It’s back it’s back it’s back. Ladies and gentlemen, after years and years and years, The Twilight Zone is back and better than ever.
With Jordan Peele — who’s still riding the success of Us and is now bringing his talents to television — at the helm of the new Twilight Zone series on CBS All Access, we’ve finally not just one, but two episodes to talk about. The good news is that the show is just as good, eerie and altogether haunting as you remember it being, which is something to celebrate.
The first of the two episodes that premiered last week is entitled ‘the comedian,’ and sees Peele narrate a story about a, you guessed it, comedian named Samir Wassan (Kumail Nanjiani).
That’s right, Nanjiani is returning to his stand-up roots a la The Big Sick here in The Twilight Zone, which makes this episode hit home on a whole new level.
Samir, at the beginning of this episode, is not a good comic. He wants to be one, mind you, but he seems unable to connected with the audience at the local comedy club — a joint called Eddies Place — for whatever reason.
Okay, admittedly the reason is really just because Samir likes to go on political rants rather than tell actual jokes, but he’s still confused why that hasn’t found an audience.
He’s backstage of Eddies Place one night when he bumps into none other than J.C. Wheeler (Tracy Morgan) — a legendary comic who, in many ways, is the kind of person that Samir has always dreamed to be.
At this point, I’m obliged to point out that this, too, is somewhat indicative of who Morgan — who most people know as the comedic start from 30 Rock — is in real life, all of this to say that The Twilight Zone knew exactly what they were doing when they cast these actors in these roles.
When Samir asks for notes on his performance, Wheeler really just has one thing to say: make the show more personal. While Wheeler warns him that this will come with a cost, he also promises that’s all it’ll take to turn him into a big star.
So, Samir takes the advice to heart and returns on stage the following night to tell a very personal story about his dog. And, guess what, the audience loves it! For the first time in his life, Samir rakes in the laughs and, finally, understands what it means to make it in this industry.
The weird bit comes later that night when he returns home to his girlfriend, Rena (Amara Karan), and asks where the dog is.
“What?” she asks. “We don’t have a dog.”
It’s not until Samir’s next set, when he tells a story about his ten-year-old nephew only for him, too, to disappear that it clicks into place: he can tell personal stories all he wants and the audience will constantly eat it up, sure, but doing so means that the subject of that story will never have existed at all.
Ahh, Twilight Zone, we missed you.
Obviously, that’s pretty disturbing to Samir at first, but the more he thinks about it, the less complicated it becomes. It’s not like he’s committing murder or anything like that — he’s just re-writing history, which is somehow better in his mind.
Besides, now that he knows what he’ll know, he’ll only focus on people he *wants* to completely erase from the planet. Yes, still kind of messed up, but comedy requires sacrifice, right?
So on he goes, targeting people who were mean to him from his high-school and whatnot. His comedian friend Didi (Diarra Kilpatrick) is continuously impressed with his work and realizes she finally has some competition at Eddies Place, signifying that he really has made it.
Eventually, though, he gets to that point we all knew was coming as Samir goes too far. After a fight with Rena about how one of her professors, David (Ryan Robbins), is always hanging around in kind of a creepy way, Samir chooses to make him the target of his next set.
While he successfully erases David from history, what Samir didn’t think about was the other consequences that would follow. Prior to the set, Rena was a lawyer, but with David — who apparently helped her a great deal in college — no longer existing, she works as a minimum wage waitress.
That, then, leads to a fight between her and Samir, which then ends with an inevitable break-up.
Samir is backstage of Eddies Place again one night when Wheeler makes his re-appearance. While Samir is mad (there’s a great line about him wanting to be the next Chris Rock instead of an evil David Copperfield), Wheeler says that this is what it takes. You can’t get anything in life unless you’re willing to give some things up.
He continues, first a couple of investors who helped fund Eddies Place (the club looks noticeably worse once he steps off stage) and then, after he and Didi are told it’s between the two of them for some kind of gig that’ll apparently take them to the next level, his best friend.
We cut to the future — we don’t know exactly how long, but Samir has turned into a big, sweaty mess — and he’s still at it. We see him once again on-stage, ready to take out his next victim when we hear booing from the audience.
While that gives him no pause whatsoever, as a heckler just means he’s found his next target, he is taken aback when he realizes that heckler is none other than Rena. She’s found his notebook full of the names of people he’s made disappear, and while she can’t quite put together what this all means, she knows something has corrupted her ex-boyfriend.
Samir takes a deep breath and starts to gear up for his next go. Right when we’re all thinking that Rena is about to be obliterated from everyone’s memory, Samir then pulls the rug out from under us and names himself as his final victim instead.
“People are just material,” he says. “I throw them away.”
As soon as he finishes, the mic falls. Boom. No more Samir.
His disappearance does, however, mean that everyone he made disappear now gets to return — which, I guess makes sense if you don’t try to think about it too hard. This Twilight Zone then ends with Didi setting alone backstage, getting ready to go onstage when she notices someone in the corner.
That someone, of course, is none other than J.C. Wheeler, and he has a rare offer just for her.
We then cut to Jordan Peele telling us that Samir has given his final performance and, for now on, he can only be found in The Twilight Zone.
Like I said, The Comedian captures everything we remember about this show as it’s able to tell this tale of morality under the disguise of horror and sci-fi. It’s fun, it’s spooky and it really just makes me want to watch more and more.
Check out our recap for the other Twilight Zone episode that premiered last week by clicking here and then tune into CBS All Access tonight to catch their newest episode.