Sunday, January 11, 2015

Tales from the Darkside: It All Comes Out in the Wash

Guilt. When someone commits a wrong, if he is an otherwise moral and upstanding person, he will feel bad about it and try to make amends. Depending on the severity of the wrong, it will likely take a lot of time and effort to atone. But what if getting rid of your guilt was as easy as having your clothes laundered? Suppose you have the money and connections so you don't have feel bad when you commit a crime, cheat on your spouse, or ignore your children. What would you do if knew you weren't going to feel bad about doing it?

That's exactly what laundry man Chow Ting (James "David Lo Pan" Wong!) is offering his clients. When you pay for his laundry services, he will literally wash away your sins, and that's exactly why real estate developer Carl Gropper (Vince Edwards), so he can get rid of his guilt. "I'll be able to do anything, anything, without the pangs of conscience." And as soon as he contracts Chow Ting for the service, Gropper's business begins booming

Now, this is a fun idea, and Edwards has a ball as a morally bankrupt sleaze bag. For example, he orders his secretary to send his wife some flowers, and then immediately calls his lawyer and tells him to serve her divorce papers the next day because "today's her birthday, and I'm all heart." Meanwhile, Chow Ting keeps raising his prices for the laundry services to meet the labor demands. But when Gropper violates the rules of his arrangement with Chow Ting, the dirty laundry begins piling up.

Like I said, the idea behind the episode is great - that if you have money, you can buy off your sins and shield yourself from the moral repercussions of your actions - but by the end, I think it could have been explored more. I would have liked to have seen Gropper before he started using the special service. For example, how had his conscience hindered him before he washed away his guilt?  I also think the episode could have had more fun depicting his descent into amorality. Most of the episode takes place in his office with his sins talked about over the phone instead of being shown (although that does illustrate how physically insulated he is from the people who experience the results of his decisions).

Still the more I think about this episode, the more I like it. It's not hard to see Gropper, alone in his office with piles of dirty laundry building up, and not be reminded of a present-day Wall Street CEO holed up in his corporate tower, away from his underpaid, exploited employees, economic recessions caused by his reckless investing, and the gutting of social services to pay for his tax breaks. At least, Gropper had to pay a supernatural agent to get rid of his guilt; these real-life guys don't seem to need that kind of service. Now, that's scary.

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