The Twilight Zone season 1, episode 5 recap: The Wunderkind

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“Wunderkind” — Pictured: Jacob Tremblay as Oliver Foley of the CBS All Access series THE TWILIGHT ZONE. Photo Cr: Robert Falconer/CBS © 2018 CBS Interactive. All Rights Reserved.

The Twilight Zone turns its eyes to the presidency in “The Wunderkind,” which follows a campaign manager whose desire to run a successful campaign could doom the entire country.

This episode of The Twilight Zone centers around Raff Hanks (John Cho), a campaign manager who has been dubbed “The Wunderkind,” he even has a book with that as the title. He rose to popularity running the reelection campaign for an awful president (played by John Larroquette).

No one thought he had a chance, but we see him on election night with his partner Maura McGill ready to celebrate their candidate’s surprising victory.

Maura cautions Raff from celebrating too much before the final results come in. And, of course, she’s right. Raff is called in to speak with the President. The President then yells a Raff as the news shows the President is losing, badly (including getting beaten in his home state).

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It’s a devastating moment for Raff’s career and Raff just stands stunned as the results and barrage of fury from the President hit him.

Next time we see him, he’s drunk in a bar. He’s given up on managing campaigns and has resigned himself to just drinking. Well, that is until he sees Oliver Foley (Jacob Tremblay) on television. Oliver, an 11-year-old, made a YouTube video saying he was going to run for president and it became a viral hit.

Something about how the others in the bar with Raff react to Oliver’s message strikes a chord with Raff. He decides he’s going to help the kid and run his campaign for president.

It’s worth interjecting here that throughout this episode, The Twilight Zone cuts back and forth from to five years in the future where Raff is strapped down to a table in a mysterious (presumably hospital) room. He’s groggy, but it’s implied that what we see of his time with Oliver is Raff remembering back to what got him into this restrained spot.

Anyway, Raff meets goes over to Oliver’s house and has dinner with his family and meets with his parents (Helen and Joseph).

Initially, Helen and Joseph are reluctant to actually move forward with Oliver running for president. After all, a literal child can’t be president, there are rules against that. Plus, all of this is just a joke and shouldn’t be taken seriously.

But Raff is serious, he says that, while Oliver can’t be on the ballot, Helen’s name can be. People are drawn to what Oliver has to say, Raff explains, and they’re tired of the same old political candidates. Raff tells Helen and Joseph that, win or lose, gaining this kind of popularity and monetary support by running could secure college funds for both Oliver and his sister, Lily. Everybody wins.

This seems to be enough to tip the scales and Helen and Joseph.

Just then, Oliver invites them all to come watch him record a new video detailing his 10 policy platform—including, longer weekends and less Star Wars movies.

The Twilight Zone then jumps forward a bit in time. Oliver is on the campaign trail now and is rallying steady support. At one campaign stop, Maura shows up to talk to Raff. After a short talk, the two agree to work together on Oliver’s campaign.

Another jump forward. Oliver is recording a big budget music video with a message of “young enough to hope, old enough to vote.” Maura and Raff stand and watch.

This typically nice, bubbly kid has been getting more and more assertive during the campaign. He’s told Raff he can do better when Raff has come up short and he’s giving pages of notes on ads to Maura.

Now, we see him going over to his parents after cutting on the video and yelling at his parents because they want him to go get a check-up at the doctor. I mean, really yelling. It’s a whole new side of Oliver and it takes Raff, who is watching from a distance, a bit by surprise.

Oliver refuses to go to the doctor, saying it’s always an old man stabbing him with needles.

There’s something that’s a little more than a normal tantrum with this. It’s worrying. But, Raff shrugs it off.

The Twilight Zone then transitions by showing news interviews with people voicing their support for the reason why they like Oliver for president. The interviews are intercut with clips from the music video.

As the episode moves on, we’re taken to a bustling campaign headquarters where Oliver, who is only six points back in the Iowa caucus, is in prep for an upcoming televised debate.

Oliver stumbles through his response to a question Maura tosses him. The guy hired to coach Oliver through debate prep is frustrated, yelling that Oliver hadn’t memorized anything he was told to. Helen, Joseph, and even Oliver are starting to get worried that Oliver will be embarrassed on national television.

Raff defuses the situation by first, firing the debate prep guy. Then he assures Oliver that he’ll be fine, he just needs to be himself. After all, politicians claiming to know everything drove the country into the ground in the first place.

Oliver thanks Raff and hugs him.