After a season of disappointment, ‘The Twilight Zone’ returns with the surprisingly excellent, “Meet in the Middle”

I have to be honest… I didn’t like the first season of Jordan Peele’s The Twilight Zone. Out of the ten episodes of the first season, I enjoyed… maybe three of them. The rest ranging from bad to terrible… the worst offender being the forehead-slappingly horrid meta-story that saw Jordan Peele’s narrator become a character in what I am assuming was supposed to be a weird love letter to the original series, but only ended up being a terrible chase episode with a nonsensical ending. It was terrible, but its heart was in the right place, I guess… maybe.

Another problem I had with season one was that it was simply not written well enough to tackle the social issues it was bringing up. Violent men, police action against blacks, immigration… all subjects of vital importance that could be incredible fodder for drama. The Twilight Zone pretty much bungled each and every one of them.

I actually only finished The Twilight Zone’s first season a few days ago as it took me this long to slog through the episodes. I entered season two hoping against hope that the show would course correct and focus more on quality, ironic storytelling.

I’m happy to say that, with “Meet in the Middle,” The Twilight Zone told a very compelling story. In it, Jimmi Simpson plays a man who suddenly starts hearing a woman’s voice in his head. After a while of the two wondering what is going on and Jimmi doubting his own sanity, the two form a friendship and, eventually, even grow to love each other.

it was almost impossible to see where “Meet in the Middle” was going, and even harder to determine what sort of story we were watching in the first place. The twists, turns, happenstance, and revelations were handled so well that it constantly and consistently kept the audience off balance and unsuspecting.

Jimmi Simpson, who carried the entire episode in what is essentially a one-man show, was brilliant, playing the combination of fragile sanity, infatuation, and desperation as the script asked for. To his credit, the episode never felt drawn out or boring and you couldn’t help but empathize with his predicament as Simpson brought no small measure of humanity, regret, anger, sadness, and joy to the part.

“Meet in the Middle” didn’t have an agenda or a point to make (not that an agenda or a point is bad) and just focused on telling a captivating, entertaining, supernatural story with the ironic ending that The Twilight Zone is known for.

Personally, I loved it and I really think that it’s the first time I’ve been able to say that about an episode of the new Twilight Zone. This makes me incredibly happy as I’ve been a fan of this show since before I can remember. I want this show to be good and, who knows… maybe after a shaky first season, it’s heading in that direction.

Here’s hoping.

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