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Recap / The Twilight Zone S 5 E 147 Sounds And Silences

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Rod Serling: This is Roswell G. Flemington, two hundred and seventeen pounds of gristle, lung tissue and sound decibels. He is, as you have perceived, a noisy man, one of a breed who substitutes volume for substance, sound for significance and shouting to cover up the readily apparent phenomenon that he is nothing more than an overweight and aging perennial Sea Scout whose noise-making is in inverse ratio to his competence and his character. But soon our would-be admiral of the fleet will embark on another voyage. This one is an uncharted and twisting stream that heads for a distant port called The Twilight Zone.

"A model ship magnate thunders about his home and office, until his ears play tricks on him."

Roswell G. Flemington was raised in a home where he could not even have cookies because cookies made too much noise. At least his mother bought brownies. So when he came of age, he went to sea and his desire to compensate for not making enough noise is driving everyone else mad. He has collected all sorts of nautical noisemakers, from bells and whistles to actual recordings of sea battles.

One day, after twenty years, his wife has had enough of his obsession with noise and finally divorces him. Shortly after, every little noise is like an explosion and he sees a doctor who helps him understand that conflict with his wife has caused him to relive his resentment against his mother to the point that he internalizes his mother's affliction. He now realizes that it is all in his head, all he needs to do is overcome the mental block with "mind over matter" and he does. The only problem is that when his wife returns to pick up her jewelry, he tells her about it and proceeds to "shut her out" — going too far in the other direction, so that now he cannot hear anything at all.


Rod Serling: When last heard from, Mr. Roswell G. Flemington was in a sanitarium, pleading with the medical staff to make some noise. They, of course, believe the case to be a rather tragic aberration - a man's mind becoming unhinged. And for this, they'll give him pills, therapy and rest. Little do they realize that all Mr. Flemington is suffering from is a case of poetic justice. Tonight's tale of sounds and silences from the Twilight Zone.



  • 0% Approval Rating: Roswell is despised by his employees at the model ship company, who take every opportunity to mock him in his absence. Conklin often throws dart at a large photograph of Roswell in his office. His wife Lydia hates him as well since she has had to put up with his nautical obsession for 20 years.
  • Artistic License – History: Roswell tells his psychiatrist that if he had been at Trafalgar, Horatio Nelson would have kept both his eye and his arm. In reality, Nelson lost the sight in his right eye (but not the eye itself) during the invasion of Corsica on July 12, 1794 and his right arm in the Battle of Santa Cruz de Tenerife on July 23, 1797. The Battle of Trafalgar, in which Nelson was killed, was fought on October 21, 1805.
  • Awful Wedded Life: Roswell G. Flemington's wife Lydia hates having married him and divorces him.
  • Breather Episode: This episode is a light-hearted comedic episode.
  • Catchphrase: Roswell says "In a manner of speaking" whenever he uses a sea metaphor. Lydia uses it three times to mock him as she leaves him.
  • Dramatically Missing the Point: The whole point of the psychiatric appointment was to help Roswell through his personal issues with his mother. Unfortunately, he misinterprets that his wife was the problem, and therefore does not change his noise-loving ways.
  • Dripping Disturbance: Roswell is disturbed by the sound of water dripping in the middle of the night. This is the first indication that every sound has been magnified.
  • Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: Roswell G. Flemington borders on this. He's shocked that his wife wants to divorce him, but it's beyond his understanding why. It doesn't occur that his own obsession with loud noises is the root of what's driven her away.
  • Freudian Excuse: According to Roswell, he grew up with a mother who hated loud noises, to the point that she made brownies instead of cookies because "they made less noise when you chewed them". He believes it's reason enough to indulge in loud noises.
  • I Can't Hear You: Can't hear what someone over the phone is telling you? It's bound to happen when you live under Roswell's roof, especially when he's listening to recordings of "flight carriers bombarding Okinawa". Roswell himself suffers this at the end of the story.
  • Large Ham: Roswell G. Flemington is an insufferable man who always tries to make as much noise as he possibly can.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Roswell manages to shut out his wife Lydia to the point where he can no longer hear her but the idea backfires. He becomes unable to hear any of the noise that he loves so much. In his closing narration, Rod Serling mentions that he is committed to a sanitarium and even describes Roswell's fate as poetic justice.
  • Never My Fault: The psychiatrist indirectly points out to Roswell that his "imaginary" sounds are the result of his personal issues he has with his mother and helps him overcome it. But after he returns home, he muses that his wife's leaving him was the 'culprit' behind his ailment.
  • No Indoor Voice: Roswell G. Flemington is this down to a T. It's deconstructed as part of what makes his character obnoxious.
  • Pet the Dog: After the psychiatrist helps Roswell through "Mind over Matter", the latter thanks the doctor and compliments his performance. When he leaves, he hesitates slamming the door, but the psychiatrist allows Roswell the luxury of doing so without judgement. In turn, Roswell tells the psychiatrist he has the "soul of a seaman" and thanks him for his open-mindedness.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Lydia gives one to Roswell in both Act I and Act II of the episode, one in regards to why their marriage is failing (mainly to do with his obsession with noise), the other clarifying that he's "nothing more than an overgrown sailor with an undermanned head" who is "so full of neurosis" that it's a mystery why he hasn't gone insane yet.
  • Villain Protagonist: Roswell G. Flemington is an obnoxious, inconsiderate loudmouth who blames others for his problems.


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