Monday, April 06, 2020

The Twilight Zone (2019) -- Season 1 Episode 2 (Nightmare at 30,000 Feet)

Several episodes from the various Star Trek spinoffs reused ideas from the original series.  Some were better than others.  I suppose it’s natural.  If you have a good story, why not?  The same could be said of The Twilight Zone.  It’s only the second episode and they’re already reusing an idea from the 1959 series, Nightmare at 20,000 Feet.  Except this time, it’s Nightmare at 30,000 Feet.

The premise uses the same framework as the original story.  A man boards a plane and gives in to his own fear.  This time, the man’s name is Justin Sanderson.  He’s an investigative reporter going to Tel Aviv from New York.  He was supposed to fly first class, but gives his seat so a family can stay together.

He’s a man that notices coincidence.  He’s on Flight 1015, which was supposed to leave at 9:30, but was pushed back to 10:15.  The date?  October 15.  Most people wouldn’t think much of it.  Given that flight numbers are, at most, four digits, there will eventually be a flight number that matches the date or time eventually.

Then, there’s the MP3 player that Justin finds.  It has a podcast of unexplained mysteries.  This particular episode is about the mystery of flight 1015 out of New York.  This really has Justin’s attention, as the details given on the podcast match the flight exactly.  (The podcaster mentions the name of the pilot, for instance.)

Rather than dismiss it as someone’s sick attempt at a joke, Justin gives in and starts snooping around.  The flight attendants don’t like it.  Justin attracts the attention of the pilot, who tells Justin to sit down.  Justin eventually attracts the attention of the air marshal, who restrains Justin.

He eventually enlists the help of Joe Beaumont, a former pilot who may or may not be a figment of Justin’s imagination.  Once Joe gets into the cockpit, it becomes evident that Justin brought about the events of the podcast by trying to avoid them.  Of course, by then, it’s too late.

I think this episode could have been better.  I see where the episode is going.  It seems a bit trite.  There’s not enough depth to it.  Plus, the final scene could have been removed.  If the last image we saw was the plane going down into the Atlantic, that would have been good.  But to have an epilogue where Justin is attacked by the other passengers was too much.  It didn’t seem necessary.  It also doesn’t feel like the twist ending that I’ve come to expect from The Twilight Zone.

It’s also a little odd that Justin somehow found this MP3 player.  Had he not switched seats, someone else would have found it.  What would have happened if someone else had occupied that seat on that flight?  What if the plane had made it to Tel Aviv and someone on the plane’s next flight found it?  It seems more likely that Justin might have imagined the whole thing.  On a very basic level, it seems like schizophrenia.

It’s not a great episode, but it is watchable.  I’m hoping that this will be the weakest episode of the first season.  If that’s the case, I don’t think I’ll be disappointed.


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