Welcome back to my “Tales from the Darkside” Marathon! We all have days where reality just seems to beat us down. But what if it were possible to shape reality any way you want? How far would you go with that power? Today’s tale explores that idea with “Effect and Cause.”
Kate Collins is an artist trying to make ends meet. Her friend, David, offers up some terrible paintings for her to whitewash so she can start making her own masterpieces, despite her claims of that being bad karma. However, Kate soon experiences an apparent case of cause and effect when an ambulance arrives at her door moments before she takes a fall down the stairs. This happens again with a delivery boy gives her groceries that she already owns. She soon discovers that she has the power to control her reality. Will she be able to use this power to benefit her, or will it backfire on her in the end?
This episode felt like wasted potential. The idea of being able to control reality seemed interesting to me, and the episode even pretty much stops midway through for Kate and David to have a philosophical discussion about it. Unfortunately, I felt the whole concept was underutilized, and the episode was actually a little hard to follow. While you can get an explanation for what happens in the ending, the events involving the ambulance and groceries kinda confused me in hindsight. From what I can tell, the episode seemed to chalk the ambulance up to cause and effect, while the groceries were a part of her powers. The big discussion also goes into the concept of controlling reality, but I still don’t see how suddenly receiving groceries you already own counts toward that. I’ll admit that I might have missed something, but I felt like I was left with more questions than answers.
The only characters of note here are Kate, David, and Kate’s sister, Janet. Janet is barely in the story, but she’s meant to represent people who focus on their own reality instead of the bigger picture. I thought both Kate and David were decent characters and their actors did an okay job, but my biggest problem with Kate more so than David was how subpar her dialogue was. When she wasn’t expositing about cause and effect or art, she often sounded like an 80s or early 90s teenager. I’m talking dialogue “punched up” by words like “heavy” or “bummer.” After a while of this, I couldn’t help rolling my eyes. I’d honestly go so far as to say that the dialogue really hurt this episode alongside the lackluster execution of its reality-bending concept.
The twist comes near the end and acts as a bookend to a few things brought up at the beginning of the episode. This, along with some reality-warping that I actually found enjoyable (if a bit safe), was my favorite part of the episode. Yet, I still feel that it would’ve been a lot better if this episode had been stronger from the get-go.
Honestly, I’m not sure how to feel about “Effect and Cause.” The concept was intriguing and had a lot of potential, but it felt squandered and under-developed. The characters were fine and decently acted, but when the dialogue wasn’t being philosophical or artsy (in a kinda heavy-handed way), it had a lot of annoying slang that quickly grated on me. I don’t know if I can recommend or condemn this one. It just felt completely forgettable.