Highway To Racism City
When it comes to social commentary and exploring big themes, Jordan Peele is a Director that really walks a fine line between being profound and awkwardly contrived. The Twilight Zone’s recent episode, Replay, is a reminder of big social issues but delivered in such a haphazard, clumsy way that it devolves the episode into a strange blend of ideas that never quite land.
The episode begins with a Mother and Son, Nina and Dorian. It’s Dorian’s last day with his Mum before college and on their ride up to campus, they stop for a bite to eat in a nearby diner. Before Dorian leaves, Nina wants to capture their last few moments on her camcorder. After spilling ketchup down himself, Nina realizes she was recording the whole time and rewinds the video. Only, in doing so time rewinds to 30 seconds prior to this foreshadowed incident.
Clearly a little shook up, Nina and Dorian head back on the road where they’re stopped several times by a white police officer named Laskey. After rewinding time again, Nina confronts the officer in the diner, trying to sweet talk him with pie and telling him about her family. This leads to a confrontation in the car park where the Officer asks for their licence information before shooting Dorian in the chest.
At this point, Nina then rewinds time and saves her son. They then hurry to the College campus with the officer seemingly far behind. When they reach their destination, Nina and Dorian learn more about the mysterious camcorder and its abilities, brought over from the “Motherland”.
Unfortunately, Officer Laskey has caught up with them by this point and points a gun at Nina out in the open, asking her to stop recording on the camcorder. Instead, a line of black college students join her and begin filming the events unfolding on their phone as Nina launches into a civil-rights speech about equality. This eventually leads to the Officers retreating.
We then leave this week’s episode of The Twilight Zone with time jumping forward ten years where Dorian’s daughter subsequently breaks the camcorder, ending the episode.
While the story does have some good potential and starts well, the way this one devolves into a social commentary about race and civil rights really sours the entire experience. Throughout the episode I expected the officer to be part of some higher authority tracking down people abusing time. Or maybe Nina would become obsessed with the technology and keep rewinding time to prevent her Son leaving. Unfortunately neither of these options nor anything remotely exciting occurs.
There’s no sense of urgency or even any delicious irony thrown in, especially given the way Nina abuses the rewind function. Even Adam Sandler’s film Click, for all its problems, managed to nail the consequences of abusing time far better than this episode does.
Unfortunately, in Jordan Peele’s desire to showcase a higher social commentary, Replay ultimately fails to deliver. It’s really an episode that leads nowhere, with the characters in the exact same position at the end of the episode as they were at the start. Hopefully next week’s episode improves though because the series does have potential, it’s just squandered here with a lacklustre episode.