CBS’s The Twilight Zone
Season 1, Episode 8: “Point of Origin”
Directed by Mathias Herndl
Written by John Griffin
* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “Not All Men” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “The Blue Scorpion” – click here
Eve Martin (Ginnifer Goodwin) is arranging a “new parent dinner” as her children enter Grade 3. She and her husband William (Toby Levins) want to get to know everybody properly. She’s trying to arrange things around her large bourgeois home for the celebration. She mostly has people taking care of everything for her, such as her housekeeper Anna Fuentes (Zabryna Guevara).
Anna comes to her boss with a favour. Their family wants her grandson to go to a nice charter school in the area. Only problem is, her daughter lives outside the district. Like many people in real life— particularly people of colour and also many in the working class who’ve been forced into bad neighbourhoods and are trying to give their children better education than where they live allows— Anna wants to use the Martins’s address to help the boy get past those bureaucratic obstacles. Eve feels her housekeeper is part of the family, and allows her to use their address.
Out of nowhere, Anna goes to leave and gets confronted by law enforcement agents. They take her into custody. And, like that, she’s gone. Eve is totally floored. She doesn’t particularly say much, yet tells her other upper class friends during tea differently. These women talk about who and who isn’t a “real American.” Then, they worry about being exposed. But for what?
The next day, life goes on. The Martin family worry about Anna. Eve goes about her day. Not easy, seeing as how she has to do everything herself. She parks like an asshole in the parking garage, where her daughters see a guitar playing man who’s always there when they went with Anna— his name’s Otto (Michael Eklund). She can barely use her credit card correctly. On top of that, they seem to all be declining. When she and her girls go back to the vehicle, she’s confronted by law enforcement agents who’ve come to find her. It’s a “matter of national security.”
This is where our Narrator (Jordan Peele) explains that Eve’s bubble of “comfort and privilege” is about to pop as she tumbles headlong into the Twilight Zone.
In a large facility, Eve finds herself lost in a stream of people. She has no idea why she’s even there. She finds William, who’s just as unsure about whatever’s happening. She starts to wonder if it has anything to do with Anna using their address. Her husband’s sure someone stole her identity and they think she’s a terrorist. All they can do is wait.
Eventually, the Martins are taken to an interview room. They meet a man called Allendale (James Frain). He asks about their marriage, their daughters, and soon Eve is spilling her guts over the charter school stuff. Still no answers. They do get to see their girls. After that, William and his daughters are allowed to leave, while Eve’s kept for further questioning. The Kafkaesque scenario continues, as the confused wife and mother is processed into the facility, given a prison jumpsuit to wear, and led down the labyrinthine corridors, where we again see the mysterious Otto.
Now Eve finds herself with dozens of other women in their matching prison orange. There, she sees Anna. But the housekeeper isn’t happy to see her. She chastises Mrs. Martin for not really caring about her, which Eve doesn’t, no matter how she acts— another white lady unappreciative of the woman of colour who effectively raised her children. Nevertheless, she leads her former boss to a secret passageway, which leads Eve further to where she meets Otto. He offers her answers, if she goes with him. “We‘re the same,” he tells her. Otto takes her to Aidia (Karin Konoval), who seems to know Eve. Before they can talk too long, agents come to shut down the clandestine meeting.
She’s taken to another room and strapped down. Allendale has more questions. He starts asking about “dimensional realities.” She’s too confused to answer properly. He’s talking “quantum mechanics” and technical jargon. They put a weird mask on her for testing. Allendale speaks about an infiltration of dimensions that happened recently, like one that happened thirty years prior. Eve’s fitted with a cord into her spine along with the mask. They’re going to see if she’s one of the “pilgrims” from the other dimension. Not a painless process, either.
Eve wakes in a hospital. She tested negative. Things will go back to normal now. She’ll be able to return to her family. Once she’s home, she tries to get back to life, though the memories of what they did to her in the facility remain. She’s got questions about this “other place” out there in an odd dimension. The images she saw while in the machine are the same she’s seen in a nightmare. Suddenly, she’s curious if there’s another life in her past she can’t recall.
“What if it wasn’t a dream?”
And then, Eve’s back on that table. It was all a method of making her remember, by Allendale and his people. She’s transported back to those nightmare memories. They’ve confirmed she’s a dimensional pilgrim. Back in her cell, she hears Otto, offering to get her free if she can pay him. That evening, another man comes to help her get out, by transporting her with a corpse.
She’s brought to a room where she reunites with Anna. They’re told about a door, near where she met Aidia. They get out and make it into the forest. They manage to get past security and through an opening in the perimeter fence to a spot where they meet a driver in an ice cream truck. Anna doesn’t trust the man, but Eve goes with him.
Soundtrack note: “This Land is Your Land” by Woody Guthrie plays here
When Eve gets home, she sees the family’s waiting. Neither he nor her girls are happy to see her. “You‘re not who you are,” William says. All because of a past, someplace else, Eve is no longer considered to be the woman she was, the person her life has made her, the person she’s proved herself to be to those around her. She’s hauled out of her home by Allendale and his agents once more, kicking and screaming in front of the rest of her nosy bourgeois neighbourhood.
Some people won’t dig this episode. That’s fine. Doesn’t mean there isn’t a great critique of the American immigration system hiding beneath the story. “We are all immigrants from somewhere,” Peele tells us in the final moments— true words many refuse to understand. Like Eve, many of us don’t even know where we came from originally, many more don’t care enough to know, and others don’t care while they try to use rhetoric like the rich ladies in the earlier scene, re: who’s a real American, to deny people they don’t like an identity as an American.
“Point of Origin” isn’t subtle, and it’s not as in-your-face as other episodes have been in their social commentary. Father Gore loves this version of The Twilight Zone. This episode was great, it had the Kafka atmosphere throughout, and Goodwin was excellent in the lead role.
“The Blue Scorpion” is next time.