Premiere of season two of ‘The Twilight Zone’ is a critique about our digital culture
By Jonathan Pabico, Senior Columnist
Jordan Peele pleases his fans with his season two premiere of The Twilight Zone that delves into its weird yet unsettling story about today’s online social reality. The first episode follows a grocery store employee named Phil (Jimmi Simpson) looking for solace in the dating world. When he develops a telepathic link with a mysterious woman named Annie (Gillian Jacobs), Phil may soon discover that there’s a darker side to this bond.
Mathias Herndl, the premiere’s director, employs odd angles for Simpson’s close-ups that are edited with camera shots positioned behind him to relay his pain from feeling isolated everyday. Elevating these visual choices is his character Phil’s bleak lifestyle that’s conveyed through harsh lighting and pale colours from his environments.
The story explores how the distorted universe of online dating and social media influences us to misrepresent people’s true and more complicated identities. Phil’s fixated connection with Annie, someone who he’s never met, reflects the dangers of losing our grip on reality when meeting people online. This theme further unpacks how addicted we can be to digital technology when using it as a means for human intimacy, belonging, or validation.
Beyond its social commentary, the episode offers humour—from Phil’s awkward dates to his bickering with Annie during their telepathic link. These characters become grounded human beings as they brainstorm zany ideas about the mystery behind their connection. The show doesn’t stray from being amusing through these light-hearted moments.
As for Peele, he does an impressive job in reprising his role from season one as the show’s omniscient narrator. With his dark suit and eerie monologues, he plays his character as a stoic sage who perfectly sets up the foreboding world of the story.
The episode, however, has one sequence where the plot abruptly cuts to another scene in its timeline. This is perhaps done for good pacing to reach the climax, but the editing simply doesn’t account for what Phil could’ve been doing during the long time period that was skipped.
Also, season one’s premiere—which starred Kumail Nanjiani as comedian Samir Wassan—is better than season two’s first episode. Wassan experienced supernatural events like Phil, but they happened in a more baffling way that made his choices more dangerous and inescapable.
Overall, the season two premiere of The Twilight Zone opens with a seemingly innocent setting, only to close with a disturbing twist and resonating social themes. This episode is a decent start to this series so far and will be fitting for the Halloween season, even for early October. Amazingly bizarre yet terribly shocking, the show reminds us that the social problems we face everyday are much more terrifying than any monster.