Episode 28 – “A Nice Place to Visit”

One way to try to get a handle on the nature of the good, and of evil, is to reflect on our desires and their possible fulfillment.  We think of the good as the state in which our desires are fulfilled, and evil as the state in which our desires are thwarted. In religious systems, the first is heaven, the second, hell.

The good, of course, can’t just be the fulfillment of what someone desires, but the fulfillment of desires one ought to have. We notoriously fail to appreciate this distinction, and that’s what “A Nice Place to Visit” is all about. The main character, Rocky, is a crook, and he dies while committing a crime. But he finds himself immediately served by Pip, who says, “My job is to see that you get what you want, whatever it is.” And that’s what happens. Rocky wants to gamble, to be accompanied by fast women, and even to belittle others. He gets to fulfill all these desires, without end.

Rocky is initially surprised at his luck. How did he wind up in heaven? He even checks his past at the Hall of Records. The fact that there’s nothing in his past that redeems him is puzzling. But Rocky is not subject to intense self-reflection, and he goes back to winning and womanizing, until boredom sets in.  He telephones Pip on a special line (the dial can only dial “PIP”) and tells him that there must be some mistake. He really should be in “the other place.” Pip responds: “Whatever gave you the idea that you were in heaven, Mr. Vallentine? This is the other place!”  As Serling closes it out: “Now he has everything he ever wanted, and he’s going to have to live with it, for eternity, in the Twilight Zone.”

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