In “The New Exhibit”, Who Was the Killer? A Poll Post

What would The Twilight Zone be without its twist endings? Still one of the most well-written, thoughtful series that ever aired, of course! But Rod Serling and company obviously made their points more effectively by using irony and surprise.

New Exhibit6

So I always try to give spoiler warnings when I write about the endings to certain episodes. I know — it’s a legendary series that debuted over 50 years ago, so who doesn’t know how they end?

Actually, a lot of people. Think about it — new fans are born all the time. I came along well after “Psycho” was a new movie, but I would have enjoyed seeing it without the ending spoiled. It must have been fun to see it when you didn’t know.

All of which is a slightly long-winded way of saying “spoiler alert”! Especially because I want to discuss, briefly, the ending to “The New Exhibit”, which aired during TZ’s lesser-known 4th season (the one with the hour-long episodes) — and ask you to vote on it.


Why “The New Exhibit”? Because not everyone agrees on how it ended. (Here’s where you should bail if you haven’t seen it yet. You can watch it on disc, Hulu or Amazon Prime — it’s one of the few episodes not on Netflix, alas — then come back and tell me what you think.)

It’s always been a favorite of mine. I mean, you have “Psycho” alum Martin Balsam as the caretaker of a serial-killers exhibit at a wax museum. When the people around him start turning up dead, it looks as if the figures are responsible. What’s not to like?

In the end, Balsam is shown immortalized in wax himself, the latest addition to “murderers’ row”. It turns out that he was the one committing the murders, then blaming the figures. Their participation was something he hallucinated.

New Exhibit7

Or did he?

I’ve talked to some people who feel it was the other way around: that the figures did, in fact, commit the murders (don’t ask how — this is the Twilight Zone), then poor, innocent Balsam took the fall. And you know what? Even though that thought hadn’t occurred to me, it makes sense.

I don’t mind not knowing for sure — both endings are satisfying, in that creepy, TZ sort of way — but I’m curious what others think, and which view is the predominant one.

So here’s your chance to, ahem, take a stab at giving your opinion. And feel free to sound off below, of course, in the comments section:

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Hope to see you in some corner of the fifth dimension soon!

About Paul

Fanning about the work of Rod Serling all over social media. If you enjoy pics, quotes, facts and blog posts about The Twilight Zone, Night Gallery and Serling's other projects, you've come to the right place.

Posted on 08/26/2016, in Twilight Zone and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 13 Comments.

  1. I always tend toward the weird, the macabre, the paranormal.

    The waxies…THEY did it!

    • Ha! The waxies. I’m leaning more that way myself, actually. After all, we do see one of them do the deed, and Martin is absent from the basement when the murders occurred. I guess I was assuming it was an unreliable-narrator scenario.

  2. It was 100% Martin Senescu who did it….and then the wax figures killed him. Poor Martin went a bit Norman Bates on us, but because it’s the Twilight Zone, he doesn’t get a few years in the nut-house, he gets his comeuppance from Jack The Ripper & Co. I think the scene where Ferguson is garroted is supposed to be from Senescu’s mind, although that bit is where the confusion comes from and I could be totally wrong.
    I just think it’s great that we can still talk about 53 years after it was broadcast.

    • Agreed. Serling and the others gave us much to think about! And both, eh — the figures AND Martin? Hadn’t thought of that. Interesting theory …

  3. I have to go with the wax figures, Paul. I always felt that the twist was that, in the end, he got framed for their deeds. I love Season 4. So many good episodes in there. I prefer the 30 minute episodes, in general, but there are some good stories in the longer format.

    • Yes, it’s a shame S4 gets short shrift. And I’m leaning toward the wax figures myself, Dan. Martin getting framed would make for a good TZ ending.

  4. The poll is missing a third option, an option not of sight or sound but of mind: The Twilight Zone.

  5. tommy8675309

    Interesting: Until today, I had never even considered the possibility that some people thought Martin had actually done it. I was always under the impression that the figures were responsible but Martin took the fall for ’em! On Serling’s show? The figures did it. Had this been Alfred Hitchcock Presents? Then it would have been Martin.

    • And it was just the opposite for me: Surely it was Martin, and his Norman Bates-like behavior finally caught up with him. But I’m thinking the figures are a more likely suspect now … which, yes, would certainly be more TZ than AHP.

  6. I definitely agree about spoilers. I heard the movie “The Sixth Sense” being discussed on the radio and they gave away the ending, so I was never able to watch the movie without knowing what happened. Would I have figured it out on my own or would I have been surprised? I’ll never know.

  7. As it is the Twilight Zone, I believe it was the wax figures! They figured, he loves us so much, lets make him one of us. One of us! one of us! Now the next question…Is Martin’s wax figure ‘alive’ like the others? Who’ll get seduced by them next?

  8. I think the wax figures did it. Mostly because that makes this excellent, excellent episode even more surreal. Fantastic episode. Saw it at age six when it first aired and although it spooked me a great deal, I loved it. Still do. Always will.

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