life: Anne eloped with David on the night of her engagement party to Robert on June 13, 1939 but their marriage proved to be a disaster. David turned into an abusive wastrel who ran the Henderson family estate into the ground and drove Anne to alcoholism. In 1964, the two of them despise each other.
  • Bad People Abuse Animals: In keeping with being everything her past-self wasn't, Future Anne uses a riding crop on her riding horse, and especially more-so when she chases down Past Anne.
  • Bait-and-Switch: In 1964, Anne laments about her horrible married life...and in walks David instead of Robert.
  • Book-Ends: The episode starts and finishes with Future Anne's trying to catch up to Past Anne to warn her about running off with David.
  • Bottle Episode: Although this episode covers 25 years, it takes place almost entirely in the living room of Anne's parents' house.
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  • Cannot Spit It Out: Anne is furnished, at great personal risk to her preferred boyfriend, with a golden opportunity to speak out with her wishes, avoiding the unwanted marriage; she squanders it by clamming up, making bizarre squeaking noises, and bolting from the room. Future Anne has not improved in this; given the supernatural opportunity to warn her past self to make a better choice, she sticks with frightening Past Anne by screaming indistinctly like a crazed madwoman rather than use her words to communicate anything to the effect of "You should marry Robert rather than David", despite having experienced this herself and therefore knowing that Past Anne will perceive it as a threat.
  • Childhood Friend Romance: Played with—according to David, he and Anne had planned to marry since they were kids, and while she does, their union turns out to be anything but happy.
  • The Dog Bites Back: When David snidely mocks Anne for her decision to marry him for love years ago, she snaps and hits him on the side of the head with her bourbon glass, before she leaves to (once more) attempt changing the past.
  • Domestic Abuse: In 1964, David is verbally abusive towards Anne and takes delight in mocking her for marrying him for love 25 years earlier.
  • Double-Meaning Title: The episode's title can refer to horse chase between Anne's past and future selves, and how Anne impulsively ran off with David.
  • Foreshadowing: David punching Robert hints towards his abusive nature.
  • Future Me Scares Me: A literal example.
  • Good Colors, Evil Colors: Anne wears a white shirt and rides a white horse fitting her politeness, innocence, and naivety. Future Anne is dressed entirely in black and rides a black horse symbolizing her unhappy and jaded nature.
  • I Hate Past Me: And how! Future Anne despises how her past self's naiveté and innocence made her vulnerable to making the one bad choice that got her where she is today.
  • Ironic Echo: In 1964, David mockingly tells Anne that he is her true love and her adored one, the same words that Anne used to describe him before they eloped in 1939.
  • Jerkass: David—he's an abusive alcoholic who calls Anne stupid for marrying him.
  • Marry for Love: A brutal deconstruction; Anne risks her safe future with Robert to marry her childhood love David without taking into account various red flags he showed early on resulting in her life going in a downward spiral.
  • Never My Fault: Future Anne blames her father for her life being ruined because he never taught her how to fend for herself—however, she wouldn't be in her current situation had she actually listened about marrying Robert instead of David.
  • Never Speak Ill of the Dead: Averted with Anne, though her mother plays it straight by calling her out on what she said.
  • Once More, with Clarity!: In the beginning, a strange woman in black begins chasing Anne, screaming her name. This moment means something completely different at the end, when the woman's identity has been revealed.
  • Poor Judge of Character: Future Anne lampshades the deconstruction of this trope. She bitterly looks back on how she unwisely believed David to be her "true love". She resents that her younger self failed to recognize that not only was David's violent personality a red flag, but he otherwise didn't have practical skills to make money and keep a roof over their heads.
  • Reality Ensues: Anne ditches the "boring" investment banker Robert to marry her "true love," the carefree David...and he ends up driving the family business and home straight into the ground.
  • The Reveal: To go off of Bait-and-Switch above, it turns out that instead of marrying Robert, Anne ended up leaving him to elope with David, but this ended up having some serious consequences.
  • Rich Suitor, Poor Suitor: Brutally deconstructed when it's shown that Anne married "poor" David instead of "rich" Robert with disasterous results.
  • Riches to Rags: Thanks to David's horrendous management of the ranch and abuse, Anne lost everything and is set to soon lose the ranch as well.
  • Rule of Symbolism: Future Anne's inability to catch up to Past Anne and warn her not to marry David represents the fact that you can't change the past no matter how hard you try.
  • Time Skip: The first half of the episode takes place on June 13, 1939 while the second half takes place in 1964.
  • Took a Level in Jerkass: While somewhat understandable due to her situation, Future Anne's callousness towards people who had nothing to do with ruining her life, especially her mother and late father, is inexcusable.
  • Ungrateful Bastard: Future Anne is mad at her father for the comfortable living he gave her because she thinks it kept her from learning how to provide for herself.
  • Used to Be a Sweet Kid: Once upon a time, Ann was a sweet, innocent young woman who was easily frightened and loved her parents dearly. In the present, she's become quite the opposite, right down to disrespecting her late father's memory.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: In the future, Anne's mother gives her daughter such a speech when Anne speaks ill of her late father.

Rod Serling: This is the face of terror. Anne Marie Mitchell, 43 years of age, her desolate existence once more afflicted by the hope of altering her past mistake - a hope which is unfortunately doomed to disappointment. For warnings from the future to the past must be taken in the past. Today may change tomorrow but once today is gone, tomorrow can only look back in sorrow that the warning was ignored. Said warning as of now stamped 'Not Accepted'- and stored away in the dead file, in the recording office... of the Twilight Zone.
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