Twilight Zone Marathon: “The Eye of the Beholder”

ImageWelcome back to my Twilight Zone Marathon! Today’s episode explores beauty and our perception of it. This is “The Eye of the Beholder.”

Janet Tyler is going through her 11th plastic surgery to fix her disfigured face. Part of this is due to her society’s rules of conformity, in that ugliness is outlawed. Will the surgery allow Janet to live a normal life at last, or will she forever be cursed as an outsider?

Once again, I knew the twist of this one, but it was the build-up to it that really got me invested in the episode. I felt this was both well-acted and edited brilliantly, as it uses shadows, props and people to hide faces and give the hospital workers a mysterious air. Janet herself spends most of the episode wrapped in bandages, so a lot of their descriptions of her ugliness are left to our imaginations. I thought the whole episode was effective with this and acting as a commentary on beauty vs. ugliness.

The main characters are the doctor and Janet. The doctor is portrayed as being sympathetic toward her, knowing the rules of their society and yet hoping the procedure will finally help her. Even when he’s describing her options if it fails, you can tell he’s not trying to be malicious but just stating the facts.

Janet does a great job for the duration that she’s bandaged up. Her performance is based both on actions and speech. You can hear the desperation from her with how badly she wants to fit in and not be treated like a freak of nature. The moment the bandages have to come off, while knowing what would happen, still felt tense as it built up to the result.

There’s not much I can say about the ending without giving away the twist, but I thought it wrapped things up nicely and kept the effectiveness of the episode. This episode isn’t really about scares, and most of the suspense comes from revealing Janet’s face. It’s really more a social commentary on society and its views on beauty. While it’s taken to an extreme (ugly people are basically given the option to die or be herded into camps), it still holds some truth to it.

“The Eye of the Beholder” is an interesting episode, and I’d even go so far to call it one of my favorites. The acting, pacing and editing were all top-notch and the twist is still great, especially after all the build-up. If you like stories focusing on ideals or beauty in general, definitely check this one out.

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