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 Jerry Levine
We’re back with another episode of The Twilight Zone from the early two-thousands; a show that was sadly too late to do a Y2K episode but at least took a few good shots at the Bush Administration in the second season, so stay tuned for that! Before we get to THAT though, we’ve got a classic Whodunit story that has all the supernatural twist and turns you’d expect from a show that’s at least TRYING to imitate the majesty of Rod Serling’s creation! Let’s get started!!
The episode begins with recent widow Laurel Janus (Portia de Rossi) watching as some dude named Stanley (Dion Luther) who killed her husband is being properly convicted for the crime and being sentenced to jail. The good news is that the dude is definitely going to serve time, but the bad news (at least for Laurel) is that he won’t NECESSARILY get life and will CERTAINLY not get a needle in the arm; an unacceptable arrangement as her thirst for vengeance cannot be quenched with such a lightweight punishment! She makes a ruckus about this, but the judge starts banging her gavel which means that no further discussion will be had and she storms out of the courtroom in a huff; clearly not finding the closure she was hoping for once the man who killed her husband was held responsible for such. At the very least she gets the clothes her husband wore the night he died (I don’t know if the court DOES provide those, but if they did wouldn’t they provide them WAY before the trial?) and while sadly looking over her husband’s possessions, she ends up putting on his glasses when something WEIRD starts to happen! Something that would only happen in a particular ZONE that we are all quite familiar with! It turns out that when she puts on the glasses (and then after about ten seconds of load time), she starts to see the world through the eyes of her husband Nick (William DeVry)! How intriguing!!
She sees him looking at himself in the rear view mirror, but then the glasses cut out and then immediately stop working despite putting them back on several times. This is actually very interesting because she’s not just getting an endless feed of Nick Footage; she has to actually figure out how the glasses will work, or more specifically WHERE they’ll work as it’s similar to the memories side mission in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild which involves you scouring the countryside until you find the EXACT spot for your memories to kick in. Now if you’re paying halfway attention to this, you can PROBABLY guess where this is all going considering the glasses wouldn’t just be showing her stuff she already knows and the only thing we know about the husband is just how dead he is, so you do the math on what she’ll eventually discover. Let’s not get TOO far ahead of ourselves though, and focus on what she’s doing right now which is to get rid of all the stuff she’s been collecting about the case since her husband’s death on the advice of her BEST FRIEND Becca (Kristin Lehman) who seems VERY eager to “help” her put all this behind her.
I mean, since the guy is in jail now, there’s no need to keep obsessing over it, right!? Oh sure there is! She keeps the glasses because just can’t resist their siren call; mainly because she wants to see Nick again, but they start to reveal details that are much more disturbing than she could have anticipated! She puts them back on, waits to see if something happens, and sure enough she starts to get flashbacks in the backyard where she sees an argument between him and his supposed killer on the night that he died. They argue about Nick stealing money from THE COMPANY (whatever it is that they did) and that Stanley wants all that money back. Nick denies the accusations and the flashback cuts out just as things start to get violent between the two of them. First thing that doesn’t add up about this flashback though is the fact that Nick and Stanley started fighting in the kitchen, but Nick’s body was found in the upstairs bathroom! AH HA! A Clue! What do YOU have to say, ONLY OTHER CHARACTER IN THE EPISODE!?
Oh what does she know!? She’s not the one seeing hallucinatory images of the night her husband died! Still, maybe it’d be a good idea to put it away and just let the past stay buried. After all, the killer is in jail and there’s no way he can get out, right!? Well… as it just so happens, Laurel gets a call from the District Attorney telling her that Stanley is already gonna get an appeals trial and that she’ll have to give her testimony again. Seeing an opportunity to bury the guy once and for all, she puts the glasses back on hoping to see the act of murder itself and finally have the conclusive proof she needs to finger him as the one true killer! She heads to the kitchen where the last flashback was, puts the glasses back on, and sees that… Stanley didn’t do it! Say what!? Yeah, it’s that cliché where one dude has the other guy dead to rights, but then says YOU’RE NOT WORTH IT or something like that, and leaves the situation only having committed assault on the guy instead of straight up killing them! Well this puts everything into a whole new light, doesn’t it!? Not only does she need to find the REAL killer (I wonder if THE ONLY OTHER CHARACTER IN THE EPISODE knows something…) but first she needs to convince the DA that Stanley is not the killer and that the charges should be dropped. Props to her for having the nerve to try and convince him of the man’s innocence by telling her she saw it all go down by putting on magic glasses, and it does lead to the best line in the entire episode; Visions are not admissible in court. Gee. Thanks, Matlock.
Alright, so that didn’t work. There is still hope though! If she can go back home and FINISH that vision she keeps starting and stopping (do the magic glasses have to charge up after thirty seconds of use?) she can find the REAL killer as well as evidence to prove they were the one to do it! She puts them back on ONCE AGAIN and follows as her husband limps to the bathroom to clean himself up after such an unmitigated beat down, and finds that someone came by to pay him a visit as he’s fixing the cuts on his face and massaging his bruised ego. Who is this mystery person!? Why it’s BECCA!! GASP!! WHO COULD HAVE SEEN THIS COMING!?
WOOF! What a tough pill to swallow that ABSOLUTELY NO ONE SAW COMING! Just as Laurel is getting this startling revelation, Becca JUST SO HAPPENS to show up to take her on a trip and finds out that she’s STILL wearing those ridiculous glasses that absolutely in no way reveal secrets of the past! Just to be safe though, Becca “accidently” breaks the glasses which sets Laurel off like nobody’s business! She picks up the shattered remains of the glasses and starts accusing her of sleeping with her husband which… well Becca can hardly argue against (because LYING is out of the question I guess) but she then turns it back around on Laurel for being a spoiled brat or something. I didn’t really touch on it until now, but this episode keeps laying this guilt trip on her for coming from a rich family and having some past issues with addition, but it allows rings so hollow in here because we don’t get a SINGLE indication of that from Portia de Rossi performance. It’s such a small episode that pretty much everything we DO know about her is from exposition by THE ONLY OTHER CHARACTER IN THE EPISODE, yet for something like that they really needed to work just a bit harder to get it across instead of just saying that’s what her deal is. Anyway, Laurel runs back upstairs and locks herself in the bathroom with Becca chasing behind and knocking on the door to have her open it. Fortunately the glasses are still SOMEWHAT intact so she can kinda finagle them together and can finally see the act of murder once and for all! We tune back in to our previously scheduled flashback and it turns out that… IT WASN’T BECCA!! IT WAS LAUREL THE WHOLE TIME!! TWILIGHT SHOCK!!
I find it kind of odd that despite this being a POV of her husband that we get these nice clear shots of Laurel caving the dude’s own skull in. You’d think the camera would at least wobble a LITTLE bit here! Besides that though, geez! It was bad enough when she thought it was her best friend, but her COMPLETELY repressing the fact that she did it herself? Admittedly it’s a better twist than the really obvious one I had pegged, but it’s still kind of predictable and not all that interesting at least as far as I’m concerned. Eventually Becca gets a few cops to come over to break down the door, and sure enough Laurel is in the corner babbling to herself about how she’s the one who did it, at which point we seamlessly cuts to her in a padded room with only a single visitor…
Alright, let’s wrap this up. Take it away, Mr. Whitaker!
“Laurel Janus’s vision of justice has finally come into focus. The verdict? Guilty. Guilty of a life lived in complete denial. And now, serving out her sentence in a lonely corner… of The Twilight Zone.”
Well. I mean… I’m pretty sure she’s guilty of killing a guy too, but whatever. The problem with this episode is that it has a great premise but doesn’t have the characters or even much of a plot to support it. Laurel is played well by Portia de Rossi, but does not get across the kind of character the script requires her to be. For this to make sense, we need to believe that she would be able to completely memory hole the fact that she murdered her husband which would already be a shaky and potentially problematic position to take if the episode DID succeed at paint her as a barely held together drug addict with mental health issues, but you never buy it for a second. Sure, it would have been TOO predictable if Becca turned out to be the killer, but at least then there could have been a much more interesting ending where our audience avatar character has to find a way to catch her on it and potentially survive an attack from her as well. Instead, it felt like we were being told a parable but the one telling the story only knew that it had to have a lesson at the end. It’s corny, it feels a bit cheap considering we only have one (MAYBE two) sets with a very small number of character, and the script is rather ho hum, but I don’t really HATE this episode or even dislike it all that much due to how well I think the premise is executed. I liked the flashback idea and how they were executed, but this was crying for a much better script and at least one more unexpected twist to really make it work all the way through.
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