The Masks

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"The Masks"
The Twilight Zone episode
The Masks.jpg
Episode no.Season 5
Episode 25
Directed byIda Lupino
Written byRod Serling
Featured musicStock from A Thing About Machines
Production code2601
Original air dateMarch 20, 1964
Guest appearance(s)
Episode chronology
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"What's in the Box"
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"I Am the Night—Color Me Black"
The Twilight Zone (1959 TV series) (season 5)
List of The Twilight Zone episodes

"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.

Opening narration[edit]

Plot[edit]

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."

Closing narration[edit]

Cast[edit]

Episode notes[edit]

"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.

References[edit]

  • 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)

External links[edit]