The Twilight Zone 1.04 recap: A Traveler
Following last week’s third episode of the series, CBS All Access‘ fourth episode of The Twilight Zone takes on another classic episode, “The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street,” exploring paranoia and fear in the reimagined episode titled “A Traveler.” On Christmas Eve in Iglaak, Alaska, a mysterious traveler (Steven Yeun) wishes to be pardoned by Captain Lane Pendleton (Greg Kinnear). But what does the Traveler really want?
The episode begins with Officer Yuka (Marika Sila) heading to the police station with her drunk brother, Jack (Patrick Gallagher) in the back of her squad car. He complains about the Christmas music on the radio and of the Christian religion in general. Yuka tells him that Captain Pendleton pardons an inmate every year on Christmas, and this year, he’s it. The two are clearly not fans of Pendleton, referring to him as a liar.
Before going into the police station, Yuka and Jack notice a strange light in the sky that can’t be explained by the northern lights. Inside, Pendleton, the mayor, and the other workers at the police station are celebrating the holiday. After cheers of “Jack!” the two make their way to the holding cells. Yuka tells her brother she’ll come back once Pendleton is done “hearing himself talk.”
Pendleton is busy telling the other officers and co-workers how Jesus bestowed upon him the abilities to serve and about the Three Wise men looking at the same stars that Pendleton’s ancestors saw when they first arrived in Iglaak, Alaska. Yuka bristles when Pendleton says that before his ancestors got there it was just “bears and Eskimos.” He then makes a show of his tradition of showing kindness to a stranger each year and tells Yuka to fetch her brother so he can pardon him.
When Yuka heads back to the cells, her brother is asleep and the power is suffering from blackouts. Yuka hears a noise and comes across a mysterious man (Yeun) who says he wants to be pardoned. Jordan Peele introduces the episode, asking viewers to meet Sergeant Yuka Mongoyak, a woman with a knack for detecting the most subtle of mistruths, and on this night, that skill will be tested as the truth can take on many different forms.
Captain Pendleton heads back to the cells to see what’s taking so long. When he arrives, the stranger acknowledges that he’s dressed in a suit for the party and that he came from the North Pole. He refers to himself as an “extreme tourist,” saying he has a YouTube channel called The Aggro Traveler’s Bucket List and legally changed his name to A. Traveler. He tells the captain that aggro tourists know all about his tradition of pardoning someone on Christmas Eve, and so he’s here to be pardoned (and feed the captain’s ego).
After the Traveler hands over his very high-tech phone saying it’s a Russian beta, the captain, excited about the idea of aggro tourists knowing who he is all the way up in Alaska and possibly being popular on YouTube, agrees to pardon him instead of Jack. Yuka remains skeptical, though. She lets him out of the cell and follows Pendleton and the Traveler back to the party. As the Traveler shakes everyone’s hands, Pendleton explains the stranger is a bit of a celebrity with a YouTube show about visiting cool places.
The Traveler uses his odd-looking phone to take a video of the pardoning as well as selfies with the officers and Captain Pendleton. He tells the group about his travels and talks up how great the little town in Alaska is as Yuka runs a search on him. The Traveler notices and speaks with Yuka privately, saying that Pendleton believes him but Yuka hasn’t trusted a word out of his mouth. He tells Yuka he brought a gift for what she wants most for Christmas, but Yuka doesn’t believe in Christmas. The Traveler says that Yuka believes what she believes, and isn’t that what Christmas is all about?
Yuka brings food to her brother and asks him what he thinks she would want more than anything for Christmas. He says “to be one of them,” and that he doesn’t know if his sister knows who she is anymore. Yuka replies, “I know who I am” and she’s proud of who she is. Jack accuses her of doing things “their way.”
As the Traveler leads the group in the police station in some holiday karaoke, Yuka asks the captain to release Jack. Pendleton jumps on the opportunity to perform his first-ever double-pardoning. Suddenly, the power shuts off, and some of the officers complain about the Air Force base down the road siphoning off their power grid. Tensions begin to rise a bit before the power finally comes back on.
Pendleton announces they’re going to pardon Jack, but the Traveler tells them not to and accuses Jack of having stolen tools in his vehicle at the bar. The tone of the room suddenly shifts as he continues to reveal truths about everyone in the room, causing the group to start fighting in the police station as the Traveler watches on. Pendleton breaks up the fighting, telling everyone the party is over and to go home. Pendleton and Yuka stay behind with the Traveler as the power once again shuts off.
Pendleton demands to know how the Traveler even got in the cell and Yuka doubts A. Traveler is actually the man’s name. After they hear over the radio that the Traveler lied about the stolen tools in Jack’s trunk, but was right about the other statements he made to get the others fired up, Pendleton demands to know who he is. Traveler finally reveals that he is Special Agent Douglas Heyes from the Anchorage field office and is investigating widespread corruption. When Yuka asks for his I.D., Heyes says that undercover agents don’t carry identification.
When Heyes implies that Pendleton is the one under investigation, Pendleton and Yuka lock him back up, but not before Heyes quietly tells Yuka they will work well together once she replaces Pendleton. Yuka contacts the field office and finds out they don’t have an agent matching that description. Yuka and Pendleton head back to the cell where it’s dark because of the power outages. Pendleton freaks out and claims that he saw antennae coming out of the Traveler’s head.
The Traveler takes off his hat and there is no antennae, but seems fed up with being treated with “rude intentions.” He reveals that this particular police station only serves to protect the power supply — housed by a camouflage shed — that houses a connection point between the Air Force base and the town’s power grid. Pendleton tries to say that the man is having a mental breakdown. The Traveler reveals, his voice becoming slightly distorted, that if a hostile force were to invade they would just have to destroy that one shed.
Pendleton says that the location of the shed is classified. The Traveler remarks that classified information is the most lucrative implying Pendleton told someone. Pendleton has apparently sold the information to the Russians across the Chukchi Sea. Pendleton denies it, but the Traveler knows that Pendleton can never make any real money in his current job or make any real impact on the world. He just gave up.
The Traveler then says that he’s actually Agent Marius Constant from the National Reconnaissance Office. The agent wants Pendleton to confess and says that Russian Spetsnaz forces are on their way to sabotage the shed. The agent says his people will intercept them. Pendleton says he’s going there right now, and the agent asks if he’s going to warn the Americans or the Russians. Pendleton leaves.
Once they’re alone, the Traveler tells Yuka that Pendleton doesn’t care about the town, land, or her people. Without touching the cell, he opens the door and tells Yuka that soon she’ll be the one giving orders, taking Pendleton’s place. Yuka begins to realize that letting Pendleton leave was a mistake and tries to call him back on the radio. The Traveler reveals that they needed Pendleton to lead them to the shed, leaving the area open for invasion. He repeats that Yuka will be running the place, but underneath the Traveler’s bosses.
Yuka keeps her gun on the Traveler who accuses her of ignoring the lie about his identity once he offered something that might benefit her. He tells her that now it’s too late to stop them. She says no and runs out, following Pendleton. Over the radio, the captain hears her telling him not to go to the shed but he turns his radio off. Back at the jail, the Traveler lets Jack out of his cell, who is still a little drunk and thanks him.
After coming across some of the townspeople from earlier still at each other’s throats at the bar, Yuka finally catches up with Pendleton near the alleged shed who tells her that the Traveler was lying about the Russian invasion. Yuka tells the captain he’s under arrest because the fact that he ran out here proves that he was selling information. Back at the jail, Jack tells the Traveler maybe things will be better with them running things. The Traveler reveals his true form to Jack, growing taller in the distorted view and clearly from another world. Pendleton realizes that Yuka might be replacing him and says it’s another lie that she chose to believe. They both look up as lights fill the sky and spaceships fly over them.
At the police station, Jack grabs a piece of pie and offers one to the alien traveler, saying the delicious pie was worth the wait and the two eat a piece. Peele appears onscreen to close out the episode, saying that Yuka learned that night that there is no difference between myths and mistruths.
What did you think of the fourth episode of The Twilight Zone? Let us know in the comment section below!