The Toys of Caliban

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"The Toys of Caliban"
The New Twilight Zone episode
Episode no. Season 2
Episode 29
Directed by Thomas J. Wright
Written by Terry Matz
George R. R. Martin
Original air date December 4, 1986
Guest appearance(s)

Richard Mulligan: Ernest Ross
Anne Haney: Mary Ross
David Greenlee: Toby Ross
Alexandra Borrie: Miss Kemp
Earl Bullock: Minister
Richard Biggs: Doctor

Episode chronology
← Previous
"The World Next Door"
Next →
"The Convict's Piano"
List of The Twilight Zone (1985 TV series) episodes

"The Toys of Caliban" is the twenty-ninth episode and the fifth episode of the second season (1986–87) of the television series The Twilight Zone. The title refers to the character Caliban from the William Shakespeare play The Tempest.


An elderly husband and wife, Ernest and Mary Ross, are the parents of Toby, a young man who appears mentally impaired. At some point, apparently very early in his life, Toby displayed the ability to summon things he has seen (by looking at the picture and saying the word "Bring!") Ernest and Mary are clearly aware of this and it is revealed that they have lived as recluses for many years so as not to expose Toby to images of things that he might then "bring." (It is later revealed that when Toby attempts to "bring" living things such as animals that he has seen in pictures, whatever he brings is dead when it appears.) Ernest and Mary have had to place an ever-growing amount of restrictions on what Toby can be allowed to see.

At the beginning of the episode, Toby pleads with his parents for donuts, which he dearly loves. They insist that he finish his dinner first. Ernest then unlocks a drawer containing pictures of donuts that Toby looks at in order to "bring" them. But on this night, before Ernest can show Toby the pictures, Toby succeeds in producing the donuts on his own, without seeing the pictures. This greatly disturbs Ernest, who fears that Toby's mysterious power is growing stronger and who knows what he might decide to "bring" if he doesn't need to see the objects he wants.

Later that same night, Toby has become seriously ill with terrible pain in his stomach. Ernest suspects that since Toby no longer needs to see pictures in order to "bring" items, that he may have produced dozens of donuts after being put to bed and then made himself sick on them. Mary, now frantic, asks about calling a doctor who still makes house calls. Ernest tells her "Mary, no one makes house calls anymore!" Finally, Ernest calls for an ambulance.

The Rosses spend the night at the hospital and plan to take Toby home the next day, but the parent's overprotective behavior attracts the attention of a social worker, Miss Kemp, who, unaware of Toby's terrifying powers, is concerned that he is being mistreated and deprived of the benefits of special education that is now available for people like Toby.

Toby accidentally kills his mother when he sees a picture of a heart and summons it. Ernest remains determined to look after his son without outside interference but when Miss Kemp threatens to take Toby away Ernest persuades his son to demonstrate his ability by summoning items from a picture book. Miss Kemp still believes Toby needs professional help, but Ernest insists that if psychologists and scientists discover what he can do then they will abuse him. The social worker eventually leaves but makes it clear that Ernest will see her again. Upset by these events, Toby uses an old photograph to summon his mother from the grave—Mary's corpse then appears in the armchair.

While burying Mary's body in the backyard, Ernest talks to his wife and tells her that it's finally time. Ernest then sits with his son and presents him with one more picture—a picture of fire.

When Ms. Kemp returns the house is ablaze.

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