The highly anticipated new season of The Twilight Zone (2019) presented by Jordan Peele continues in the wake of the success of his recent film Us (2019), a creepy social commentary on society’s worst flaws. In keeping with Peele’s other works, The Twilight Zone manages to reflect not only on spine-tingling scenarios of unreality but also modern paranoia and suspicion created by the current political climate, the conflict between America and Russia, and the failings of human nature.
The episode is written by Glen Morgan (Final Destination) and stars Steven Yeun (The Walking Dead), Greg Kinnear (House of Cards), Patrick Gallagher (Captain Marvel), and Marika Sila (Lucifer). It’s Christmas Eve and a small town cop in the Arctic Circle finds a mysterious traveler in the town jail. When Captain Lane Pendleton pardons the man who calls himself Traveler (he refers to himself in this way like the Doctor refers to himself as Doctor) he begins to turn the townspeople against one another using paranoia and fear.
Holiday cheer is offset with the dark and mysterious as characters debate the true identity of the Traveler who presents a series of truths that make it hard for the others to believe he is simply a travel blogger. Though Traveler starts out benevolent and welcoming when he first appears he transforms into a menacing figure that other characters identify with a variety of American anxieties like an FBI agent, a Russian spy, or an unknown being or species come to do harm.
As Sgt. Yuka Mongoyak tries to solve the mysterious identity of the Traveler she also demonstrates the power struggle between Indigenous populations and systems meant to control and oppress them in their own territories like the Arctic Circle as well as the challenges faced by women and Indigenous women in positions of power. The big reveal of the Traveler’s identity comes only at the end of the episode, helping to build the tense and paranoid atmosphere that truly takes this episode into the Twilight Zone.