Twilight Zone Marathon: “A Game of Pool”

ImageWelcome back to my Twilight Zone Marathon! Today’s episode is part ghost story, part billiards match with some big stakes on the line. We’re looking at “A Game of Pool.”

Jesse Cardiff is a pool shark stuck under the shadow of the legendary Fats Brown, a champion player who’s been dead for 15 years. Jesse wishes to beat Fats at the game, and his wish is granted when Fats appears as a ghost to him. However, if Jesse loses, he also loses his life. Will his dreams of being a champion be cut short, or will he succeed in beating Fats?

Going into this episode, I wasn’t sure I’d be invested as I’m not a big pool player. But I soon found myself wanting to see how it played out to see what would become of Jesse. It was easily one of the most tense games I’ve ever seen. Because of this, I didn’t find myself feeling bored even while they spouted pool lingo with each shot.

I was mainly kept invested by the two characters themselves, however. Jesse is a frustrated man who only wants to be the best at something, even if it’s just once. He’s a man who’s practically given up his social life to get better and better playing pool, and his desperation to win is a bit sympathetic. Jesse is also smart enough to be wary of playing for his life, which gave his character even more realism.

Fats is just cool, plain and simple. You can tell he has a lot of wisdom, both from his years playing and possibly hindsight while dead. He does give Jesse the chance to back out, which ultimately plays out to its fullest in the ending. Despite bragging that he’s the best, he cares for Jesse’s well-being and urges him to do more than just play pool. I liked that there was nothing malicious to him and that he didn’t come off as a pompous guy.

This episode, besides having good acting, was also surprisingly paced pretty well. I didn’t feel like the game dragged, though the small twist ending came up in the last minute of the episode. Despite that, it all tied together well and didn’t feel bogged down by unnecessary moments.

Overall, I’m genuinely surprised at how much I enjoyed this one. While I still wouldn’t place it as one of my faves because of the subject matter, it was a great look at the competitive side of people and what they would risk to win. Even if you’re not a fan of pool, you owe it to yourself to check out “A Game of Pool.” It might not be the scariest or most tense episode, but it’s a good one regardless.

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