Mr. Denton On Doomsday, Ep. 3
The town drunk is given a chance to redeem himself by an itinerant peddler who goes by the auspicious name of Henry J. Fate.
This episode began powerfully, and then lost me when the mystical began to happen. The mystery in this one for me stemmed not from the intervention of the Twilight Zone, but the unknown circumstances that had brought Mr. Denton to his situation at the outset of the episode.
The episode began powerfully. Al Denton, the town drunk, stumbles out of the saloon and crashes the ground on the dirt street outside. A mob of local cowboy toughs follow him outside, and their ringleader bids Denton sing a humiliating song to earn himself another drink. Which he does, his voice ragged and desolate while the others watch and laugh. This scene set up the rest of the episode so powerfully due to the awful ruination visible in Denton’s haggard face and the soft cruelty in the ringleader’s face. Man. Brilliant.
From there Henry J. Fate intervenes, and gifts Al Denton with a gun, and we learn that Denton had once been the best shot in the land, and his endless killings forced him into drinking as he defended his title over and over again from those who would usurp his title. Reminded me strongly of a Clint Eastwood movie (Unforgiven?) where the same premise was taken up and expanded upon.
What was kind of cool is how Al Denton looks like Brad Pitt’s uncle. There’s a great twist at the end which I hadn’t expected, but the story wraps up in too neat a fashion; Henry J. Fate proves too in control for my liking, and that robs the story of its power.
Still! Al Denton was a great character, and the story was compelling right till the very end. A solid Twilight Zone adventure which I think may have actually profited from now having had anything mystical take place at all. Al Denton’s personal drama could have carried it alone, which is a surprising first for this series.