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 Patrick Norris
We’re back with another episode of 3rd Twilight from the Zone, and boy do we have a fun one today! Where previous episodes were about boring things like death personified, video game DLC, and killing baby Hitler, this time we get to hunt ourselves a MONSTER IN THE WOODS! The original series had its fair share of fantasy creatures to terrorize the likes of William Shatner, so why not this series as well!? Can they possibly match the level of quality that Rod Serling delivered with his fantastic creatures, or is hiring a guy in a rubber suit completely outside this series’ budget? Let’s find out!!
Ahem. IN THE YEAR NEW-THOUSAND, we see a couple of joggers running in a forest with the utmost of horrifying expressions (that cable TV will allow) etched across their faces as they try to escape from some unseen threat; one that likes to use that Evil Dead vision thing to maximize its victims horror before turning their skulls into another trophy for its collection. Now given that this is far into the future where we somehow learned to be more civilized towards each other (snark), the Nu-National Guard are being called into the woods to find whatever this creature is and fill it with more hot lead than Murphy at the beginning of RoboCop! Our main Terrestrial Marine is Jeffrey Freed (Scott Bairstow) which is actually quite lucky for him as he’s got a wife and a newborn child, which means if he WASN’T our protagonist then he’d be first on the chopping block when the squad gets to the forest. His wife Kelly (Michelle Harrison) doesn’t see it that way however (I guess she hasn’t seen enough movies), and makes sure to give us quite a bit of exposition while making her trepidation known. It turns out that Jeff is a doctor in his day job which I bet will come in handy later when they need someone to fill out the death certificates, and the monster in question appears to be some sort of creature known as a Kreetor which was a species that got wiped out over fifty years ago. Now you’d think that with so few of them around that we would have PROTECTED them and put them on the endangered species list, but I guess even THESE jerks are scarier than Lion and Tigers and Panda Bears, especially if they hunt their prey like a freaking Slasher! The wife also refers to them as “Genetically Mutated Beasts” which is probably what ignorant people fear that GMOs will morph into, and it seems that Jeff’s grandfather was MURDERED by one of them back before they were all wiped out, so he’s got a bit of skin in the game as well.
Sadly the rest of the squad don’t get a big introduction like he does which means they might as well cover themselves in barbeque sauce and parsley. Then again their matching dark blue uniforms complete with barrettes in a woodland environment is probably ENOUGH enticement for whatever it is out there to take a crack at their delicious and poorly protected skulls. Okay fine, if you were hunting an animal then you’d WANT to wear something that stands out so you don’t get shot by another human (that’s why hunters have to wear orange), but this thing seems to be at least somewhat intelligent and we’re talking about a MILITARY SQUAD; not a bunch of civilians with shotguns and pickup trucks. I’m pretty sure they’d be able to wear camouflage without mistaking one another for a monster and it’d PROBABLY keep them alive longer! Speaking of which, one of them named Kim (Simon Wong) gets picked off right away just to prove my point, and the rest of the team is just SHOCKED that things have already turned pear shaped. MAYBE letting this dude wander off wasn’t a great idea, but what do I know? Certainly not as much as Jeff who notices that on top of one of his men disappearing, there are no sounds of life in the forest. No birds, no animals, nothing; presumably because… the Kreetor killed them all? Or maybe it scared them away? I mean unless this thing is like Cthulhu or something that seems like overkill, but Jeff isn’t taking any chances and calls into home base confirming that one of their men has gone bye-bye. Now I figured he’d then have his squad pull out and regroup with reinforcements later, but instead we’re going full Predator on this as he takes them further into the forest and makes camp for the night so they can start the search again the next morning. He’s certainly keeping everyone close so they don’t have another one get Jason Voorheesed, but why is he still insisting on hunting this creature down? Well it turns out that the whole DEAD GRANDPA thing is a lot more traumatic for him than at first glance as he goes into the story of how his grandma used to tell him about it all the time and put the fear of Kreetor into him, giving him nightmares that he’s had to deal with since then. I mean… sure it must have been horrible, but I think Grandma has a bit of explaining to do! It wasn’t cool when Laurie Strode did it, and she even knew that HER boogeyman was still alive! Anyway, two of the squad members Deric and Danny (Jim Shield and Peter Flemming) are tired of waiting around and want to go out there to look for Kim which… yeah, not a good idea considering it’s PITCH BLACK OUT THERE, but they aren’t about to be deterred by things like safety and logic, and they start to yell at Jeff about it… when Deric gets impaled through the chest with a spear!!
I mean I kind of want to laugh at the ridiculousness of the scene (SO MUCH FOR THAT BODY ARMOR, RIGHT?) but it does kick off the action which is basically a TV budgted version of Predator; i.e. they start shooting into the woods and hit absolutely nothing. Jeff, master medical man that he is, fails to save Deric which pushes Danny over the edge and he runs into the woods; immediately getting killed by whatever is out there. Welp! That just leaves Jeff and his second in command Yarrow (Marisol Nichols more recently known for Riverdale) to clean up this mess, and at the very least they have good sense to STAY PUT and wait until morning. I’m not sure what the Kreetor is doing this whole time considering it very easily took out Deric even though he was still at camp, but in any case Jeff gets the call to fall back which he tells Yarrow to do, but because he’s the FEARLESS LEADER who let three men die in less than twenty-four hours, I guess he’s duty bound to finish what he started. You know, because it’s worked out SO well thus far! Oh, but Yarrow is not about to let him go out on his own! They went here as a team, and by golly they’ll finish this as a team! HOO-RA! Oh wait, she gets captured and then murdered almost immediately and Jeff is conked over the head with a big rock; knocking him out and leaving him at the Kreetor’s mercy.
Okay, so you MAY have already guessed this twist of this episode as it’s probably one of the most clichéd twists out there; so much so that Futurama used it for their Twilight Zone spoof, but in case you haven’t… When Jeffwakes up and finds himself in the Kreetor’s lair, he sees that it is hunched over a pregnant woman who has just recently died and the Kreetor is inconsolable. However, it hears Jeff approach and turns around to reveal… HE’S A HUMAN! TWILIGHT SHOCK!! But wait, what about Jeff, and his wife, and everyone on the squad? IF they aren’t human, then what are they!? Well the Kreetor very helpfully chops off Jeff’s hand (purely in self-defense as Jeff went for him first), and reveals that he is in fact… A CYBORG!! TWILIGHT SHOCK! AGAIN!!
Now I do REALLY like this twist even if it is kind of THE CLASSIC TWIST ENDING, and it makes the following scene rather intense to watch! Now that all the cards are put on the table and you have to ask yourself, where you WANT this story to end? Do you want the human to survive and kill more cyborgs? Does finding out the true nature of our protagonist really change how you view them and the other people who died so far? The only thing that kind of slows it down and makes it a bit clunky is that the Kreetor takes this opportunity to do his Expository Rant where he tells the cyborg off for all the things his kind had done to the humans, but it seems like one of those things he probably wrote and rewrote in his head for the least twenty years, so I don’t begrudge him taking this opportunity to finally say it. We obviously have to take everything he says with a grain of salt, but it turns out that Kreetor means CREATOR in case that wasn’t obvious already, and I’m guessing there was some sort of war where the cyborgs wiped out the humans, so this guy plans on going full Sarah Connor on their butts with a war to end this robo-pocalypse once and for all! Granted I’m not sure how he plans on pulling it off seeing as he’s just ONE DUDE, but that’s what you get with the INDOMITABLE SPIRIT OF MAN!
The big issue with this explanation however is Jeff’s reaction to it. This seems to be rather recent history if they were more or less wiped out only fifty years ago, and yet Jeff seems to have NO IDEA that humans were the ones that created the cyborgs. Granted, our own education system isn’t great at covering history even THAT recently, but you’d think that SOMEONE would have pointed him to that little factoid at some point; especially with his Grandma filling his head with Kreetor stories his entire life! Oh well. It hardly matters because the Kreetor tries to take a swing at Jeff but gets stabbed in the gut instead; ending the Kreetor menace once and for all! We cut to sometime later where Jeff has made it back home, his hand has been replaced, and their little baby is being “fed” as it were through a USB cable; further solidifying the fact that they are not in fact human. Well, Mr. Whitaker! What do you have to say to that?
“God created humanity in his image. Humans created Jeffrey Freed and his kind in their image. Extinction or evolution? I guess it all depends… on your point of view.”
Uh… don’t you mean I guess it all depends on your point of view … IN THE TWILIGHT ZONE!? I’m gonna be honest with you, despite how much snark I displayed throughout this recap, this is a pretty darn good episode of the series (despite the lack of a rubber suit) and feels more like a TRUE update to the Serling original than anything else so far. It’s kind of odd that we’re THIS far into the show and yet we’ve only just gotten an episode that is set in the future. He did that practically every other episode with some of them being absolute classics like The Little People and The Long Morrow, and yet so much of this show has been focused on the modern day. It might be a budget issue to be sure and I don’t think the silly jumpsuits from Serling’s day would pass muster for audiences two decades ago, but its absence is definitely felt and I’m glad that they went all out in this episode to try and recapture that specific aspect of the original series. It’s cheesy to be sure and obviously a knock off of Predator, but it’s got a solid twist that at least PROVOKES a small amount of thought! As technology advances and more and more of us have our quality of life greatly improved by medical devices and ever advancing prosthetics, what WILL the human race look like in a couple hundred years? It probably won’t be some war between Humans and Not-Humans, rather a gradual where more and more of ourselves are changeable in a way that I can only HOPE society accepts but given our track record we’re probably not gonna get there smoothly, and this episode, while an EXTREME version of that, does at least touch on the issues inherent in this massive change in the human condition that may be arriving sooner than we think. Hey, if it’s good enough for Deus Ex, then it’s certainly good enough for this!
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