The first season of the revived Rod Serling classic series The Twilight Zone is over and a new season is in development. Jordan Peele and company have updated some classic storylines as well as bring new stories to life from new perspectives. Here is a breakdown of the first season episode by episode.
Samir Wassan is a struggling comedian who’s routine turns off audiences. When he’s given some advice by a more successful comedian to make his set more personal, he begins to get huge laughs from an audience hungry for more. Unfortunately, his personal stories cause the subjects of those jokes to disappear from existence and the ripple effects begin to tear his world apart. An interesting premise that falls flat when it tries to deliver its point.
Nightmare at 30,000 Feet
An updated version of a classic episode, a passenger on an airline begins to listen to a podcast chronicling the impending crash of the flight that he’s on. His increasing paranoia and inability to get anyone to believe his story will force him to make a dangerous choice. Changing the source of fear from an external threat to one’s own paranoia is an interesting choice that pays off with an interesting conclusion.
Nina Harrison is an African-American mother transporting her son to his first year at college. At a roadside diner, they have a chance encounter with a racist police officer who they can’t seem to escape even after Nina discovers that she can reverse time with a camcorder she received from her father. As every encounter with the officer escalates into violence against herself and her son, Nina believes that the only way she can keep her son safe is to get him to school. The sociopolitical message of the episode isn’t subtle and the ending is a little heavy-handed, but it is a great episode full of suspense.
An annual Christmas party at a remote Alaskan police station takes an unexpected turn when a mysterious man appears in one of the cells. Knowing a lot of information about the people of the town, including their secrets, he proceeds to sow seeds of doubt and distrust among the officers. When the Chief of Police runs to cover up his biggest secret, the only officer suspicious of the stranger finds that the Traveler is not alone. A solid episode from start to finish that does a great job of adding in the fantastical elements of the series without going over the top. Great performances by the cast as well.
Campaign Manager Raff Hanks’ career is in shambles after a devastating defeat. When an eleven year old YouTuber named Oliver becomes popular with a large audience after announcing his desire to become President, Raff decides to make the kid’s dream a reality to save his career. During the campaign, Oliver’s behavior becomes more problematic, but Raff ignores all the signs in front of him in order to guarantee a win. But at what cost? A good episode that hits the nail on the head early, but can’t pull back long enough to let the message resonate with the viewer.
Six Degrees of Freedom
A nuclear war forces a deep space crew to begin their trip with no guarantee they will have anything to return home to. As they deal with their decision, the isolation and stress forces division among the crew and one of them starts to believe that there is more to their mission that anyone realizes. A great episode with all the markings of an effective psychological thriller. The performances drive the plot well and there is a great ending worthy of the legacy of The Twilight Zone.
Not All Men
After a meteor shower, a strange chemical begins to turn men in a small town physically violent. A young woman and her sister must fight their way out-of-town as every man they meet gives in to his most violent and homicidal impulses. A pretty straight-forward episode that wears its politics on its sleeve. There’s no subtlety to its message, but it is entertaining to watch.
Point of Origin
A housewife living a perfect suburban existence has her housekeeper taken from her by the authorities. When the same agency comes for her and her family, she is accused of being a refugee from another dimension who they government is trying to capture before they invade the populace. Finding herself incarcerated and with few options, she is given the chance to escape, but is there anywhere safe that she can go once she learns the truth? The episode takes a more subtle approach to its subject matter and I wish it developed the characters and the world more to give the story more emotional impact.
The Blue Scorpion
A historian discovers his father has shot himself with a strange gun. When he takes possession of the gun itself, he discovers a bullet with a name written on it. He proceeds to meet several people in the course of his days who have that same front name and his paranoia and pain regarding the end of his marriage push him over the edge to the point of making a deadly decision that will have consequences for everyone around him. A really good episode that reminds me of the best of the original series with a great performance by Chris O’Dowd.
The episode goes meta when a writer on the latest episode of The Twilight Zone finds herself being stalked by a mysterious figure who has seemingly been in every episode of the series. The writer needs to solve the mystery of the shape before she goes insane. Not a particularly strong episode to close out the season, but there were some great performances by everyone in the cast. Spends a little too much time trying to pay fan service to viewers of the original series with its ending, but an effective call back to the original.
Overall, the first season of The Twilight Zone took a while to finds its footing and will need to lean more towards telling original stories in seasons to come. What did you think of the first season of The Twilight Zone on CBS All-Access? Let me know in the comments below.