Here we are at the fourth episode of Jordan Peele’s reboot of The Twilight Zone and my goodness was this a good one! Peele once again pays homage to a classic episode, this time it’s “The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street.”
DISCLAIMER: This recap contains spoilers, proceed with caution!
OPENING NARRATION: Meet Sergeant Yuka Mongoyak. A woman with the knack for detecting the most subtle of mistruths. On this night, a night of the most powerful of myths, that skill will be tested like never before. She’s about to learn that the truth can take many different forms depending on how you look a it. Because tonight, Sergeant Yuka’s vantage point is at the very heart of The Twilight Zone.
The episode begins with a beautiful shot of the northern lights where we see a snowy desolate setting. A police officer named Yuka (Marika Sila) is driving a department issued SUV as she transports a drunken prisoner to a new location. It’s revealed that the prisoner is her brother Jack (Patrick Gallagher) and that she’s bringing him into the station for a warm Christmas meal. Yuka also explains that Captain Pendelton likes to pardon an inmate every Christmas hence why she is bringing him in As they stand outside they station, Jack and Yuka notice a bright light in the sky before they decide to enter the police station.
Inside at an office party, Captain Lane Pendelton (Greg Kinnear) is speaking to several people before the lights shut off momentarily before they suddenly turn back on. Yuka hauls Jack through the crowd and towards the holding cell, as several members recognize Jack and begin to chant his name, showing that this isn’t really an unusual occurrence.
Yuka takes her brother down the hall before punching a code into a keypad to access the holding cells. After removing Jack’s handcuffs and closing the cell door, Yuka makes her way back into the main office as the power once again flutters off then back on. There is a blink and you’ll miss it easter egg referencing a classic original episode “The Dummy.”
The Captain explains how and why every year at this time he pardons a stranger who hasn’t killed anyone or committed a terrorist attack. Pendelton asks Yuka to go down and retrieve her brother as it’s an open secret that he is going to receive the pardon, even though he isn’t technically a stranger. Yuka makes her way back down to the holding cells where she tries to wake up Jack, who is sleeping in his cell.
Yuka suddenly hears a noise to her right, and makes her way to the next cell over. Yuka sees a well dressed man wearing a suit and hat occupying the cell. Yuka questions him at gunpoint as to who he is. The Traveler (Steven Yeun) responds that he wants to be pardoned just like her.
After the opening credits, The Captain goes to check on Yuka and observes the Traveler inside of the cell. Pendelton is unsure of who the man is or how he got there, to which the Traveler explains that he is an extreme traveler who flew over the North Pole on his way to attend Pendelton’s party. The Traveler tells the officers that he is an “aggro traveler,” someone who visits the hardest places to get to, and that visiting the Captain on Christmas Eve is one of the most sought after destinations. The Traveler removes a device from his breast pocket that he calls a phone, but upon inspection by the detectives they discover that they are unfamiliar with the device.
The Traveler informs them that the device is Russian made and has 8k video resolution, to which the Captain instantly refutes the origin explaining that the Russians don’t make anything, they steal their tech. Yuka wants to further investigate the mysterious man by checking any active warrants from other departments, as she believes he is lying. The Captain however orders that he be released until they receive confirmation of her suspicions.
The trio make their way back to the party where the Captain introduces The Traveler as a good man. The Traveler begins recording a video on his device and endears himself to the crowd while Yuka contacts nearby departments requesting information, though she has no luck. The Traveler notices Yuka on the phone instead of enjoying the party and approaches her. The Traveler tells her that he is aware of the distrust she feels towards him, even though everyone else seems to have accepted him.
Yuka brings her brother Jack a plate of food down in the holding cells where they have a brief discussion regarding a question The Traveler asked her before. Back at the party, The Traveler is singing karaoke along with the rest of the staff while Yuka and Lane discuss pardoning both Jack and The Traveler. The power suddenly cuts out and this causes friction among the group and people begin arguing among each other in an increasingly hostile manner. The power returns before things get out of hand.
The Captain asks for Jack to be brought out so that the pardon ceremony can commence. The Traveler interjects by suggesting that they don’t pardon Jack, as he has knowledge that Jack is in possession of stolen property. Yuka expresses her disbelief at the claim against her brother causing the Captain to ask The Traveler how he would know such information.
The Traveler explains that he knows things about them all before going around the room, revealing many of the communities secrets. Once this knowledge is revealed the members of the community once again become hostile with each other as opposed to The Traveler and he watches the events unfold. After a short scuffle the Captain is able to restore the peace and orders everyone to leave and go home.
Now that they are all alone, Lane and Yuka interrogate The Traveler only to return him to a cell after they are dissatisfied with his answers. They attempt to release Jack on pardon but he declines as it’s too cold and he doesn’t have his vehicle. They briefly leave the holding cells, and upon returning they observe The Traveler without his hat and he appears to have antennae coming out from his head. The officers aim their weapons at him as the Captain asks Yuka to confirm what he had seen, however Jack is the one who confirms that he saw something strange.
The Traveler ridicules the men insisting that they are mistaken. The Captain orders him to remove his hat, which he does but not before issuing them a warning to be careful. The Traveler then reveals that the police station is actually a cover as the installation is actually a military installation protecting part of the US power grid. It turns out that Captain Pendelton is revealed to be the only one who is actually aware of this fact when he states that the particular information revealed is classified. Fed up with the situation, Pendelton pulls his sidearm and takes aim at The Traveler.
The Traveler then tries to once again turn Yuka against Pendelton by telling her that the Captain passed along said classified information to the Russians across the border. The Traveler reveals that the Russians invade along the border, and that when they do his people will intercept them. The Captain leaves to assess the situation, leaving The Traveler alone with Yuka, and he finally reveals his intentions. The Traveler explains that his people’s intelligence indicated a that large area of Earth would be vulnerable for an attack. In order to locate the vulnerabilities exact location, The Traveler manipulated events so that Pendelton would lead them there.
This culminates with The Traveler telling Yuka that it’s too late to stop what’s been started, to which she rejects and frantically searches for Pendelton calling him on the radio. After searching several locations she finally finds him out at the location where she attempts to arrest him for conspiring with the Russians. As she holds him at gunpoint, several flying saucers fly overhead as the invasion has begun.
Back at the holding cell, Jack tells The Traveler that things might actually be better if his people were running things. In return The Traveler reveals himself to be an alien by showing Jack his true form. Jack leaves the holding cell to grabs himself a piece of pumpkin pie, before returning to the cells where he shares the meal with The Traveler, still in alien form.
CLOSING NARRATION: The most dangerous lies come in the form of beautifully wrapped gifts. On this evening, Sergeant Yuka discovered that there’s no difference between myth and mistruth. She unwrapped her fateful present far too late, in this dark and silent night in the Twilight Zone.
The Twilight Zone is streaming now on CBS ALL-ACCESS