We open to a scene where a writer named Adam Wegman (Seth Rogen) is having a small crisis over his latest project. When he finally figures out how to get his story to work, Adam is joined by his friend (Betty Gabriel, Get Out). He’s so ecstatic about his creative breakthrough that he fails to notice that there’s an apocalypse going on outside his very window — and he caused it with his writing. As Adam and his friend stare into that chaotic abyss beyond his stoop, host Jordan Peele segues into his opening narration. No more than a few seconds later, however, Peele breaks character and asks for the episode’s writer Sophie (Zazie Beetz, Slice) to rewrite his dialogue. This leads into Sophie sharing her opinion on how in the original Twilight Zone, creator Rod Serling took “silly, genre kids stuff” and made it into art. She claims if the series has nothing important to say, it’s just “campfire stories.”
Sophie‘s statement notwithstanding, Peele request that his narration is simplified because the inherent message is already there in the story. The writer acquiesces and her revision is soon transferred to cue cards for the next take. Peele recites his new lines, but he and everyone else on set are bewildered by what happens next. The new script has been switched out with another, and Peele thinks this is a prank or material for a blooper reel. Sophie is adamant that she didn’t write the bogus narration, but her colleagues aren’t convinced.
“Blurryman [breaks] the fourth wall and then some…”
The false script contains a peculiar line — “…from what lurks, blurry, in the background of her own show…” — that stood out to Sophie. After going through footage from past episodes of the first season, she notices a shadowy figure standing in the background of several scenes. No one can confirm who this person is, though.
Looking for Jordan, Sophie starts to wander the various sound stages used for the show. This is when she notices someone is following her — the Blurryman. The corporeal outline of a man then pursues and terrorizes hers at every turn. Returning to the current set, Sophie finds that she’s now physically invisible to everyone else.
Accompanying the Blurryman is a female voice telling Sophie that she can’t outrun this. She’s suddenly reminded of a time where she was a kid, watching The Twilight Zone rather than going outside to play. Waking up from her memory, the present-day Sophie is standing on set again. Everything is back to how it was before the Blurryman ever appeared. Jordan even takes a shine to Sophie‘s rewrite.
All seems normal until the room begins to spin, and all the colors are stripped away before her very eyes. Sophie steps outside into a monochromatic world which resembles that of the classic episode “Time Enough at Last.” She questions whether what she did — compromising her integrity as a writer — was after all the right thing to do. From the shadows emerges the Blurryman. The thing Sophie once feared is now the one man she’s always respected. The silhouette transforms into Rod Serling, and he tells Sophie she’s right where she belongs. Together, the two finally walk away into The Twilight Zone.
The outcome of “Blurryman” is a reasonably perfect way to end the first season. It’s so unexpected yet so fitting considering the series’ constant war with itself and the audience’s expectations. Pushback about the show’s heavy-handedness has been hard to ignore. Many complaints have stemmed from the reboot’s pronounced habit of replacing storytelling with blatant social commentary. Most episodes so far have integrated an urgent societal issue that’s taken precedence over narrative, and fans can’t help but criticize the showrunners’ inability to conjure what made the original Twilight Zone so special.
The character of Sophie encompasses the belief that The Twilight Zone must tackle topical real-world problems in order to be something other than a basic genre show. Meanwhile, Jordan Peele represents those who are opposed and think the reboot lacks Rod Serling’s sophistication. This iteration of Peele is actually content with “campfire tales,” and he believes the meaning of whatever the writers are trying to convey can be sensed without coming off as severe.
Sophie is ultimately given a mulligan where she can take her mentor’s advice to heart: she does as Peele advises and gives him the rewrite he wanted. What looks like a trade-off winds up being a devastating blow to Sophie‘s principles. Her world crumbles and becomes devoid of color; giving up that part of herself had dire consequences.
The conclusion of a CGI rendered Rod Serling escorting Sophie into the vintage version of The Twilight Zone is difficult to misapprehend. Which brings up a glaring obstacle — the lack of ambiguity — that has plagued the show since the first episode. Aside from the outlier “The Blue Scorpion,” the whole season has had the precision of a scalpel. There’s nothing left to interpret, and the audience is left bored.
“[…] the whole season has had the precision of a scalpel. There’s nothing left to interpret…”
So, does “Blurryman” work? It would be remiss to say it’s an unsatisfactory episode. Had it leaned strongly into a more straightforward, meta horror story, it could have been a refreshing change of pace. On the bright side, the way it wraps up feels like an acknowledgment of the show’s pitfalls. Is it a signal of things to come? We’ll just have to see in the next season of The Twilight Zone.
Seeing as “Blurryman” broke the fourth wall and then some, there aren’t any major easter eggs to report. One interesting note, though — if you rewatch previous episodes like “The Comedian,” you can definitely spot the Blurryman in certain scenes.