A Game of Pool (1989 The Twilight Zone)

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"A Game of Pool"
The New Twilight Zone episode
Episode no. Season 3
Episode 55
Directed by Randy Bradshaw
Written by George Clayton Johnson
Will Bermender
Original air date February 04, 1989
Guest appearance(s)

Esai Morales: Jesse Cardiff
Maury Chaykin: Fats Brown

Episode chronology
← Previous
"Something in the Walls"
Next →
"Room 2426"
List of The Twilight Zone (1985 TV series) episodes

"A Game of Pool" is the fifty-fifth episode and the twentieth episode of the third season (1988–89) of the revived television series The Twilight Zone. It is a remake of the original series 1961 episode of the same name.

Opening narration[edit]

Plot[edit]

The owner of a pool hall collects the billiard balls of his tables as he calls out "closing time". As some of the customers leave, a couple of guys give the owner a hassle over letting one of the guys stay, one Jesse Cardiff. Jesse, of whom one guy says "he thinks he's the next Fats Brown", slams a double shot. Instead of enjoying completing such a difficult shot, Jesse complains about being compared to Fats Brown. He off-handedly remarks that if he were alive and in the room, he'd show Fats Brown that he could beat him. He turns around to see a portly gentleman sitting down. The man says, "At your service."

It is Fats Brown, in the flesh, so to speak. He tells Jesse that Jesse called for him; he did not come on his own. Stuttering and nervous, Jesse tries to explain that he didn't really mean it. Fats dresses him down and tells him he's not nearly as good as he claims to be. Jesse gets brazen and says he can beat him. But first they must decide what the stakes will be. Money means nothing to Fats since he's already dead; he then reminds Jesse that he said he'd "give anything" to play with Fats, and suggests the stakes be life or death. If Jesse wins, he can claim that he beat Fats Brown, but if Jesse loses, he will die. Jesse hesitates and Fats calls him on it, but finally Jesse accepts.

They begin to play. Jesse does very well, but so does Fats. When Jesse gets excited over sinking a tricky shot and Fats is non-plussed, Jesse loses his temper, lamenting that no one has ever given him his due. The match gets to be nearly even, then Jesse pulls ahead, but Fats is unconcerned. Fats blows Jesse away in the next game. Then at the end, Jesse needs only make one shot to win. As he begins to line up his shot, Fats begins to tell him that there is more to life than the pool hall. Jesse retorts that you do not become the best sitting around. Fats agrees but he still had a life outside the pool hall and thinks that Jesse is just rotting his life away. Jesse claims that Fats is just trying to break his concentration. When Fats shoots his final shot and misses, Jesse gets excited. All he has to do is sink that ball and he becomes the greatest, but Jesse misses.

Fats lines up his shot and makes it. He looks up intensely at Jesse, who is shaking with fear. Fats takes something out of his pocket - his cue chalk. He sets it down and takes his cue apart. Jesse questions him about the life or death stakes. Fats laughs and says that Jesse will die, in obscurity, as all second-raters do in the end. If he had beaten Fats, he would've lived forever. Fats says that Jesse's good, but not good enough. As Fats disappears, Jesse screams that he can do better, that he will practice more and more, and eventually he'll win.

Closing narration[edit]

Alternate ending[edit]

This episode was written by Johnson for the original Twilight Zone series. That 1961 version, starring Jack Klugman and Jonathan Winters, featured an ending where Jesse wins and is bound to take up Fats's mantle as the greatest pool player in history. The ending used here was the original ending as intended by writer George Clayton Johnson.

References[edit]

  • Zicree, Marc Scott: The Twilight Zone Companion. Sillman-James Press, 1982 (second edition)

External links[edit]