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The Twilight Zone: "Replay" S1.E3 [Review]

The science fiction anthology The Twilight Zone has returned to television, technically CBS All Access' streaming service. Originally aired in 1959, The Twilight Zone has been revived twice, and this is the third attempt to recreate the magic of the original series. We'll be reviewing the first season.

The lack of diversity in science fiction has really hurt the genre because even the most unique concept is limited by the ubiquity of white male perspective. Time travel, teleportation, and cloning all seem like they've been done to death until you consider minorities. For example, if a white man travels to the 1950s, his biggest concern is meeting Elvis Presley. If a black man travels to the 1950s, his biggest concern will be where to eat and sleep because of Jim Crow laws.

That's why I looked forward to a Twilight Zone run by Jordan Peele with stories from a minority perspective, and "Replay" is a perfect example. The concept of someone forced to relive their life over and over has become a cliche since Groundhog's Day, but "Replay" is shocking in how a slight change in gender and race gives it new life.

It begins with a black woman Sanaa Lathan (Nina Harrison, Alien vs. Predator) who's driving her son Dorian (Damson Idris) to his first day of college. She's recording everything on an old camcorder that she discovers will reverse time if she hits the "rewind" button.

This is where diversity comes in. After a stop in a diner, the two find themselves stalked by a racist state trooper Officer Lasky (Glenn Fleshler, Barry, Billions) who pulls them over, escalates the stop, and tasers her son. Sanaa rewinds time and Lasky returns to taser her son again. She finds herself caught in a loop where she desperately tries to get away, only to find the trooper is back, and each time things escalate.

Yes, this is the story to be told in the age of Black Lives Matter. Sanaa isn't trying to win the lottery or make herself president or get the guy. She's trying to save her son, and watching her try is heart-wrenching but also informative. Because we see the two try all the things that people claim will avoid escalating a police shooting and fail miserably. In the end, the message is that it's not this black woman and black man, but the police officer that is the problem.

The ending feels a little forced and preachy, but otherwise caps a nearly flawless episode. The characters are sharply drawn and human, even the state trooper who commits abominable acts. The direction is taut and moody without being cartoonishly macabre.

It's too early to tell if the new Twilight Zone goes down in history as a success, but this episode alone is one Rod Serling would be proud of.

What did you think of the New Twilight Zone? Let us know in the comments below!

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