“Replay,” the latest episode in the re-imagined Jordan Peele narrated science fiction series “The Twilight Zone,” exceeds expectations.
With a story heavily influenced by institutional racism, this Gerard McMurray directed episode the strongest instalment of the series thus far. “Replay,” starring Sanaa Lathan, Damson Idris, Glenn Fleshler and Steve Harris as Nina Harrison, Dorian Harrison, Officer Lasky and Uncle Neil, respectively, has a sinister Groundhog Day-like feel.
Many “The Twilight Zone” episodes in previous incarnations of the series have settings which do not reflect contemporary reality.
“Replay” is in a class of its own. It reflects a reality many Americans live daily. This eerily familiar story will subsequently resonate with people on a personal level.
The episode opens with an exterior scene of a diner and moves inside to a closeup of someone pouring coffee for a customer. A woman can be seen discussing college with a young man. This is Nina and Dorian Harrison. College registration is online. With college registration complete, Dorian must physically be on campus for freshman orientation.
Nina, proud of her son going off to college, plans to record their journey on a vintage camcorder. Camcorders were in common usage in the late twentieth century. People are now more likely to use their smartphones to record such footage.
Dorian, in mocking his mother and her vintage tech asks, “Can’t you use your phone just like everybody else in this century?” Nina correctly tells her son to “respect a classic.” Dorian has aspirations of becoming a filmmaker. This is the reason he is going to college. At some point in his academic career, Dorian might be asked by one of his many professors to use a camcorder to create a short film.
The solid authentic performances by Lathan, Idris, Fleshler and Harris, are on point with the seriousness of the subject matter. Each of these talented individuals bring their A-game to this production.
For many teenagers, college is the first true test of their metal. It’s the first time they are away from home for an extended period. With Dorian heading off to college, Nina understandably worries. The authenticity of Nina’s concern for her son is readily apparent.
From the vehicle Nina drives to the clothes she wears, it is clear she enjoys a comfortable life. Nina is an attorney at law. She has everything she needs. What more is there? Contact with her brother, Neil, Dorian might argue.
Idris brings to his character a distinctly mature and responsible dynamic. Dorian wants his mother to reconcile any lingering differences she might have with her brother, Neil. With the college Dorian will be attending is located not that far from the Harrison residence, an opportunity to stop by the house presents itself. Doran pre-programmed directions to the house into the car’s GPS system. Nina shows her annoyance by Dorian he is not to take the turn off the road towards Neil’s house.
Staring William Shatner and Patricia Breslin as Don Carter and Pat Carter, respectively, “Nick of Time,” features a coin operated device that can tell the future. The camcorder Nina uses does not tell the future. It does allow her to rewind time.
The opening image of the episode, a close up a graphic of a bee, is a reference to the Busy Bee Café in “Nick of Time.” In “Replay,” the name of the establishment is the Busy Bee Diner.
Another obvious Easter egg, one that speaks directly to the 1960 Alvin Ganzer directed episode “The Hitch-Hiker,” is the license plate “2D 7876.” This is the licence plate which can be clearly seen on Nan Adams’ (Inger Stevens) car.
Did you notice Lasky’s squad car designation? It is the number 01015. If you saw the previous episode, “Nightmare at 30,000 Feet,” you will recall the prominence of 1015. Considering Peele’s liking for Easter eggs, this number will show up again in coming episodes. This will keep fans happy, there is no doubt.
While it has been suggested the repeated appearance of the “8 Mile” marker could be a reference to the 2002 Curtis Hanson directed music drama “8 Mile,” based on the visual detailing on the mile marker, it is more likely a nod to the mystical 8-Ball.
If you aren’t familiar with what a mystical 8-Ball is, one can seen in the recently released DC Comics based “Shazam!”
“Replay” became available to CBS All-Access subscribers earlier today, Thursday, 11 April 2019. The next instalment, the Ana Lily Amirpour directed “A Traveler,” is scheduled to become available on CBS’s streaming service Thursday, 18 April 2019.