The Twilight Zone is an American institution all to itself. The original series, as narrated by show creator Rod Serling, stands apart from most other productions for its ground-breaking unrelenting exploration of social commentary.
For the period in which the original series was televised, each episode was presented to the television viewing public in a manner by which people could glean something meaningful. The episode where we saw a group of elderly people regress to a childhood state was not as much about kicking a tin can as it was reclaiming what had been lost, their youthful desires.
The Jordan Peele-narrated The Twilight Zone is a re-imagining of the series. “Blurryman” is the first season finale so it must be something seriously mind-blowing. The tenth episode, the Simon Kinberg-directed “Blurryman,” shows there is no need to overly complicate a narrative. It’s that simple, it’s brilliant.
Is There a Trailer?
SPOILERS ALERT: If you have yet to see the latest episode of The Twilight Zone, please stop reading this article. Watch the episode and return to this article when you have reached the end credits.
The opening scene, a street view of a silhouette in the second-floor apartment window, transitioning to reveal Seth Rogen playing a writer sitting at his computer. The character is not happy with his work. “This sucks!” said Rogen said. “This is just garbage.”
We see a writer struggling with coming up with a narrative which he can put his name to without embarrassment or shame. He wants the perfect story. A lot of writers want to put pen to paper or fingertips to computer keyboard keys to come up with something genuinely original. There are only so many original stories that can be told before one begins rehashing previously told plots.
The Episode within the Episode
We initially find ourselves believing Rogen’s character is central to “Blurryman” but that’s not the case. Blurryman takes a left turn during Peele’s episode narration when he breaks off from what he’s saying and asks if Sophie is there. What’s happening here? Even for The Twilight Zone, this is unusual. The Narrator does not address the other characters in the story. The other characters are not typically aware of the Narrator’s presence. That’s not in his job description.
Every episode of The Twilight Zone features narration. This is no less true for the re-imagined series as it was for Serling’s original production. The “Blurryman” narration is not so much an aside to the episode’s narrative as much as it is part of the episode’s story. The other characters in the story can see the Narrator. They address him as either Jordan or JP.
In “Blurryman,” Peele is playing himself playing the Narrator of an episode of The Twilight Zone. It’s the making of an episode of The Twilight Zone in an episode of The Twilight Zone. Logically, since Peele is playing himself, Rogen is also playing himself playing a writer. For the purposes of Blurryman, the television series The Twilight Zone exists as a television series in The Twilight Zone. It’s like what would happen if an episode of Star Trek took a step back to reveal that it exists as a series within itself. By the way, funnily enough, the creators of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine did do that for an episode.
Who is Sophie?
Sophie (Zazie Beetz) is a teleplay writer working on The Twilight Zone. She does not work on The Twilight Zone we know. It’s the series within the series. Sophie is trying to come up with a narration Peele will be happy with. Sophie’s obsession with The Twilight Zone is readily apparent. This obsession dates to the days of the original series when Serling provided the narration.
In a flashback to her childhood, the young Sophie can be seen metaphorically glued to a black and white television screen. She is completely transfixed by a classic episode of The Twilight Zone. Her father believes this obsession with the series is hindering Sophie’s social development and possibly her grip on reality itself.
When it comes to Easter eggs, for this episode, the basket is full to the brim. Did you see the references to each of the nine previous episodes? The references were on television screens in a window display.
The first episode of the re-imaged series was “The Comedian.” The episode revolves around stand-up comic Samir Wassan (Kumail Nanjiani). Blurryman is in the background. There is no direct reference to his presence in the episode. It is only when we re-watch the episode we notice his presence.
Nightmare at 30,000 Feet
The same is true of “Nightmare at 30,000 Feet.” It’s the scene where journalist Justin Sanderson (Adam Scott) and Joe Beaumont (Chris Diamantopoulos) are standing at the airport newsstand. The suited man is there in the background. Its plausible viewers may have thought this character an extra. Shows do have extras in the background to create an added degree of realism but then this is no ordinary show. This is The Twilight Zone. Embedded within this airport scene is also an Easter egg for the first episode. There are Easter eggs on top of Easter eggs on top of Easter eggs.
In the third episode, “Replay,” the suited man can be seen more clearly. The figure, even down to the way he is holding his cigarette, has a Serling-like pose which is unmistakable.
In the holiday-themed episode “A Traveler,” the suited man can be seen in the far background of the party crowd. Thinking this character is nothing more than an extra at the party is just as understandable as that seen with “Nightmare at 30,000 Feet.” The presence of the character does not add anything obviously meaningful to the narrative.
It is not until the fifth episode, “The Wunderkind,” does the series come close to revealing the suited man’s face. The character is amongst presidential campaign workers vigorously organising posters for Oliver Foley’s (Jacob Tremblay) run for the White House.
Six Degrees of Freedom
In “Six Degrees of Freedom,” the suited man is not as easy to spot as with other instalments of the series. To spot his presence, one must pay close attention to the props because you will not see him. In this case, look to Alexa Brandt’s (DeWanda Wise) graduation picture. Hidden behind a group of five graduates is the suited man. There is no clear image of the man’s face.
Not All Men
The presence of the suited man in “Not All Men” should have been noticeable because of his stoic stance. Standing by a lamppost, Blurryman is not behaving in the same manner as the rest of the characters. He simply observes the ruckus unfold.
Point of Origin
In “Point of Origin,” we only get to see the back of the suited man’s head. Now that we know what to look for in each episode, Blurryman presence is increasingly apparent. It’s another one of those brief fleeting moments where, if you blink, you’d miss it.
The Blue Scorpion
In the penultimate episode of the season, “The Blue Scorpion,” there is a scene where Professor Jeff Storck (Chris O’Dowd) is walking down a university corridor. The suited man is deliberately blurred to prevent a clear image of his face.
Further to references to the first nine episodes, there are more than a few nods to the classic episode “Time Enough at Last.” This is the episode Sophie is transfixed by during the flashback sequence.
Who is the Suited Man?
There is only one person the Suited Man could be. Think about it. The character, also referenced as Blurryman, looms large over The Twilight Zone in all its incarnations. He’s the title character for the first season finale. It’s Serling. It could not be anyone else. If viewers were paying attention, there were enough signposts pointing to Serling.
“Blurryman,” not that everyone will agree, closes out the first season nicely. The narrative we see in this tenth episode is simple. It is not overly complex. It does not diminish the value of the series to either CBS or CBS All Access. It’s perfect.
Unlike Star Trek, it is more plausable The Twilight Zone would exist as a television series within itself. An aspect of this episode which some people will enjoy is most of the actors are playing themselves.
Jason Priestley, currently known for playing former hockey player-come-private investigator Matt Shade in the Canadian dramedy Private Eyes, is seen in “Blurryman” playing a soap opera actor. Considering Priestley is best known for the original Beverly Hills, 90210, this casting is not surprising.
Peele is an axtraordinary talent. Everything he touches turns to gold. I am looking forwards to seeing what he does with The Twilight Zone‘s second season. Because of how well the first season has been received, I am confident the second season will be every bit as captivating.