“Ovation” feels every minute of its 40-minute length, going over well-trodden thematic ground and offering little new insight.
This recap of The Twilight Zone season 2, episode 4, “Ovation”, contains spoilers. You can check out our thoughts on the previous episode by clicking these words.
“Ovation” was the first episode of this new collection that, at least to me, really felt its 40-minute length. I think that’s in part a consequence of how the installment examines really well-trodden themes of celebrity culture, fan entitlement, and blind idolatry, which have been unpacked in similar shows before – Black Mirror’s “Rachel, Jack, and Ashley Too” covered the same ground with a more explicitly sci-fi slant that makes this relatively mundane version feel quite tame in comparison, and even the Season 1 episode “The Comedian” had similar themes.
The device here is a pendant that begins with a beloved pop star but is quickly passed to a busker, Jasmine, right before said pop star is fatally hit by a bus as her adoring fans bug her for pictures and autographs. Right from the jump, then, the message is clear, and The Twilight Zone season 2, episode 4 doesn’t really do anything new with the idea that to be beloved is also to surrender your rights and dignity as an autonomous human being.
But blimey, it takes a while to get there, as Jasmine is scouted for a popular talent show called Ovation, where she develops an insatiable fan base who can’t stop cheering and applauding for her even when her performances are sub-standard – the pendant doesn’t bestow talent, you understand, simply adoration, and at a certain level adoration stops caring about talent anyway.
We continue to track Jasmine’s growing fame through a barrage of social media messages, crowds outside her home, and a talk show appearance during which she can barely speak without getting shouted over. At the same time, her need for peace and privacy drives her to isolation, as all the while she still can’t surrender the pendant, which she has long-since figured out is the root cause of her predicament. Once her sister claims the magical accouterment and begins living her own life of adoration and success, Jasmine, perhaps predictably, stabs her to reclaim it.
As Jordan Peele sees us out, it’s hard not to feel like we’ve seen all this before; and harder still to care when “Ovation” made little effort to observe such tired material from a new angle. Across the length of the episode, this tired theme begins to feel reiterative, with the same point made again and again to ensure we get it when its ultimate point was obvious from the very first scene. Despite being well-acted, this stands out as an obvious weak link of the second season thus far.
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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.