Twilight Zone Tuesday – Mirror Image

Mirror Image

Millicent Barnes – Vera Miles
Paul Grinstead – Martin Milner
Ticket Agent – Joseph Hamilton
Washroom Attendant – Naomi Stevens

We’re at a Bus Depot and there’s a raging thunderstorm outside. Inside the Bus Depot there’s a woman sweeping the floors and a young lady sitting on a bench with a hat and raincoat on, her suitcase on the floor beside her. The bus must be late. She’s checking her watch and looking at the clock on the wall. She walks to the older man behind the counter. She asks very politely about the bus to Cortland. she says it’s an hour overdue and is wondering when it might be in. The man, not even looking up from his newspaper, says he’s not sure. It’s raining and the roads are slick. Also, there might be a bridge or two out. Must be one hell of a rainstorm. She asks again if he can give an estimate at least. He says “it’ll get here when it gets here.” He also claims he told her that once already. She doesn’t understand what he’s talking about since that’s the first time she’s asked.

She just wants a civil answer and he says she’s getting one but needn’t expect a civil answer every ten minutes. I guess he has a time limit on his politeness. He tells her that she asked an hour ago, a half hour ago and just now. My god man! When will you find the time in your busy newspaper reading day to answer a question?

She insists that this is the first time she’s been up there to ask and starts to suggest that perhaps he gets his eyes checked. She stops when she sees a suitcase just like hers in the baggage check area. she’s surprised and looks but her bag is still right where it was sitting. He catches her staring at the other suitcase and wants to know what the matter is. She looks very confused but tells him that nothing is the matter.

Millicent Barnes, age 25, young woman waiting for a bus on a rainy November night. Not a very imaginative type is Miss Barnes, not given to undue anxiety or fears or, for that matter, even the most temporal flights of fancy. Like most young career women, she has a generic classification as a Quote – “Girl with a head on her shoulders” – End quote. All of which is mentioned now because in just a moment the head on Miss Barnes’ shoulders will be put to the test. Circumstances will test her sense of reality and a chain of nightmares will ut her sanity on a block. Millicent Barnes, who in one minute will wonder if she’s going mad.

During Serling’s voice-over Millicent is staring at her suitcase. Which, to me, actually looks a little more beat up than the one she saw in the baggage area. She approaches the desk and the clerk (rather snottily) asks if she wants to run through the time again. She says no, but says it strikes her as odd that the suitcase looks just like hers, right down to the broken handle. He’s looking at her like she’s crazy and wants to know if she’s playing some kind of game. Again she doesn’t understand. He tells her that it’s her bag and that she’d checked it herself. She tells him that he must be mistaken and goes to point at her bag. It’s no longer on the floor.

He tells her to go sit down on the bench. That she must be sleepwalking or hungover or something. He tells her to go sit down and “breathe through your nose”. Was that like a cure for hysteria or something at one time? The Twilight Zone has an odd obsession with telling people to “calm down and breathe through their noses”.

He’s in a red hot rush to get back to his magazine (must be a Playboy) and tells her that when the bus gets there she’ll hear the motor, see the people disembark and she’ll know the bus is there. She starts to tell him that the suitcase isn’t hers. Hers was sitting on the floor and she hadn’t checked it yet. He just stares at her so she stops and goes to sit back down (presumably to breathe through her nose). She looks back at the bag but catches the old guy giving her the evil eye so she stops.

After getting bored with breathing through her nose she goes into the Ladies Room. The cleaning lady gives her a peculiar look. Millicent stares at herself for a moment before rinsing her hands off. The cleaning lady wants to know if she’s ok. Millicent (a little snippy herself) says she’s fine. And doesn’t she look all right? The cleaning lady says Millicent looks fine but when she was in there before…I think we can all see where this is going.

Millicent says she wasn’t in there before. The cleaning woman says that Millicent was just there a few moments ago. Millicent insists that she’s never, ever been in there. Then she kind of flips out on the poor woman who was just trying to be nice. Millicent says the only thing wrong is “you people” need some sleep or something. As she’s giving her harangue she’s opening the door and sees the waiting room reflected in the mirror. In the mirror she sees herself sitting on the bench in the waiting room (let’s hope she’s still breathing through her nose, lord knows what shenanigans may ensue if she breathes through her mouth).

Millicent slams the door and the cleaning woman offers to get her a cool cloth, she’s sure Miss Barnes is ill. She goes to wet a cloth. It’s kind of gross because it looks like the same one she was just wiping down the counters with. Millicent refuses the cloth (smart move) and says she’ll be all right. Now she thinks that she herself must be tired. She whips open the door and the Millicent on the bench is gone but her suitcase is back on the floor, it now has a tag on it.

She keeps looking at the grouchy clerk and is approaching him to ask him something. On the way she sees a couple on a bench. A woman and a man. the man’s snoozing using his wife’s ample bust for pillows. Millicent asks the woman if she saw anyone sitting on Millicent’s bench. The lady replies no, but she wasn’t really looking. They want to know if everything’s ok. She says yes, she thought it might be someone she knew. She apologizes and walks away and the gentleman goes back to snoozing on the booby pillow.

She starts wondering if she’s delusional so she wonders if she’s sick. She checks for a fever. Nope, no fever. A gentleman approaches her and hands her a pocketbook that she dropped. They have a chat about the bus being late and we get the fascinating details of why he’s taking the bus. Apparently vehicles are useless when it rains. His flight was cancelled and he had to take a cab to the bus station. The cab skidded and hit a tree so he walked to the bus depot from there. Seriously, were cars that freaking terrible in 1959 or did people just never drive in the rain?

She’s zoning out a bit and he asks if she’s ill. Because a woman must be ill to not be fascinated with his story. She says she’s fine but doesn’t really know what she’s feeling. He wants to know if there’s anything he can do. Millicent tells him that all sorts of peculiar things have been happening to her all night. She tells him she’s been seeing things and he wants to know what sorts of things. She doesn’t really want to say because she’s afraid he’ll run away, call the police or an ambulance.

He introduces himself as Paul Grinstead and offers her his help, if he can assist her. She introduces herself and tells him about the job she left and is on her way to a new one in Buffalo. She gives him a rundown of all the weird things happening. When she tells him about the bag she freaks out momentarily because it’s not right there. Helpful Paul points it out just around the corner of the bench. She tells him about seeing herself on the bench and kind of trails off. Paul tells her it must be delusions. She agrees but says she’s not sick and doesn’t have a fever. Millicent also wants to know why the woman and clerk insist that she’s been there before.

She asks him what’s wrong with her. How the he’ll is he supposed to know? He’s known you for literally a minute (I checked). She swears she’s not done sort of kook and has never had mind problems before. He agrees way too quickly. He thinks there has to be an explanation. Maybe someone there resembles her? Maybe someone’s playing a joke on her? That’s always a first suggestion in the Twilight Zone. With as elaborate as some of these things are that would be one big ass practical joke.

She thinks these suggestions are too fantastic and even if it were true where is the woman? The bus rolls in, saving Paul from having to answer. The clerk announces the bus and Millicent gets up to leave. Paul offers to carry her bag for her. What a nice man. Yeah. Stick around. They go outside to get on the bus. She gets her ticket taken but then sees something that freaks her out and she rushes back into the bus station. Paul follows her.

The camera shows us a smug looking Fake Millicent looking out of the bus window.

Apparently Millicent ran back into the bus depot and passed right out because now she’s laying on the bench unconscious. The very nice cleaning lady brings a damp cloth for Millicent’s head (hopefully not the same one she was wiping the sinks with). The bus driver pops his head in and says they’ve got to go. Paul says they’ll get the next one. The cleaning lady goes to leave and tells Paul that Millicent needs some looking after and taps her head, implying Millicent is crazy. What better person to do that than a guy she just met, right?

Millicent wakes up and Paul asks if she’s feeling any better. Weirdly, he doesn’t ask what she freaked out about. I’m impressed that her hair hasn’t moved one inch out of place this whole time. She says that she’s been thinking (while she was unconscious?) and trying to remember something she heard or read. She starts talking about different planes of existence and parallel worlds. That each of us has a counterpart and sometimes through a freak of nature the planes overlap and the parallel world person gets to our world. But to stay they need to replace the original person. Move them out. Paul says that it’s too ‘metaphysical’ for him.

I see a couple holes in this theory. I’m skipping over it’s plausibility because we are in the Twilight Zone after all. In her theory the planes overlap at least briefly enough to touch. Then Fake Millicent either gets stuck here willingly or unwillingly. For Fake Millicent to stay wouldn’t Original Millicent have to die? Or take Fake Millicent’s place on the other side?

Anyways, Paul isn’t buying it and says again that there must be a rational explanation. She goes on a bit about her theory but saying pretty much the same things she’s been saying. And I have to admit she does look a bit crazy here. Paul stands up and says, “Hey! I just remembered! I have a friend nearby!” He says he’ll call his friend and his magically appearing friend will drive them both to Syracuse! How about that! Are you sure you want your friend to drive, Paul? I mean it is raining and all. Anyways, I smell a rat and it smells like a Paul.

Paul asks Millicent if he should call his friend but she’s lost in her thoughts (or staring blankly, it’s a bit hard to tell). Paul wanders over to the clerk. Unasked the clerk gives his opinion. he immediately says her parallel world theory is crazy and that she has a “leak in her attic”. Oh, go back to your porn old man.

Paul calls her a poor, poor kid and thinks she needs medical help. He wants to use the phone to call the police to get her some ‘help’. The clerk is just glad to get rid of her because she gives him the creeps.

Paul goes back to Millicent and asks if she wants to get a breath of air. Uh-oh, this can’t be good. As soon as they step outside a police car pulls up. Millicent tries to get away but they bundle her into the car and give Paul a Man-Nod. Don’t worry, Millicent dear, the menfolk are here to take care of you. The clerk asks if they got her and Paul says yes. Now that the pesky female is gone the clerk is much friendlier. He tells Paul he can take a nap there until the morning bus comes.

Paul makes himself a comfy spot on the bench but wants a drink of water first. As he lifts his head he notices that his suitcase is now missing. Someone jets out the door and Paul chases him. Which is a little stupid. The guy he’s chasing is very obviously not carrying a suitcase. As the camera pulls out we see that Paul is chasing…himself! And if the gif gods are generous today I will try to put a gif of the Other Paul running and grinning because it’s freaking hilarious. Gee Paul, I hope nobody comes along and throws you to the cops on the word of a total stranger.

And let’s go back to that for a second before Serling has his final say. Ok, so Paul knows this woman for an hour or two. Yes, she’s acting a little weird (and she’s far too trusting). Is she threatening bodily harm to him or herself? No? Then neither he nor the cops have the right to lock her up. By that reasoning I should be locked up for my dinosaur/dragon theory. Ok, take it away Rod.

Obscure metaphysical explanation to cover a phenomenon. Reasons dredged out of the shadows to explain away that which cannot be explained. Call it parallel planes or just insanity. Whatever it is, you find it in the Twilight Zone.

4 thoughts on “Twilight Zone Tuesday – Mirror Image

  1. Odd episode, but a fun one.
    ‘Paul’ was a lead actor on an early 70’s tv show ‘EMERGENCY!’ as a paramedic. He was also a lead actor on the late 50’s tv show ‘Route 66’.

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