BQB’s Twilight Zone Reviews – S2, Ep. 16 – “A Penny for Your Thoughts”

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I’m reading your mind right now, 3.5 readers.

You’re thinking, “Why am I reading this dumb blog?” and also, “In an episode where a character can read minds, the dangers of learning man’s inner secrets surely must be the main lesson.”

Answers – a) Because you’re a good judge of excellent blogs and b) wrong.

Lowly banker Hector B. Poole (Dick York of “Bewitched” fame) tosses a coin into a newsboy’s money box.  In doing so, the coin lands on its edge, which somehow gives Poole the ability to read minds.

As series creator Rod Serling (who regularly pops out of the woodwork in this series to narrate and/or explain a plot point or a moral) explains, the results of a coin flip are fifty/fifty.  Meanwhile, the odds that we will act on a given thought in our brains are the same – a fifty percent chance we will, and a fifty percent chance we won’t.

As Poole progresses through his day, he learns more about his coworkers than he ever knew before.  Dopey boss E.M. Bagby (Dan Tobin) is a pervert, cheating on his wife with a chorus girl.  Poole might have preferred to have not known that, as he loses respect for his supervisor.  Perhaps we aren’t meant to know the dark thoughts of the people we see everyday because if we did, we’d never want anything to do with them.

The gift comes in handy when he learns that coworker Helen (June Dayton) has the hots for him.  Knowing her feelings makes it easier to act on his, but why do two people who love each other from afar always tend to be reluctant?  Is it fear of rejection?

The gift becomes a curse when Poole overhears a surprising thought in the mind of elderly employee, L.J. Smithers (Cyril Delevanti.)  After decades of faithful service, Mr. Smithers is now planning to go to the vault, “withdraw” a bag full of cash and take the next boat to Bermuda.

SPOILER ALERT:  He doesn’t.  Poole ends up with big time egg on his face when he convinces Bagby to have a guard search Mr. Smithers’ bag, only to come up empty.

The lesson?  We all think bad thoughts, but bad thoughts don’t necessarily make us bad people until we act on them.  Mr. Smithers’ entertained a bad thought, fantasized about running off to paradise with his employer’s dough, but in the end, he decided against it.  The average person constantly thinks about doing bad things but until those bad things are acted upon, they’re just thoughts.  Actions really do speak louder than words, or at least the words being spoken by our internal monologue.

Would you like to be able to read minds, 3.5 readers?  Would you judge others for thinking bad thoughts even if they didn’t act on them?

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