The Twilight Zone season 1, episode 4 recap: The Traveler

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“A Traveler” — Pictured: Steven Yeun as The Traveler of CBS All Access series THE TWILIGHT ZONE. Photo Cr: Robert Falconer/CBS © 2018 CBS Interactive. All Rights Reserved.

The Twilight Zone provides a direct commentary of the current political landscape while issuing a warning that echoes back to the classic Twilight Zone episode “Monsters Are Due on Maple Street.”

This episode of The Twilight Zone takes place on Christmas Eve in the small town of Iglaak, Alaska. “The Traveler” starts with Yuka, a police officer in Iglaak who has a knack for knowing when people are lying, driving her drunk brother, Jack, back to the police station to lock him up for the night.

Other than being drunk, he hasn’t really done anything wrong. It’s just a way for Yuka to look after him this night. Plus, he’ll be the only person in their jail, which means, when Captain Pendleton (Greg Kinnear) makes his annual decision to pardon an inmate at the police Christmas party, Jack will be released. Then, he’ll get a free meal.

It’s a little odd, but it’s clearly a caring move by Yuka who doesn’t want to see her brother in trouble or alone on Christmas Eve.

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Anyway, as they drive, they talk about their dislike of Christmas traditions being shoved down their throats while their ancestral traditions are ignored or minimized. Yuka also admits that she doesn’t like Captain Pendleton (who Jack calls a liar).

The two arrive at the station and hanging way above the station in the sky is a red light. Jack notes it can’t be the northern lights. Yuka chalks it up to a satellite and the two head inside.

What they don’t see, is that light suddenly starts moving.

Inside, there are about a dozen locals (including the mayor) celebrating with Captain Pendleton and the other officers. Throughout the night, there are power fluctuations due to the town sharing an electrical grid with a nearby military base.

As Yuka and Jack make their way through the office and back to the cells, Yuka’s limited enthusiasm for Pendleton’s Christmas spirit is in stark contrast to everyone else.

Yuka puts Jack in a cell and says she’ll be back when Pendleton is done “hearing himself talk.”

The Twilight Zone transitions back to the party where Pendleton is giving a speech (which includes some insensitive, Manifest Destiny-type talk about “taming” Alaska with no regard for Yuka, who is descended from the native culture of the area). During his speech, he lays out some important backstory on the military base.

What you need to know: The base has state of the art technology that is crucial to the national security of the United States. And Pendleton, to the cheers of the non-Yuka people in the office, pats his own back for keeping that base protected.

He moves on with his speech, referencing parts in the Bible where Jesus said to be kind to strangers (he stumbles through a vague iteration of what the Bible says). It’s his reasoning behind his pardoning tradition. He then sends Yuka to get Jack, so he can be pardoned.

Back in the cell area, Yuka finds Jack asleep. But what startles her is the fact that Jack is no longer alone. There’s a strange man (Steven Yeun) in one of the other cells. She pulls her gun and asks who he is. He says he wants to be pardoned.

Meanwhile, Pendleton, concerned about how long it’s taking Yuka, goes back to the cells to see what’s going on.

As the two try to get more information out of the stranger, the stranger explains that he’s an “extreme tourist” (also claiming he just flew over the north pole). He says he has a YouTube channel and everything, he even had his name legally changed to “A. Traveler” in California. The stranger, appealing to Pendleton’s ego, says he’s there because Pendleton’s pardons are legendary within his travel groups and he wanted to experience it for himself.

During this, Traveler shows them his cellphone (a clear, futuristic device), claiming he got it from Russia. It’s in beta, he claims, but he offers to get Pendleton one.

Yuka is still wary of Traveler, thinking he’s lying about the phone. However, Pendleton is so flattered (plus, Jack is asleep) that he agrees to pardon Traveler and invite him to their Christmas party.

Yuka is able to convince Pendleton to let her do some background searches on Traveler to make sure there aren’t any warrants out for him. She also checks to see if the military base knows anything about him or if the local motel had any guests check in under Traveler’s name. No luck, though. Everything comes up empty.

Meanwhile, at the party, everyone is taken by Traveler’s charm. Pendleton pardons him and Traveler gives a speech about how he traveled across Russia to get to Iglaak.

In fact, he adds in the midst of a compliment to Pendleton, Traveler heard that North Korea told Russia that, if they wanted to attack the U.S., they’d have to go around Pendleton and Iglaak. Everyone cheers hearing this, clinging to the compliment and ignoring how disturbing the sentiment really is.

Having come up empty trying to find dirt on Traveler, Yuka prepares a plate of food for her brother.

Traveler comes up to her and casually confronts her about the fact that she hasn’t believed anything he’s said. He then says he’s gotten her a Christmas present. It’s the one thing she’d want most. She walks away and heads back to her brother.

Jack finally wakes up and is annoyed that he’s not being let out (and that Yuka didn’t bring him pie). Yuka then asks Jack what he thinks she wants most for Christmas. Jack speculates that she doesn’t know who she is anymore, so she’d want to be like everyone else in the town. Yuka rebuffs him and says she knows who she is and leaves.