“You’re travelling through another dimension, a dimension not only of sight and sound but of mind, it is the middle ground between light and shadow, between science and superstition, and it lies between the pit of one’s fears and the summit of one’s knowledge. You are now travelling through a dimension of imagination. You’ve just crossed over into the twilight zone.”
These past few months we’ve been blessed with brand new Twilight Zone episodes as the series was rebooted this year by Jordan Peele. It was developed by Simon Kinberg, Marco Ramirez and Jordan Peele and was of course based on the original series created by Rod Serling in 1959. The season has now come to an end but lucky for us fans it has been renewed for a second season!
Now that the season one has ended I decided to go through the show episode by episode and give you my thoughts. Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed the series and felt that it encapsulated the original in a very modern way. It was also incredibly strange and amazing to see that twisted door spinning in space in color in 2019.
Episode One – The Comedian
This was our series premiere and a lot was riding on this. This was the perfect episode to start off the new series as it felt like a perfect Twilight Zone episode that didn’t push its agenda down your throat, but was also clearly sharing its morality lesson. It was written by Alex Rubens and directed by Owen Harris.
Samir Wassan, played by Kumail Nanjiani, is a struggling comedian playing the same bar night after night without much success. He leans into the political humor and no one’s here for it. One night at the bar he meets the legendary comic, J.C. Wheeler, played by Tracy Morgan. J.C. is a legend because he walked away at the height of his success. He passes on some advice to Samir to go personal in his routines. Share stories of his life. “You have to give yourself away.”
Immediately you get the Twilight Zone chills and you know it won’t be as simple as that. Samir decides to follow this advice and does a routine centered around his dog, the crowd loves it. Feeling successful, Samir heads home only to find that his dog has vanished. And by vanished, I mean….it never existed in the first place. As Samir continues with his personal stories that are making a KILLING at the club, everyone he talks about vanishes as well.
His life begins to fall apart and Rena, his girlfriend, played by Amara Karan, eventually leaves him when he erases someone who had a huge impact on her life. But Samir continues to abuse the power, getting rid of his rival comics and anyone who annoys him. Eventually though, Samir realizes what type of world around him he’s created and in a typical Twilight Zone twist of an ending, he decides to erase himself. Didi, his fellow comic who’s watched his rise to fame, played by Diarra Kilpatrick, meets J.C. and receives the same advice. And so, the vicious cycle continues.
It was a great episode and a great start to the series. I really enjoyed this episode and the morality tale it weaved. I gave it a 5/5.
Episode Two – Nightmare at 30,000 Feet
This one was of course based on the original episode Nightmare at 20,000 Feet written by Richard Matheson. This particular episode was written by Simon Kinberg, Jordan Peele and Marco Ramirez. In our updated 2019 version our main character is Justin Sanderson, played by Adam Scott, who has stepped onto Flight 1015.
When Justin sits down he finds an MP3 player in the seat pocked of his chair and listens to a podcast that revolves around The Mystery of Northern Goldstar Flight 1015. According to this podcast, the flight went missing an hour into the flight. As Justin listens, he realizes the podcast is accurately describing the flight he is on!
On the flight is a former pilot named Joe Beaumont, played by Chris Diamantopoulos, who seems to be the only person who believes him. The two decide to try and stop this disaster from happening and so Justin helps Joe gain access to the flight deck, knowing that Joe will be able to fly them to safety.
Of course, this is a Twilight Zone episode, so it’s not that simple. We quickly realize that Joe was the one originally responsible for the crash on the podcast, and now it’s coming to life. The plane crashes and Justin awakes on a beach learning from the final legs of the podcast that everyone survives except for him. The survivors then surround him and beat him to death.
I gave this one a 4/5 only because I personally found the ending super confusing. There was a lot going on in this episode and it was hard to keep track of the podcast vs. the real events. BUT – I would like to say; Chris Diamantopoulos was the absolute stand out in this episode. He’s such a good actor.
Episode Three – Replay
Directed by Gerard McMurray and written by Selwyn Seyfu Hinds this was hands down the BEST EPISODE OF THE SEASON. This episode shook me to my damn core ya’ll. I had to take a long breather after because I was so anxious watching it.
Nina Harrison, played by Sanaa Lathan, is at a diner with her son Dorian, played by Damson Idris. She’s driving him to college for the first time and it’s pretty emotional. She discovers a family camcorder and realizes when she hits the rewind button, it rewinds in real life and gives her a chance for a do-over. Of course, it takes her awhile to realize this is real because wtf that would blow my mind if it happened.
As they’re driving they’re pulled over by Officer Lasky, played by Glenn Fleshler. He’s a clearly racist cop who wastes no time getting violent with them. Nina rewinds the camcorder and they start over, Nina convinces Dorian to pull over. But…Officer Lasky is back and this time he’s holding them for not pulling over properly. No matter how many times she rewinds, Officer Lasky shows up until he ends up shooting Dorian in the parking lot of the Diner. This part fucked me up ya’ll.
Nina continues to attempt to get away from this cop, and this time save her son’s life. So, she makes them leave the diner and takes her son to her Brother’s house, Neil, played by Steve Harris, who quickly believes the story and helps them get Dorian to the college by going through an underground entrance. In an emotional moment, Officer Lasky arrives at the college with backup and Nina, her Brother, and Dorian stand with their fellow men and women against the cops until they back down.
Ten years into the future, Dorian is thriving and has a daughter. Nina still has the camcorder but her granddaughter breaks the camera and Dorian leaves to run an errand. Nina is completely stressed and freaking out. We hear sirens and the episode ends.
Episode Four – A Traveler
Directed by Ana Lily Amirpour and written by Glen Morgan, this is a fun Christmas aliens episode! Set in a rural town in Alaska, we follow Yuka Mongoyak (Marika Sila) who is taking her brother to jail (played by Patrick Gallagher). In this small town there is a Christmas tradition where the police Captain (Greg Kinnear) will pardon a prisoner. This year it will be Yuka’s brother. But down in the jail cell they find a mysterious man (Steven Yeun) who has asked to be pardoned instead.
He’s an “aggro traveler” named A. Traveler who visits the most extreme places in the world as a tourist. And he’s learned about this bizarre tradition and wants to get involved. But he quickly begins to spin paranoia and fear among the townsfolk at the prison to the point where they want to kill each other.
We find out that A. Traveler is in fact an alien invader who is testing how easy it is to control humans. And it’s frightening how easy it is to do so, and how relevant it is for our 2019 atmosphere.
Episode Four is a lot of fun that doesn’t leave you thinking but instead aware of your own decision making and how gullible we truly can be.
Episode Five – The Wunderkind
This one was probably my least favorite. I liked what it was saying but it just felt too…obvious? I guess…for me. Directed by Richard Shepard and written by Andrew Guest, The Wunderkind stars Jacob Tremblay as Oliver Foley, a young YouTube star. Raff Hanks (John Cho) is a campaign manager who unfortunately ruined the current President’s chances of getting re-elected and effectively destroying his career. But when he sees a YouTube video of Oliver Foley announcing his candidacy for president, Raff jumps at the chance to redo his career and help this young boy become President.
He signs on as Foley’s Campaign Manager and does a lot of things to make Foley beloved by the public. Including basing the campaign around Foley’s dying dog. The campaign is successful and 11-year-old Foley takes the white house. Of course, things quickly go bad, because he’s ELEVEN YEARS OLD.
Raff begins to realize his mistake and starts asking around to see what others are thinking, Foley sees this as treason and gets Raff shot. Raff finds himself being operated on by a bunch of kids.
Look, this was certainly fun, but it felt so on-the-nose it was almost exhausting. John Cho was a wonderful lead though and kept my attention.
Sadly, this is only a 3/5 for me.
Episode Six – Six Degrees of Freedom
Set entirely on a spaceship destined for Mars, this was written by Heather Anne Campbell and Glen Morgan, and directed by Jakob Verbruggen. The crew is getting ready to take off when moments before launch they hear that nuclear missiles have launched from North Korea and are headed their way. The group faces a choice that is heartbreakingly terrifying – stay and die, or take off and be perhaps the only survivors of Earth. They decide to head to Mars and Flight Commander Alexa Brant (DeWanda Wise) sends them off.
The group is of course devastated and dealing with the possibilities of what happened back on Earth. They contemplate what could be there for them at Mars. The cast is small obviously – there’s Ray Tanaka (Jessica Williams), the Engineer, Casey Donlan (Jonathan Whitesell), the Pilot, Flight Surgeon Katherine Langford (Lucinder Dryzek) and lastly, the Mission Specialist Jerry Pierson (Jefferson White).
Jerry has grown super paranoid and is trying to convince the crew that none of this is real. It’s just a flight simulation, and you as the viewer kind of believe him. Because what if? What a clever twist that would be! And at one point as the ship begins to fall apart, Jerry throws open the hatch and heads out into what he believes would be a studio. But instead we learn that aliens are watching this progress and are ultimately deciding if humans are worthy of salvation based on this group.
Kind of batshit right? But watching it, it really really really works and is a heck of a lot of fun.
Episode Seven – Not All Men
Oh, you guys, this one was so great. And so scary. I saw a lot of people online getting mad at how “obvious” this one was. Most of those people were men. Sorry boys, this episode is fucking incredible and IS SO REAL YOU HAVE NO IDEA.
Directed by Christina Chloe and written by Heather Anne Campbell, this story is about a meteor shower that makes men crazier than normal.
Annie (Taissa Farmiga) goes on a date with her Supervisor who asks her to join him to watch the meteor shower. They see meteors land and go to investigate. Shortly after, back at Dylan’s (Luke Kirby) home, he begins to hit on Annie and try to get sexy. She tries to put a stop to it but he immediately gets aggressive and denies that he was trying to sleep with her, turning it all around on her. It’s TERRIFYING. Because pretty much all of us females have been there, regardless of the meteor effect.
As the episode moves on, Annie keeps encountering men getting more and more aggressive until by the end of the episode, Annie and her sister Martha (Rhea Seehorn) are running for their lives as the world turns to chaos.
But the reason this episode is so good is because as a female you already view the world like this. This being a Twilight Zone episode, of course, the men go crazy because of the meteor shower’s influence. But the meteor shower is just expanding on the testosterone and rage that lies inside the average man and bringing it to the forefront.
This episode was far too real, and really freaked me out. But I loved it.
Episode Eight – Point of Origin
The Twilight Zone touches on the undocumented immigrant and the terrifying ICE concentration camps in America in this devastating episode directed by Mathias Herndl and written by John Griffin.
Eve (Ginnifer Goodwin) is a privileged woman who spends her days planning parties and pretending to be concerned about what’s going on in the world. But when her housekeeper Anna (Zabryna Guevara) is taken by the authorities Eve’s world begins to shatter a little. She promises her wealthy fellow white friends that they’ll do everything in their power to get Anna back.
But the next day Eve and her kids are taken by the same authorities in the parking lot of a grocery store. Her husband shows up at the facility they’ve been taken to and lets her know he’s going to get her out of there. Inside the jail she finds Anna and soon we realize that Eve is a refugee. She comes from another dimension and the government wants nothing to do with her in their country. And so, Eve and Anna find themselves in very similar positions.
Eve is put through terrifying interrogations and experiments. When she escapes and gets back to her family they fear her and immediately return her to the authorities. Their minds changed because the government deems Eve a threat.
The ending of this one is grim, but the episode is incredibly important and I’m really glad that this show is giving a platform for content like this.
Episode Nine – The Blue Scorpion
To give us a break from the heavy political issues that have been touched upon, episode nine takes us down the suicide and gun violence route ~~. Directed by Craig William Macneill and written by Glen Morgan, it tells the tale of The Blue Scorpion, a legendary pistol that finds its victims and doesn’t like to be kept in the dark.
Jeff (Chris O’Dowd) is a professor who discovers the body of his father after committing suicide by shooting himself in the head. Jeff is in shock because his father is a 60’s hippie who hated guns. Yet Jeff finds a well lit safe where the gun sits comfortable inside his father’s home. He also notices his own name is written on the bullet. He then starts encountering a lot of Jeff’s in his life as he becomes slowly obsessed with the pistol.
Jeff soon realizes he must shoot someone named Jeff to appease the gun and that leads us through some very intense moments, including Jeff pulling up to his ex-wife’s house to possibly kill her new boyfriend, Jeff. Instead he is attacked by a car-jacker and Jeff shoots him accidentally. Turns out the car-jacker is called Jeff too. So now our Jeff is free to live his life and throws the gun in a lake.
While this episode is not the strongest, and can be little boring, the ending is what cements the episode. Two young boys find the pistol at the lake and one of the young boys see a bullet with the name “Kyle” written on it. And so, the cycle begins again. His friend pretends to shoot at things.
It says a lot about the state of gun violence and the fear of children with guns. But it took a long way to get to the point.
Episode Ten – Blurryman
And so, we reach the end! The series finale was directed by Simon Kinberg and written by Alex Rubens and it gets suuuuuuper meta.
We open up on Seth Rogen who is a writer struggling with writer’s block, but as he gets inspired and envisions a nuclear attack, a real life nuclear attack happens outside his window. Then Jordan Peele comes onscreen to do his opening narrative and then CUT! This is actually an episode of The Twilight Zone being filmed.
Peele doesn’t like the opening dialogue and speaks to Sophie, the writer (Zazie Beetz) and asks her to rewrite it. Sophie and Peele fight about the reason the original Twilight Zone was so good, Sophie saying it’s great because Rod Serling took “campfire tales” and elevated them. This sounds confusing, but the episode is so well written and filmed that you easily follow along as you’re listening to people talk about The Twilight Zone while filming The Twilight Zone while you’re watching The Twilight Zone. And if that isn’t full Twilight Zone then I don’t know what is.
The twist in this episode is that there seems to be a blurry figure that is showing up in every episode that’s already been filmed, ruining lots of good takes. Sophie starts to see the blurryman figure in real life as she runs through a never-ending set. It twists and turns through her memories as Sophie realizes why she loves this show, why she began to write, and what’s most important to her in life.
At the very end of the episode we see a CG Rod Serling encouraging Sophie to follow him…into The Twilight Zone.
And what a way to end the first season.
Overall, this show is phenomenal and I cannot wait for season two
CBS All Access currently has The Twilight Zone streaming in black and white right now in an homage to the original show. Check it out, it’s super cool and makes for a different viewing experience.
What did you think of the new Twilight Zone? What was your favorite episode? Will you be watching season two? Come join the conversation on Twitter or let us know in the comments below.
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