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Marionettes, Inc. - Recap

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Computer salesman John Braling settles down to breakfast with his talkative yet shallow wife Marjorie. He secretly takes antacid and leaves for work as she nags him about everything out of concern for his health. Braling arrives at work and his secretary informs him that a man has been calling but refuses to leave his name. He files the number with a pile of others and turns on his computer, only to receive a transmission from a company calling itself Marionettes, Inc. It has a complete file on Braling and prints out its logo on his printer, including its motto, "We Shadow Forth."



Later, Braling buys a newspaper and finds the company's credit card attached to his copy. He throws it away and goes to a restaurant, and finds another card attached to his bill. Braling looks around but nobody seems to be responsible. Later, Braling is demonstrating a computer at the store and Marionettes, Inc.'s file comes up. The buyers think it's a bug and leave.

Braling goes to a bar and shows his friend Crane the Marionettes, Inc. message. He has no idea why someone would track him and Crane suggests he contact them because what the company is doing is illegal.



At Marionettes, Inc., Braling finds no one there. He locates an office and goes inside and finally finds a man, Fantoccini. Fantoccini says they contacted Braling to help him and claims he's a social worker of sorts. He asks Braling if he's happy with his life. When Braling says he is, Fantoccini plays back a recording of Braling's depressed voice and offers him the chance to live again.



Fantoccini takes Braling to a room and shows him a robotic duplicate of himself. He activates it and Braling nervously touches it, confirming it has a human temperature. Fantoccini assures him it's an exact duplicate, right down to the birthmark. The only flaw is a weird heartbeat. When Braling says he won't buy it, Fantoccini shows him a room with robots in various domestic situations. He suggests that if Braling used the robot, he could go anywhere he wanted and do anything he wanted. The cost? Braling's entire life savings, with $5,000 down. Braling backs away nervously as Fantoccini and the duplicate both tell him to think about it.



Later, Braling goes to the bar and cheerfully orders a drink. He tells Crane that he's finally found happiness. He takes his friend to the Braling household and they peer in the robot as it entertains the unwitting Marjorie. Braling explains that he bought a robot duplicate and keeps it in the basement, and trades places with it two or three times a week. Now he's free, all night and all day. He explains that the robot is perfect except for its heartbeat. When Crane brings it up, Braling realizes he hasn't considered the possibilities with women. He insists every man should have a robot duplicate and gives Crane the company card.

Crane goes home to check his bank account and notices that his life savings have been removed. He turns to his sleeping wife Helen on the couch and demands an explanation. She doesn't wake up and he listens to her erratic heartbeat.

Braling watches from the window as his duplicate gives Marjorie a present. He goes into the basement and opens the robot's container, and then uses the remote to summon it. The robot goes downstairs after assuring Marjorie he'll be right back. Once he goes downstairs, Braling asks what it's up to and wonders what he does now that the robot has riled Marjorie up. He realizes that he can't pose as the robot, and tells it to check with him on every action it makes. The robot tells him "no," and explains that at first it sympathized with Braling. However, it got to know Marjorie and they talked about all the things Braling should have said to her. It accuses Braling of treating his wife with indifference and disregarding her feelings. When Braling runs for the stairs, the robot blocks him and asks if he was going to call Marionettes, Inc. to have him taken away. The robot informs him that he's bought tickets for it and Marjorie to go to Rio for a second honeymoon, and is taking over his life. They struggle and try to grab the remote. One of the Bralings falls in the container and the other one seals him in.



The remaining Braling goes upstairs and… tells her that they're flying to Rio. They kiss and go to bed, and Marjorie doesn't notice her husband's erratic heartbeat.

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Warning: The Ray Bradbury Theater season 1 episode 1 guide may contain spoilers
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