…………..yeah, okay, we’ll admit that this Twilight Zone episode kind of sucks.
CBS All Access’ new Twilight Zone episode, which is named “Not All Men” and directed by Nancy’s Christina Choe, takes on some heavy subject matter by addressing male toxicity.
Not sure what it is, but whenever this new Twilight Zone tries to take on these serious topics, it doesn’t work out the best. We agree, of course, with the overall messages “Not All Men” and “Replay” are sending, but there’s something missing in the execution department to prevent these episodes from hitting as hard as they should.
In “Not All Men,” we find The Nun’s Taissa Farmiga (who might look like she’s pretty young but is actually 24 years old) playing a soft-spoken, quiet character named Annie.
God bless Annie and all, but her fate was doomed the moment she admitted to a male co-worker that she “doesn’t like to say no to people.”
Being a scumbag who wants to capitalize on Annie’s openness and aspirations, as she’s just come into this nameless company and is trying to work her way up the corporate ladder, this co-worker — Dylan (Glass’ Luke Kirby) — insists that she joins him for dinner that night.
Things go okay, at first. Annie isn’t sure if she’s really into Dylan, but he’s at least somewhat charming and, by the looks of it, can cook a pretty fancy dinner, too.
Everything changes with the meteor shower hits (man, if I had a dollar for every time THAT happened).
After watching the shooting stars come crashing into the earth right in Dylan and his neighbor’s backyard and then going to try and collect some of them, Annie almost instantly notices a change in Dylan’s behavior. He’s a lot more handsy, all of the sudden, and whenever Annie tries to reject that unwanted attention, he becomes very, very angry.
Eventually, it becomes too much and Annie leaves — not without a whole lot of pushing from Dylan, who also completely freaks out and destroys his kitchen once he’s alone — but she does make it.
Thinking that he probably just had too much to drink or something like that, Annie shows up to work the next day hoping to brush the whole night off and move on with her life.
She can’t, though, as Dylan isn’t the only guy acting crazy. All of the men in the office and that she encounters on the street seem to be jumping to this really irrational, dangerous behavior that gets scarier and scarier the longer she’s around it.
At least, it’s supposed to be scary. In actuality, it feels a bit campier (don’t worry, we got a whole lot more of that coming up soon) than everything, as Twilight Zone kind of dropped the ball on the actual horror aspect this time around.
Annie makes it through the work day and, once again, tries to go on pretending nothing is really wrong. Later that night, she heads to her sister, Martha (Better Call Saul’s Rhea Seehorn), and her husband’s, Mike (The Oath’s Ike Barinholtz), to celebrate Martha’s birthday.
Everyone at the party is acting normal and fine, including Mike, so Annie figures it really might just have been all in her head.
When she, Martha and a couple of other girlfriends head out for drinks later that night, though, she quickly realizes just how wrong that thought was when watching the place nearly go up in flames after all the men inside the building get into one giant bar fight.
It’s the meteors, Annie realizes. The meteors are causing all the men to act crazy, for whatever reason.
She and Martha quickly head back to the car, but not before picking up the attention of some pissed off motorcyclist standing outside. He gets on his bike and follows them home, then standing in front of Martha’s house in a taunting manner while everyone else is locked inside.
Upon coming inside from the backyard and hearing these taunts, the meteor shower juice immediately kicks in on Mike as he throws open the front door to beat this guy into a bloody pulp.
This is when things start getting *real* campy, folks — like, so campy that you can’t help but laugh at it (to be fair, that laughter is the strongest emotion I got out of this Twilight Zone episode). Mike comes back in, grabs a knife, cuts the birthday cake and proceeds to sing the goofiest version of “Happy Birthday” to his wife that you’ll ever here. Seriously, you’d be forgiven for thinking this scene came out of The Happening or something.
When Annie seems to hint that the two of them are going to leave, Mike flips and they have to make a quick escape.
Outside, things have literally turned into the apocalypse as we go full-on Purge with the riots and brawls that have now overtaken the town. Annie suggests they leave as quick as they can, but Martha says she won’t without her son (gee, what could go wrong there?).
Her son, Cole (Percy Hynes White), is chilling on a boat with his boyfriend, Steve (Agape Mngomezulu). They’re hanging out, having a good time when the evil meteor spell hits Steve but, for whatever reason, not Cole.
Cole escapees and finds his mother and aunt out on the dock — along with Dylan, who’s apparently been following them for some time and is twirling one of the meteors on the end of a long chain that he apparently intends to use.
Dylan and Annie go at it, while Cole starts to feel like he, too, is going to hulk out at any moment, only to kind of just go ‘Nah, actually I won’t.’ Okay, sure, whatever you say Twilight Zone.
Annie bests Dylan and throws him into the ocean while a nearby helicopter spots the two and takes them to safety. They’re then brought back to some kind of military facility that’s running tests on the meteors to see what, exactly, is the cause of all of this and how it can be stopped.
Cole lets off some supposedly ‘deep lines’ about how the meteors could have gotten to him but he chose not to let it (meaning that every other guy inside this town apparently is just cool with this? Da hell?) and the episode then ends with one of the guys at the compound going full-on Captain Marvelby telling Annie to give him a smile (which I think implies the disease or whatever is still spreading, but I’m not really sure).
It’s goofy and it’s dumb. It might have a solid message, but that’s all it has, really, as the story around that message just quickly falls into pieces as soon as it tries to really go anywhere. Like we’ve said before, they can’t all be winners.
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