Tales From the Darkside 223: Fear of Floating

Open on: an Army recruitment office. One located in a small dusty midwestern town, where absolutely no one wants to join the Army. It's so boring and sweltering hot that the two recruiters on duty, a male-female team, have taken to playing board games to pass the time. Even that can't occupy in their minds enough, however – it's been three weeks since anyone knocked on their door and they're close to the breaking point.

The knock on the door finally comes, and a young punk comes in asking if he can hide out in the recruitment office. He has no interest in joining the Army, he just wants protection from the people hunting him like "a runaway slave". Arnold, that's his name, spins a tale about fleeing from the circus, where he'd been held captive as their main attraction: the human balloon.

What does that mean exactly? He takes off his leaded boots and demonstrates:

Yes, he can fly. Or, more accurately, float, since he drifts lazily towards the ceiling without any clear means of self propulsion. The recruiters are blown away – believing that getting a floaty man into the Army will be a coup that could very well make their careers. His life requires saving first, however – not just from the people chasing him, but from the ceiling fan he almost drifts into. All he suffers is a grazed hand, but it was a close call. Although I'm not sure how fatal a ceiling fan could actually be especially one spinning as slowly as the one in this episode is.

Then you are is extremely excited about the prospect of having a floaty man in their ranks, apparently they think it'll give them an edge over the Air Force, although I'm not entirely sure why. When the male recruiter heads to the back room to look for the necessary paperwork, Arnold starts talking about how terrible it is being at the mercy of the winds, using his story as an attempt to come on to the female recruiter. He's also suspiciously nebulous about just how this whole floating thing got started.

After a little hesitation – he was hoping to get the Army's protection and then duck out without a commitment – Arnold finally signs his induction papers, making him an official member of the U.S. Army! And just in time, since a pickup truck with a gun toting madman in it pulls up just seconds later. Not sure how they knew he was in there, but whatever, let's move on. The guy turns out to be a man in his 60s accompanied by a young pregnant woman. Suddenly his circus story seems a lot less plausible.

Despite Arnold's insistence that their lives can only be saved by shooting the old man and pregnant woman, the recruiters let the two inside to hear their side of the story. And, yes, it's exactly what you think it was. Arnold was a sideshow freak at all, merely the guy who knocked up Lisa Simpson.

Hey, just like Daniel Stern in City Slickers! Although, by that point she was less criminally young.

It seems it was Arnold's fear of commitment that gave him the ability to float away! That's right, like so many magical powers on the show Tales from the Dark Side, this one is entirely metaphorical in origin.

The old man corners Arnold and the recruiters with a shotgun, demanding his chance to murder Arnold once and for all. The Army tries to convince him to back off, seeing as Arnold's ability to drift lazily with the winds has such obvious vital implications for national security. The old man remains unconvinced, the agrees to let Arnold live so long as floaty man marries Lisa, as he promised.

Arnold attempts to get Lisa to intervene, trying to convince her to let him off the hook, so to speak, but she's having none of it. Finally Arnold sucks it up and agrees to marry her and his ability to fly immediately disappears. Without his powers, he's of no particular use to the Army, nor can he flee easily anymore. The old man, male recruiter, and Lisa leave for the hospital, with the female recruiter in charge of keeping an eye on Arnold until they return.

Naturally, not being a serious or trustworthy person, Arnold take this opportunity to hit on the female recruiter, which immediately negates his promise to Lisa Simpson. His floatiness returns and he goes drifting up towards the ceiling fan once more. This time, however, the female recruiter has had enough of his nonsense, and lets him fly up to his death.


Okay, three things. One: I'm quite sure that ceiling fans aren't that sharp – it's not like this is some kind of a modified fan that's been hooked up to a lawnmower engine to kill zombies. It's moving so slowly I can see the blades rotating around. Two: his movement's controlled by the wind, isn't he? And don't ceiling fans push air down? Wouldn't that breeze more likely pin him to the floor than kill him?

Three: and this is the big one – is this seriously the second time in two years that the second last episode of the season of Tales from the Dark Side has concerned a man being killed by uncontrolled levitation? Because as trends go that one is super weird.

No comments: