‘The Twilight Zone’ Episode 2 Recap: “Nightmare at 30,000 Feet”

April 2, 2019
Jonathon Wilson 0
TV, TV Recaps
3

Summary

“Nightmare at 30,000 Feet” gives a classic tale a modern twist, and it’s rich with detail even if it struggles to find a real payoff.

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3

Summary

“Nightmare at 30,000 Feet” gives a classic tale a modern twist, and it’s rich with detail even if it struggles to find a real payoff.

This The Twilight Zone Episode 2 Recap for the episode titled “Nightmare at 30,000 Feet” contains spoilers. You can check out our thoughts on the previous episode by clicking these words.


If Jordan Peele’s rebooted The Twilight Zone is going to make a name for itself in a media climate that finds sci-fi/horror anthologies at something of a premium, then it’s going to need more episodes like “Nightmare at 30,000 Feet”. And that isn’t even to say the episode itself was spectacular or anything. But by repurposing a classic Twilight Zone episode — “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet”, starring William Shatner — and drenching the whole thing in very contemporary anxiety, the show at least makes a case for its new existence.

“Nightmare at 30,000 Feet” builds suspense admirably from the begining, as it cycles through the inconveniences and indignities of simply boarding a flight in today’s age; but, this being The Twilight Zone, the flight, Northern Gold Star Flight 1015, being boarded by traumatised journalist Justin Sanderson (Adam Scott), is ill-fated. This, according to a Dan Carlin-narrated true-mystery podcast found in a seat pocket that might be supernatural. Or has Justin simply lost it?

It’s a cool hook, and this interpretation of it is rife with fun details and small twists that lend a lot of short-term satisfaction to piecing various narrative components together as they occur. Filing away little faces and details for future payoff is a sure sign that these kinds of ambigious mysteries are engaging, even if the central question of whether the protagonist is crazy isn’t exactly a new one.

Where “Nightmare at 30,000 Feet” stumbles a little is in actually finding that payoff. Once the plane has crashed, the determination of the episode to allow audiences to fill in the blanks for themselves is perhaps a bit too vague for its own good. There’s something about keeping a mystery this open-ended that reeks a little of smugness. But there’s enough economy and in-the-moment pleasure to be found in the storytelling here that you can forgive not having everything spelled out in the end. Peele’s new version of this show continues to be competent and full of potential, even if in these first two episodes it hasn’t quite managed to fully realise it yet.

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