It was Superbowl Sunday and I remember looking up after sensing a weird glitch on my television screen. Thinking at first that it must be a commercial for some luxury car or watch, I was surprised (okay I screamed) when Jordan Peele walked out onto an empty football field and the famous score from The Twilight Zone started playing. Since then, I’ve been chomping at the bit to watch the new series, not only because I’m a fan of the original Twilight Zone but also because I wanted to see how Jordan Peele would tackle such a beloved series that many of us in the genre credit to our introduction into horror and sci-fi. As fate would have it, I was able to check out the first four episodes of the new adaptation and boy did they deliver.
Taking on the iconic role of Rod Serling is no easy feat, but that didn’t stop Jordan Peele from bringing his own flair while also respecting Serling’s approach. Interspersed throughout each episode, Peele gives viewers a narration of what is to come without giving anything away, ending with a clever anecdote meant to stay with you long after the episode ends. With social commentary that is topical for today’s society, this new revival of The Twilight Zone is much more than a gimmicky sci-fi series, but one that will make you question your beliefs and the way you view the world. With that said, sit back and get ready to enter into another dimension….
Director: Owen Harris
Writer: Alex Rubens
Starring: Kumail Nanjiani, Amara Karan, Tracy Morgan
Synopsis: Taking advice from a famous comedian, a stand-up comic makes fun of his own life – with unexpected results.
Thoughts: We all strive for success in our lives – whether that be in our career, relationships, or hobbies, success is something that we all wish to obtain. However, for some of us, success means everything and when the moment arrives in which we can feel it in our grasp, one must wonder, what are we willing to sacrifice to have it? This is a question that is at the forefront of THE COMEDIAN as we are shown the lengths Samir Wassan (Kumail Nanjiani) is willing to go as well as the consequences of his actions. It’s a reminder that sometimes changing ourselves can be detrimental regardless of if there is some type of supernatural element or not. Furthermore, why I enjoyed this episode so much was because there was a realistic aspect to it and the supernatural moments, though obvious, were executed in a more subtle manner.
NIGHTMARE AT 30,000 FEET
Director: Greg Yaitanes
Writer: Story by Simon Kinberg, Jordan Peele and Marco Ramirez based on the teleplay and short story “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet” written by Richard Matheson
Starring: Adam Scott, Chris Diamantopoulos, Katie Findlay, Nicolas Lea
Synopsis: A journalist listens to a podcast detailing how the plane on which he’s a passenger will disappear.
Thoughts: If you know me, you know that flying on an airplane is my kryptonite. My anxiety and fear are through the roof and it takes a long time for me to calm down after the plane has landed. Considering one of the most famous Twilight Zone episodes takes place on a plane (looking at you Nightmare at 20,000 feet), it’s no surprise that fans would get an updated, more modernized version that pays homage to the original while also being uniquely different. The introduction of a podcast that details the events of this plane ride is one that is both terrifying and topical considering how often we use our phones as a way to access entertainment. However, what really drives this episode home is the narrative twist and the way society perceives those from the Middle East. I personally found this to be one of the more terrifying episodes because of my fear, but regardless of that, this episode still packs quite the punch.
Director: Gerard McMurray
Writer: Selwyn Seyful Hinds
Starring: Sanaa Lathan, Damson Idris, Glenn Fleshler
Synopsis: Nina’s old camcorder can rewind time, but can it help her ensure the future of her college-bound son Dorian?
Thoughts: What I love about Jordan Peele is that he is a man who is not afraid to openly point out injustice no matter how raw or controversial it may be. I don’t want to give away too much of this episode because the beauty and tragedy are for each of us to experience, but I think this episode will go down as one of the most influential and important TV moments in history. Carrying this episode is the superb and heartbreaking performance by Sanaa Lathan as well as the supporting cast who help in bringing this story to life. If there is anything this episode teaches it’s that no matter if time travel exists or not, there is no way to change your fate without there being consequences.
Director: Ana Lily Amirpour
Writer: Glen Morgan
Starring: Steven Yeun, Marika Sila, Greg Kinnear
Synopsis: On Christmas Eve in Iglaak, Alaska, a mysterious traveler wishes to be pardoned by Captain Lane Pendleton.
Thoughts: This episode was my least favorite though it was probably the most Twilight Zone-esque out of the bunch. With strong performances, especially from Steven Yeun (of The Walking Dead fame), Marika Sila, and Greg Kinnear (I’ve been wondering what he’s been up too!), this episode really hones in on the treatment of indigenous people by those who think they know better, especially entitled white males. The sci-fi element is strong in this episode and there is a lot in which to unpack in terms of understanding the context of the stranger as well as the different themes at play. I have a feeling I’ll be revisiting this episode again when I don’t have any outside forces dragging my attention away.
In all, I think this new iteration of THE TWILIGHT ZONE is an absolute must-see. What is so great about this series is that there is something for everyone, so even if one episode doesn’t connect with you, you’ll have a slew of other’s to dive into. With the success of Jordan Peele’s Get Out and Us, I really believe that we have a new horror mastermind in our midst who will continue to showcase important social topics in the horror genre while also giving a voice to minorities that would otherwise be ignored. It’s safe to say that Jordan Peele was the right man for the job and I truly believe that if Rod Serling were here, he would have been more than happy to pass the torch to Jordan Peele.
THE TWILIGHT ZONE will premiere Monday, April 1 on CBS All Access with two episodes. Following the premiere, additional episodes will be released weekly on Thursdays beginning April 11.