The Convict's Piano

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"The Convict's Piano"
The New Twilight Zone episode
Episode no. Season 2
Episode 30
Directed by Thomas J. Wright
Written by Patrice Messina
James Crocker
Original air date December 11, 1986
Guest appearance(s)

Joe Penny: Frost
Norman Fell: Eddie O'Hara
Tom O'Brien: Mickey Shaughnessy
John Hancock: Dr. Puckett
Cristen Kauffman: Ellen

Episode chronology
← Previous
"The Toys of Caliban"
Next →
"The Road Less Traveled"
List of The Twilight Zone (1985 TV series) episodes

"The Convict's Piano" is the thirtieth episode and the sixth episode of the second season (1986–87) of the television series The Twilight Zone.


A convict named Frost is interrupted while pretending to play piano one day in the prison yard and he attacks one of the inmates. He is taken to the infirmary and treated for a flesh wound and then he is taken to another convict by name of Eddie O'Hara. They converse about how Frost's ex-girlfriend was found murdered and he was convicted of it although he claims he is innocent. They also discuss how Frost can play the piano and it is suggested that he could play Ave Maria for the bishop who is coming to visit the prison.

They find an old piano in the reception hall that once belonged to a gangster named Shaughnessy – once a friend of O'Hara's. It was sent over after Shaughnessy disappeared so that the prison population could enjoy piano music, but it sat gathering dust until the present.

Frost investigates the piano and finds some old sheet music in the seat. He begins playing "Maple Leaf Rag" then discovers he is playing the music on a new piano and in a band uniform on a bandstand in a park in the 1890s. He stops playing and shimmers back to the present day in the prison. The next day in the prison yard he is harassed by the guy who wounded him but O'Hara steps in. They then talk about how O'Hara was framed by Shaughnessy for murder and how they were both in love with the same girl. O'Hara asks where Frost went the day before after he was left alone with the piano.

Frost goes back to the piano and finds sheet music for "Over There." As he begins to play, he appears in Shaughnessy's Shamrock Club in 1917 where he talks to an army doughboy who buys him a beer, and grabs a box of matches. Frost accidentally stops playing when he goes to wipe his mouth and returns to the present, dismayed. A short while later, Frost goes to the doctor to get his stitches out and tells the doctor about the piano. The doctor does not appear to believe the story and Frost himself has momentary doubts. However, he pulls out the matchbox and realizes he is not imagining things. Frost goes back to the piano but is intercepted by the same convict who has been harassing him. The convict threatens Frost but a guard appears and they run. O'Hara arrives and Frost tells him about the piano; he tells O'Hara to touch the piano while he is playing so they can go back together and get even with Shaughnessy in the past. O'Hara does not believe the story either but watches Frost disappear while playing "Someone to Watch Over Me." Frost finds himself at Shaughnessy's house in 1928, and Shaughnessy himself appears upset over the absence of his regular piano player and the music Frost is playing. Frost says "the union" sent him over to fill in for the regular player. Shaughnessy decides to invest in a grand piano and send the old one over to the prison for his "friend" O'Hara. Shaughnessy demands Frost play "S'Wonderful", but Frost does not know the song. Shaughnessy begins playing it himself while Frost is still playing. Frost stops playing and stands up but doesn't disappear, while Shaughnessy's girl invites him to dance. When Shaughnessy quits playing, he disappears and travels to the prison in the present. Shaughnessy demands to know where he is and O'Hara tells him he is right where he belongs. O'Hara punches him and knocks him into the piano which crashes to the ground and shatters into pieces–trapping Shaughnessy in the present to serve out Frost's sentence. Back in 1928, Frost realizes what's happened and smiles as he stares at the piano as he knows it will be sent to the prison.

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