With my cousin over for a visit, we sat down to the second of two episodes. After the very tense, but poorly ended Not All Men, we had high hopes for a better episode to follow. But by the time it was over, we were both stunned. What had we watched? I went online to see how many more episodes I’d subject myself to. My cousin and I both agreed, we weren’t sure what was being said and where the story was heading. Again, there’s a thinly veiled message, like what we’ve seen for weeks now. Replay gave us a class conflict with bad white cops against victimized black families. The Wunderkind gave us a riff on Trump, the petulant child in office. Not All Men was an attack on men, because we’re all violent monsters under the surface. What was Point of Origin going to be about if not another race situation with people crossing borders and being generally inferior?
But this episode seems the weakest of the bunch because it felt like there were a number of things the writer was throwing in for “good measure” and ending up with some mosaic of confusion. There’s an ice cream truck that seems ominous; even the preview lead me to think it was responsible for brainwashing people. There’s hints that the main character came from “another world” but whether that was a euphemism or actually an outright other planet never becomes entirely clear. The detainment facility is right out of an Orwellian nightmare. Oh, yeah, but some of the prisoners know the secret doors, but don’t actually do anything with them! The episode is all over the map.
What we did get out out of the episode is that Eve Martin is an upper class white woman who has a maid named Anna Fuentes. Anna is “part of the family” to Eve and her husband. But Eve doesn’t know Anna’s children’s names and she frankly doesn’t care either because Anna is not of the same class and is clearly not worth getting to know. Or so the story tells us. When Eve is detained in the same facility as Anna because she might be one of those inferior people (the dangers of DNA testing, I imagine!), she stumbles upon Anna! How unexpected. Anna calls her out on her “superiority” then proves to be the better person and helps Eve to escape. Through the process, there’s some 1984 torture performed by the ubiquitous James Frain (Star Trek: Discovery, Orphan Black, basically he turns up in everything these days!) complete with some electronic plugs to put in Eve’s head and a mask that is very clearly a tribute to the classic The Eye of the Beholder. But in the end, with the help of Otto (Michael Eklund of Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency), Eve escapes only to find herself no longer accepted back home. You get it right? She’s tainted; inferior. She’s one of “them” now. Look, maybe this is a take on The Obsolete Man from the classic series, but Burgess Meredith did it better by miles!
Hey, I get it. We want something thought-provoking. Black Mirror is giving us all this “dark side of technology” stuff to ponder and Jordan Peele wants to give us “dark side of society” to consider too. I confess, I’ve floundered like a fish out of water since Replay on whether or not I think this works for the series and at this point, I’m ready for it to end. Granted, classic Twilight Zone really only has a handful of the 150+ episodes that we all love and watch over and over again every July 4th weekend, so I know that 10 episodes can’t all be great, but the only one the even came close to the glory days of the classic series was A Traveler. Even Nightmare at 30,000 feet didn’t capture the same excitement. (And come to think of it, that one also had some racial profiling just to prove that we love a good schism between nations! Nothing beats classifying our neighbors as something different from us, eh?! Says the red-headed Italian…!)
According to the trailer, next week will be an anti-gun message. I’m sure with enough time, we can have an abortion episode, maybe a child slavery one too. Hell, let’s see how many things it takes to make the viewing public sick. Can we get to the point of sex with a pig? (Sorry, Black Mirror, that was a terrible opener!) The thing is, I love allegory, but like anyone being lectured, I don’t want or need a lecture. When you’re mom is yelling at you for something you did wrong, it’s upsetting. How much worse when you’re in class with the kids that did something wrong, but you were only included because the teacher grabbed the whole class! When I’m just part of the classroom but did not commit the act that’s getting us all lectured to begin with, I feel there’s an imbalance that needs fixing. I want out! Oh, how I long for the allegory of classic Star Trek; at least then I could get the message without feeling like I was going to miss my bus home! When I was younger, I tried learning from the mistakes of others. Let them get lectured; I could learn from watching. Sadly, this series is starting to make me feel like the kid who did nothing wrong but will miss his bus home for another detention…
Only two more episodes of this version of The Twilight Zone, and then I’m heading to the outer limits of this place. (See what I did there? That was a pun…) ML