The Twilight Zone has been a mainstay for me for most of my life. Along with Star Trek, The original Twilight Zone series was a one that I would watch regularly with my dad. Every night in syndication we would watch another of Rod Serling’s classic tales and I would find myself swept into another dimension, a dimension not only of sight and sound, but of mind.
Fast forward 60 years later and once again the journey into imagination has returned. This time however, writer Director Jordan Peele is at the helm and, after two successful films, he takes on the classic that started sixty years ago.
So, let’s explore the latest episode of The Twilight Zone. A Traveler
It’s Christmas in Iglaak, Alaska and while the townsfolk begin their celebration, the local police discover a stranger in their jail, one who they did not put there. Starring Greg Kinnear, Stephen Yeun and Marika Sila, this episode takes an interesting look at the power of paranoia that can only be seen in the Twilight Zone.
Is it a ‘Good’ Episode?
A stranger comes into town and begins to gain the trust of the local citizens only to use this trust to sow the seeds of discord among an otherwise peaceful people. This is a classic tale that has been told many times before but done in a very clever and interesting way. Stephen Yuen plays A.Traveler, a literal man in black who somehow manages to find himself in the jail cell of a small Alaskan police station. Through his cunning nature and slick words, A. Traveler manages to begin to disassemble the otherwise peaceful town one person at a time. Interestingly enough, he manages this without lifting a single finger.
As with nearly every classic Twilight Zone episode, there is a moral to the story. Everyone has their secrets, some more guarded than others. If someone were to appear and begin to claim to know things about everyone, how soon would it take to destabilize the peace? Interestingly enough, we see this very thing in every day life with the onset of false news and propaganda via social media. Every day people are fed what appears to be factual information in the form of memes, photos, and even articles from ‘reputable’ sources that all have a dangerous agenda, to get the consumers to believe the message that is being peddled. Some of these messages are harmless, There is one currently going around about a pack of wolves walking in a line that makes wildly false claims about the pack mentality but so many have shared this ‘positive’ message not realizing that they are in fact, sharing lies. When confronted about the validity of such a thing, the response is usually, either ‘I didn’t know’ or, more the more frighteningly ‘well at least it was a good message’. The danger is, even a lie with good intentions is still a lie and one that slowly manages to erode the validity of actual facts. Now, imagine if these lies were not so white? What if these small subtle messages suggested that there were people in your very town or even your country that intended you harm? How do you think people would begin to react when they were constantly barraged with these lies and half truths?
A. Traveler does this very thing with his interactions with the populous of Ignaak. While on the surface Ignaak seems to be an upbeat and even happy place, it is through these lies and half truths that the stranger among them manages to pull off the greatest invasion this town, or even this world, has ever seen. While such a thing seems possible only in the heart of the Twilight Zone, you have to ask yourself, where do you live and what suggestions have you heard lately?
The episode itself is a well paced and wonderfully acted tale that, while it never seems to fully ignite, the story remains solid. I have been a fan of Yuen and Kinnear for some time now, and they do not disappoint, but it is worth noting that newcomer Marika Sila manages to hold her own with two very versatile actors. She has quite the future ahead of her and is certainly one to keep an out out for.
This series continues to deliver and I look forward to the next installment.
Late To The Game 4/20/2019
Next Episode: The Wunderkind
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