Sunday, April 14, 2019

REVIEW: 'The Twilight Zone' - Nina Rewinds Time Over and Over Again to Secure the Future for Her Son in 'Replay'

CBS All Access' The Twilight Zone - Episode 1.03 "Replay"

Nina's old camcorder can rewind time, but can it help her ensure the future of her college-bound son Dorian?

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 next episode of CBS All Access' The Twilight Zone.

"Replay" was written by Selwyn Seyfu Hinds and directed by Gerard McMurray

This probably should have been the first episode to debut for The Twilight Zone reboot. It highlights the ways in which the format can be updated for a modern audience while speaking to the racial and sociopolitical themes that Jordan Peele has been incorporating into his work as a filmmaker. The premise of this episode is simple. Nina is taking her son, Dorian, to college when she discovers that an old camcorder actually has the power to rewind time. There are simple instances in which this tool can be helpful - like saving a shirt from spilled ketchup or calling out the winning lottery numbers. And yet, this isn't a cautionary tale about the abuse of power and how one's life is dealt significant setbacks because of how many times this day is repeated for Nina. Instead, it shows the inescapable fear of fate and the idea that good will never be good enough for some communities in the world. Nina sees herself as doing everything right in order to create a better life not just for her but for Dorian as well. She pulled herself out of a bad neighborhood. She made something of her life and can afford to send her son to college. She is proud of the man he has become. But she also struggles with asking for help and connecting with her family and her past. That is at the forefront of this story as well. The themes being touched on here are only addressed properly when Nina accepts the power of her history and community. Until that point, she is trying everything she can possibly think of to save her son's life. It seems like no matter what Officer Lasky has a vendetta against her family. Not every scenario plays out in the same way. But they all come to tragic endings in which Nina feels the need to push the rewind button on the camcorder. She is living in this fear that no matter what she does she and her son will be seen as people who don't belong in this world. It doesn't matter that Dorian is going to a historically black college. The gentrification of the local town means that the people with deep connections are being pushed out in order to appease the newcomers who are accustomed to a certain level of privilege. Officer Lasky is a vicious and cruel man who targets Nina and Dorian over and over again simply because he can't believe anything about their lives. It's a well-informed understanding when they get pulled over the first time that they have to be polite and not talk back. It's all about maintaining their personal safety. But Officer Lasky only sees the rules that are being broken no matter how trivial they may be. He doesn't see the humanity within this family. He just sees people breaking the law even though Nina and Dorian are contributing members of society who just want to pursue their own personal happiness. They wish to be accepted and loved by the world. Instead, there is this fear that it will be taken away at any point in time. Nina tries to handle the burden of this struggle all by herself. She even tries to befriend Officer Lasky so that he can understand the people on the other side of this conflict. That still doesn't change his mindset. Him understanding the personal lives of Nina and Dorian makes no difference in his suspicions that they are inherently deceitful. That's just so horrifying and leads to tragedy. Nina doesn't have to brave this on her own though. It's a struggle that many people can connect to as well even though they don't have the power to go back in time and do things differently. There is the sense that a different outcome would occur based on the actions that changed along the way. This story fears that may not be true at all. Nina ultimately prevails because she is backed up by a community of people willing to take out their own cameras and record the abuses done by Officer Lasky. And yet, the twist of this story proves that Nina will forever see the camcorder as her crutch to protect the world around her. Without it, she is right back to fearing that the worst could happen at any moment in time. There is no longer any sense of protection. That worry and stress is so common amongst parents. But it's also such a telling conclusion because it informs the audience about these fears and just how aware we should be even in the form of a science fiction premise.