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The Once and Future King (The Twilight Zone)

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Episode no.
Season 2Episode 25a

Original air date
September 27, 1986

Air date
September 27, 1986

Written by
Directed by
Episode number

Jim McBride

The Once and Future King (The Twilight Zone) httpsiytimgcomvilWOv899N68wmaxresdefaultjpg

The once and future king

"The Once and Future King" is the first segment of the twenty-fifth episode, the first episode of the second season (1986–87) of the television series The Twilight Zone.


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Gary, an Elvis impersonator, opens in a smoke-filled lounge, singing "Heartbreak Hotel" in Elvis' signature 1950s gold lamé suit. Much to Gary's chagrin, his performance receives mediocre applause. Afterward, Gary is in his dressing room when his manager, Sandra, walks in. Sandra tells Gary that she was able to book him into a small hotel on the Las Vegas Strip. The mere mention of Las Vegas drives Gary into a rant about how Vegas killed Elvis and how he didn't have to make the same mistakes he made just because he looked like Elvis. He laments about how it was great music, but she reminds him, it was...but it's not "his" music.

As Gary is driving down the road, he sees an incoherent driver coming the opposite direction swerving left and right. To avoid hitting the driver, Gary steers off the road, only to have his car flip upside-down. Gary awakes the next morning and sees the damage done to his car. He then gets up, grabs his guitar and starts thumbing for a ride. A man in an old pickup truck sees Gary and pulls over. Gary runs to the passenger-side door, and to his shock, sees that the man resembles Elvis. He offers Gary a ride, saying "You look...all shook up." When Gary opens the door, the sign on it says "Crown Electric Co.", which was the company Elvis worked for before getting his first recording contract.

They break the ice by talking about how they're both musicians. As they're talking, Gary looks over and sees an old Chrysler DeSoto drive by. He then picks up a newspaper sitting on the floor and looks at the date: July 3, 1954. Gary comes to the realization that the man sitting next to him not only looks like Elvis Presley, but that he actually is Presley. Gary begins thinking that all of this is a hallucination resulting from his accident the night before.

When they arrive at Crown Electric, Elvis' boss comes out and chides him about picking up hitchhikers, "even if it is your brother." Elvis begins to question Gary about who he is and where he comes from. Gary then uses Elvis' belief in the supernatural to convince him that he is Jesse (Elvis's twin brother who died at birth). Elvis, thinking that Gary is his thought-to-be deceased twin, asks him why he came back. Gary tells him that he came back to help him because he was going to be bigger than he could ever imagine. Gary starts listing all the positives of Elvis' future career, then he starts listing all the negatives, but affirms that it doesn't have to be that way. Feeling remorseful about deceiving Elvis, Gary starts to back out, until Elvis asks him to meet him the next day so that he could help him rehearse the song he was going to record for Mr. Phillips, so Gary agrees.

The next day, Gary continues to tell Elvis about his future success and how he is going to be the King of Rock 'n' Roll. Elvis starts playing a smooth, easy-listening ballad called "I Love You Because" with his guitar. Gary is disappointed with Elvis' choice of song and attempts to convince him to play "That's All Right" and even moves around and shakes his hips. Elvis is horrified, claiming that it's the devil's music and even accuses Gary himself of being a devil who has come to tempt him. The two break into an argument that leads to a brawl. Elvis grabs a guitar and swings it at Gary, but misses, hitting the edge of a shelf instead and breaking off the top part of the guitar's neck. As they continue to fight, Elvis leaps towards him and accidentally lands on the broken guitar when Gary moves out of the way. The guitar goes right through Elvis' chest and he dies.

With no other alternative, Gary buries Elvis, all the while wondering what was going to happen. He thinks about it for a minute and decides from that point to assume Elvis' identity and to do everything just the way Elvis had. The following day, a nervous Gary (wearing Elvis' clothes from the day before) goes into Sun Studio and is received by the office manager, who lets him know that everyone is already waiting for him in the recording booth. As Sam Phillips is preparing his recording equipment, Gary plays a little of "That's All Right" to the other band members who immediately join in. Phillips interrupts the trio, but tells "Elvis" to keep it up. As the song is playing, the scene flashes forward to 1970s Las Vegas where we find Gary (as Elvis) talking to a woman in his hotel room. He tells her that he did all the songs, all the movies, as closely as he remembered. He questions whether or not the real Elvis would've been a better King than he would've been, or if there would've even been a King at all. He says that he has terrible dreams and that he talks to Elvis all the time and that Elvis tells him that he still owes him. He even goes as far as to say that Elvis would have liked Vegas. The woman, who turns out to be a younger Sandra, just tells him that he is tired and to not worry, no one would ever take his place, he was the King, the only King. He then sends her off with a scarf and a kiss. After she leaves, Gary sits in a chair facing a window overlooking the Vegas Strip.


The man who played Elvis' boss at the Crown Electric company was Red West, Elvis' real-life schoolmate and best friend.

Elvis vocals were performed by the legendary Ronnie McDowell.


The Once and Future King (The Twilight Zone) Wikipedia

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