The After Hours
|This article relies on references to primary sources. (December 2011)|
||This article consists almost entirely of a plot summary and it should be expanded to provide more balanced coverage that includes real-world context. (December 2011)|
|"The After Hours"|
|The Twilight Zone episode|
|Episode no.||Season 1
|Directed by||Douglas Heyes|
|Written by||Rod Serling|
|Featured music||Bernard Herrmann (from Where Is Everybody?)|
Marsha White, a woman browsing for a gift for her mother in a department store, decides on a gold thimble. She is taken by the elevator man to the ninth floor, a floor beyond that shown on the elevator gauge. She enters the ninth floor and turns to complain to the elevator operator that there is nothing there, but the door closes abruptly, leaving her to peruse her situation. She is approached by a saleslady who guides her to the only item on the floor: the exact gold thimble that Marsha wants. During the sales transaction, she grows increasingly puzzled by the comments and actions of both the male elevator operator who transported her to the barren, seemingly deserted floor, and the aloof and clairvoyant female salesclerk behind the counter who sells her the thimble. As Marsha rides the elevator down, she notices that the thimble is scratched and dented; she is directed by the elevator operator to the Complaints Department on the third floor.
When she tries to convince Mr. Armbruster, the sales supervisor, and Mr. Sloan, the store manager, that she bought the item on the ninth floor, she is told that the store doesn't have a ninth floor. Marsha spots the back of the salesclerk who sold her the thimble, and is shocked to discover that the woman isn't a salesclerk at all; she's one of the department store's display mannequins. While resting in an office following her frightening discovery, Marsha finds herself accidentally locked inside the closed store. She attempts to find a way out and becomes alarmed by mysterious voices calling to her and by some subtle movements made by the supposedly lifeless mannequins around her. Moving about aimlessly, she topples the sailor mannequin, whom she recognizes as the somewhat frustrated elevator operator in earlier scenes.
Becoming hysterical, she flees backward to the now-open elevator, which again transports her to the unoccupied ninth floor. There, she gradually realizes that the mannequins are alive, trying to help her, and that she is also a mannequin. It is explained to her that each mannequin takes turns going out into the world to live among the humans for one month, but Marsha had enjoyed her stay among "the outsiders" so much that she lost her identity and forgot her true nature. Being with the other mannequins, she realizes that she is back in her natural place, which allows the next mannequin in line—the female salesclerk—to go out and live among the humans for thirty days. As the other mannequins bid farewell to the salesclerk, the sailor asks Marsha her if she enjoyed her time among the humans. She says she had "ever so much fun, ever so much fun." As Marsha fondly recalls her brief sojourn out among the humans, and with a passing expression of regret, confusion, and a small sigh, she and the sailor assume their natural posing postures, and grow rigid as mannequins.
The next day, Mr. Armbruster is making his energetic morning rounds on the sales floor and does a double-take upon passing the mannequin of Marsha White on display. The final shot moves in on her and then her face that fades into the stars with the closing narration.
The episode was remade in 1986 for The New Twilight Zone. It starred Terry Farrell as Marsha Cullen. The plot is similar, but the emphasis is more on suspense. In addition, the Marsha in the remake is in denial of her identity and doesn't want to be a mannequin. She wants to be truly human, unlike the Marsha in the original, who simply forgot who she was and enjoyed feeling human for the month in which she lived among the outsiders.
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