When it comes to a good story, an ending can make or break the premise. Despite a pretty good idea at the heart of this one, A Traveler squanders its potential with a lacklustre and disappointing ending. It’s a shame too as there’s some good material here and the middle chunk of the episode manages to perfectly capture those Twilight Zone vibes with an uneasy tension and mystery perfectly.
Set in a remote Alaskan town, A Traveler begins with a good 10 minutes dedicated to Sergeant Yuka escorting a prisoner to a nearby police base to be pardoned, as is tradition on Christmas Eve. When they get there, a strange man shows up in one of the prison cells, dressed in a suit and claiming to know more than he lets on. Explaining to the police that he’s an extreme tourist, the police let him go, allowing him to join in with the festivities.
Unfortunately, things quickly take a turn for the worst and as the lights flicker on and off thanks to the nearby power grid fluctuations, the traveler reveals a whole bunch of hidden truths about the officers and the town. As the episode progresses, mutiny descends on the police ranks while Yuka remains suspicious about the strange man. All of this leads to an ending that tries hard to be many things but ultimately fails to really nail down a concise plot line, winding up more convoluted than it should.
It’s a shame too because tonally at least, this episode is far closer to The Twilight Zone of old than last week’s poor effort. The creepy uneasiness around the traveler and his revealing dialogue certainly makes him a very compelling character but Sergeant Yuka doesn’t quite have enough charisma to carry the episode alongside him.
With the halfway point approaching in this series, The Twilight Zone has been a bit of a mixed bag. Despite a pretty good start, the past few episodes have really wavered in quality. There’s still some enjoyment to be had here but A Traveler suffers from the same issue the first episode had. It feels bloated and overlong with an opening section that could have easily been edited down by a good 10 minutes. Still, with 6 episodes to go there’s still hope yet for Jordan Peele’s anthology series to deliver a few very strong episodes but right now it’s difficult to know where that inspiration will come from.