Tales From the Darkside 123: The False Prophet

With a title like 'The False Prophet' and a main character who wanders into a bus station talking about signs of the Zodiac, it looks like this week's episode is going to largely feature a criticism of new-age mysticism! Yay!

It seems that the flighty woman was told by a spiritual adviser told her to head South to Texas as quickly as possible so she could meet someone with a compatible sign. While prattling on about fate the flighty woman spins an apple to take the stem out of it, using the number of turns befire it pops out to determine what the first letter of her husband's name. Which is a method I'd never heard of before, and it seems like it would insure that a husband couldn't have a name that started with anything lower than an M - after all, how well connected are those stems, anyhow?

After the flighty woman mentions that she keeps all of her money in quarters in case she finds a fortune-telling machine in her journeys, the truck-stop owner tells her that they just happen to have one right in room! The flighty woman uses one called 'The Prophet Madame X', and the truck stop has one called 'Horace X', which the flighty woman identifies as the 'son' of Madame X. How that works, I'm not entirely sure.

Cassie (that's the flighty woman's name) gets a reading from Horace, who directly contradicts his mother's advice. He tells her that travelling would be profoundly dangerous, and that she shouldn't leave. We're not supposed to trust Horace's advice, though, and not just because of the title of the episode. No, for an inanimate object Horace seems to enjoy Cassie touching his 'screen' way too much, always telling her to 'push harder'.

(that's what she said!)

When Cassie questions the validity of Horace's advice he gives her a nasty shock and his screen turns red. He claims that his 'mother' told him that Cassie was coming, and that this is his birthday. Which might well make Horace the sagitarian with the initial 'H' that she was supposed to meet on her travles! Cassie doesn't come to this conclusion yet, though - instead she wants to confirm Horace's prediction by reading some tea leaves. In them she sees travel and danger - which would tend to back up Horace's version of events.

Cassie then tries another kind of divination, one she divised herself, involving a flipped coin and a deck of playing cards. It too tells her to be cautious! With the bus honking outside, Cassie has a tough decision to make. Get on it, or not? She consults with Horace one last time, and he tells her that she absolutely shouldn't. This seems to be a good decision, when there's an explosion outside just seconds after the bus leaves!

Stuck in the bus stop, profoundly not calling the police to report an exploded bus, Cassie tries Horace one more time, and now he issues a warning - someone is coming, and she should beware of false prophets. So guess who walks in the door a moment later-

That's right, it's a sleazy preacher! Whose name is Heat! And he claims that a spiritual force told him to pull over at the rest stop. Cassie's immediately afraid of Heat and his overly-amorous-advances. Also disconcerted by his behaviour? Horace X, who starts glowing red. In a funny bit admist the unpleasantly rape-y vibe of the scene, Heat claims to have the ability to accurately guess people's names, and Cassie is surprised and impressed when he manages it.

Apparently having forgotten that the's wearing a necklace which consists of only her name.

Heat doesn't like hearing that he's probably a false prophet, and he discounts Horace's ability to tell the future. After all, he reveals, the explosion was just an electrical storm - he would have seen an exploded bus on his way in, had there been one. In a startling coincidence, Heat reveals that it's also his birthday - meaning that there are two H-named sagitarians in the room!

Cassie tries to consult with Horace to get a reading on Heat's intentions and what she should do next. Heat is exteremly skeptical of the idea that she intends to use the machine's decisions to guide her life, rather than her own thoughts and instincts. Heat debates whether one should let the promise of the future decide the present, and he decides to confront Horace over their competing philosophies. This, naturally, leads to an electrocution.

(That's why you don't get into a fistfight with an arcade cabinet)

With Heat unconscious (or possibly dead), Horace tries to make his move on Cassie, - although I'm not sure what that would entiail, given that he's a thing. She uses the machine one last time and reveals that when he found out about Cassie from his 'mother' he'd decided he was going to intercept her because he was more in love with her than some stranger in Texas could ever be! The wind picks up inside the truck stop, and Cassie is bathed in blue light...

Then suddenly it's the next morning, and Heat awakes from his coma to find the truck stop empty. All that remains of Cassie is a woman-shaped pile of ash lying on the floor.

She's not entirely dead, though - her spirit still cries out from inside the Horace X machine, where she'll be trapped... forever!

All in all, not a bad way to wrap up a season of the show. It didn't wrap up established themes or anything - although no one could expect it to do that, what with it being an anthology show. There were a lot of lame episodes, but enough were passably interesting enough to keep me excited for season two - which may or may not contain the episode I'm eagerly awaiting!

So join me back here next week, as we start with episode 201: The Impressionist!


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