THE TWILIGHT ZONE
Season 2, Episode 9
Available on CBS All-Access
Let’s just get this out of the way, it’s like watching Groundhog Day…if it were hosted like a CNN interview and limited to one location. “Try, Try” is the penultimate episode of the second season of Jordan Peele’s The Twilight Zone and if you ever wanted to watch two people debate on the human psyche and the philosophy behind why human beings do what they do on a daily basis, then this episode is for you.
Kylie Bunbury (TV’s Pitch and Under the Dome) stars here as Claudia, a woman who is at a local museum to study the new exhibit on masks. As she’s talking into her smartphone’s voice recorder app, she is seemingly almost hit by a passing truck but saved, in the nick of time, by Marc (Topher Grace of TV’s That 70’s Show), a kind passerby who is at the museum to see the exhibit as well. Marc pays for Claudia’s admission and the two bump into one another one more time.
From here, Marc practically finishes the things Claudia is about to tell him and, in an almost psychic manner, tells Claudia about his likes and dislikes as it pertains to art, history, and philosophy — all which accurately align with Claudia’s viewpoints and opinions. However, by the time Marc catches a water bottle thrown their direction like a shortshop catching a line drive, Claudia begins to suspect something is a bit off about Marc.
After Marc’s behavior begins to resemble that of an out-of-control child (he begins lifting up artifacts and screwing around with them, using a boat oar to “play guitar” and whipping a thorned weapon around while wearing a tribal mask), Marc begins telling Claudia the truth: he’s relived this day over and over again for at least a few years, maybe more. He can do pretty much anything he wants and still wake up with the slate wiped clean. In all that time he’s spent repeating the same day, there’s been one thing Marc has wanted: Claudia. He’s in love with her. And today is the closest he’s ever come to actually finally getting her.
The issue is that Claudia feels taken advantage of. Finally buying Marc’s story, she turns the tables on him: even though he’s obviously put in the work, “she” hasn’t actually been there. It’s been Marc attempting to “cheat” to get what he wants by using trial-and-error to clear the path to her. Claudia isn’t comfortable with any of what Marc has done in the past — especially when he becomes malevolent and menacing to her when she shuns his advances.
When I first saw this episode, I wasn’t sold by it. After the second viewing and re-examination of it, I find it to be more clever than I initially thought. Yes, we’ve already explored the whole “time loop” concept but, thankfully, the episode doesn’t give us the same day over and over and relies heavily on the performances of Topher Grace and Kylie Bunbury as they hash things out and have a fairly deep conversation over the the concept of time and what Marc has been through and experienced that Claudia has not up until this point.
Grace is great at playing a rational human being while being appropriately chilling and transforming into a believable monster when the time calls for it. Marc is a man who has lost his mind — but there’s a case to be made here that Marc is already a misogynist and that running through the same day just magnified that side of himself. Bunbury does a fantastic job at selling Kylie’s fear of Marc’s psychosis and plays a strong woman who reminds Marc that he isn’t “owed” anything no matter how much of a gentleman he perceives himself to be or how much he’s tried to work his way into Claudia’s good graces. The episode’s pacing is perfect here and gives us a fairly satisfactory ending for both characters — though one might have an issue with how talky it gets as Marc and Claudia pontificate and debate endlessly until we get an intense, but off-beat climax.
“Try, Try” is very much like Groundhog Day if you took away the 90’s rom-com setting, showcased just one day in the time loop, and made the male lead into a total creeper. It’s certainly one of the more intelligent outings of the second season.
LOST IN THE ZONE
- THE TWIST (SWIPE IF YOU WILL): Not much to report. Marc loses his mind and decides that, today, he’s going to be an asshole. Tomorrow, he’ll be a lot nicer. He attempts to hurt Claudia (or possibly murder her) out of anger that she won’t love him in return. After spending the entire time playfully telling Marc that she’ll kick his ass if he’s not honest with her about his “magic”, Claudia finally DOES beat the shit out of Marc in self-defense after he lunges at her with a sword, something Marc didn’t see coming because he had never actually gotten to know Claudia the way he thought. The cops take Marc away and we skip to the next day. This time, Marc watches Claudia from a distance. The truck that has apparently hit her in the street…misses her, begging the question, “Did the truck ever really hit her before? Or is it something Marc made up so he could get close to Claudia?”
- It’s hard for me to believe that Marc was able to get away with nearly everything he did in the museum. When you go to historical exhibits, the artifacts that are out in the open are usually alarmed so if anyone attempts to pick them up, you’d have cops running in that direction to stop the robbery.
- When Claudia tells Marc that she’ll simply move on to the next day without Marc and never see him again, Marc’s reply is chilling: she may move on, but in his reality, he gets the honor of chasing her day after day and she can’t do a single thing about it. It’s as frightening a concept as it is mind-blowing.
- EASTER EGGS:
- Only one that I noticed (and I scoured this episode): the truck that almost hits Claudia is Dingle Moving which, of course, is our umpteenth nod to the classic Zone episode, “Mr. Dingle, the Strong.”