CBS’s The Twilight Zone
Season 1, Episode 7: “Not All Men”
Directed by Christina Choe
Written by Heather Anne Campbell
* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “Six Degrees of Freedom” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “Point of Origin” – click here
We find Annie (Taissa Farmiga) busy working away at the office. She feels “weird saying no” to her boss, so it makes things difficult. Her co-worker Dylan (Luke Kirby) casually asks her out on a date while they talk about work.
She shows up at his place later for dinner. After they finish their lobster they watch the meteor shower scheduled to happen. Then comets start hitting the Earth. One hits a water tower nearby. The pair go have a look, finding a glowing rock in a pool of water. He picks it up, which is definitely a more male thing to do— y’know, picking up something in your bare hands that came from outer space. Smart.
They head back to the house. They sit for more wine, talking while Lionel Richie sings in the background. They kiss and Dylan starts to get handsy. She doesn’t want to go any further. He talks about the “literally cosmic” moment they shared. But she doesn’t want things to get physical. He gets angry, confrontational, and then gets sinister. She manages to get out of there. She hears him scream like a maniac after leaving, sees him smashing things. Yikes.
Our Narrator (Jordan Peele) explains the “simmering violence” about to erupt in Annie’s small town, on the night before her sister’s birthday. She’s a woman who likes to maintain control. In the Twilight Zone, that’s not so easy.
The next day, Annie notices marks left on her arms. She goes to work the next day hoping things won’t be awkward. Her boss has her work with Dylan. Not a nice situation. Suddenly she starts to notice the everyday aggression of men even more, from a man stabbing his straw into a plastic cup top, to the dude casually talking on the phone, showing ownership over his partner by putting a hand in her back pocket as they walk, to a man slamming his trunk over and over. Everywhere, men seem nastier than before, like the night with Dylan unlocked it all.
Or, is something else at play?
She goes to her sister Martha’s (Rhea Seehorn) place, where she sees her sister, her nephew Cole (Percy Hynes White), and her brother-in-law Mike (Ike Barinholtz). They’re having a nice time together until they hear a man yelling outside. The neighbour Larry’s had trouble with the garden hose. And the town’s water supply is running red with filthy water. Just like the water that was pooling around the comet Annie saw.
While hubby stays home, Martha and Annie go out to a bar with the older sister’s friends. They notice Dylan across the bar. This makes Annie uncomfortable, so she heads outside, finding Cole and his friends getting into underage drinking trouble. When she goes back inside, men are getting heated at the bar and things are becoming strangely tense. One guy loses his mind, attacking anybody who’ll come near him. All the men begin to fight and the place erupts in violence.
After Martha and Annie leave they’re accosted by a guy from the younger sister’s office, Perry (Jeff Gladstone). Once they drive off, he follows on his motorcycle. Eventually they lose him. Annie mentions how Dylan got “fucking nuts” on her during their date, worried something larger’s going on in their little town.
They’re interrupted by the man on his bike again. They rush home, where Mike’s waiting. He goes out to confront Perry. The sisters wait inside. They hear screams, punches, and then a horrifying noise— then nothing. Annie believes her brother-in-law, like the rest of the men, has gone off the deep end. Martha refuses to believe the meteors caused all this, but there’s no denying her husband isn’t well. Mike comes back inside to wash his bloody hands off. “It felt real good,” he says, covered in blood and chugging down a nice cool glass of meteor juice from the tap. He wants to do the birthday cake thing for his wife. He’s adamant they must celebrate, to the point of rage.
“There’s still some good men out there”
Everything’s devolving now. Mike rants at his sister-in-law and wife, telling them “You‘re asking for it” because they were out drinking. He’s gradually becoming animal-like, the same as all the other men. He goes on raging at Martha for all the petty things pent up inside, things he’s always wanted to say deep down. He finally loses it at Annie, chasing her with a knife. He’s knocked out by his wife, and the sisters get out of there.
They get run into by another vehicle on their way. They’re left in the streets, where they discover a woman wandering, bloody, holding a piece of hair. There’s nothing but the sounds of madness and sirens. Annie and Martha head further into town, where men are beating, killing, and destroying everything. They run into Annie’s boss, who’s trying to convince them it can’t “be all men,” though it isn’t true, and he gets torn apart anyway.
At the docks, Cole and his friend Steve (Agape Mngomezulu) drink. They’re actually more than friends. They kiss, and Steve tries to get Cole to drink a beer with meteor in it. Cole’s not feeling any of it at the moment— the beer or the kissing. When he refuses Steve’s advances he faces the male wrath. Cole’s able to lock him away in the boat, getting out of there as his mom and aunt show up.
Who else shows up? It’s Dylan, singing Lionel Richie and trying to find Annie, dragging a piece of meteor like a medieval weapon on a chain at his side. Cole gets in the way and ends up with the rage infecting him, trying to fight it off. Annie fights Dylan and tosses him into the water, the meteor dragging his body beneath the surface.
In the aftermath, women, and the few men not gone mad, are left trying to figure out what happened. It’s determined the meteor was only “a placebo,” in the sense it brought out what was lurking inside all along. So, like Cole says, he’ll have to live with it inside him. The trick is being able to fight that beast waiting to try and get out.
If we, as men, give into our violent urges and the worst parts of us, as a whole, then those are the things that will fester and grow perpetually. If we give in, we give over to the idea we men are monsters incapable of controlling ourselves. If the good men allow the bad to rule as status quo, it doesn’t matter which men are good and which men aren’t, because it’s men burning the world down regardless.
Great episode. Except if you’re a whiny man. Father Gore thought this was excellent, and reminiscent of “The Screwfly Solution.” Classic stuff brought to new life in the updated Twilight Zone.
“Point of Origin” is next time.