The Twilight Zone and all the images you see in this recap are owned by Warner Bros Television and based on the series created by Rod Serling
Episode directed by Jean de Segonzac
We’re back with another episode of The Forest Whitaker Monologues! Now that we’ve made it through the pilot, it’s time for this series to start in earnest! Is this going to be one of the good episodes, or will this be one of the FUN episodes? Let’s find out!!
The episode begins with a woman named Melina Kroner (Ione Skye) walking her dog at night when she’s nearly hit by a car. Presumably this event will NOT go unnoticed by THE TWILIGHT ZONE and sure enough she’s immediately sidled up to by a creepy ass bus whose driver (Art Kitching from Supernatural) is practically begging her to step aboard. The dog seems to want to get on, but she just holds the leash firm and turns away from it. When she looks back… the bus is GONE! So she’s dead, right? That’s the twist. I’m putting my money down RIGHT NOW that that is gonna be the twist.
Once she gets home, she’s greeted by her shirtless fiancée Adam played by Dylan Walsh. I’ve never actually seen Nip/Tuck so I have no frame of reference here, but to me he looks like a cross between a beardless Jeff Bridges and young Thomas Haden Church. They’re all lovey dovey and such so Melina forgets about the creepy bus of death at least for little while as there’s an adorable slice of man meat in front of her which is the perfect cure for what ails her! Not only that, but they’re also getting ready for their upcoming wedding which means she doesn’t really have time to think about being chased by the Grim Reaper Greyhound, and the next scene is of her trying on dresses with her mother the next day. Things aren’t all better just yet though as at some point they need to look up the registry for… some reason, and yet they can’t find it in the system! Not only that, but Melina can’t seem to recall when they set up the registry in the first place. I wonder if this is somehow related the Evil Bus she saw last night. Oh look! The bus is waiting outside for her!
Once again she doesn’t get on it, but it’s starting to freak her out to the point that sharts watching for it after she gets home. Good ol’ Adam is fully aware that this is borderline crazy behavior as there isn’t even a bus route through their neighborhood, but he tries to be supportive and goes with her to walk the neighborhood to see if a bus goes by. Now obviously the bus doesn’t come because she’s with a witness, so I guess the way to cheat death is to be with someone at all times. Not the most convenient of solutions, but it’s better than the alternative! Still, it seems to be having side effects as things in general seem to be out of place or just weird, such as the aforementioned lack of a registry, a woman saying hello to her by name who she’s never met before, and especially one of the students in Melina’s English class who starts quoting Emily Dickenson death soliloquies at her for no reason. Oh, and you know she’s an early 2000s Goth because she wears a nose ring and literally says that Emily Dickenson was “so goth”.
All of this just makes Melina even more paranoid (you can tell because they start using Dutch Angles), and Adam ends up finding her sitting on a bench with an old school camera; waiting to take a snapshot for a bus that won’t come. I don’t know WHY it isn’t coming considering she’s waiting for it with no one else but her dog. Maybe it’s actually afraid of getting its picture taken. Again, we’ve just found another way to cheat death! Just carry around a camera! Hell, she’ll only have to do so for like eight more years and then she’ll have a smartphone! Her fiancée eventually talks her back in the house and we cut to her in the bathroom looking in the mirror. Sadly, she didn’t bring Adam or her camera with her and starts to see more spooky things before looking out the window to see the bus just sitting there.
Now up until this point, the episode was just kind of bland and predictable. However, they make a pretty solid decision here by having Melina realize that she’s basically in some sort of crappy science fiction TV show and is certain that the bus is actually being stalked by death. It all started after she was almost hit by a car, so what if she was ACTUALLY hit and doesn’t know it? She tries to tell her mother this the next day when they’re trying on dresses again for the wedding (how many times do people usually do that?) but she doesn’t seem too concerned about her daughter having visions of the Grim Reaper and would rather have her focus on the wedding. Of course, the bus JUST SO HAPPENS to show up ONCE AGAIN, but when her mother looks at it, it turns into a regular bus.
Clearly we are dealing with some Jacob’s Ladder shit here (Melina even name drops the movie in the next scene) as things are only starting to get more and more out of whack as time goes on. It’s to the point that she’s not even sure she’s alive right now but is stuck in some sort of limbo which seems increasingly likely considering her fiancée up and disappears at one point. Yeah, she turns around for a minute and the guy is gone. She rushes back home and finds that all the pictures have been altered to remove Adam form them (also known as Photo-Stalin), and finds only the dog is still at the house. She runs outside again, finds the bus waiting for her, and still refuses to get on even though the dog manages to climb on board. The bus driver, clearly fed up with this shit, closes the door and drives off. Are you ready for the big twist!? She turns around and finds herself and the dog lying dead on the road; having been hit by a car. However, the dog gets back up. This means that the bus wasn’t Death trying to get her to the afterlife, but rather… whatever the opposite of Death is (I guess it could STILL be Death if his job isn’t just to reap souls but to make sure they go to the right place) trying to convince her to NOT die. This is actually a pretty solid twist all things considered. I mean, a bus full of angry looking dead people driven by a dude with the biggest shit eating grin imaginable doesn’t scream “come with me if you want to live”, but I guess it wouldn’t be a TWIST if it was obvious enough to… you know, make sense. Things start to kind of unravel though as the scene goes on to show that the life she was living in Limbo or whatever wasn’t even close to the life she had in the real world to the point that Adam is dating someone else and doesn’t even know who she is when he walks upon the scene and sees the body.
By the way, the bystanders here are REALLY nonplussed about a dead body in the middle of the road, but whatever. Here’s the explanation that Forest Whitaker gives us.
“Pity. Poor Melina Kroner. She spent her entire life too afraid to live it, and lost all hope of happiness. Making the wrong choice can be fatal… in The Twilight Zone.”
Okay, so the idea her is that Melina led a shitty life and when she was hit by a car, she ended up imagining a better life for herself, BUT she was not AWARE that this was not the life she was leading before getting struck down. I think that this is a temptation tale because of that, but not a very good one. She didn’t want to give up the life she was living for certain death (there’s no way for her to think the bus was anything else) and that’s hardly a source of hubris or ignorance that’s The Twilight Zone’s bread and butter. Better examples of this would be the House MD episode No Reason where he realizes he’s in a dream and wakes himself up from it, and the Batman episode Perchance to dream where… he realizes he’s in a dream and wakes himself up from it. Okay, so maybe doing that exact plotline again wouldn’t have been a great idea (Justice League did it too with their adaptation of the Alan Moore story For the Man Who Has Everything), but there are strengths to those stories that are lacking in here. Until the very end of the story, it’s not clear to Melina whether or not the world she’s living in is fake (or rather she finds out too late that it is). In those examples I listed, the choice becomes clear to the person in the fake world whether or not to stay in the comfort of the false reality or to give that up for the uncertainty of the real world. I guess in this one it didn’t feel like a fair choice for her as so much information was ultimately sectioned off from her (and the audience) to serve the final twist. In the end, I wouldn’t say this is a bad episode, but it’s just painfully average. See, the bad episodes of this show are REALLY interesting, as are the good episodes that manage to capture the spirit of the original series. When it’s just ho-hum though, it’s just kinda boring which is what I think about this episode. It’s alright I guess, but you wouldn’t be missing out on much if you skipped it.
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