Jordan Peele’s reboot of The Twilight Zone kicked off its third episode this week, entitled “Replay” and man was it a good one! Once again the series takes inspiration from its past, this time reworking the episode “Rewind” from the 2000’s series and it works great.
DISCLAIMER: This recap contains spoilers, proceed with caution!
OPENING NARRATION: Presenting Nina Harrison. A woman who left her past behind to provide a better future for her son. Today however, she will have no choice but to revisit history again and again. On a fateful drive, through the perilous highways of The Twilight Zone.
The episode begins with Nina Harrison (Saana Lathan) and her son Dorian (Damson Idris) sharing a meal in a picturesque diner somewhere in Middle America. They are discussing their schedule, as Nina is taking Dorian to college somewhere nearby. During the conversation Nina removes an old camcorder from her bag as Dorian teases her choice of technology. During this time a policeman named Officer Lasky (Glenn Fleshler) enters the diner.
It appears the officer is a regular at the establishment and as he orders his meal, Nina and Dorin continue to converse at their booth still recording as they speak. Dorian then accidentally squirts ketchup all over himself before realizing that it was caught on camera. After Dorian asks his mother to rewind over the mishap, she hits the rewind button and time suddenly rewinds around them along with the tape. Once it stops, Nina is the only one who realizes that they traveled back in time as recent events are happening once again.
After the opening credits we see that Nina and Dorian have now left the diner and are traveling towards their eventual destination by car. As they playfully argue over what radio station to choose Nina lectures Dorian on how much it took for her to get out of her bad upbringing and to not look back. Dorian then grabs the camcorder and mock interviews his mother as he is driving. Suddenly they hear sirens and look behind them to realize they are being pulled over.
They pull off to the side of the road and Nina reminds Dorian of their previous conversations of what to do in this situation. To make sure to show no attitude and to be respectful. It turns out to be Officer Lasky from the diner, who knocks on the window to greet the family. As Nina explains their intentions politely and introduces them, Officer Lasky causes tensions to rise with his callous line of inquiry.
After he informs them as to why they were pulled over, Officer Lasky notices that the camera in the car seems to be recording. The Officer becomes almost hostile as he reaches into the vehicle while commanding Nina to turn the camera off. As they struggle, Nina is able to hit the rewind button on the device, causing time to once again rewind as it did before.
This time Nina recovers as they are back on the road and Dorian is once again mock interviewing her. Disoriented by the whole ordeal Nina asks Dorian to pull over. A few moments after he does and she catches her breath, Officer Lasky’s patrol vehicle slowly pulls up behind them as Nina’s questions cause Dorian to become worried. Dorian asks Officer Lasky to help his mother, but the Officer instead chooses to order Dorian to reposition the vehicle that the Officer feels is illegally stopped.
Dorian becomes angry at the Officer for ignoring his mother’s wellbeing and begins to raise his voice in frustration. Officer Lasky removes his taser and takes aim at Dorain causing Nina to once again hit the rewind button.
This time we arrive back in the booth at the diner where Nina notices Officer Lasky enjoying his breakfast and the Officer notices her back in turn. Nina takes Dorian and they leave the diner and as they are driving she suddenly decides to take another route towards the school. Dorian explains to his mother that he wants to inspire people with film the way she inspired him as a child.
Nina decides to try and avert the circumstances by stopping off at a motel for the night, to which Dorian ultimately agrees. Inside of the motel room lottery numbers are being revealed on screen and Nina starts the camera as the numbers are being displayed. As they have a philosophical discussion about whether or not the universe is a fixed concept, Nina rewinds to before the numbers were read. Nina amazes her son by listing each number right before its called out and sends him out to collect snacks.
Dorian calls to his mother telling her that there is someone outside. Standing in the doorway happens to be none other than Officer Lasky who questions the family with the same cold aggressive speech as before. As Dorian begins arguing with the Officer, Nina pulls out the camera and starts recording. This causes a confrontation between Officer Lasky and Dorian with the former throwing the latter into a glass frame against the wall causing it to shatter.
The two fight before Nina ultimately hits rewind and again sends them back to the diner. Nina decides to try something completely different and approaches the Officer in the diner mentioning his name in the process which seems to unnerve him a bit. Nina attempts to introduce herself and Dorian in the friendliest way that she possibly could but the Officer rebuffs her sincerities. The officer finally allows her to sit next to him after she offers to purchase him a slice of pie.
Once again the Officer asks Nina if they have met before and mentions that he knows everyone “like her” continuing the questionstionable choice of words he has been using since the beginning. The pair have a seemingly pleasant conversation mentioning family and such before Officer Lasky begins to leave diner. Before he does however, he asks NIna how she was able to get such a nice car, to which she replies that she worked hard for that car.
Nina and Dorian are about to enter their vehicle before Officer Lasky approaches asking for Nina’s license, registration, and proof of ownership of her vehicle. They begin to argue and as things get heated Dorian remembers that he has a picture of the pink slip on his phone. When he emerges from the car with his phone and raises it up, Officer Lasky pulls his service pistol and shoots Dorian once in the chest. Dorian falls to the floor and Nina rushes to his side dropping the camera in the process.
We then come to see that some time has passed since those events and that Nina is about to make a positive identification of Dorian’s body. Before she can do so however, she requests the camcorder. Once she is alone in the morgue with his body, Nina hits the rewind button one final time and time is once again reverted back to the diner.
Nina is overcome with emotion at the sight of Dorian but she gather’s her senses and they flee before running into Officer Lasky at the door. Back on the road Nina breaks down crying and begins to explain the weird events that have been happening to Dorian and begs him for help to end it. Dorian believes her and they ultimately decide to go to the place that Nina has been avoiding the whole time. Her home, and her past.
They arrive at the home of her brother, Uncle Neil (Steve Harris), and Nina explains why she hasn’t returned since childhood. After they meet up with Neil and are welcomed inside, Nina begins to explain recent events to her brother. Neil surprisingly doesn’t seem to need much convincing and believes her story. The trio begin to plan for the arrival of Officer Lasky speaking on the importance of staying together.
Neil has been documenting the city as it continually changes allowing him to know where a good spot to hide would be. They finally arrive at the school after combing through tunnels only to be approached by Officer Lasky once again. They ignore his commands to stop causing him to reach for his weapon again. As he points the gun at them the other people on campus begin to take notice of the events and Uncle Neil steps in front of Officer Lasky’s gun.
Nina steps by her brother side in solidarity as they are no longer interested in playing nice, and begins recording with the camcorder. Dorian asks her to rewind it, but Nina refuses as the rest of the campus begins recording on cell phones alongside her. Nina gives an impassioned speech as she takes a stand, telling the officer to back up as her son will go to college.
The officer takes aim at her, but as the campus inches closer, the other Officers convince him to retreat and they leave the campus as Dorian finally reaches the school grounds much to the elation of his mother.
10 years later as Nina is still using the camcorder, Dorian asks her if it isn’t time to finally put it away. Dorian’s daughter takes ahold of the camera and drops it causing it to break. Nina scrambles to pick up the broken device. Dorian finally convinces her to let it go and enjoy the life they have made.
CLOSING NARRATION: Nina Harrison found that only by embracing her past could she protect her sons future. And it was love, not magic that kept evil at bay. But for some evils there are no magical permanent solutions and the future remains uncertain, even here in The Twilight Zone.
The Twilight Zone is streaming now on CBS ALL-ACCESS