Christmas! Everybody loves Christmas! And while not everyone is loving the new Twilight Zone (I sure am, for the most part), their newest episode — entitled “A Traveler” — is the best of the Jordan Peele revival yet (“The Comedian” is a close second).
This Twilight Zone episode starts in northern Alaska this time, where Police Sergeant Yuka Mongoyak (Marika Sila, an unknown actress in Hollywood who now might be on the verge of her big break) is bringing her brother, Jack (Patrick Gallagher).
It’s not as big of a deal as it sounds. Jack is a well-known drunk in the city of Iglaak and spends more nights sobering out in a cell than your average Joe.
Tonight is really not a big deal, too, as Police Captain Lane Pendleton (Greg Kinnear — who’s kind of been missing from Hollywood for a hot second, apart from that not so good final season of House of Cards) has a tradition of pardoning a “criminal” during the office’s Christmas party every year.
Great, Jack thinks. He gets to take a nap in prison and then wake up to an office Christmas party full of food and, most importantly, pie, at which point he can simply leave if he so chooses. Best Christmas ever, right?
Wrong. What Jack and Sergeant Yuka didn’t expect was the unknown traveler waiting for the two of them in another cell.
The man (Burning’s Steven Yeun — and can we just take a moment to appreciate the casting for this Twilight Zone episode? The brought out the big guns this time around, as every actor is just about pitch-perfect here) who is dressed in an all black suit and hat and claims his name has been legally changed to “A Traveler.” While everyone at the Christmas party is incredibly confused by his presence, as they should be, Traveler claims that this is all perfectly normal.
He then goes into the first of many fictional backstories about what he’s doing here in a Heath Ledger/Dark Knight kind of way.
He’s a famous YouTuber who travels across the entire world, he claims, doing all the things that people dream of doing but never actually do. He’s here in Iglaak because Pendleton’s Christmas party tradition has caught on to gain national attention — who wouldn’t want the honor of being pardoned by the legendary police captain on this infamous night?
Captain Pendleton likes that. He likes it a lot, in fact, and proceeds to bring Traveler out of his cell and into the party without asking any further questions.
Sergeant Yuka isn’t convinced. After getting Jack some food (pie is coming later, she promises), she bows out of the party to do a little investigating on “A Traveler” — only to find that this guy has no kind of record or history whatsoever. He’s completely off the grid, it seems.
That’s when things start getting weird. While a few power failures, which are caused by the nearby Air Force post that’s sucking energy from the town’s power station, cause some people to panic, Traveler really gets the ball rolling when he decides to speak up.
Somehow, Traveler knows things about the people in attendance at the party — that being, deeply personal things that likely nobody else knows. He embarrasses the city’s mayor (Hold the Dark’s Eric Keenleyside) and several others, causing fights and scuffles to break-out.
Confused as to why his ego has suddenly stopped being stroked, Captain Pendleton sends everyone home and demands that Traveler tells him what he’s really doing here.
Lie number two: he’s a secret agent working with the Alaskan FBI who has been sent here to investigate some criminal activity taking place within the Iglaakan police department. He doesn’t have any information to back this up, given that secret agents never carry any of that stuff with them, but it’s what he’s going with.
Sergeant Yuka and Captain Pendleton don’t buy this one for very long. They shove him back in a cell and, after catching a glimpse of what appears to be an antenna coming out of his head, immediately freak out and assume he’s some kind of spy coming to obliterate them all.
Traveler plays into those suspicions, this time telling the two that he’s part of the National Reconnaissance Office who’s actually trying to stop the Russians invading — which means stopping people like Captain Pendleton.
That’s right, he knows Pendleton’s secrets too, as Traveler claims Pendleton committed treason by selling the location of the Air Force base to Russia. The Russians are also on their way, Traveler claims, meaning that Pendleton better get out of here quick before things get ugly.
Pendleton bolts, leaving Traveler alone with Yuka. Traveler once again begins working his lies and deceits, telling her this was all a plan to get the two of them alone so that he can give her what she really wants — the role of captain. Somebody needs to step into the position now that Pendleton’s gone, and Traveler promises he won’t reveal any of Yuka’s secrets as long as she stays in line with whatever Traveler’s “people” tell her to do.
While she’s tempted at first, Yuka resists and goes running after Pendleton. She finds him at the Air Force base — a base which Pendleton is trying to protect from any invaders. It seems the story Traveler told about Pendleton was just another lie, as he left just to make sure nobody was coming to destroy their town.
Someone is coming to destroy their town, though, as Yuka and Pendleton look up to see a number of U.F.O.s swooping in from up above. Back at the police station, Traveler transforms into an alien, frees himself from his cell and, upon seeing Jack still locked up, joins him for that piece of pie he’s so desperately been craving.
“Maybe things will be better with you guys in charge,” a still very drunk Jack tells his new extraterrestrial buddy.
The pacing might wander off a little bit towards the end, but this Twilight Zone episode has all the hallmarks of what made the original show great as it keeps us guessing and at the edge of our seat the entire time.
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