THE TWILIGHT ZONE
Season 2, Episode 10
“You Might Also Like”
Available on CBS All-Access
Housewife Jane Warren is stuck in a tree. She’s unable to move because one of her legs is tied to a medicine ball which is also tied to a large chair from her bedroom. Jane knew she’d be abducted. She saw the video footage of it from a baby monitor she put on her dresser. The tractor beam sucking her into the large flying saucer above her house is unable to complete the abduction because it can’t pull Jane, the ball, and the couch through the window. Jane looks down at the aliens who have attempted to abduct her. They’re pointing at one another as if to blame one another. They’re at a loss at what to do next. But they know they’re awfully hungry right now. So, there’s that. When Jane yells for help, they tell Jane that they “only work here,” so they’re pretty useless, it seems. “Take me to your supervisor!” she exclaims with full Fury of Karen.
The Twilight Zone goes full Black Mirror for its finale, “You Might Also Like”, an incredibly off-beat satire on American consumer culture.
Jane Warren (Gretchen Mol of TV’s Boardwalk Empire) is being offered to pick up her brand-new “Egg”, a mysterious…thing that everyone must have for some reason — even though nobody knows what it is or what it does, something which gnaws at Jane. Her neighbor, Mrs. Jones (Greta Lee of TV’s Chance)…well, she thinks Jane’s kitchen is well-lit — just not as well-lit as her kitchen. Mrs. Jones is due to pick up her “Egg” in about a couple hours. Jane’s “Egg” isn’t due to be picked up until 4 PM. Mrs. Jones looks at Jane with sympathy. How can she wait so long? Jane’s also been blacking out and waking up in her bed every few hours. While asleep, we get “commercials” which advertise various products she should have if she wants her life to be complete — including the “Egg”, which will “make everything ok again — this time, forever.”
When Jane attempts to appeal to Mrs. Jones for emotional support, Jones just cannot get over how cute her bedroom is. But she should leave because she’s gotta go pick up that Egg! Jane grabs her and begs her to stay, which just plain amuses Mrs. Jones who simply asks, “Are you touching me?” Jane just wants to know what’s going on. She’s so alone. The “Egg” is making her nervous. The blackouts are getting more frequent and Jane’s really lost her mind.
When she attempts to go against the grain and cancel her Egg, she has to wander through a labyrinthine phone maze just to tell a computer what she wants — and that computer transfers her to a “supervisor” who is very surprised that Jane doesn’t want her Egg anymore. The supervisor on the other end would like to know why. Jane just explains that she’s “changed her mind”, that she doesn’t want one. The voice on the other end simply asks if there’s anything more that Jane needs. Jane would like to know if the order’s been cancelled. The voice, in a slow, robotic, eerie tone, replies that they are “processing her request” — then simply hangs up on her.
This brings us to the aforementioned moment when Jane requests to speak with a supervisor and now she’s up in the alien saucer — where everything will finally be revealed.
Last year, Jordan Peele’s The Twilight Zone finished its season strong with the incredible “Blurryman”, a wonderful ode to the show’s past. The second season finale doesn’t really get as meta as that episode did but it’s a weird, wonderfully weird ode to the show’s past and an entry that has much to say about who we are and where we’re going as a species. The off-beat satirical edge and straight-faced deadpan delivery of it all recalls the brilliance of Darin Morgan’s X-Files efforts, “Jose Chung From Outer Space”, “Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose”, and recently, “The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat.”
Like “Blurryman”, the episode is going to be divisive. The more cynical viewer might see this as writer/director Osgood Perkins (Gretel & Hansel, I Am the Pretty Thing That Lives Inside This House) being self-indulgent and giving us “odd for the sake of odd” but to do so is really missing the point. When it comes right down to it, the episode is more than just a homage. It’s a study of how disconnected we are, how robotic we’ve become, how alone we really are (especially when dealing with crippling depression as Jane does) — and how all those emotions are toyed with and used against us for financial gain by cynical corporations which run our lives whether we like it or not.
“You Might Also Like” is science-fiction brilliance and a fitting finale for a consistent second season of The Twilight Zone.
LOST IN THE ZONE
- THE TWIST (SWIPE IF YOU WILL): The “Egg” is an alien invention made by the Kanamits (more on them in a minute) that is designed to hatch and end the human race (presumably by killing and eating the purchasers). It was invented after the Kanamits read Jane’s mind following the birth of her still-born daughter a while back. Jane just wanted everything to be ok again forever. The Kanamits, who are all of one mind, projected this “need” into every living human being on the planet to make them think they all needed the same thing that Jane wanted. The human race, gullible as ever, didn’t even question it and now they all want the hottest new thing ever — “The Egg.” After a talk with the Kanamit Supervisor, Jane realizes that she wants to feel “normal”. She wants an “Egg” because it’s “hers” and she just wants to “hold it, even if it’s for a little while.” She’s dropped back at her home. At 4 PM, she goes to pick up her egg while Kanamit saucers hover over the UServe Fulfillment Center. The city around the area is on fire in various spots due to the beginning of mankind’s end.
- Such a great episode. I cannot stress this enough. There’s a sense of dread and unease the entire episode as if something will jump at Jane from inside her house and drag her away but it never happens and that just escalates that dread. The creepy “commercials” throughout the episode just add to that mood — especially the ones that take place in the forest. And it isn’t until Jane explains her life to the Kanamits that you realize that the “commercials” were just snippets of Jane’s life, manufactured in such a way as to sell her various items throughout her existence. When you go back and watch the “commercials”, you begin to piece together Jane’s past and it is is wholly haunting and depressing — especially when the Kanamits are using Jane’s inner thoughts as catchphrases and slogans to sell items. All Jane wanted was another egg, another chance to be happy following the death of her daughter — and the Kanamits completely misread that need…or did they?
- The entire attitude of the episode seems to be “Hey, Black Mirror…let me show you how this is done.” Ballsy, to say the least — but Black Mirror DOES owe its very existence to The Twilight Zone, so…
- One of the best exchanges ever as the Kanamits show that they’re not that intelligent:
- KANAMIT SUPERVISOR: Nineteen-hundred-and-forty-five, the United States defeats Japan. Nineteen-hundred-and-sixty-five, The Beatles defeat the son of your “god”…and so on…
- JANE: Well, no…that’s not exactly right…
- And later…
- JANE: You have all this unbelievable technology…and all you’ve been doing is watching television?!
- One of the things I am laughing about is that CBS is actually running some sort of contest to see how many “Easter Eggs” viewers can find. I’m not interested in the contest, but it’s been fun spotting each egg. Is it a coincidence that the episode is about “eggs” and how much we need to get them? Do you think this is Peele and CBS having some fun at our expense?
- Still, the “egg” metaphor is not lost on the viewer and plays on different levels. The opening conversation between Jane and Ellen in Jane’s living room is very much that of a nervous mother who doesn’t sound completely thrilled that she’s become a baby machine in a 1950’s-style household. Ellen sounds thrilled at the prospect of “having an egg” because it’s what she really wants for herself. Jane’s just “woke” and simply doesn’t seem to want another…”egg” in her life, so to speak. This is driven home by the commercial where her husband is interacting with her two spoiled teen boys who seem to hate one another and Jane is at the breakfast table, miserable, disheveled and sobbing, having lost her baby. Her husband has two strapping boys to bond with while Jane has nothing, despite all she’s given.
- EASTER EGGS (a slew of them)
- There are two great Stanley Kubrick film references here: the first is the product, “IWideShut”, which is, presumably, a device used to arouse a man to get him ready to have sex with his spouse. “The password is Fidelio,” the commercial remarks. This is a reference to the Kubrick film, Eyes Wide Shut, which was about a doctor who attempts to have his own sexual awakening after his wife admits to nearly cheating on him. The password to get into the orgy he attends is “Fidelio.” The second is the baby monitor which looks exactly like the HAL 9000 computer from the Kubrick’s 2001: a space odyssey.
- The episode pays homage to the classic Zone episode, “To Serve Man”, which was about a race of alien beings who come to Earth to help “serve man”. The book they give to the humans to decode…turns out to be a cookbook. It’s just one of the best. So here are he eggs (see what I did there) for that:
- The alien race, the Kanamits, are behind the invasion of Earth and the “Eggs”. They are back, looking like nothing has ever changed.
- The cookbook on Jane’s counter is “To Serve Man”. Heh.
- The alien language on the “Egg Fulfillment Card” is in Kanamitese.
- The card’s address is listed as being on “Maple Street”, which is a nod to the classic Zone episode, “The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street.”
- Also, that’s Osgood (“Oz”) Perkins (the writer/director of the episode) as the second Kanamit Alien when the trio of Kanamits all meet to discuss how to get Jane out of the tree and into the saucer. The other Kanamits are played by the great George Takei and longtime voice actor Kirk Thornton.
- Finally, the Kanamit Supervisor explains that she laid all the eggs — but we also find out that the front company selling these “Eggs” is Whipple which, if you’ve read every single review, is a nod to the classic Zone episode, “The Brain Center at Whipple’s.”
Thank you so much for sticking with me through my reviews for The Twilight Zone. I will be back to cover a third season, should it get greenlit. I will definitely be covering the third season of Cobra Kai, so stay tuned for that.
Thank you for getting “lost in the Zone” with me each day and stay safe and healthy in these uncertain times!