There’s a somewhat interesting point to be made in the newest episode of Jordan Peele’s Twilight Zone — if you’re willing to put up with a whole lot of nonsense, that is.
The newest Twilight Zone episode, entitled “The Wunderkind” and directed by The Perfection’s Richard Shepard (IMDB finally started releasing the name of the directors for each episode), is a cautionary tale about a president with the mentality of a ten-year-old.
You know, so basically the world we’re living in today, only in the Twilight Zone’s version, the president literally is ten years old.
Campaign manager Raff Hanks (Searching’s John Cho) needs a win. He and his partner, Maura McGill (Fargo’s Allison Tolman) suffered a pretty bad loss after their client to run for president, James Stevens (John Larroquette), underwent a humiliating defeat.
Raff is drowning his sorrows at a bar when he first catches wind of this kid, Oliver Foley (Room and The Predator’s Jacob Tremblay…hey guys, remember how bad The Predator was? That’s what we really should be drinking to forget, if you ask me), and his desire to become president.
Even Raff agrees that it sounds laughable at first. A second-grader? As president? Who would buy that?
Yet, as he’s sitting at the bar and listening to this kid talk about wanting to bring world peace, create more jobs and give everyone in the world free video-games, he can’t help but notice how interested everyone around him sees to be. He seems honest, they think, given his young age. He might be naive, sure, but surely someone that small and cute couldn’t lie to them, right?
So, Raff pursues this thread and meets with Oliver’s family. Turns out, Oliver is dead-set on becoming president, and while his parents don’t necessarily see a future where that would actually unfold, they don’t feel it necessary to stand in the way of their son’s dreams.
They don’t see it necessary to kick Raff to the curb, either, which means he must be doing something right.
And that’s all it takes — Raff signs on to become Oliver’s campaign manager, and they begin touring the country making these inspirational, yet simplistic speeches.
Against everyone’s better judgment, Oliver catches on as a candidate, too — or at least, he did, right before he tried to partake in a public debate and was ultimately embarrassed when he didn’t know the first thing about taxes or current affairs.
Back to the suburbs goes Oliver and back to the bar goes Raff, as it’s surely all over by now.
Yet, a visit from Maura gives Raff one final, desperate idea. Oliver has constantly mentioned his dog, Homer, and how sick he is. Maybe, just maybe, they can work that into one final Hail Mary to get this kid voted into office.
Oliver, Raff and his family make a video highlighting a sick Homer with a promise that, if elected, the young boy would pass laws that would heal all dogs. Oliver also admits that he might not know every little detail about what a president should and shouldn’t do, but promises to surround himself with people who will.
Apparently, that’s all it takes, as its around the half-way point of this Twilight Zone episode when Oliver actually becomes president (again, disband your disbelief here, but more on that later).
It doesn’t take long for that power to begin to corrupt, either.
While everyone in Oliver’s cabinet is on the same page that the things said during the campaign should just be empty promises, Oliver is insistent that he keeps his word. Every American is going to receive free video games, dammit, no matter what the cost.
That’s what starts his Mad King/Game of Thrones reign of terror as Oliver begins forcing everyone to obey his any and every wish — most of which are exactly the kind of things you’d expect a ten-year-old to do when acting president; including more holidays, reduced voting restrictions and NO old doctors.
Raff begins to express concern (just now, apparently? Like, shouldn’t that concern have come a LONG time ago?). He begins asking people how they feel about the president, only to be met with a cold shoulder again and again.
He soon finds out why. Apparently, nobody dares cross Oliver even for a second as they know how unpredictable he can be. Now that Oliver has caught word of Raff’s distrust, he’s taken it as a sign of treason and makes sure he’s (un)justly punished.
Raff is shot a couple of times by secret security guards after being invited to play a harmless game of mini-golf with the president one afternoon. He wakes up to find himself on a surgery table, not dead but in critical enough condition where a doctor needs to act now.
The catch? Remember that NO old doctor law that Oliver past? Yeah, in a ten-year-old’s eyes, anyone over the age of 15 is old. In comes a kid no older than 12 wearing a doctor’s uniform and holding a knife, ready to perform this operation as quickly as he can so that he can go back to his video games.
Cue the screaming and Peele’s ending Twilight Zone narration.
While that easter egg we saw in the “Nightmare at 30,000 Feet” episode finally pays off, this Twilight Zone episode is pretty goofy whichever way you cut it. Again, there are some good themes in there about presidential behavior, campaign promises and complying with the standard, but one can’t help think about that 1996 Sinbad movie called First Kid or that old Disney show called Cory in the House when seeing something like this.
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