Welcome back to my “Tales from the Darkside” Marathon! For many people, taking a trip can be a long, arduous journey. Whether it’s by car, plane, bus or train, one of the main thoughts most of us have is if we’ll arrive safely at our destination. Today’s tale features a young woman looking to do just that by taking the last train home. This is “The Last Car.”
Stacey manages to get on a train to try to make it home for Thanksgiving. On it, she comes across some odd passengers: an elderly man and woman and a little boy dressed as a cowboy. Weird things start happening and Stacey can tell something’s not right with the train. She begins to suspect that she’s hopped on the wrong train. Is she correct, or is this train heading to the right destination after all?
This episode honestly felt like something you’d see on the “Twilight Zone”, and I’d even say it lives up to that show’s quality. There’s a lot of surrealism that takes place once Stacey boards the train, and it’s further shown whenever they approach a tunnel. Some of the imagery used is very creepy and there are some decent uses of puppetry as well. Even the dialogue of the other passengers has a surreal tone to it to match the style of the episode.
The passengers don’t have any backstory to speak of, but each one has their own quirks. The old lady loves knitting and acts kindly towards Stacey. In doing so, she’s also easily comes across as the creepiest of the bunch. The old man loves to sleep and is obsessed with offering people sandwiches of their choice. He seems to be able to fulfill any request, including when Stacey asks him for a cup of hummus. Finally, the little boy is obnoxious, and he’s constantly seen wearing a costume of some kind. The most annoying thing about him besides his personality is that each costume he wears also has some sort of toy gun, and him constantly firing them got annoying immediately. Stacey is basically the audience surrogate here as she tries to figure out what’s going on and gets frustrated when nobody offers her any concrete answers. I thought the actress did a fine job overall.
The twist doesn’t give you a definitive answer to what’s going on, but instead offers up ideas and leaves the rest to your imagination. If there’s anything I never thought I’d both praise and criticize, it would be that. The mystery keeps the episode memorable, but just like Stacey, I would’ve killed to get SOME sort of answer to what was going on. Still, it did make me come up with an interpretation, so at the very least it’s an episode that would make a great discussion.
I can’t believe it took me this long to get to “The Last Car.” It has a story that’s atmosphere is both surreal and creepy, characters who only add to that, and a twist that is ultimately left up to your own interpretation. This is by far one of my favorites if only because of the impression it left on me. Definitely give this one a watch if you want to jump into this show.