A woman, desperate to be freed of her tiresomely ill husband who just won’t die, turns to witchcraft in the Night Gallery tale “I’ll Never Leave You—Ever,” reviewed here.
Season 2 Episode 20—aired 2/16/72
“I’ll Never Leave You—Ever” ***
Teleplay by Jack Laird • Story by Rene Morris
Directed by Daniel Haller
Lois Nettleton as Moragh
John Saxon as Ianto
Royal Dano as Owen
Peggy Webber as the Old Crone
On a stormy night in Ireland, perhaps in the late 19th century, horses and sheep stir outside a barn where inside in a hayloft, two lovers are having a tryst. Moragh (Lois Nettleton, very good) and Ianto (John Saxon) are enjoying some furtive time together. Moragh is married, and her husband Owen (Royal Dano) is deathly ill, and has been so for some time. They both wish the inevitable would occur soon so that they may be allowed to be together not just covertly.
Moragh returns home to and her bedridden husband is awake, waiting for her, missing her. Nettleton does a fine job of conveying the guilt she feels at having come from her lover and also the revulsion she feels for her diseased husband, Owen, who seems to only draw what feeble strength he has from his feelings of love for her. He insists upon a kiss, and we can imagine how icky it must be to be kissed by his deathly, diseased lips. She then goes outside the house and washes her lips and face, as if to remove both her husband’s presence and her guilt from the presence of Ianto.
As a side note, it’s too bad we don’t have an idea of how things were with them before Owen fell ill. Observing the current situation, it’s easy to identify with Moragh’s wish to be free of him, but at the same time, he is her husband, and we don’t know what went on before, so we can’t help but wonder why she seems to have no love for him.
Desperate to be rid of Owen, Moragh seeks the help of an old hag (Peggy Weber, suitably disgusting but also kind of a hammy performance). The woman has shrunken heads inside her hovel (sure sign of black magic) and asks for two spring lambs in exchange for creating a voodoo doll of Moragh’s husband. She insists that the likeness must be exact, and at that point I was suspecting that the doll would instead be the likeness of Ianto…
At home with the doll, Moragh covers it and Owen says he is now blind. Then the doll moves inside the bag she’s put it in—creepy!
The fire beckons. Moragh is torn. She tosses the doll into the flames and Owen begins a long screaming jag. Unable to hear her husband’s agonizing screams any longer, she decides to remove the doll from the fire, but it jumps out! She catches it and covers the doll in a blanket and runs with it outside until she comes to a deep quarry, into which she tosses the doll.
When she returns home, she checks on Owen and sees a charred lump on the bedroom floor with steam rising from it—totally gross! Ianto arrives, having heard a disturbance. He looks inside the bedroom and recoils in horror. “My God, what have you done to him?” She says she did it for him, but Ianto is still appalled.
Ianto says the doll must be burned completely or the witchcraft will not be completely finished. He runs off to find the doll and she follows him. They get separated and she hears Ianto should, “Moragh, I’m here!” She comes to the edge of the quarry, where she herself falls in. The camera pans down and we hear these chilling final words: “Moragh, how could I ever leave you?”
Overall, a solid chiller with a very strong performance from Lois Nettleton and probably series producer Jack Laird’s best script. Finally, he eschewed the jokes and wrote (well, adapted) a straight horror story and it turned out to be a good one.