Finally, something that truly feels like an episode of The Twilight Zone.
Jordan Peele’s reboot has offered some good but flawed episodes thus far, some too long and some just stumbling at moments. I’ve been enjoying it, but I have also been chomping at the bit for something that truly feels like an old-school episode of the classic series. I’ve finally gotten it from writer Glen Morgan in a weird, convoluted, and obviously misleading story that is completely led by Steven Yeun (who is lookin’ like a damned snack and is charming as all get-out).
On Christmas Eve, set in a small Alaskan town, officer Yuka Mongoyak (Marika Sila) tosses her drunken brother in a jail cell and then begrudgingly joins the annual Christmas party. When it’s time for the big tradition, an annual pardoning that usually involves letting a drunk go, the officers instead find a charming stranger in a crisp suit that calls himself “A. Traveler” (Steven Yeun). His wit and attitude, as well as his adventurous backstory, charms Captain Lane Pendleton (Greg Kinnear) and eventually the whole party. His slick cell phone, recording videos for his online following, and his talk of international travel set the party ablaze and he is an instant hit.
At least until he starts using knowledge that should be unknown to set the attendees to infighting.
Playing on fears involving potential invasion by either North Korea or Russia, alongside small-town corruption, the episode devolves into something reminiscent of “The Monsters are Due on Maple Street.” Peele sells the hell out of his narrator duties and we’re off, exploring the mechanisms in the little community and playing people against each other. No one is sure if he is who he says he is, but his identities shuffle at the drop of a hat. As the climax apexes, we’re given some of the most delightful craziness that I’ve had from this show in a while and it works so perfectly. I’ve had issues with the way these episodes end, but this one sticks the landing at last. It’s at once classic, modern, cheesy, and earnest all at once.
I’ve been chomping at the bit for this series to fully take off, to embrace what it is, and this episode kicks the new series into high gear. There’s no way I’m spoiling it for you, it’s just an episode you’ll have to see. I’ve burned through two episodes tonight and while “Replay” was a decent offering, embracing its social commentary while remaining uneven, I have to say that “A Traveler” is my favorite thus far. If the series can keep up this momentum I cannot wait to see what comes next.