The Twilight Zone season 1 premiere recap: The Comedian

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“The Comedian” — Pictured: Diarra Kilpatrick as Didi Scott; Kumail Nanjiani as Samir Wassan of of the CBS All Access series THE TWILIGHT ZONE available to stream on Monday, April 1st. Photo Cr: Robert Falconer/CBS © 2018 CBS Interactive. All Rights Reserved.

The revitalization of The Twilight Zone kicked off on CBS All Access with an episode about just what a comedian was willing to give up in search of success.

This episode of The Twilight Zone opens with Samir, a mediocre standup comic, doing a set at a comedy club, Eddis. He’s doing a joke about how irrational people can be when arguing for no regulation of guns because of Second Amendment rights.

It’s a well crafted, but not that funny, joke. The joke gets a few chuckles, but no real laughs. Samir reaches his big punchline to end his set and is met with mostly silence. He thanks the crowd and leaves the stage.

In the club’s bar, Samir orders his regular drink. As Samir sits at the bar, Didi, another comedian who does sets at the club, comes up and jabs at Samir, saying he should try putting jokes in his act. She, unlike Samir, is popular and has hundreds of thousands of followers on social media.

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Samir argues that comedy should make people think. Samir sarcastically asks if he should be like Joe Donner, another comedian in the club who is currently in the background of Samir and Didi’s conversation harassing one of the club’s waitresses.

Part of the jab at Joe (a clear jerk) is that he was accused of murder, but somehow wasn’t convicted of it.

Back to comedy, Didi points out that comedy is comedy and Joe is funny. Then she takes a drink from Samir’s drink and goes off to do her set on stage.

After she leaves, a mysterious man tells Samir that followers don’t matter. The man is quoting something famous comedian JC Wheeler said and Samir is annoyed that someone would say it to him. That is, until Samir turns and sees that it’s the actual JC Wheeler (played by Tracy Morgan) saying it.

Samir’s attitude completely changes and he praises Wheeler on The Twilight Zone. He asks what happened to Wheeler, who once “had it all” and then suddenly disappeared from the comedy scene. Wheeler doesn’t answer, instead of saying that he saw Samir’s set.

Samir asks if Wheeler would give him notes, even offering his dog (well, his girlfriend’s dog) in exchange for advice. Wheeler notes that Samir’s ramblings about the dog are actually funny and Samir should bring more of his real life into his comedy. After all, the audience doesn’t care about what Samir thinks, Wheeler says. They care about him as a person.

Wheeler then asks Samir point blank if Samir wants it all. Samir says he does. Wheeler tells him that he’s a country with one export. If Samir puts his real self out there, he’ll get laughs.

All of this advice is very ominous, culminating with Wheeler saying that Samir needs to be very sure of what he wants because once he puts aspects of his life out there, those things become the audiences and will be gone forever.

They reach an agreement that this is really what Samir wants. They clink glasses, sealing Samir’s fate.

The Twilight Zone then cuts to Samir going onstage for another set, following Joe. Samir starts in on his Second Amendment joke and, once again, it’s falling flat. Samir stumbles. But then he looks around and pivots his material.

He starts talking about his dog (named “Cat”) and everyone starts cracking up at every word he says about her. By the look on his face, it’s obvious that Samir is loving the rush of having a really good set.

The cuts to Samir on his way back to his apartment and a plane passing by overhead. (I point out the plane because I think there are going to be a lot of easter eggs this season connecting episodes, and this was a pretty obvious one pointing to episode two.)

Back in his apartment, Samir starts calling for his dog but gets no response.

Samir gently wakes his sleeping girlfriend, Rena, to tell her about how great his set was. He also asks where their dog is, so he can walk her. But Rena says they don’t have any pets.

This cuts to another night when Samir is taking his girlfriend’s nephew, Deven, around to hang up signs for his “lost” dog. Samir tells Deven about a broken bus stop near the comedy club, where a comedian (Joe) got drunk, drove into it and killed the people who were waiting there.

This quickly moves on as Samir mentions that he couldn’t find any photos of his dog on his phone. He had to use Google just to find a photo for the poster.

When Deven says he doesn’t know about any dog, Samir thinks Deven and Rena are just playing a joke on him.

Inside the club, Deven notices a sign by the Eddies sign that says “no apostrophes,” which is a joke that Deven enjoys but Samir doesn’t get. (It’s Eddie’s vs Eddies. The sign should be possessive, but it isn’t because apostrophes aren’t allowed.)

Didi comes up and Samir introduces the two. As they talk, Deven says that Samir is the reason he wants to be a comedian. But, Deven says, he actually wants to be good. Didi, of course, loves anyone ragging on Samir and she finds Deven funny.

This moves on to Samir on stage, again and again, he’s trying his Second Amendment bit. No surprise, no one is interested. Everyone is on their phones.

He pivots and starts talking about people on their phones and how his nephew is always on his phone. People start laughing and Samir dives in talking about Deven. The audience loves every word he says.

Samir scans the audience as they laugh and asks them to give it up for “Deven Singh.” When he looks back over at the table where Deven was sitting, Deven is gone.

After his set, Samir talks to Didi in the green room and asks if she’s seen Deven. She doesn’t know who Samir is talking about.

Samir goes outside and starts asking around if anyone had seen someone who looked like Deven come out of the club. He tries to call Deven, but there’s no Deven in the contacts on his phone anymore.

Back at his apartment, Samir finds Rena having dinner with one of her old law professors and mentors, David. Samir clearly doesn’t like David and he asks to talk to Rena alone about Deven.

Of course, Rena doesn’t know who Deven is. Frustrated, Samir snaps at her emphasizing Deven, Rena’s sister’s son. Rena takes offense to this since her sister, Rena explains, can’t have kids. Samir looks for proof of Deven’s existence, but Deven isn’t in any pictures anymore.

Freaking out, Samir goes to the bathroom. He realizes that Deven is just gone. Deven was never born. Stammering, Samir tries to rationalize that Deven isn’t dead and he didn’t kill him, Deven just never existed on The Twilight Zone.

It finally dawns on Samir what Wheeler had said. Whatever he puts out there about himself on stage will be gone forever.

Samir calms down a bit and Rena helps him. As they talk, David, annoyingly, interrupts with his two cents. Rena asks David to give them some space. Alone, Rena encourages Samir to follow whatever is giving him success. He’s been trying for five years and he’s found something that’s working.

Samir is hesitant.

The Twilight Zone cuts to Samir heading back to the club on another night. There are some long looks at the broken bus stop, which is covered in stuffed animals and candles memorializing the people who died.

At the club’s bar, the manager (or whoever is in charge of booking talent) Pete comes up to Samir and tells him that, since Samir has done so well the past few nights, Samir will have a chance to headline that night. Thankful, Samir head toward the stage and past Joe who, of course, is still being a massive jerk.