Things are finally starting to get weird with The Traveler.
Does anything good every happen at Christmas Parties? I posit that this continues to not be the case. Someone — in this case Greg Kinnear’s Capt. Lane Pendleton — is always trying way too hard to have fun. Someone else has already had too much fun. (In this case, it’s Patrick Gallagher’s Jack.) And someone else is there to spoil the fun. (That’d be Marika Sila as Sgt. Yuka Mongoyak.)
We’re somewhere up north, thus the Northern Lights. It’s Christmastime, thus the Christmas songs. Other than that, we don’t really know what’s going on. Thus the opening of the fourth episode of the Twilight Zone reboot — “The Traveler” — nearly burying us in exposition.
The early twist, while fun — Sgt. Mongoyak has picked up her brother Jack for being drunk! On Christmas! — sort of falls apart when you start to wonder why she’s explaining this super important thing that Capt. Pendleton does literally every year to … her brother. He may be drunk, but he knew what was up.
Get through the first 11 minutes or so and we’re finally introduced to A. Traveler. (That’s Steven Yeun, who you know from The Walking Dead.) He’s immaculately dressed — for a 1920s gangster, perhaps — in a pinstriped, double-breasted suit that looks just a bit too big on him. He’s down with the karaoke.
And … he’s obviously full of shit. Sgt. Mongoyak picks up on it immediately, and it’s hardly a secret to those of us on the other side of the glass. Something’s up with this dude. We just don’t know what. Or why.
But maybe the real question we — and everyone else in Iglaak, Alaska, need to be asking themselves isn’t just who this guy is, but when this guy came from. We’ve seen some pretty damned futuristic phones here in 2019, but nothing like what Mr. A. Traveler — that’s short for “Aggro Traveler,” which he claims to be, having come to Iglaak to participate in the one ritual Capt. Pendleton plans to perform this evening — pulls from his pocket. We know YouTubers, and they ain’t got nothing like this phone A. Traveller has for vlogging.
(Actually, that’s not the right question we need to be asking, either. But we’ll save you the spoiler on that front.)
A. Traveller immediately becomes the life of the party, though. Singing, dancing, doing the YouTuber thing — albeit without most of the dumb shit that plagues so many of your favorite channels.
Well, at least until he not-so-nonchalantly tosses a few truth grenades into the middle of the soiree, very quickly turning several of the townspeople into emotional shrapnel. Why’d he do that? We’re not sure, though it may well only be to set up his big bombshell, which he aims squarely at Capt. Pendleton.
Brother Jack, meanwhile, continues to spend his Christmas Eve behind bars. He was supposed to be let go — “pardoned” by Capt. Pendleton — but was passed over for our friend A. Traveler. (Never mind that nobody knows how the hell he got in the neighboring cell in the first place.) You’d think he’d be more upset about that — especially when he and A. Traveler come face to face. But, really, he just wants some pie.
And who doesn’t, if you think about it.
The real underlying theme of “The Traveler” is about secrets and lies, of course. Most everyone has theirs. Capt. Pendleton. Sgt. Mongoyak. Their friends and neighbors. A. Traveler, himself, who really is nothing but lies.
Except for Jack, I guess. He was always pretty clear what he wanted, and which he finally got, accompanied by A. Traveler.
Jack just wanted his pie.
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