Episode 2 of The Twilight Zone Season 2 begins with Michelle promoted to hotel manager. However, there’s more than meets the eye with this promotion. After bathing in the applause from her workers, Michelle sinks straight into her role and begins overseeing every part of hotel management.
Things are going great until she suffers a blinding headache. When she comes to, she looks outside and sees a giant metallic orb in the sky. Stepping outside, the whole crowd is mesmerized by the sight and find themselves glued to it, letting out a loud sigh and freezing on the spot.
When Michelle returns home to her partner, Carl (or Donny as he refers to himself) talks to her about downtime before promising to contact “them” about Michelle’s issue. As he looks up at the metallic eye, he too lets out a large sigh before leaving Michelle alone and afraid.
Two men claiming to be from Customer Service arrive and dematerialize the knife from her hands. Wide-eyed and afraid, Michelle is shown a video about “sleepaway”, the simulation she finds herself in. Unfortunately her headache was actually her host, a man named Phineas, having a heart-attack.
Customer Service inform her they need to perform a forced procedure to get her out of the simulation but Michelle isn’t so sure. Instead, they bring Fin’s wife into the program to try and talk her out of staying inside this reality. As they sit and talk together, she tells Michelle they have 2 kids and everyone is waiting for her.
Unable to cope with this, Michelle rejects the offer and heads back to the hotel. Once there, a pigeon on the windowsill spots her and rings the alarm, prompting the workers to arrive. Up on the roof a man approaches, dressed in maintenance gear, and admits Fin actually died 45 minutes prior to this downtime. This gives her the ultimate choice; continue to play along and live in this dream world or wake up and essentially cease to exist.
Of course, she decides to choose the former and the world returns to how it was before. As it does, Fin’s wife arrives at the hotel and books a room, which is where the episode ends.
Alternate realities and dream worlds have been done numerous times in a number of different genres, ranging from The Matrix right the way through to the more recent Upload. Because of this, the episode feels pretty average and to be honest, it would have been nice to see more of Michelle’s existential crisis as she struggles to come to grips with who she is.
Instead, the episode fails to impress but with a reduced run-time of 30 minutes or so, this episode does feel a bit quicker than some of the others in this collection. Hopefully the rest of the season can pick up a bit as the first two episodes haven’t done an awful lot to stand out in this sea of anthological sci-fi.