Welcome back to my “Tales from the Darkside” Marathon! Tarot card readings are often used in media to depict an impending omen or fortune for the customer. But what would happen if the cards began to extend their bad luck to the dealer? Today’s tale explores the world of tarot card reading in “In the Cards.”
Catherine works as a tarot card reader and is known throughout town for consistently giving her customers good news. This is an act, though, as Catherine is only trying to make ends meet. However, after performing a reading with an elderly woman, Catherine starts to notice the cards pointing to nothing but bad omens for subsequent customers. Believing the cards to be cursed, she at first tries to get rid of them and then becomes determined to find a solution before anybody else gets hurt. Will she be able to free herself from the cards, or is it already too late?
I’ve never put much stock in tarot card readings. Nothing against those who believe in them or practice them, but any time I’ve seen them represented on TV or in movies, they always seemed ridiculous. This episode was smart enough to take its subject matter seriously and I found myself wanting to know how the story would end. This easily could’ve ended up being poorly executed, but they kept the story simple to follow and get invested into.
There are a few characters that hop in and out of the story, but I’m only going to focus on Catherine as she gets the most screen time. The episode does a pretty good job of making her sympathetic, as while she’s trying to make money by selling people lies, she genuinely cares about her customers and wants them to be happy. She is understandably upset and freaked out when the cards start pulling things in a bad direction, and I appreciated that she had the initiative to take action once she figures out who can help her with them. The actions she’s forced to take to get rid of the cards is necessary but also a bit cruel, although I’m not sure why she sticks around afterwards when she knows what the cards are capable of. Still, while not perfect, she’s one of the nicer protagonists I’ve come across on this show.
I have one minor nitpick, and that’s to do with a sound effect used in the episode. Whenever Catherine looks at the Knight of Swords card, there’s an audible sword swinging sound. I think this is supposed to be foreshadowing for the twist ending, but I found it a little distracting. Speaking of, the twist is another one of those that feels like a natural ending to the story. It’s executed in a way that you can guess what will happen but not HOW it will happen.
Overall, I thought “In the Cards” was a pretty good episode. Despite being flawed, Catherine felt likable and I wanted to see her succeed in getting rid of the cursed cards. It also held my interest despite having a premise that could’ve been laughable, and the ending was abrupt but memorable. If you have an interest in tarot cards or just want to see a decent story involving them, this one might be for you.