This is a review as vast as space and as timeless as infinity. It is the written middle ground between light and shadow, between science and superstition, and it lies between the pit of my opinions and the summit of my zaniness. This is a review of imagination. It is a review of…the Twilight Zone. Season 2 to be exact. And instead of one episode being released a week over the course of two months, like last season, all 10 episodes of this new go around were dropped on June 25th…and I have a feeling we can thank the Twilight Zone we are living in currently, that of the nightmare of COVID-19. Anyway, instead of doing a two episode, five part review like I did last year, I’m just dropping what I think of all ten episodes after I binged them this weekend. My reviews will start with the title of each episode, then an IMDB.com description, then a couple of sentences of what I thought, and then a letter grade. And at the end of the review, I will write a final paragraph of my overall thoughts and then an overall letter grade (also my overall grade of last season). So let’s begin:
S2, Episode 1: MEET IN THE MIDDLE
Per IMDB, “A lonely bachelor makes a telepathic connection with a stranger, but not everything is as it seems in his new romance.”
Jimmi Simpson (the younger Ed Harris on Westworld) and a largely absent, physically wise (mostly voice over) Gillian Jacobs (Britta on Community) star in this overlong, but ultimately satisfying tale of two strangers that get to know each other by conversing with their minds. In part because of my ultimate disappointment of Season 1, there was several ways that I thought it would conclude, and if it had been one of those ways, I would’ve known that we were going to be on another very bumpy ride and ultimately ho-hum ride like we got in 2019. It even started out by one of those ways, but a very last minute twist, the ones that the old Twilight Zones with Rod Sterling were known for, puts everything into a different perspective, and the episode really sticks the landing. Jimmi Simpson, who is incredible in most of the supporting roles he does in other programs, is no different here, acting with his face and body movement, adding significant layers to his character where if it had been only dialogue, it would’ve completely failed his character. Gillian Jacobs at first sounds too much like Britta from Community, but that is just my minor stupid complaint, as I eventually got used to her voice and enjoyed her overall performance. The episode is well shot and looked stunning. But that wasn’t a surprise, considering one of the only saving grace’s from last season was all the episodes’ cinematography. To change it now would’ve been an unforgiving crime.
S2, Episode 2: DOWNTIME
Per IMDB, “After a woman is promoted to hotel manager, the nature of her reality is called into question.”
The most important thing to note about this episode is it is the one that Jordan Peele actually had a giant hand in this season. He wrote it and he wrote it alone. The mastermind behind Get Out and Us wrote an episode of The Twilight Zone, and needless to say that when I heard he was writing just one episode this season, I knew that it would be my most anticipated new episode to watch. He didn’t write any of the episodes last season. My verdict? The best episode of the bunch, which makes me wish that Jordan Peele had more up his sleeve with this series than just being “The Narrator” and a co-creator/executive producer. Don’t get me wrong, he is absolutely fantastic as the narrator and sometimes gives Rod Serling a run for his money, but his writing skills are more what I look forward to these days. Now to reiterate, he only wrote this, did not direct, but he must’ve knew his script had been in good hands, as the imagery is perfect for the budget the show has, and it flowed well with Peele’s written word. Firefly & Deadpool’s Morena Beccarin stars in this, and she’s absolutely fantastic, one of her best roles. I am not going to reveal anything about the episode as I believe it is the shortest of the bunch (just a hair over 30 minutes) and that the surprises are too good to give out any sort of appetizer. Just bon a petite on this one.
S2, Episode 3: THE WHO OF YOU
per IMDB, “A struggling actor risks everything to catch his big break, but an impulsive scheme takes a few unexpected turns.”
Actor Ethan Embry (Can’t Hardly Wait) made this episode what it is. Just to get the concept out of the way, because it is revealed early what exactly is going on, it is a twisted take on a Freaky Friday like situation. This episode has multiple instances of an individual switching between bodies, which allowed Ethan Embry to have to play multiple different characters, and he is absolutely perfect with each and everyone. So do some of the other actors. I don’t want to reveal the scheme or plot of this twisted Freaky Friday adventure, but needless to say, it is a episode that earned it’s tad above 40 minute run time. The ending is a tad predictable with you having to suspend belief on a small little twist revealed in the very last minutes of the whole thing, but the episode was entertaining, looked great, and was better than most of the episodes in season one, so my minor complaints are ultimately unwarranted.
S2, Episode 4: OVATION
per IMDB, “A struggling singer’s music career takes off when she witnesses a tragic incident, but she soon realizes that her recognition comes at a steep cost.”
And we have our first meh episode of the season. Meh because it didn’t really bring anything interesting to the table when talking about fame and how it can be overwhelming, corrupt, and meaningless. The concept is that this street singer finds a magic coin that gets her fame and fortune. But she soon realizes that the fame coming from it is too manufactured, as common folk aren’t really listening to her music, just keep clapping and giving her standing ovations for no reason. It is an interesting concept and yet not fully realized or executed correctly. Jurnee Smollet-Bell (Black Canary in Birds of Prey) is a fantastic actress, and she is really the only thing that keeps this episode from being total garbage. A last minute Twilight Zone twist also degrades the episode, as it makes no sense to a supporting character’s motivations. At all. The episode is gorgeously shot though.
S2, Episode 5: AMONG THE UNTRODDEN
per IMDB, “A transfer student’s unusual interests make her an easy target at her new all-girls boarding school before she discovers her popular classmate’s special talent.”
But if you watch the series in episode order like I did, it does do a slight uptick with Episode 5 before we again get a couple of stinkers. And the funny thing about this episode is that it stars only unknown actresses, not a single recognizable face in the bunch. This episode is Carrie like, as it is revealed early on that the special talent might or might not involve mind reading, telekinetic like powers, etc.. It’s a nice little story that comes with a last minute twist that I should’ve seen coming but glad I didn’t. The young women in this could actually act and their characters were more than just one dimensional robots. It was kind of refreshing. The episode, of course, was also gorgeously shot. I only give it a little less than an A- because they could’ve done so much more with the concept. But if they did, would it have been bloated and convoluted? Who’s to say?
S2, Episode 6: “8”
per IMDB, “A team of scientists discover a new highly intelligent species that may endanger more than their research.”
Alien/Life/Deep Blue Sea rip off but instead of an alien or shark it is a small octopus. I liked the visuals but the end twist is telegraphed from far away and nothing was unique about it at all. Also, Joel McHale is completely wasted in his talent here. Nothing much more to say about this disappointing episode. It’s just there.
S2, Episode 7: A HUMAN FACE
per IMDB, “A grieving couple are led to second guess what’s worth leaving behind when an otherworldly encounter interrupts their move.”
What is a great concept here of parents dealing with their grief of a child recently deceased is bogged down in lengthy scenes of snooze worthy dialogue and the fact that I was never going to buy the “otherworldly encounters” persuasion. You’ll get what I mean when it all presents itself. There’s no way. It would’ve been a three minute episode if I was the father. Great acting by Christopher Meloni and Jenna Elfman but this short “bottle” episode (takes place almost entirely in this couples house) was too long even at an even 30 minutes. And the boring dialogue, where an alien is literally just standing there and talking for almost 10 minutes just keeps going on and on and on and on and on. Great visuals, shoddy execution. The script needed more. But definitely not my least favorite episode…
S2, Episode 8: A SMALL TOWN
per IMDB, “A church handyman discovers a magic scale that gives him the power to help his small town, but the mayor takes all the credit for his good intentions.”
Tricked you there didn’t I? You thought I was going to say that my least favorite episode was this one, but I fooled you, this is actually probably my second favorite. I don’t want to talk about it much because to do so would ruin the surprise that the church handyman comes upon. It has fantastic visuals and a wonderful ending that I didn’t see coming. The church handyman is played excellently by Damon Wayans, Jr., stretching out of his comedy chops for a change. This is also a shorter episode, coming it at just over 30 minutes, and it doesn’t waste a minute of it. Engaging, good story telling, and acting, make this one of the few episodes of both seasons that I wouldn’t mind checking out a couple of more times.
S2, Episode 9: TRY, TRY
per IMDB, “A man dazzles a woman with his seemingly miraculous abilities, but their encounter takes a dark turn when the true source of his charisma is revealed.”
Nope, still not my least favorite episode. In fact, I would say that this may be my third favorite and a “bottle” episode done correctly. I’ll just get the mans miraculous abilities out of the way, Topher Grace is a man that is going through a Groundhog Day like experience. And he’s trying to wooo this woman on a spontaneous date to the museum. I love Groundhog’s Day concepts when done correctly, and this one does. It takes place mostly inside the museum, hence why I called it a bottle episode, and the dialogue is witty, smart, and makes you think. This twist on that “living the same day over and over concept” is the first one to make me think hard what I would do in that situation since the Bill Murray early 90s classic. Also, this contains Topher Grace’s best performance. Ever.
S2, Episode 10: YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE
per IMDB, “A stay-at-home housewife is looking forward to acquiring a heavily marketed device that promises to make everything better forever, but the product has an unsavory truth.”
I thought they were supposed to save the best for last, not the worst. This episode is God fucking awful, and it might be the worst episode of The Twilight Zone from these two new seasons we’ve gotten. This or that ‘Not All Men’ Me Too piece of shit catastrophe we had to witness more than a year ago. And this one was written and directed by Osgood Perkins, son of Anthony Perkins (Norman Bates in Psycho). He wrote and directed The Blackcoat’s Daughter, which I heard was good but had never seen, and he directed Gretel & Hansel, of which I heard the visuals were great but the movie was boring and the script sucked. This is how I would describe the latter. And what is ultimately disappointing? This is a sequel to a very old Twilight Episode. I’ll let you do the research to find out which one, but it is a classic. This is not. The heavily marketed device is called and EGG and you can guess what it is right off the bat. The script kind of makes fun of commercialism, but its message is blurry and skewed and doesn’t come off across well at all. It is an episode weird for the sake of being weird, and I can’t stand that shit. Awful, awful, awful episode. The only thing stopping this from getting an F is the visuals, which are great. Mr. Perkins, don’t write anything ever again, get a good script from a good writer and you could do wonders. Gretchen Mol stars in this, and she’s a good actress and isn’t the problem here. Entirely the scripts fault.
In conclusion, this season is a vast improvement over last season. I enjoyed 6 episodes out of 10 here, where in the first season I enjoyed maybe only 3 or 4 of ten. The show still needs some improvement (there should really only be one, maybe too iffy episodes, but what I liked about this season is that they mostly got rid of the political and Me Too themes and instead went with an overall human morality/consequences vibe. Stick to that kind of story telling please. We don’t need Trump bashing or man bashing episodes every other twisted tale. I really hope it is renewed for a season three. Maybe third times the grand charm with this. I did some research on the writers and some of them from the first season were recycled here. Might I suggest getting a whole new team and let them try their hand at conjuring up something demented and delicious? Maybe have Jordan Peele write two or three episodes? Maybe get actual masters of horror like Ari Aster or Alexandre Aja to try and give us nightmares for nights to come? Just don’t ever get rid of Jordan Peele’s involvement. He is the best narrator for the show since original creator Rod Serling. Just get him more involved. Also, make stories not just place their bets on a twist alone, the whole thing should be prepared well so that the twist is earned and doesn’t just feel out of left field. Until next time, I have to say, much more satisfied with my trip to The Twilight Zone. Since we are living one with COVID-19 right now. But maybe it’s only chance at a season 3 is that people discover this because they are so bored and new content is drying up. We’ll see if it can capture more imaginations.
MY OVERALL SEASON 2 GRADE: B
The Overall Grade I Gave Season 1: C-