Rod Serling’s original “The Twilight Zone” is a timeless television show that continues to be relevant and thought-provoking. I have wanted to own the entire series for a very long time. With each trip to the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror in Disneyland, I looked at the collected series and its price, and decided I just couldn’t afford it. During one of my brainstorming sessions, I thought about adding Rod Serling and “the Twilight Zone” to my “… Is Creativity” series. That gave me the excuse to get the series on DVD, and I’m so glad I did.
I waited until recently to open the DVDs because I was working on “The Haunted Mansion Is Creativity” (to be released June 1, 2019 at Lilac City Comicon 2019). Now that I’ve started watching them though, I’m so glad I bought them. “The Twilight Zone” is hands down one of the best written series I have ever watched. In 30 minutes, Rod Serling creates characters that you can engage with and stories that move you.
Nothing may ever come of my wanting to do something with Rod
Serling, creativity and “the Twilight Zone,” but that doesn’t matter. What
matters is that the was a man who wrote such wonderful stories for the
betterment of the world. I may never attain the stature of Serling, but I’m
glad that I have been able to see the fruits of his labors.
Isolation is one of those themes that pops up quite a bit in science fiction. From “The Twilight Zone’s” first episode ‘Where Is Everybody’ to Will Smith’s “I Am Legend,” people are fascinated by the effects that being alone for an extended period can have on a person. It’s probably in part due to the dual nature of humanity. We want to be alone, and we need companionship; every person is somewhere on the spectrum between these demands, and it changes depending on the day and inner requirements.
This theme should have been clearer from the start of “The
Umbrella Academy.” There were so many other things to adjust to, however, that
it got lost until episode five. Number Five is the most isolated. He spends
decades in the future with a manikin, who is as real to him as any person.
Luther spends four years on the moon, which for him was enough.
Allison has been psychologically isolated from people for
most of her life. She couldn’t discern what was real and what was the result of
her power. She is now isolated from her daughter ad is attempting to build a
new relationship with Vanya.
Pogo, and this is important, was left alone in the house
after all the children moved on with their lives. Diego constantly talks about
how mom was treated, but he doesn’t pay any attention to the talking chimpanzee
who also had to put up with the abuse (as Diego sees it) that father dished
out. Pogo says that he owes everything he is to Mr. Hargreeves, but it’s clear
he’s hiding something.
Klaus used drugs to keep the spirits at bay. These are the
spirits he should have been connecting with his whole life in a “Ghost
Whisperer” sort of way. Unfortunately, his father’s ill-conceived training
regime did nothing but frighten a young child into a life of escapism and dulling
fear through chemistry. He continues to refuse to embrace who he his and what
his power represents, even if there’s nothing scary about his brother Ben, who
hangs out with him.
Diego lives in the backroom of a gym and goes out nights to
fight crime. He has spent his life pushing people away and doing things his way
without compromise. The death of his not-girlfriend sends him further down the
road to isolation. He doesn’t recognize that he needs companionship, but his
actions suggest otherwise as he takes Klaus with him to stake out the donut
Surprisingly, it’s the relationship between Hazel and Agnes
that hammers the theme home. Hazel feels acutely alone, and it’s affecting his
work. Perhaps his isolation is worse because he spends all of his time with a
partner as they travel 52 weeks a year. When he opens up to Agnes, he reveals
that his job is fulfilling anymore.
People need companionship. They need to be part of something
bigger than themselves. They need to be loved. Religions, cults and sports
teams flourish because they can provide a semblance of these things. Humans define
themselves in terms of the other; we don’t know who we are without someone else
to base ourselves on. It’s part of our strongest desire – that of establishing
and maintaining our identity. Sometimes, that means embracing the love of
family, both biological and chosen. Sometimes, it means choosing something more
When a man finally shows interest in Vanya, she falls for
him. She doesn’t care if he’s nefarious. On the outside he presents a nice-guy façade,
and he does things to support and help her, including, unbeknownst to her, murder.
Vanya won’t take the warnings of Allison because she has been isolated for so
long. She hasn’t felt worthy and no one has expressed to her that she is worthy.
Her father always told her she was ordinary. Her siblings ignored her to the
point that when Allison watches tapes from their childhood, she says she wouldn’t
let anyone treat her daughter that way. Vanya wrote a book that further estranged
her from the family. She lives alone and pushes people away. So, when she
finally decides to open up and take a chance, she falls hook, line and sinker
for the manipulations of Leonard.
Vanya gives Leonard her love, literally and her power,
figuratively. Leonard, a creep, stalker and killer, dumps her pills and
unleashes Vanya’s creative power. Not all creative power is good. Some people use
their creativity to destroy. The atomic bomb, hypersonic ICBMs, new forms of
torture… the list of terrible creativity is long and horrific. Vanya’s power
isn’t just to build but to destroy, and when she finds out about Leonard’s
manipulations, it could be apocalyptic. Allison still provides hope that
someone can reach her.