The Twilight Zone episode 8 review: The horrors of reality


The Twilight Zone “Not All Men” pivots back to reality with placebos from a parallel dimension, and sturdy horror direction arises from the mayhem in the episode.

Primarily for women, living in our society requires a constant state of adaptation. To survive in the corporate landscape, women have to feign agreeability with any other male coworkers and supervisors. It’s how we protect ourselves from getting fired or laid off, but that doesn’t protect us from routine sexism in the workplace or having our ideas undermined and stolen.

Dating has become an increasingly dangerous risk in our social lives. Even rejecting a man’s offer for a date puts us or others are at risk of injury or worse. Practically any social setting is dangerous. This isn’t a fictional horror setting. We don’t need to imagine these repercussions of how men impact our daily survival skills because this is our reality.

Science fiction and horror are at the foundation of The Twilight Zone; however, sometimes reality set up the more terrifying plot. For “Not All Men,” The Twilight Zone focuses on our real-world consternation in lieu of the sci-fi undertones to create a strong horror-filled episode.

Violence is scary, but “Not All Men” takes a candid approach at the commonality of men’s physical and sexual violence. The episode eases into its criticism with some red rocks and equally red water, courtesy of fallen meteors. The meteor shower provides a plot device so the episode can totter the outskirts of where science fiction and nonfiction meet. It is a fine line between the vast sci-fi elements and realism, after all.

Any extraterrestrial influence on the episode simply camouflages the reality. Along with the exaggerated gory scenes and bloody fights swelling throughout the town, this episode relies on an unsettling direction. The direction of the storyline is pivotal, but the uncomfortable pacing and scenes drive the plot to make the episode feel like an inescapable slasher horror flick.

The scenarios are so disquieting because of how realistic there are despite the intentional embellishments. Apart from the acting and tension, this is what brings the episode together. It’s what makes the viewing journey so successful.

And about that twist at the end… While most of the episode rests on the assumption that all the men turn violent because of some strange rocks from out space, the final turning point reveals that the meteors are just placebos. The men have always been violent or had violent intentions. The cosmic rocks just gave them an excuse to act on the full extent of their destructive impulses.

Redundancy concludes the episode. With the narrative rooted in reality, the revealing twist at the end of the episode seemed almost unnecessary for the episode. The 45-minute-long venture already embodied the concluding commentary. Granted, no Twilight Zone story is complete without a twist. Although a different turn might have benefited this episode, the last few moments in “Not All Men” aren’t entirely purposely.

Even despite the conceptual repetition, the ending helps fix some of the less than savory implications when our previous selves thought a meteor caused all the men’s violence in the episode. Our previous perceptions of the whole space rock making men go mad arc made it seem like there’s some sort of extenuation force or circumstance that makes men violent against women.

We know that’s not the case, and thankfully the ending clarifies that the premise of “Not All Men” agrees with us. So, while the twist does make a blunt, but necessary, concept even more obvious, it isn’t purposeless by any means. In fact, it strengthens the point of the episode.

We won’t go into any detail about how the episode mirrors real-world violence against women and marginalized groups of people. The imagery is there within nearly every frame of the episode, and it isn’t subtle for a reason.

“Not All Men” uses these rapidly reoccurring acts of aggression to make a statement about how common yet simultaneously ignored misogynistic violence and rhetoric is. This episode doesn’t need to be subtle with how unsettling these comparisons are because the real-life source material recirculates every week in troves of headlines and court proceedings.

It’s blatantly there and embedded in our society, so the pop culture counterpart that we see in The Twilight Zone episode 8 doesn’t need to whisper through these issues.

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Despite your individual opinion on the ending of “Not All Men,” or the premise of the episode itself, this Twilight Zone episode is necessary. The Twilight Zone has always been centered on socio-political commentary.

While Rod Serling’s version of the series needed to be stealthy with its commentary, this reboot has the luxury of being blunt without any repercussions from its host network. We’d like to think Sterling would be happy to see The Twilight Zone is able to be unequivocally itself in an even more forthright form.