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Wednesday, December 21, 2005

1.06 --- Healer

Directed by : Sigmund Neufeld Jr.
Written by : Michael Bryant
Starring : Eric Bogosian, Vincent Gardenia, Joaquin Martinez
First aired : 11th of October, 1985.

Jackie Thompson (Eric Bogosian, Talk Radio, Dolores Claiborne), a small-time burglar, breaks into a museum and steals a nice-looking crystal. The act of thievery activates the alarm however, and Jackie is shot in his stomach while fleeing the museum. Lying in the gutter, he braces himselfs for his final breath, but the crystal he stole starts glowing and heals his gunshot wound.

Back at his apartment, Jackie revives his heartstruck (literally speaking) partner in crime Harry (Vincent Gardenia, Death Wish, Little Shop of Horrors), who immediately realizes the financial aspect of the whole deal and sets up a televangelist-like scheme for their new enterprise. Jackie is now "Brother John", and is hosting a TV show in which he heals people on-air. All is smooth, and Jackie/John is enjoying his work, until a mysterious Indian (of the South/Central-American variety) called Duende (Joaquin Martinez) appears in his dressing room and asks him to return the stone, which belongs to his people. Jackie is willing to, but Harry refuses, and Duende leaves, warning Jackie that from this point on, some things are certain to change in his life.

Now living in a luxurious villa, Jackie is asking Harry to reconsider and stop this whole business, claiming they have money enough to last a lifetime. Before finishing his thought, he is interrupted by a visitor, his old mob boss Joe Rubello (Bob Costanzo, an instantly recognizable face). Joe is dying of lung cancer and is begging to be healed - Jackie agrees, but not before humiliating him in return for all the hardships he endured while in his service, and hustling him out of two million dollars. But, the healing fizzles - crystal doesn't shine, and Jackie, in disbelief, runs out of his office.

Visibly shaken by the failure of his last healing "experience", Jackie realizes he can't go on the air without being certain his ability is still working. Harry brings a deaf child from backstage for testing purposes, and when this fails too, Jackie wanders off, cursing his fortune in a far corner of the TV studio. Suddenly, Duende appears next to him, explaining how the stone only works if the wishes are genuine and unselfish. Jackie reaches out to punch him, but his old gunshot wound reopens, and he staggers away from him. He asks Harry to heal him with the stone, but Harry's greed gets the better of him again, and he refuses, smugly commenting that if two men had enough money for a lifetime, then one man will have even more.

Jackie finally succumbs and stumbles in one of the backrooms, but the deaf child follows him and saves him from certain death using the crystal. Duende again appears out of nowhere and asks Jackie if he learned his lesson. He answers positively, then heals the deaf boy, gives Duende his crystal and walks out of the studio, ready to begin a new life from scratch.


Healer marks the only Twilight Zone outing for the experienced television director Sigmund Neufeld Jr. (Kojak, Wonder Woman, The Incredible Hulk, just to name a few), and it is a rather succesful one. A warm, effective story with a moral, it again draws from older TZ material (The Prime Mover, Mr. Dingle the Strong), but stands on its own as well, expanding the rationale that greed is a rather negative trait. Bogosian, who three years later gave arguably a performance of his career as the sharp-tongued radio talk show host in Oliver Stone's Talk Radio, is perfectly cast as a petty crook who suddenly wields Jesus-like powers - Gardenia matches him note for note as his sleazy, greedy partner.

One thing is however puzzling - if the crystal reversed its healing process on Jackie, reopening his gunshot wound, how comes Harry didn't fall dead the very same moment ? Things to ponder...

TZ Trivia : Writer "Michael Bryant" is actually Alan Brennert, who wrote several new TZ episodes, including previously reviewed Shatterday.

Comments on "1.06 --- Healer"


Blogger Rish Outfield said ... (1:01 AM) : 

I was quite impressed with this episode (one I don't remember watching as a kid). It had a lot of heart and the happy ending for Jackie was surprising. Too often, the characters in TZ stories learn a lesson, but it's far too late to do anything about it.


Anonymous Howard Goldman said ... (2:42 PM) : 

A bit of trivia on the trivia: Alan Brennert used a pseudonym because he thought this episode turned out awful. Part of TZ's charm is that an episode that one person thinks is junk, another person thinks is great. I thought this was pretty good, myself.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (8:11 AM) : 

I think the reason Harry didn't fall dead was because heart attacks are not permanent and once one happens, it's done and you either die or don't. Harry's heart attack ended once he went unconscious. But heart attacks are unpredictable, so he wouldn't immediately have another heart attack right after the stone stopped working. He might have one in the future though, since whatever caused the heart attack would probably be back in his system (unless it was something he ate or whatever). But Jackie's gunshot would stay because they stay once you get it. They don't happen and then go away like a heart attack. Sorry, I'm rambling on. But I agree that this episode is a good one. I'm glad you're reviewing all the episodes!


Blogger MrSinatra said ... (7:23 AM) : 

Nothing extraordinary here, but not bad. Silver.


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