Welcome back to my “Tales from the Darkside” Marathon! It’s often said that revenge is a dish best served cold. You often see this no better represented than in crime dramas or gangster movies. Today’s tale gives us a man who idea of revenge is pretty unique. This is “No Strings.”
Eddie Minelli is a mobster who’s just made his way to the top after murdering his traitorous partner, Don Paulie. But simply murdering him after 18 years of backstabbing isn’t enough for Eddie. Flanked by his girlfriend, Tiffany, and his goon, Nicky, he decides to indulge in one of his interests and brings in a famous puppeteer, Aldo D, to put on a private show. But instead of Aldo’s usual puppet, Eddie wants him to use Paulie’s corpse. Will Eddie get the revenge he wanted, or is he about to discover why you shouldn’t mock the dead?
This episode is easily the most gruesome I’ve seen so far. It doesn’t skimp on first showing you Paulie’s body, and then making you hear the thunks of hooks being plunged into him for the puppet show. The make-up is incredibly well done as well. Plot-wise, though, there isn’t much here. It’s an episode that has very little action besides the gross puppetry and runs mostly on the conversations between the characters, especially Eddie and Aldo D. It also takes place entirely in a warehouse with the main focus point being a stage set up by Nicky from Aldo D’s equipment. But since this is a very talky episode, I will point out that a lot of it was actually pretty good despite some slow pacing. There’s a particularly interesting conversation between Aldo D and Eddie on the basis of entertainment and the power it holds over people.
There are only four characters excluding the deceased Paulie, but they each get some focus. Nicky probably has the least as his job is to ensure Aldo D performs, but his acting was fine. Tiffany, despite sporting a slightly grating New York accent and being weepy at times, acts as the emotional center to the whole situation and is the only one besides Aldo D who finds the whole revenge plot disgusting. Aldo D is the sensible one and the person you’re meant to feel sorry for. He’s just an entertainer who loves his job and sees this show as a complete perversion of his work. Finally, Eddie is a power-hungry and cruel mobster. He’s a huge jerk and, considering he still wants revenge even on a corpse, is easy to dislike. Thankfully, he gets his due punishment in the end.
Speaking of, the twist didn’t surprise me at all. Its purpose is to serve up some karmic retribution to Eddie and his cohorts, and it did its job fine in that regard. The episode kinda hints at the twist early on, though, and I felt it could’ve held off a bit longer.
To wrap up, “No Strings” is a disturbing episode. The plot meanders a bit thanks to a lack of action, but the dialogue was good enough that it didn’t bother me much. The make-up looked great, and the premise was so dark that it’s bound to stick with you for a while after. And finally, the twist gave the episode an appropriate ending for each of its characters. Overall, if you want a tale that lives up to being straight out of the “darkside,” give this one a shot.