Hello there kiddies! Welcome to the first day of our 31 Days of Tales From the Crypt, I’m your Cryptkeeper Bubbawheat and I’ll be guiding you through the various writers and bloggers coming through here to take a look at a different episode of HBO’s Tales From the Crypt every day throughout October. But as this is the first day, I will be kicking things off with the first episode. This episode was chosen mainly because last year I had gone through every episode in the first four seasons of Tales From the Crypt over at Flights, Tights, and Movie Nights with some very brief thoughts on each episode and its twist. So I wanted to continue on into the fifth season this year, and the first episode in the fifth season is a great one that I didn’t want to take away from someone else to cover so I went with the second episode instead, As Ye Sow.
One of the first things that struck me was the fact that two notable comic book actors appeared in this episode that I wasn’t expecting whatsoever. First off is Adam West, TV’s Batman as the private investigator in the opening as he tells Hector Elizondo that he has found no evidence that his wife is cheating on him, no matter how strong his suspicions are. Second would be John Shea as the priest at the church his wife regularly goes to, who I knew better as Lex Luthor from the 90’s Lois and Clark series.
There was another very unusual aspect of this episode that I didn’t notice right away, but I was very aware of it by the time the end rolled around. Tales From the Crypt is generally known for being this R-rated HBO series full of blood, gore, and nudity. Things that you couldn’t get away with on network TV, or even regular cable at the time. But while this episode is all about this husband who suspects that his wife is cheating on him with this priest and arranges to have her killed, there is a complete lack of either blood or nudity. During all of the sex scenes that are imagined by Elizondo, it’s all done fully clothed, and when he finally does get his comeuppance at the end, it is a completely bloodless death. Very unusual.
And since I already mentioned the twist more or less, I’ll go ahead and dissect it a little bit. I’m not entirely sure if I remembered the ending, or if I just figured it out near the end, but the twist generally worked for what it was doing. Throughout the episode, Elizondo hires this sleazy PI who specializes in cheating spouses played by Sam Waterson. Waterson fuels Elizondo’s fears and plants the theory that she is sleeping with her priest, those flames get fanned throughout the episode until Elizondo finally snaps and admits that he wants the priest dead. Unfazed, Waterson offers to have the deed done himself, not immediately, but sometime within the next month or two. Elizondo gets impatient and investigates the situation himself, posing as a priest in the confessional where he hears the chaste truth of his wife’s disinterest in sex, but when he gleefully embraces her the hitman shows up and mistakes Elizondo for the cheating priest and kills him right then and there. One in the dick, and one in the ear, exactly as Elizondo requested. The situation was somewhat predictable at that point in the story, but it was mostly odd because of how bloodless it was, the camera just pulls away in a long shot with Elizondo lying in the middle of the church floor.
This episode was directed by Kyle Maclachlan who interestingly enough will be appearing as an actor in tomorrow’s episode. This was one of many episodes of this show that were guest directed by someone generally known more for being an actor, such as Arnold Schwarzenegger, Tom Hanks, and Michael J. Fox. Overall, the direction wasn’t noticeably distracting aside from the lack of blood as I already mentioned. He handles Elizondo’s descent into madness well enough as he starts seeing Shea and his wife played by Patsy Kensit making out, first in an imagined scenario at the confessional, then practically everywhere he looks. For her part, Kensit didn’t really have much to do in the episode aside from look pretty and talk in an Irish brogue. The highlight of the episode was Waterson’s slightly devilish looking private eye. He plays it slightly slovenly, like when he’s taking the meeting while eating some Chinese take-out food, he has the constant five o’clock shadow like he’s been sleeping in his office, but he’s also lit to give him a slightly demonic look without ever being overt about it. Ultimately, it was an ok episode. It had its fun moments, but it doesn’t hold a candle to some of the best episodes, and we will be getting to those later this month so stick around!