Main cast: Moses Gunn (Uncle Ezra Thornberry), Jon Clair (Bobby Thornberry), Teddy Wilson (Clyde), and John Kassir (The Crypt Keeper)
Director: Jack Scholder
Ezra Thornberry, to most members of the neighborhood, is a dear soul and perfect gentleman. The funeral home director always has a tender and kind word for mourners. To his assistant Clyde and his nephew, the orphaned Bobby, however, he is an abusive miser who would do anything for money. As he is an extra mouth to feed, Bobby does not endear himself to Ezra, at all. Ezra may quote the scripture all he wants, but his treatment of Bobby becomes increasingly abusive and nasty to the point that you know karma is coming to get him – it’s just a matter of time. Or rather, just in time for the climax of this episode.
Moses Gunn is magnificent as the truly despicable and immoral Ezra, whose behavior becomes more and more inhuman when it comes to the degree of his cruelty. His horridness is magnified by Bobby’s continued earnesty and desperate need to please Ezra. Worse, he believes that he is in the right, and that everyone else is lacking in morals compared to himself. As a result, his downfall is most satisfying indeed. Not that everything here is doom and gloom – for a Tales from the Crypt episode, the humor here is darker and more nuanced than the over the top slapstick of most of the episodes of this season, fitting the tone of the episode entirely.
I would be remiss if I didn’t point out that this is the first and only episode of the show that features an all-black cast. There are some elements that can be viewed as stereotypical, but perhaps expecting political correctness from this show is like expecting to stay dry after wading into water. Just go with the flow and enjoy. And Fitting Punishment, as a successful blend of dark humor and darker human drama, is so easy to enjoy.