31.10.11

Tales From the Darkside 306: Black Widows




Aren't these things supposed to have twists? At least that's how they've been constructed up until this point. Either it's just a creepy thing going on, in which case the show is a little open about it, or there's a twist at the end. You've got your 'Word Processors of the Gods' and you've got your 'Anniversary Dinners'. This episode, on the other hand, seems like it's trying to be subtle about its twist, except that the title and a bizarre effect give it away.

Here's the setup - a mother and daughter share a trailer in the local park. Much to the daughter's consternation, the mother refuses to ever go out and see the world, preferring instead to let the world 'come to her'. Much like a spider living in its web. The spider thing continues with the daughter carefully taking one out of the house rather than killing it, and then the mother telling an encyclopedia salesman who drops by later not to kill one, since spiders in the house are 'good luck'. A sentiment I can't disagree with, largely because I don't like flies.

Despite this admonishment, the salesman goes ahead and kills the spider anyhow, and when the mother finds out, this happens:


So yes, we can clearly bid subtlety a fond farewell.


The funny part is, there was no need for this effect - they could have ended the act on the mother giving the salesman a nasty look, but leave his fate unresolved. That way, when in the next scene the daughter finds the encyclopedia hidden away in the trash, we would share her suspicions about her mother's behaviour, rather than knowing that the two of them are magic giant spiders, and just waiting for the title's meaning to play out.

Which, naturally, happens in the next scene, when the daughter's would-be fiancee stops in for dinner. The mother is unconvinced about his promises of being able to take care of the family - sure, a larger trailer and satellite dish would be all well and good, but why is he so ridiculously thin? This is the kind of complaint that would seem odd and curiosity-inducing if we didn't already know we were dealing with giant black widow spiders. Thanks, title.

In the next scene the two crazy kids have just gotten married, and the local pastor is consoling the mother with aphorisms about her not losing a daughter, but rather gaining a son. Of course, he has less support to offer when he discovers that the real reason for the mother's disconsolate nature is that the newlyweds are having noisy sex in a room not ten feet away. Which is just all kids of weird and off-putting.

After the pastor goes on his way the bedroom door opens and the groom stumbles out, dying of the venom that has been pumped into his system by his spider-bride.



The daughter is surprised to discover that she's a spider-woman - apparently the mother had never bothered to tell her about any of this. She's upset that she didn't get any warning about this, but quickly accepts the rules - as a 'black widow' she'll start by first killing a husband, but after that she's free to devour anyone she likes. Which means she won't have to feel too guilty about killing someone she loves again, hopefully.

Then it's time for another visit from the pastor, consoling the family about the groom being 'lost at sea' during the honeymoon. He offers to console the daughter, but the mother begs off, explaining that she's having trouble dealing with the fact that she's become pregnant! The daughter is understandably concerned about the prospect of having a daughter - bringing another murderer in the family, but her mother defends the practice as being just another tradition.

In the very next scene said daughter has been born, and once again the pastor drops by. After seeing the monstrously ugly baby, he drops in to check on the daughter, and winds up devoured for his trouble. You known, considering the fact that many, many people must have known where the pastor was going, he might not be the best choice of victim. Although I can't argue with the set design that transformed a clothesline into a web:


Good work, Tales From the Dark Side!

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