The Twilight Zone – A Traveler Review
The Twilight Zone takes another dip into predictable territory and starts to lose its grip on what it needs to focus on with A Traveler.
The episode follows Alaskan police sergeant Yuka (Marika Sila) as her department’s annual Christmas party, hosted by the obnoxious Captain Pendleton (Greg Kinnear), is interrupted by the presence of a mysterious stranger only known as A Traveler (Steven Yeun). Suspicious that the mysterious man isn’t who he says he is, Yuka begins to learn the truth about him as well as those around her and must keep things under control before fatal mistakes are made.
It actually amazes me how quickly I realized the twist in this episode and how the episode continued to make the twist more and more obvious with hints that are incredibly obvious. After five minutes, I could immediately guess why Yeun’s character was going to be so strange and what his intentions would be before he even appears on-screen. It wasn’t even just a random guess either as there’re so many blatant hints as to where the twist is going that its honestly barely a twist at all. All of this spells out what The Twilight Zone is lacking lately: surprise, intrigue, and anything even remotely shocking.
The series’ desire to touch on important themes is still there, though, and I will say that the episode’s themes of truth and believing facts over rumors is quite interesting. When Yuen’s character takes a darker turn and spews some rumors about some of the people at the party, its actually kind of fascinating to see how every slowly turns on one another without all of the facts. This leads some interesting conflicts between Yuka and Pendleton and it actually reflects on people’s inclinations to believe rumors before all the facts are laid out. Not to mention, there’s definitely some connections to “fake news” and some ideas that you shouldn’t always completely believe everything they hear.
However, all of the great themes are overshadowed by odd story choices and loose plot threads. There’s dialogue between Yuka and her brother Jack (Patrick Gallagher) about their Inuit heritage but it never really goes anywhere. Instead Yuka’s character is more focused on running the station and shedding light on the corruption around her. Honestly, I kept wishing for her Inuit heritage to take more light as it’s a culture that isn’t represented much and, in A Traveler, it’s really only used to show why Yuka isn’t fond of Pendleton when he mocks it when we are introduced to him.
Not to mention, there’s this idea thrown around that plays on the fears of Russian power and invasion that’s not strong enough to make an impactful impression. While its believable that these characters would fear something like that and it’s a nice companion to the themes of “fake news,” it’s nowhere near as subtlety strong as the “fake news” themes so it comes off as random and strange when it’s brought up.
Hopefully, and I know I keep saying this, The Twilight Zone can soar out of its utterly predictable territory and into an area filled with the mystique, shock, and surreal surprises that I’m so desperately craving to see. While next week’s episode, The Wunderkind, looks to be more in line with what I hope to see, A Traveler has left me concerned that the series will continue to be as just as underwhelming as it has been.