The Twilight Zone season 1 finale recap: Blurryman
Following last week’s penultimate episode of the first season starring Chris O’Dowd, CBS All Access‘ Season 1 finale episode of The Twilight Zone completely breaks the fourth wall and stars Emmy nominees Seth Rogen (Long Shot), Zazie Beetz (Atlanta) and guest star Betty Gabriel (Counterpart). Titled “Blurryman,” the episode follows writer Sophie Gelson (Beetz) who is haunted by a mysterious figure as the show pays homage to its predecessor.
What Fourth Wall?
The episode opens with Seth Rogen’s character, Adam, ranting over his writing. He’s frustrated by his work, calling his writing garbage and himself a fraud. As he goes over his post-it notes, an idea suddenly strikes him by beginning his story with a nuclear war and the city in ruins. After Adam’s girlfriend (Gabriel) gets home, he looks out the window and is shocked to find that the city is literally in ruins, just as he wrote.
After his girlfriend says they need to get to the shelter and Adam says that it was just a story, Jordan Peele introduces the episode, saying that Adam Wegman is a writer who, up until tonight, “has never paid much mind to the idea of the artist’s social responsibility,” and that Adam is about to learn that there’s more to art than entertainment. Suddenly, the host interrupts himself, cutting the scene, as the episode completely shatters the fourth wall as audiences find themselves on the set of an episode of The Twilight Zone.
Art vs. Entertainment
Jordan calls for their writer, Sophie (Beetz) as Seth and Betty (now starring just as themselves) joke around with the host. Jordan speaks with Sophie, who asks if he thinks the episode is a little too on the nose. Jordan, acting a bit lackluster, tells Sophie he doesn’t feel the narration is matching what they want to be saying with the episode.
As the host gets his hair and makeup freshened up, he asks Sophie why does the commentary on art and entertainment need to be an either or? Sophie says the point of the episode is to discuss the slippery slope between, for example, superhero and sci-fi movies and idiocracy. Jordan says that they’re a sci-fi, show, too. Sophie says that it’s The Twilight Zone, though, and in the series, if there’s nothing of importance being said, then it’s just campfire stories.
Jordan asks, “So you don’t like campfire stories?” Sophie said she did when she was little, but Rod Serling “took this silly genre kid stuff and he elevated it” making it art for grown-ups. She argues that Serling always narrated the episodes to make audiences understand that the messages were more important than the “genre bullshit.” Jordan asks Sophie to take out the art versus entertainment stuff, that the meaning is already there within the episode, and to focus the narration elsewhere.
Sophie goes back to the drawing board, struggling to adapt her screenplay following Jordan’s notes. She then gets a call from her girlfriend, Anna (Caitlin Stryker), but tells her she’s too busy to talk and hangs up when someone on set asks when they’re going to get the new narration because Jordan is waiting. Sophie says she’ll get it written up on cue cards since they are short on time.
The scene replays from when Seth and Betty are in character standing at the window and Jordan begins his new narration: “Picture, if you will, a storyteller, finally getting to tell the story of a lifetime. Except, the story is one of inexplicable terror, and the lifetime is her own. Her name is Sophie Gelson. She has little patience for childish diversions or daydreams. But she won’t be able to tune out or turn away from what lurks, blurry, in the background of her own show. She is about to learn that when blurry comes to focus, there can be no escape from the fate laid out for her in The Twilight Zone.”
After the call cut, Sophie tells the crew that it wasn’t her that wrote the new narration that was jotted down on the cue cards. Seth and Jordan laugh, thinking it’s some kind of prank, and Seth says that it sounds like a better episode.
Sophie walks around confused on set as the cast and crew members side-eye her. She tells Jordan again that she didn’t write any of it and she doesn’t know what happened. Jordan agrees that it was probably just a prank for a blooper reel. He tells her not to sweat it and jokes that what she should worry about is apparently being in an episode of The Twilight Zone, saying that the story of a writer who can’t face her fears does sound like a good episode.
A crew member, Amy, confronts Sophie about the new narration, saying the director, Owen (Byron Noble), is upset by the delay. She also mentions that there is a blurry figure who appeared in the background of every scene filmed in the library, assuming Sophie had something to do with it. Sophie seeks out help from her friend, Julie (Zibby Allen), who shows her the shots of the blurryman in the background of the library scene.
Julie then shows Sophie that in the first episode of the series, the blurryman also appeared in the background. Sophie denies she’s behind the strange turn of events. She tries to find Jordan and is told he’s somewhere on set. She makes her way into the library and startles at a thumping noise. Sophie notices one of the cue cards in the room, saying “Sophie is about to learn.” There are sounds of voices and static, and no one answers as Sophie calls out. Then, the lights go out. Sophie thinks she’s being pranked and she quickly leaves.
Not a Prank
Sophie calls Anna and the two argue as Sophie tries to explain that she’s freaked out and can’t find Jordan anywhere. Anna tells her that she needs to get some sleep. The connection is lost, and Sophie catches a glimpse of a dark figure. Sophie hides behind shelves and glances back only to see the Blurryman. Terrified, Sophie yells at the figure, still assuming (or hoping) that it’s a prank. When she steps out to face the man, the shelf next to her tips over by itself.
Sophie runs, arriving on a bar set. The karaoke machine is playing, and Sophie again tries to convince herself it’s just a prank. She finds a book, titled Blurryman, filled with images of a figure sketched into the corner of each page. The more pages she flips, the bigger the blur gets. Suddenly, alcohol bottles start flying around, shattering. Sophie runs to the next set, catching another glimpse of the Blurryman.
Tripping on the street set, Sophie calls for help after hurting her leg. She then limps over to a bunch of TV’s that are full of static. Images then pop up from previous episodes, revealing the Blurryman in the background of each previous installment. She then sees a scene play out with her and the blurry figure, but the TV’s cut out before she can see what happens next. Sophie then sees the Blurryman down the street.
Sophie confronts the figure, saying Jordan must have put them up to this to prove to her that “horror is real” and that “genre stuff isn’t just bullshit.” She screams that this isn’t a funny sketch, this is people’s lives being messed with. When the Blurryman approaches, she becomes scared, trying to placate him by saying that his performance art is brilliant and she never meant to question Jordan. She screams as the blur gets closer and closer.
In the Shadows
The Blurryman suddenly disappears. Sophie gets back up to her feet, telling herself that this isn’t real. She then hears her own voice in her head tell her that it is real. The voice tells Sophie that she’s afraid of what she can’t control and that she needs to face it. She can’t write her way out of this and needs to just “let it in.” She stumbles back onto the set, once again running into the Blurryman and yelling that he’s not real.
The figure knocks off a bunch of books onto the ground and starts towards Sophie who attempts to escape. Sophie finds the cast and crew, screaming at them for help but no one can see or hear her. She makes her way onto another part of the set (walking by Jason Priestley in a brief cameo), and still, no one can see or hear her. The voice tells her to stop because she can’t run from this or hide from it. The voice tells her, “It’s not some campfire story you can reason away. You have to see what’s there in the shadows.”
Sophie tells the Blurryman she’s ready to see. She’s overtaken by shadow and smoke, and we move through time to when Sophie was a little girl watching the classic episode, “Time Enough at Last” of the original Twilight Zone series. Her dad is talking in the background, saying she needs to spend more time in the real world with real people. Her mom says she can do both, have the real world and the make-believe.
Sophie snaps back to the present and hears Jordan speaking. She walks over to him and hands her new narration to the host, who commends her on the great writing. As Sophie walks away smiling, she then hears the voice again telling her it’s not over and there’s more to see.
Sophie ends up in the black and white episode of “Time Enough at Last.” She steps outside in a post-apocalyptic world of nothingness, ash, and fire. Sophie makes her way up the stairs into the library, walking past the infamous glasses from the iconic episode. She begins to ask what she did wrong, and what was she supposed to do?
She once again sees the Blurryman and tells him that she gets it. This is the end of the episode. “Some cruel twist. The ironic fate.” Sophie says it doesn’t matter what she does. The Blurryman suddenly becomes clear and turns into none other than original host and creator Rod Serling. He then tells Sophie that he has a lot to explain. Sophie asks him what is this place, and he says it’s where she belongs and that they have a lot of work to do. He then gestures to a door and invites Sophie to come along. She follows him into The Twilight Zone.
Serling (who was brought to life by three different actors, one for his voice, body, and face) closes out the episode: “What do we do when our world is turned upside down? When everything thought to be true is ripped away and we’re forced to face a new reality? Sophie Gelson has just awoken to the fact that when we put away childish things, we may be closing our eyes instead of opening them. And that perhaps our only hope is to face all reality, a multitude of truths not shrinking from that vital, arrogant, fatal dominant X, beyond imagination, but to embrace it. To open ourselves to the unknown, not the end of the story, but a new beginning, for The Twilight Zone.”
What did you think of the season finale of The Twilight Zone? Let us know in the comment section below!
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