Wednesday, April 3, 2019

REVIEW: 'The Twilight Zone' - Justin Tries to Prevent a Plane From Disappearing in 'Nightmare at 30,000 Feet'

CBS All Access' The Twilight Zone - Episode 1.02 "Nightmare at 30,000 Feet"

Journalist Justin Sanderson finds the fate of Flight 1015 in his hands.

In 2018, there were 495 scripted shows airing amongst the linear channels and streaming services. The way people are consuming content now is so different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, there is less necessity to provide ample coverage of each specific episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site is making the move to shorter episodic reviews in order to cover as many shows as possible. With all of that being said, here are my thoughts on the series premiere of CBS All Access' The Twilight Zone.

"Nightmare at 30,000 Feet" was directed by Greg Yaitanes with story by Simon Kinberg, Jordan Peele & Marco Ramirez and teleplay by Marco Ramirez

"Nightmare at 20,000" Feet" starring a young William Shatner is one of the most iconic episodes from the original run of The Twilight Zone. As such, it's intriguing that the reboot attempts to put a new spin on it. The ways in which it tries to modernize the story of a tragic flight troubled by a man suffering from potential delusions aren't always great or inspired. Instead of the protagonist freaking out over something he sees outside the plane, journalist Justin Sanderson is listening to a podcast he finds on an MP3 player in his seat. Moreover, this plane is equipped with cameras inside the cockpit so that the passengers can see what's going on at all times. That just seems so random and inessential. It also runs the risk of terrifying any kind of passenger who happens to be watching even when the slightest problem appears. That doesn't seem like a program that should be implemented at all. And here, it's only utilized in order to emphasize the point that this flight has been taken over by the other middle age white guy who is seemingly losing his mind. That's not all that great. Plus, it didn't even need to happen. The passengers could have just seen Joe enter the cockpit and alerted the flight attendants that something was wrong right before the message came over the intercom that a new pilot has taken control of the plane. Of course, that also would have required more of the passengers and flight attendants to notice all of the strange behavior that Justin was doing. He went up and down this plane doing suspicious things. He was still ultimately arrested by the air marshal for the ways in which he potentially compromised the flight. It's in that moment that Justin outlines that he has had a mental breakdown before but doesn't believe this is the same thing. He believes this plane is in real danger of disappearing without a trace. He believes it so intensely because a podcast tells him as such. Joe is the only person who believes him and encourages him to trust his gut. And yet, Justin presents as Joe's savior. Joe recognizes Justin despite him only being a somewhat successful magazine writer. That doesn't seem like a job where people just randomly recognize you at the airport. But it's all important to the plot because Joe is a former pilot who is atoning for something in his past. Whatever that is doesn't ultimately matter. He just believes he can only redeem himself by crash landing the entire plane. He sees the opportunity to strike and chooses to take it. The crew is distracted by Justin and his antics. They see him as the threat to this journey. He believes that something more must be going on that causes this plane to go down shortly after takeoff. In the end though, he's the one ultimately responsible. Because he chose to listen to this podcast, he saw himself as the hero of this story. He would gain notoriety and name recognition for his connection to this mysterious flight. His outbursts are recorded and posted to social media before the plane disappears. That too is another way the story is updated for a modern audience. But it's all building to that ending where these strange things happen and they ultimately carry a lethal price for the protagonist. Everyone aboard the plane survives the crash except for Justin. He is killed by his fellow passengers for being the reason all of this happened. They will be stranded for months even though they are eventually rescued and their story can be shared with the world. That clarifies a happy ending. It's just for everyone except the central figure of this story who learns that well-meaning nice guys are still capable of deluding themselves into being the true enemies in a time of crisis.