If there is one thing that The Twilight Zone wasn’t, it is drivel for the masses. The original series running from 1959 to 1964 was socially charged and prescient in any era. Jordan Peele’s reboot was just as thoughtful if at times a little too heavy-handed. Season 1 classics like “Nightmare at 30,000 Feet” and “Wunderkind” a reimagining of “Its A Good Life” were hit and miss while original story ‘Replay’ by Selwyn Seyfu Hinds is fantastic and as relevant as they come. An African American woman finds a video camera that can alter time. Try as she might she can’t avoid a dangerous encounter with a racist policeman. It is precisely the sort of clever story you would have expected from Rod Serling’s.
Season 2 is set to air on June 25th, 2020 on CBS All Access. Ahead of the premiere here are the 10 Most Politically Charged Episodes Of Twilight Zone.
The Monsters Are Due On Maple Street-Season 1 Episode 22
Deep into the night in a small town, a street is turned pitch black. All electronics on the street shut off. As neighbors file out, their curiosity spills out. One small child considers it to be the work of aliens, but his idea is thrown away as ridiculous. Just as quickly as they dismiss the idea, the suspicion is thrown to one of the neighbors who’s car mysteriously starts working. Seldom few believe that the owner had nothing to do with the blackout. Blame and paranoia run rampant.
As the night settles in, a dark figure walks towards the group. One man takes a rifle and shoots the figure who quickly falls. The band of neighbors finds it was just another neighbor who left his home in search of answers himself. The shooter is looked on with suspicion, increasingly so as his lights turn on. The society of street-side neighbors tries to stone him before he yells he believes the boy from before. Aliens must be afoot. Lights and machines all along the street then flicker on and off, setting people into a mad frenzy.
A hilltop somewhere near this small neighborhood, two aliens observe that humankind is very easy to panic, and such chaos and self-mutilation will make conquering them that much easier. A common theme in The Twilight Zone is the fallibility of humans. Fear-mongering almost always makes people misbehave.
Will The Real Martian Please Stand Up-Season 2 Episode 28
On a snowy winter evening, two officers are called to investigate reports of a ufo crashing into a nearby woods. In the woods, they find sheared off trees and a set of tracks leading from the crash site to a nearby diner. Haley, the man operating the diner, is found as well as a bus driver, and seven others. When asked, the driver tells the troopers he had six on the bus. During their investigation, the jukebox starts and stops on its own, the lights flicker, and small bowls on each table explode.
A phone call tells the troopers, the bus driver, and his passengers that the bridge up ahead has been inspected and safe to cross. Still not knowing who might be an impostor, the troopers let the matter go and guide the bus towards the bridge.
Ross, one of the seven suspects, returns to the diner and tells Haley that the bridge wasn’t safe- that the troopers car and bus have both plunged into the river. He explains that he is the Martian the officers were looking for and is on a mission to establish a colony. Haley reveals he is from Venus. He explains that the Martian colonizers have been intercepted and will not arrive,” and if you’re still alive, you will see just how much we differ.” Another fable about humanity’s inability to trust. Twilight Zone loves to draw parallels between aliens and earthlings. When you expect to find monsters in your midst, sometimes you miss the monsters hiding in plain sight.
On Thursday We Leave For Home-Season 4 Episode 16
One hundred thirteen people were sent to build a settlement on the desolate planet of V9-Gamma, hoping to escape the frequent wars back home. Life proved hellish under the constant heat of two suns. Thirty years after their arrival, they send a transmission requesting transport back to Earth. Captain Benteen, the leader of this small group, was 15 when he left his home planet, but now through firm authority and stubborn faith, he has kept the group that now numbers 187 from giving up.
Life on the planet is difficult. Finding the body of a young woman, Benteen delivers a sermon. A meteor shower forces the group into a large cave where he’s asked again to tell tales from home. With most of the settlers having never seen Earth, they hang on every word.
Months later, a rescue arrives along with its leader Colonel Sloane. Benteen and Sloane soon vie for control. Benteen is upset to see his power waning. He argues they are on this planet, they are under his rule. He later tells Sloane that he intends for the colonists to remain together as a community. Sloane is beside himself and asserts that the colonists should decide for themselves.
Benteen learns they have made plans to split and settle in different states. He accuses Sloane of bringing discord into the community and attempts to persuade everyone to stay on v9-Gamma, telling them Earth is far from the paradise of his stories. Everyone except Benteen leaves. We see Benteen telling stories of Earth to imaginary settlers as if they sit beside him again. Realizing too late, he misses home; he rushes out, screaming for the ship to come back. ” William Benteen, once a god, now a population of one.”
Being a leader means caring about others more than yourself. Too often, leaders forget it’s more important to rule justly as opposed to rule to avoid losing their power.
People Are Alike All Over-Season 1 Episode 25
A rocket piloted by two astronauts leaves for Mars with two vastly different ideas of humanity. Marcusson believes that people are alike all over, even on Mars. Conrad, much the cynic, is less hopeful. Landing on Mars proves disastrous as Marusson is terribly injured. He pleads to Conrad to open the door so that he may see what he has given his life for. Conrad refuses, fearful of what he may find.
Now alone, Conrad hears beating on the ship’s hull. Expecting something monstrous, he is elated to find Martians that look just like him. They reassure him and bring him to his home, a room furnished exactly like his on earth.
Conrad relaxes but soon finds his room windowless and without doors. Conrad picks up a sign reading ” earth creature in his native habitat” and throws it on the floor. It turns out people are all the same. Exploitation is something we do best.
The Old Man In The Cave-Season 5 Episode 7
In 1974, a decade after a nuclear war had devestated the planet, a small group of townsfolk discovered a cache of food. They wait for news from Mr.Goldsmith, their leader, to return with a message from the mysterious old man in the cave. The man will supposedly tell them whether the food is contaminated or not. Mr.Goldsmith returns, letting the townsfolk know that the food is unsafe to eat.
Shortly after, soldiers led by Major French enter the town and try to re-establish their authority, arguing they are from the government. Goldsmith contends that similar groups have tried and failed before them. French attempts to bribe the townsfolk with the contaminated food. Everyone except Goldsmith partakes.
Goldsmith’s life is threatened, and he reveals the old man in the cave is really a computer. The “old man” turned out to be correct, and Mr. Goldsmith is the lone survivor of the town.
Greed can take many forms but in all of them, it is self destructive. Greed led the townsfolk to death and greed led French to try and strip power.
Deaths-Head Revisted-Season 3 Episode 9
Gunther Lutze, a former member of the SS, arrives at a hotel in Dachau, Bavaria. He walks his old stomping grounds at the now-abandoned concentration camp and recalls the sadistic torment he inflicted on the inhabitants.
He surprisingly finds Alfred Becker, a former member of the camp and a victim of Lutze’s cruelty. Becker gives him a piece of his mind, and Lutze finds the gate locked. Becker and a dozen other dead inmates find him guilty for crimes against humanity. As punishment, he is forced to relive the same horrors he perpetrated. Now at a mental hospital, a doctor looks around and asks, ” Dachau. Why does it still stand? Why do we keep it standing?”
There’s an answer, of course. Every camp has to remain in remembrance of what happens when we lose our morals.” The moment we forget this, the moment we cease to be haunted by its remembrance, then we become the gravediggers.” History is blind; man is not
The Obsolete Man-Season 2 Episode 29
In a dystopian future, Romney Wordsworth is put on trial for being obsolete. His job as a librarian is punishable by death as the leaders have eliminated all books. The chancellor finds Wordsworth guilty and allows him to choose his method of execution.
A camera is installed in Wordsworth’s study to televise his final moments. The Chancellor arrives per Wordworth’s request only to find he is now stuck with him, in a room set to explode. The Chancellor breaks down and begs ” in the name of God” to let him go.” Wordsworth agrees and dies alone. After his bawling on television and his professed belief in God, The Chancellor is replaced and declared obsolete and beaten to death.
As it turns out in reality, any state devoid of morality or consciousness is far from an ideal government. Some things, such as citizens’ rights, must always remain. Plus, book burning and banning are abhorrent!
A Quality of Mercy-Season 3 Episode 15
Second Lieutenant Katell has just arrived at the Pacific Theater of World War 2 and has ordered his tired soldiers to make an attack on a group of sick and wounded Japanese soldiers holed up in a cave. Veteran Causarano tries to talk him out of it as he knows no good can come of senseless killing. Katell doesn’t back down and berates his platoon. After dropping his binoculars, he finds he has switched sides, and now is Lt. Yamuri in the Japanese army.
Facing an eerily similar order to attack a cave full of wounded and sick American soldiers, he now tries in vain to prevent the attack. Having a new lease on life, Katell finds himself back in his own body, where his men tell him the atomic bomb has just been dropped. They have been ordered to fall back and observe how Japan responds. Causarano assures his leader there will be other human beings he can kill, to which Katell says, ” I hope not. God help us, I hope not.”
Mercy is the most exceptional quality a human may give- only second to charitable acts. The ability to be sympathetic and understanding is paramount. Everyone deserves grace.
He’s Alive-Season 4 Episode 4
A man is sent by a mysterious force to take control and whip a town into a frenzy. With the help of a dark figure, Peter Vollmer and his group of struggling Nazi’s excite the crowds. As the group swells, he is told to kill one of his followers and make a martyr out of him. The man reveals he is Adolf Hitler. After killing another person, he says he feels immortal.
Later the police arrive and kill Peter. As he dies he says, “there’s something very wrong here… don’t you understand I’m made of steel?!?”
This phantom of Adolf Hitler represents all that is evil in the world. This plague of bigotry and hate thrives everywhere innocent human beings are assaulted without reason. Evil is alive and well because we allow it to flourish.
The Brain Center At Whipple’s-Season 5 Episode
A factory owner begins to install a new wondrous machine that is set to increase plant production vastly. Unfortunately, it means laying off much of the workers. After later firing every employee, he is driven insane with the words of his past employees. The Board of Directors finds him mad and obsessed with machines. He is given leave after being shown the machine that will replace him.
As you sow, so shall you reap. Time and time again, our sinful behavior bites back and takes us down with it.” Man becomes clever instead of becoming wise,” and in doing so may cause its own destruction.
Obsessed with the old gods and everything that resembles Lovecraft, Zach spends his days exploring the twists of horror films and can’t wait to discuss the latest explanations of any story