When I watched Try, Try, I was disappointed and made the comment that out of 20 episodes, there were only 4 really great ones. I neglected Blurryman when I said that, which would have brought us up to 5. With You Might Also Like, I can say there were 6 really great stories, and three (Blue Scorpion, Replay, Downtime) were on the higher end of average. Having said that, this episode is not without its commentary but it did one thing right – and I mean really right – it has a sense of humor. I laughed a lot during this episode. The episode is broken into 4 chapters focusing on Gretchen Mol as Mrs. Janet Warren who notices she’s losing time in her day. She finds herself waking up in her bed when she wasn’t there previously. She invites her friend Greta over, who experiences the same thing while in her company. This leads to some outstanding dialogue because, while they are both freaked out by the events, Lee gets distracted talking about how much light a room gets and other mundane household things. Janet is initially confused by Lee’s apparently casual dismissal of what happened, but ends up entertaining the conversation, which actually makes it even funnier. Janet, unable to get her friend to help her (“your problems are not my problems!”), comes up with a plan, and then things get really enjoyable.
Janet first uses a baby monitor (that looks distinctly like the Hal 9000 computer) to record what happens. When she observes herself floating across the room and out the window, she ties a chair to her leg. As a result, she gets stuck in a tree. When she opens her eyes, she encounters the Kanamits. If that name is unfamiliar to you, the race probably won’t be; they are the aliens in the classic episode To Serve Man. George Takei cameos as one of the Kanamits too; I recognized his voice instantly. Unlike the classic episode, these guys are hilarious. They have a shared mind but don’t know how to avoid talking over one another and they have to point at each other to indicate who should be allowed to speak, even though the three each point to the right, meaning no consensus is ever reached. “We don’t know, we just work here.” The sense of humor is top notch and it really makes me wish we could get a whole series like this. Some of the commentary, while hidden behind comedy, works far better than when it’s masked in “serious science fiction.” Janet has to deal with an automated voice response system on the phone which ends up being very funny. That’s probably because I deal with them all the time and usually want to punch the phone after the first 30 clicks, so having Janet experience it was extremely enjoyable. There’s a mild crack against Democracy, too, which I can’t say I cared about one way or another; it didn’t derail me at any rate. But the real win of the episode is that the Kanamits have been monitoring us and studying our TV, specifically our commercials. “We don’t even watch the commercials anymore!” They devise a plan to destroy humanity by creating a commercial for The Egg, a product that will make everyone’s lives better. No one knows what it is, but everyone wants one desperately. Of course, the Kanamits have no good intentions so this is going to be bad for all of us, but the journey makes it hilarious. (I loved that the queen Kanamit refers to our studio audiences thinking the applause indicated a group mind on earth. She’s very disappointed to find out that it was all staged.) Even when Jordan Peele comes on for his closing comments he makes it sound like a commercial. “Existential Dread got you down?…”
The commercials are enjoyable but my favorite was the one for the Immolation Station, where families could go to set fire to things. Also, the titles of each of the 4 parts are good, but the best is The Mad Woman in the Oxygen Tower because when you find out what the oxygen tower is, you have to laugh! If the episode did something wrong, it was not to itself but to its predecessor. In Try, Try, I complained about the lack of Mark’s knowledge of the cultural zeitgeist because he doesn’t mention Groundhog Day. This episode hurts the previous because Janet says “Let’s see you beam me up now, Scotty!” (Apt for an episode featuring George Takei too!) But the point is that this sets us up in a recognizable world, one which was distinctly lacking in the previous episode. She doesn’t have to know or watch Star Trek to know the quote and uses it appropriately. Great stuff, though it definitely brings the previous episode further down because it would have been a simple comment for Mark to tell Claudia he’d been living through his own Groundhog Day. But enough about that episode…
I loved that in the final episode we had a real proper call-back to the original series. I also love that this left off with a comedy. Oh, it’s a dark one, don’t get me wrong. We don’t exactly see what happens to Greta when she gets the Egg home, but we see a bloody mist coat a painting, so we have an idea. It’s the end of the world as we know it, and Greta felt… like a fine mist. (Sorry.) As final episodes go, it did make me want more, but unless they decided to bring it back as a comedy, I think I’d pass on another season. Just too many lessons being forced on me, and not enough speculation. But for one brief episode, it was magnificently funny and I’m glad to go out on a high note. ML
With all the newest sci-fi shows about globally impactful changes to our world nowadays and most recently La Brea, this finale for Peele’s TZ can seem most fitting. George Takei’s role may be most significant in regards to the classic TZ’s The Encounter that he was in, but was banned from syndication for decades because of some overwhelmingly delicate issues. Gretchen Mol as another beautifully impressive leading lady for our 2020s’ sci-fi screens, especially how she helps to conclude this episode, is further proof of how TZ casting is one of the key factors. But it’s very agreeably the return of To Serve Man’s the Kanamits that makes it feel like a noble one to end Peele’s TZ on.
It will be an even more daunting task for those who attempt another TZ revival at any point in the future. Thank you, ML, for all your helpful TZ reviews. Thank you too, Mr. Peele. 👍🏻
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