The Twilight Zone follows up its strongest episode thus far with its weakest—and, yet, curiously, one which suggests the show is finding its contemporary voice.
Title: “The Wunderkind”
Cast and Crew
Director: Richard Shepard
Writer: Andrew Guest
John Cho as Raff Hanks
Jacob Tremblay as Oliver Foley
Alison Tolman as Maura McGill
Kimberley Sustad as Helen Foley
Lane Edwards as Joseph Foley
John Larroquette as James Stevens
Shawn Ahmed as Orderly
Erica Tremblay as Lily Foley
Adam Stafford as Arch Houghton
Michael Patrick Denis as Larry
Aaron Douglas as Mitch
Graeme Duffy as Senior Aide
Alvin Sanders as Tommy
Logan Zenith Oung as Dr. Final Twist
Jordan Peele as our host
After botching a incumbent’s second-term campaign, a political manager decides to take on an eleven-year-old Youtube star who has launched a presidential campaign. He knows the kid can’t win, but the bid will boost both their brands and shake some things up.
Then the unthinkable happens.
The episode is flawed but, for the third week, the show feels like The Twilight Zone. Wunderkind takes a bizarre premises and pushes it to a surreal conclusion that comments on the real world.
The satiric premise has potential. Our candidate, being a literal child, has no understanding of how government works– though he promises he’ll surround himself with the best people. He communicates through social media because he can’t handle difficult questions He lies and expects his staff to conform to his version of reality. Any legitimate attempt to check or restrain him he views as treason. But a premise needs to go somewhere narratively interesting, and this episode mostly just hits us repeatedly with its sledgehammer. And while children are all over the map in terms of maturity, Oliver feels entirely like a satiric creation, rather than a plausible or really interesting eleven-year-old, even one facing unprecedented pressure and scrutiny.
Originality: 2/6 It’s a good life, I guess.
Effects: 4/6 The effects occur as effects, in the candidate’s slick videos.
Acting: 5/6 Jacob Tremblay proved himself in the adaptation of Emma Donaghue’s Room, and this episode features a number of strong actors, often in small but crucial parts.
Story: 4/6 The story begins well, but it does not develop in a consistently interesting way.
Emotional Response: 3/6 The Twilight Zone has often used satire, and could even be goofy and playful—consider the way Serling parodied the show’s tropes at the conclusion of “A World of His Own”—but this episode doesn’t deliver enough of a pay-off….
Overall: 4/6 It has potential, but delivers a half-hour satiric sketch trapped in an hour-long show.
In total, “The Wunderkind” receives 28/42