In any event Falk has led a peasant revolt and he's newly arrived in power and now in the presidential palace he's hearing the ever present sound of firing squad. Sending for his predecessor Will Kulava he wants to do a bit of gloating. Instead Kulava goes bravely to his demise, but not before willing to Falk the mirror in his presidential office which he says will reveal your enemies, real and potential before they strike.
The mirror does show some interesting things to Falk, but as this is the Twilight Zone is it real or is Falk's conscience playing tricks on him.
We never really know, but that's the beauty of this Twilight Zone episode. Very Edgar Allan Poe like, a tell tale heart or a tell tale mirror.
As a Latino, the dirty make-up, fake beards, and crappy accents are hard to overlook. But the mirror that shows one's would-be assassins and feeds the paranoia of the powerful is a great science fiction concept, one that--in my opinion--saves this episode.
In short, this is not Sterling's best, but I like that he appears to be using current events to spice up these episodes. At the time, audiences probably really enjoyed this condemnation of Castro (that reinforced all of their stereotypes about Latino politics). In our time, we can appreciate it as a reflection of the fears of the past, fears that turned out to be well-founded.
"The Mirror" is a predictable episode based on the paranoid behavior of a man unprepared to lead a nation. The despicable analogy to the charismatic leader Fidel Castro and the Cuban revolution is not a subtle, but a direct message; but the story of the corruption of the absolute power of a tyrant is reasonable. My vote is six.
Title (Brazil): "O Espelho" ("The Mirror")
Directed by TV veteran Don Medford and written by Serling, "The Mirror" evokes a heaping dose of Cold War hysteria but isn't up to the usual high standards of this classic series. Falk does his best to fit the image and mentality of a Latin American dictator but chews up far too much scenery in the process. Kuluva is fine as his predecessor who's on his way to the firing squad. Old time actor Vladimir Sokoloff does a good job as a Catholic priest who witnesses Clemente's final desperate moments. All in all, it's still an interesting piece for viewers who would like to re-examine the historical content of the early 1960s. Back in those days, Fidel Castro and his ilk were considered real bogeymen.
There certainly are touches of that age-old concept of "power corrupting", and as we view it now, to many it may indeed seem quite clichéd. These people fail to note one major thing, however; while such stories have been seen by us, now, in the 2010's time and time again, the Twilight Zone was among the first of its kind. At the time it was produced, it was truly a revolutionary program in so many ways, not least of which was its ability to flaunt sponsor censorship in order to put forth stories that were in many ways quite controversial. This story (and others from the show) that seems so very cliché by current standards was something very new to television at the time.
Nor is that the only (or even primary) theme of the episode. Indeed, it has always seemed to me that the primary theme was more a point that those take power by force and violence needs must forever live in fear of being victims of the same, as evidenced by Clemente's growing paranoia and ultimate fate.
It is true that Castro lived to a ripe old age, despite having risen from violence. But the fact is that he acted in a manner suggesting he knew full well that he could meet the same fate; a fear of violent revolution was what compelled him to imprison so many political opponents and clamp down so hard on the media. Serling may not have guessed his fate correctly, but he was seemingly not so very far off on the man's state of mind, or that of many other despots over the years.