Devil's Advocate

My favorite Brimstone episode brought up deeper questions about the nature of evil itself. Here, the soul to be dispatched with had been damned because of a failure of nerve. During World War II, he had attempted to rescue a group of Jews, going so far as to bring them all together where they could be caught and sent to concentration camps. He wanted to help them but became more concerned for his own safety; hence he belonged with the devil. After escaping from hell, this guy listened to a lot of Marlene Dietrich records and went around trying to help homeless people. Meanwhile, a homeless shelter worker, who seemed at first to be pure and noble, was killing his charges and selling their eyes to an organ bank. (One wonders just where the organ-bank workers thought he was getting them; I have to hope that in the real world there are restrictions on just how many organs one person can donate.) Stone and the "Angel of Mercy" face off with the earthly bad guy, who is merely caught, not killed. Then Stone has to send this sympathetic character back to his punishment.

Brimstone sometimes moves a little too slowly, and sometimes the humorous interplay between Horton and Glover seems forced. But any show that makes the concepts of good and evil somewhat slippery is going to be at least interesting. Stone is becoming increasingly interested in the physical world, and the devil isn't going to let him abandon his job for very long. This could have been a campy romp through the supernatural or a serious, by-the-numbers exercise in tension. Both elements are in play, but the show's also got room for themes not so simply expressed. It's not Dostoyevsky, but it's an intriguing take on crime and punishment.

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