Okay, this is also a pretty well-known episode of the Twilight Zone. Granted, the title itself makes it pretty obvious what is happening in the episode, since the expression is “A nice place to visit, but I wouldn’t want to live there.”
It’s Hell. Hell is a nice place to visit, but you wouldn’t want to live there. I know that’s a weird thing to write, but it’s got a nice, warm climate, right? Sorry, spoiler alert from something 50 years old. Also, the Allies won WWII.
The story’s pretty simple. Henry “Rocky” Valentine (Larry Blyden) gets killed robbing a pawn shop. He wakes up to find a guide and servant ready to attend to his every need named “Pip” (Sebastian Cabot). Rocky is skeptical at first, not yet understanding that he’s dead, until he shoots Pip, only to find that Pip is bulletproof. He declares that Pip must be his guardian angel because he’s never been treated so well in his life. After spending his free time with women, victims, and gambling, Rocky becomes curious what he did to deserve to get into Heaven. Upon retrieving his record, the audience is informed that, if anything, Rocky’s life stands as a testament that he is the kind of person who absolutely shouldn’t get into paradise. The only reason he didn’t have “Serial Rapist” and “Domestic Abuser” on his file is that they weren’t allowed to say those words on TV back then.
Actually, this episode was one of the most censored episodes of the Twilight Zone (which, in light of a few others that are on this list, is an impressive claim). It turns out that Rocky was originally going to be even more crass and direct with women than he was in the final episode of the show. Despite the fact that the episode would show that such a person GOES TO HELL, the censors nixed it. Note, of course, that he was allowed to be a multiple murderer and torturer of animals, he just couldn’t call a woman “stacked.” America is weird about stuff.
In the end, Rocky is driven to the point of madness because, first, it is his private paradise, so he can’t see any of his old friends, and second, because it is too perfect. Nothing is unpredictable. There is no chance. If he commits a crime, he’ll get away with it, unless he says he doesn’t want to get away with it. He can kill, screw, whatever, but all of his victims will be both fake and willing. In a desperate plea, he begs Pip that heaven is wrong for him, and that clearly he belongs in “the other place,” only to have Pip laugh demonically and inform him that of course, he is in “the other place.”
This episode is one of my favorite versions of hell, because it allows for a chance for anyone to be redeemed. Think about it, the damned gets whatever he wants. It’s his desire to inflict pain on himself and others that keeps him from being happy. He could ask for books on philosophy and inner strength so that he could learn to be happy in solitude. He could ask for a place to work on projects and discover new things about the world. He could probably even ask for forgiveness from God. The thing is, a person like Rocky Valentine would probably take eternity to think of any of those things. Especially since, in the circumstances, he’s not being tortured to his limits, he’s just driving himself crazy every day. It’s a perfectly fair hell, because, if God really loves people, he’d only want them to suffer as long as they don’t understand their mistake.
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Interestingly, someone re-cut the episode into 5 minutes of the essential plot. Pretty awesome. Enjoy.
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