There are twists and turns aplenty in this follow-up to Jordan Peele’s reimagining of The Twilight Zone, but while there aren’t as many duds as in Season 1, the best offerings still fall short of the original show at its peak.
This review of The Twilight Zone season 2 is entirely spoiler-free. You can check out our thoughts on the previous season by clicking these words.
More than perhaps any other show, reviewing The Twilight Zone is a difficult proposition. The secret weapon of the long-running anthological series is surprise, and as soon as you start giving stuff away, that surprise, and thus the point, is lost. Nobody’s interested in reading a vague season overview when they could simply watch the entire thing on CBS All Access, where all ten episodes debuted today, Thursday, June 25. And – this is the review, pay attention – you probably should do that.
The first season of Jordan Peele’s stylish but inconsistent reboot of The Twilight Zone was marred by overlong episode runtimes and a tendency to belabor the point just to fill them; it was intermittently very good, but also just as often bad or confounding. If anything meaningful and spoiler-free can be said of The Twilight Zone season 2 that’s going to give people a strong sense of whether or not they should watch it, it’s that these new episodes have fewer duds and largely shorter runtimes. They’re more consistent, a bit tighter, and probably better, overall.
But better is a relative term, and it’s important to note even the cleverest and most socially relevant stuff still can’t hold a candle to the lofty heights achieved by the very best of the original show. Most people watch this new one without really expecting it to usurp its predecessor, of course, which is fine, but it’s worth mentioning all the same.
Yet there’s still a particular, peculiar joy in watching The Twilight Zone season 2, and indeed any iteration of the show, which is in trying to figure out ahead of time what each episode is up to. And that joy is very much preserved here, with even the more uneven material managing at least a surface-level shock value and sense of eerie style.
This is all enhanced by a smart, mostly un-showy cast, and Peele’s reliable presence as the Narrator, which is a good fit for him. If nothing else, The Twilight Zone season 2, like the first, seems born of genuine affection for the show and a desire to do right by it, even if that desire is frequently misguided or imitative. If these new episodes can’t match those old ones, at least they can evoke them – and that it’s a step-up from last year’s outing only suggests that this version still has plenty to offer.
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Jonathon is the Co-Founder of Ready Steady Cut and has been Senior Editor and Chief Critic of the outlet since 2017.