The Twilight Zone: Point of Origin

point of originWith 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: DiscoveryOrphan 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

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7 Responses to The Twilight Zone: Point of Origin

  1. scifimike70 says:

    I’m very sorry to say that I’m no longer tuning into the new TZ at this point. Preferably I’ve been reminiscing with classic TZs on both SPACE and YouTube’s Clockwork Towers channel. For all fairness, reminiscing with the classic SF eras we grew up with naturally makes us as fans feel a great deal more loyal. As a Trekker I was a purist with the classic Trek. While for Dr. Who, Red Dwarf and The X-Files, I could enjoy both the classic and modern more equally. And I can fairly admit that I prefer Black Mirror to the new TZ on enough levels. Given the limited amount of TV that I’m watching these days, I like to make my choices wisely.

    Thank you, ML, for your very realistic reviews on the new TZ and I’m sorry, Mr. Peele.

    Liked by 1 person

    • DrAcrossthePond says:

      I really like the way you ended that. I too am sorry, Mr. Peele. I think you’re a bright man with a lot of interesting things to say, but I don’t think The Twilight Zone is the right place to say them….ML

      Liked by 1 person

      • scifimike70 says:

        I like the way you ended yours too. Mr. Peele could have started his own entirely new anthology series. It worked for Brian Clemens even though his anthology adapted the same series title as Boris Karloff’s. Yet Clemens’ Thriller was clearly its own thing and even popular enough for the distinction, as a British series, to often attract actors from Hollywood including Oscar-winner George Chakiris (West Side Story).

        As Black Mirror establishes, we need more entirely new anthology shows and reflecting on how Ray Bradbury Theatre, The Hitchhiker and Tales Of The Unexpected worked as well as they did, it can easily give whoever is in charge the best creative control.

        Thanks, ML.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Your sister says:

    Whoa. You nailed it on the feeling. “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…”
    While I haven’t seen this episode, after watching episode 3 of the Twilight Zone that’s how I felt. Like I was being “taught a lesson” for a subject I already understood.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Roger Pocock says:

    I’ve got round to watching this one at last, and I can’t disagree with anything you say. It was a far too preachy episode. I actually really enjoyed the first half where it was all mysterious as to what was going on. I though that was all done very well indeed. But as soon as she was in the facility and there was talk of her being an alien or something I lost interest. The treatment of aliens as an allegory for xenophobia has been done by sci-fi a million times, and delivering that via the vehicle of an escape from prison plot that was as full of holes as the prison itself did nothing new for the old idea. Television drama with a message is not inherently a bad thing, but it needs to be done with finesse. TZ gives us the sledgehammer approach. They’re angry fables.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Anonymous says:

    Clearly the author never saw the original TZ at all, just the TZ movie or Spielberg’s lite version.

    Liked by 1 person

    • DrAcrossthePond says:

      Greetings new visitor, presumable Yonah Bex. I read the posts you presented.
      There are two ways to view it as I see it. Classic Trek and Classic TZ did exactly as you said: spoke about issues of the time. They did it in a lightly-veiled-behind-science-fiction way that the thinking populace could enjoy and the non-thinkers could equally enjoy for the value the story provided. This version of the TZ does not try to veil it at all. We’re not talking the genius of The Invaders, The Eye of the Beholder, The Monsters are Due on Maple Street which are enjoyable on their own merits. The new TZ insists on bashing us over the head with the uncomfortable truth and I think that’s a mistake. That said, JP did address that in his final episode which I thought made up for a lot and did it brilliantly.

      On the other hand, time does dull certain wounds and maybe the time that the classic TZ was written dulled those wounds enough that it did not come off to me as over-the-top head-beating. Roger and I will be doing an episode-by-episode viewing of the classic TZ and I’ll keep your words in mind because I may need a revisit to these reviews as well. I have yet to see season 2 so I may feel differently.

      What I would suggest is that you join us in our postings, comment and share your take. Based on what I see on Twitter, you have a lot of thoughts about these things that could make for some great discussions. I’d be delighted to engage in conversation about that! But don’t presume upon what I’ve seen. Ask me, I’ll tell you and I’m happy to engage in debate. If you convince me, I’m totally willing to be swayed (especially if you can get me to LIKE something more than I did!) You are right that I haven’t seen all of the original TZ. When I was growing up, the hour-long episodes were never aired so I’ve only seen a few of those. I have seen all of the half-hour ones. I find some tiresome but overall think the series is incredible! Bear in mind, tastes and opinions change over time; I may find those tiresome ones far more enjoyable once I start them again.

      When Roger and I tackle the series, it will be all of them like we are doing with Trek and The Outer Limits. I look forward to hearing more from you. ML

      Liked by 1 person

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