The horror anthology Tales From The Crypt finds an attorney within a surreal situation in the episode Let The Crime Fit The Punishment. An enthusiastic lawyer named Geraldine Ferrett, played by Catherine O’Hara, is brought into a small town court when the license plate “Sue Em” is thought to be illegal. Her argument that the plate was in fact legal could have supposedly stuck. At that moment, her odd-looking public defender in a crazy wig inexplicably hands the judge a file. This file contains news stories of her legal exploits and class action court victories. The Judge doesn’t take kindly.
A Court Of Horrors
She is found guilty and her sentence is corporal punishment despite it being against State law. Geraldine manages to have the case thrown out just before she was about to be whipped. Along the way, she sees another prisoner with his nose cut off as a punishment! It seems the court is a house of horrors with insane punishments that include death for petty offenses. Unfortunately, they charge her with another crime, and she ends up before another judge who looks the same as her previous one. She ends up in a pillory but gets to appeal before another judge who looks the same as the other two. There’s a claim that they’re related. One would think this is just one of those small isolated corrupt towns that are the stuff of some horror stories. However, there are too many supernatural elements.
The Supernatural Elements
Geraldine sees walking dead corpses blaming her for their medical woes supposedly caused by her lawsuits. A door that exited into a hallway suddenly goes somewhere else. In the end, she gets the public service punishment. This turns out to mean she becomes the new Public Defender for the court. The old one is all too happy to place himself in an electric chair and die to escape his nightmare. He tells her that he was a weasel attorney like herself and found himself trapped in the court of horrors. He is electrocuted by the walking dead corpses she saw earlier. Upon his death, Geraldine suddenly has his suit and wig on. Now she’s damned to serve there forever…unless she can get public service for another lawyer who falls into the small town court trap!
What Is Going On Here?
The show never explains what is really going on throughout this surreal situation. Things would point to Geraldine perhaps dying in a car accident and finding herself in Hell or Purgatory? If it was an evil afterlife scenario then why go through the perplexing process of executing the Public Defender so she morphs into his replacement? Maybe someone she wronged in a past court case has cursed her in some way? Is she in a nightmarish coma under a spell? Did she slip into a dimension of damnation? If the town is real then it certainly has a sinister supernatural being behind it. Perhaps a dark witch or gypsy looking for vengeance against certain types of people. Someone who clearly hates lawyers, and those who break the law or manipulate it in any way. Either way, Geraldine is apparently trapped there forever in a plausible immortal status until her death is approved by the court.
Updated Episode Theory
According to this page about the episode, it seems this perplexing place is possibly Purgatory. Geraldine indeed died and was neither worthy of Heaven or Hell. Plausibly there are various realms of Purgatory that fit a wide variety of people. This one is for attorneys who strayed too far off the moral path. While in this alarming realm some are exposed to more hellish scenarios than others. Clearly, Geraldine didn’t get anything near the punishment of the other lawyers who were there. Her quick elevation to Public Defender might indicate she was a borderline candidate for Heaven who needed some soul cleansing. At some point, she should find herself in the electric chair after she has paid her penance. Her death in Purgatory then causes her ascension to Heaven…hopefully!😇