Welcome back to my “Tales from the Darkside” Marathon! How much would you be willing to possibly give up to get a million dollars? Would you go so far as to sell your soul? Or can a price even be put on something that can’t be seen? Today’s tale explores these ideas through a battle of wits. This is “I’ll Give You a Million.”
Two insanely wealthy businessmen, Duncan Williams and Jack Blaine, love to take bets on one another and make games involving money. One night while playing billiards, Duncan approaches Jack with a strange offer. If Jack sells his soul to him, Duncan will give him an even million dollars. After a bit of convincing, Jack agrees and signs a contract over to Duncan. However, Jack’s health soon starts failing and, fearing for his soul, tries to get Duncan to void the contact. But Duncan rebukes him at every turn, still too caught up in their game. Will Jack be able to retrieve his soul before his body gives out, or will Duncan have the last laugh?
I wasn’t expecting this to ultimately be another karmic story, but much like the last installment, it was. Unfortunately, I didn’t enjoy it nearly as much. This episode also felt cliched from start to finish. The “selling your soul” concept has been done many times before, and I haven’t been able to take seriously since “The Simpsons” did it. There is some existential talk about souls in this that was vaguely interesting, but it was still the same things I’ve heard before and offered no new perspective.
I’ll admit something I didn’t mention in my last blog. Mandrake, while unlikable, garnered a teeny bit of sympathy from me once the big twist was revealed. Here, however, I had no ounce of sympathy to spare. Both Duncan and Jack are horrible people, and they’re practically cartoon-ish in how evil they are. They talk about how they screw people over, including their own partners at some point, and when the deal is made there is literally lightning that strikes while they laugh about it. The episode seemed to make Jack come off slightly sympathetic due to his illness and Duncan refusing to help him, but he still deserved everything he got. They’re both greedy, terrible men and their punishment is earned.
The twist I saw coming a mile away, and even as a karmic ending, it didn’t stick with me nearly as much as the previous episode’s did. I felt it was earned there, while here it felt like a predictable note to end on. However, I did enjoy the very last shot of the episode. That part at least felt like a good tie-in to Duncan’s character. I will also note that this episode includes some make-up as well, and it looked spot-on and appropriately creepy. Along with that last shot, it was the most memorable thing in the episode for me.
While not an outright bad episode, “I’ll Give You a Million” just didn’t seem all that memorable. The plot followed many of the same beats as others with this concept, the characters were very unlikable, and the ending could barely be considered a twist. If you want an excellent karmic story, stick with “The Devil’s Advocate.” If you just want to see some douchebags get what’s coming to them, go ahead and give this a watch.