The Twilight Zone season 1, episode 3 recap: Replay

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“Replay” — Pictured (l-r): Sanaa Lathan as Nina Harrison; Damson Idris as Dorian Harrison; Steve Harris as Neil Harrison of THE TWILIGHT ZONE for CBS All Access. Photo Cr: Robert Falconer/CBS © 2018 CBS Interactive. All Rights Reserved.

This episode of The Twilight Zone examines (and questions) destiny as a mother discovers her camcorder has the power to rewind time.

This episode of The Twilight Zone opens on a black mother, Nina, and her son, Dorian, eating in a diner. Everything seems normal, they’re talking about Dorian being on his way to start college. As they talk, a police officer walks in and sits down at the counter.

Nina pulls out an old handheld camcorder (which Dorian rightly makes fun of her for using). It’s the same camera that recorded his first steps. She records him talking and answering questions.

During their conversation, we learn that Nina didn’t have a great relationship with her dad or brother, Neil. She doesn’t seem too happy when Dorian says he’s been talking to his uncle on Facebook. They quickly move on to happier topics.

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Then, Dorian accidentally squirts ketchup on his shirt. Saying he doesn’t want that embarrassing moment to wind up on online, he asks Nina to rewind and record over it.

When Nina presses rewind, everything moves in reverse and she finds herself a bit disoriented and back at the moment just before Dorian squirts ketchup on himself. She stops him, trying to figure out why nothing is as she remembers it. She chalks it up to some really intense deja vu.

The Twilight Zone transitions to Dorian driving himself and his mother to the college (an HBCU, by the way). The two debate what to listen to on the radio before landing on modern rap. (The lyric “I see a great man” seems especially poignant here.) During this, we also learn that Nina is a lawyer. And we learn that Dorian is speeding (Nina keeps telling him to slow down.)

Nina then turns off the radio when she realizes the GPS is taking them to Neil’s house. Nina demands Dorian skip the exit and not go there.

Nina tells him to keep his eyes on the future and not concern himself with her past, which she worked hard to get away from.

Then, Dorian picks up the camcorder and, while driving, starts recording his mom and asking Nina question. She tells him to put it down. He doesn’t and shortly after they are pulled over. Nina takes a deep breath and reminds Dorian that, like they always discuss, he should be sure to be respectful to the officer.

The officer is the same man from the diner.

Nina tells him that they’re headed to the college (Tennyson), or “the black school” as the officer calls it. The officer then asks if there are weapons in the car, which, combined with his “black school” comments, clearly is starting to bother Dorian.

Eventually, the officer gets to why he pulled Dorian over, it’s for operating the camcorder while driving. When the officer notices the camcorder is still recording, he and Dorian start arguing (because they have the right to record) and the officer reaches into the car to try to grab the camcorder. As Nina fumbles trying to turn it off, she accidentally hits the rewind button.

All of a sudden, she’s minutes earlier with Dorian holding the camera prepared to ask her questions. She’s breathing heavily and again disoriented. She tells Dorian to pull over to the side of the road. He does and she gets out of the car, looking at the camcorder.

As Dorian gets out to check on his mom, a police car pulls up behind them. Dorian tries to tell the officer that they need medical help, but the officer (yes, the same one) is more concerned about a state code they’ve violated because the left side tires of the car are technically still on the highway’s pavement.

This, logically, seems ridiculous to Dorian who can’t believe this cop is more concerned with a minor code violation than his mom’s safety. Again they argue, with the officer pulling out his taser.

Quickly, knowing things could go very badly, Nina presses the rewind button. In an instant, she’s back in the diner.

She sees the officer sitting in the diner and quickly gathers her things and ushers Dorian out. They don’t even finish eating. This time, Nina is driving the car. She then makes a U-turn, taking a back way to the college, trying to change the events she’s experienced any way she can.

As they talk, Dorian says he wants to inspire people with the films he’ll make by going to school for filmmaking. He turns the radio on, it’s the same rap song (saying, “I see a great man”). Nina starts to feel uneasy and says they should find a motel and put an end to the day. Dorian protests a bit, because they’re so close to the school, but he relents.

This cuts to Nina and Dorian in a motel room watching a lottery drawing. Nina turns on the camera as the numbers are being drawn.

As the numbers are picked out, Dorian talks about his theory saying that everything in the universe happens the way they’re destined to. Things happen the way they should.

Then, after the numbers are drawn, Nina, using the camera, rewinds time back to right before the numbers are drawn. She tells Dorian that, if she can guess the numbers correctly, he has to promise to visit her. She, of course, gets every number correct and Dorian freaks out asking how she did it.

She then asks him to go get snacks, but as he goes to leave, he says there’s someone there. She immediately seems to know who it is before seeing him. It’s the same officer.

Apparently, he got a noise complaint at the motel and he asks to see both Nina and Dorian’s IDs. Dorian knowing his rights, questions why the officer wants to see their IDs. Nina tries to comply, but the officer spots the camera in her hand and again becomes incensed. Dorian confronts the officer and the officer slams Dorian up against some wall art, breaking the class.

Nina again fumbles for the rewind button as the officer pulls out his taser. And again, Nina finds herself back at the diner.

New tactic: Nina introduces herself to the officer while in the diner and offers to buy him an apple pie. He’s standoffish at first, but relents at the offer of pie. They sit together at the counter and talk, with the officer noting that she knows his name but he doesn’t know her (and he knows everyone “like her”).

Nina tells him about Dorian going to college and the fact that she grew up not too far from where they are. As they talk, she repeatedly emphasizes how important her son is to her, saying he’s all that matters to her.

The subject shifts to his family and Nina asks about the officer’s wife. He doesn’t outright say it, but it’s clear the officer lost his wife. Nina says she’s sorry about that. The officer thanks her for her thought and the pie as he gets up to leave. She lets out a big breath as he walks away.

But, as she stands to go back to her son, the officer stops her and asks where she got her car. Nina shoots back saying that she worked hard for it. The officer lays off and leaves.

Outside the diner, The Twilight Zone briefly shows the officer’s license plate: 01015 (not the first time the series has used 10:15).

Anyway, before Nina and Dorian can get into the car, the office charges up to them demanding to see her license and registration and a pink slip for the car. Of course, no one actually keeps the pink slip in their car, so it’s a pretty outrageous demand. This combined with having to deal with the officer over and over has Nina completely fed up.

Nina is boiling over, yelling that he has no reason to think the car isn’t hers and no reason to keep her from leaving. Dorian tries to calm her, to no avail. Then, Dorian remembers he has a picture of the pink slip on his phone.

He goes into the car to get it, but when he comes back to show the officer, the officer pulls his gun and shoots Dorian.

Nina screams. The camera drops to the ground. The episode cuts to black.