The Twilight Zone's "The Silence" Twist Ending Explained

Here's the twist ending of The Twilight Zone's " The Silence" explained. The Twilight Zone was created and hosted by Rod Serling and is a landmark sci-fi and fantasy anthology. Serling used the series as a chance to explore morality, politics and social issues in a coded way, while also offering some incredibly creative tales from writers like Richard Matheson. Serling himself penned the bulk of The Twilight Zone's episodes, with his narration becoming a key part of the show's success.

Serling's harsh workload and clashes with network executives saw the series come to a close after five seasons. In addition to inspiring other anthologies, including more modern examples like Inside No.9 or Black Mirror, The Twilight Zone has been revived in many different forms. The '80s saw the arrival of both Twilight Zone: The Movie - featuring segments by filmmakers such as Steven Spielberg and George Miller - and a TV series. The show got another, short-lived reboot in the early 2000s hosted by Forest Whitaker, while Jordan Peele's Twilight Zone CBS All Access reboot was greeted with mixed responses before being canceled after two seasons.

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While many of The Twilight Zone's most famous episodes feature some kind of sci-fi angle, season 2's "The Silence" has none. Instead, it revolves around an unfriendly wager, where a snobby aristocrat named Taylor has become so exhausted with the relentless chattering of a fellow men's club member named Tennyson he makes the man an unusual bet. If the cash-strapped Tennyson agrees to remain totally silent for a year inside of glass confinement, Taylor will give the man $500,000. Tennyson agrees to the wager for the sake of providing his beloved wife with the finer things in life, but like most Twilight Zone episodes, things take a dark turn.

Twilight Zone's "The Silence" sees Tennyson taking rather well to his confinement, and while Taylor predicts he'll last a couple of months max, he exceeds all expectations. Taylor soon becomes determined to win the bet, including making inferences Tennyson's wife is seeing other men while he remains in isolation, but against all the odds, he wins the bet. As Tennyson prepares to receive his check from Taylor in front of the men's club, the episode offers two devastating twists.

The first is that Taylor is essentially broke, and has no money to offer Tennyson. Admitting this in front of the club is especially humiliating for Taylor, while Tennyson registers intense shock and horror. The Twilight Zone's (which Ready Or Not homaged) "The Silence" builds on this reveal, with Tennyson revealing via a note he knew he couldn't remain quiet that entire time, so he had his vocal cords surgically removed prior to the bet commencing. "The Silence" finale is - pun unintended - one of the most quietly haunting of The Twilight Zone, and showed it didn't need any aliens or monsters to leave viewers unsettled.

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