JAN / FEB 2017: BY LILA DONOVAN
What causes a hero or heroine in a story to choose one person over their rival? A lot of times it’s explained to us as “chemistry” but there are times when plots are more complex. Jess-Belle is an episode of the fourth season of the 1960’s version of The Twilight Zone. It’s a different episode from most of plots that appear on the show. Many focus on science fiction, fantasy, and dystopian societies. This one takes place in the country, we’re not told exactly where, but it’s hinted it’s probably the Blue Ridge Mountains, told as a folktale.
Jess-Belle is a beautiful dark-haired country gal, who had a relationship with Billy-Ben Turner. Their relationship is over and he’s chosen to court Ellwyn Glover, another country beauty with golden hair. Jess-Belle privately confronts him about why he broke things off, accusing him of choosing Ellwyn because she comes from a wealthy family. Billy-Ben assures her that isn’t the reason, he says he loves Ellwyn in a “quiet way.” This implies there was unnecessary drama when Billy-Ben was dating Jess-Belle, and that he got tired of it and chose to have a peaceful relationship with Ellwyn.
In desperation, Jess-Belle runs to the home of Granny Hart, a local woman rumored to be a witch who people seek out to help them with their problems. Jess-Belle asks if she is truly a witch because the people in the village that sought Granny Hart’s help have ended up with mixed results, their problems were sort of solved with side effects. Granny Hart laughs it off. Jess-Belle asks for her help to win back the heart of Billy-Ben. Because Jess-Belle is poor and doesn’t have any money, Granny Hart offers her another deal, and she’ll “know” what it is in time, but warns her the price is high. Jess-Belle agrees and is given a tonic to drink which unleashes a series of unfortunate events that leads to Billy-Ben still choosing Ellwyn.
Jess-Belle could have ended up with Billy-Ben because he chose her first, but she lost him due to her attitude. I feel like if Jess-Belle would have worked on her attitude and not relied on a witchcraft, she could have improved her relationship with Billy-Ben and ended up with him. This episode reminds me of when King Saul, didn’t receive an answer from God, and went to the Witch of Endor for help, even though earlier in his reign he had driven out mediums and magicians.
Most Christian theologians point towards the actions of King Saul and that he spent a lot of time disobeying God before he went to the witch. I think it’s safe to assume that this is why God wasn’t answering him at this time. King Saul had the same attitude Jess-Belle did, they both wanted quick and easy answers to their problems. In the end, Jess-Belle was her own worst enemy, not Granny Hart, Ellwyn, or anyone else. She could have had her own happy ending and didn’t have to end up playing second fiddle.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Lila Donovan is a Christian and a university student. She loves to read, draw, write, and has a blog.