|The Twilight Zone episode|
|Episode no.||Season 5|
|Directed by||Ida Lupino|
|Written by||Rod Serling|
|Featured music||Stock from A Thing About Machines|
|Original air date||March 20, 1964|
"The Masks" is episode 145 of the American television series The Twilight Zone. It originally aired on March 20, 1964 on CBS. In this episode, set on Mardi Gras, a dying man coerces his relatives into wearing grotesque masks that reflect their true personalities.
|“||Mr. Jason Foster, a tired ancient who on this particular Mardi Gras evening will leave the Earth. But before departing, he has some things to do, some services to perform, some debts to pay—and some justice to mete out. This is New Orleans, Mardi Gras time. It is also the Twilight Zone.||”|
On the night of Mardi Gras, a wealthy old man named Jason Foster is attended by his physician, Dr. Sam Thorne, who warns him that his death is imminent. Cranky and candid, Jason is not cheered by the arrival of his daughter Emily Harper and her family: husband Wilfred, son Wilfred Jr., and daughter Paula. All four have terrible traits. Emily is a cowardly hypochondriac who whines about her perceived ailments. Wilfred, a successful businessman, is greedy, thinking of everything in monetary terms. Paula is vain, constantly checking her appearance in the mirror. Wilfred Jr. is an oafish, sadistic bully who enjoys causing pain and suffering. Moreover, Jason believes they are only there in order to claim his fortune once he dies.
Jason is not shy about his opinions and openly insults each of them. He says he has a special Mardi Gras party planned for the group that night. After dinner, the family gathers in Jason's study where he instructs them to put on special one-of-a-kind masks, which he says are "crafted by an old Cajun". Explaining that an old Mardi Gras custom involves wearing a mask that is the opposite of one's true personality, Jason sarcastically gives one to each person: a sniveling coward for Emily, a miserable miser to Wilfred, a twisted buffoon to Wilfred Jr., and a self-obsessed narcissist to Paula. He dons a skull mask, saying that it represents death as opposed to his life. The others refuse to participate at first, but reluctantly agree after Jason threatens to disinherit them unless they all wear the masks until midnight.
As the hours tick by, all four beg to be allowed to take off the masks, saying that they are unbearable. Their pleas are wasted on Jason, who delivers a final tirade to his family as the clock strikes midnight. "Without your masks, you're caricatures!" he says as he dies. The four rejoice in their newly inherited wealth and unmask, but discover to their horror that their faces now conform to the hideous features of the masks. Jason's face, on the other hand, proves to be superficially unchanged. Dr. Thorne observes, "This must be death. No horror, no fear, nothing but peace."
|“||Mardi Gras incident, the dramatis personae being four people who came to celebrate and in a sense let themselves go. This they did with a vengeance. They now wear the faces of all that was inside them—and they'll wear them for the rest of their lives, said lives now to be spent in the shadow. Tonight's tale of men, the macabre and masks, on the Twilight Zone.||”|
- Robert Keith as Jason Foster
- Milton Selzer as Wilfred Harper
- Virginia Gregg as Emily Harper
- Brooke Hayward as Paula Harper
- Alan Sues as Wilfred Harper Jr.
- Willis Bouchey as Dr. Samuel Thorne
- Bill Walker as Jeffrey The Butler
- Maidie Norman as Maid
- Rod Serling as Host / Narrator – Himself
"The Masks" was directed by Ida Lupino, who had starred in the first-season episode "The Sixteen-Millimeter Shrine". She was the only person in the history of the original Twilight Zone to have acted in one episode and directed another. She was also the only woman to direct an episode of The Twilight Zone.
- DeVoe, Bill. (2008). Trivia from The Twilight Zone. Albany, GA: Bear Manor Media. ISBN 978-1-59393-136-0
- Grams, Martin. (2008). The Twilight Zone: Unlocking the Door to a Television Classic. Churchville, MD: OTR Publishing. ISBN 978-0-9703310-9-0
- Zicree, Marc Scott: The Twilight Zone Companion. Sillman-James Press, 1982 (second edition)