WARNING: The following contains spoilers for The Twilight Zone, Episode 10: "Blurryman."
No matter which iteration of The Twilight Zone we're watching, it's safe to say the Narrator plays a huge role, not only in setting the tone at the start of every episode but also, in book-ending the story with a perfectly placed message. The initial series was narrated by its creator, the late Rod Serling, while the 2002 revival placed Forest Whitaker in the role.
The current incarnation is narrated by executive producer Jordan Peele, who breaks character in the Season 1 finale, "Blurryman," and in the process redefines his role.
The episode opens with Seth Rogen as Adam Wegman, a self-loathing writer who's struggling to come up with a story. He devises something about an apocalypse unfolding outside his window, but when he's convinced it's an idea that could sell books, he realizes he's actually brought about the End of Days. Just as the Narrator begins his usual spiel, however, Peele halts the filming to express his displeasure with how the episode's writer, Sophie (Zazie Beetz), framed his monologue in which he criticizes such stories as more entertainment than art.
Peele warns, "We're saying something we don't want to be saying with the episode!" It's a subtle dig at network television, as he ironically points out they can't bash the very content they produce. Sophie disagrees, and wants to keep the narration metaphorical to bring out Adam's existential dread; with all of the "superhero movies" and "sci-fi crap" out there, this is how they have to differentiate themselves. But quickly enough, Peele assumes the role of a full-on villain, imitating a studio executive as he basically says it's his way or the highway.
As Sophie argues the Narrator has to be "much more," Peele grows frustrated at her insubordination. She reminds him that Serling elevated the genre, making art for adults. That only further angers Peele, who points out that Serling isn't around any longer, and that the show needs to be more product than art. In fact, he thinks Sophie is going way too deep. It's another meta statement, as this season has been filled with jabs at politicians like Donald Trump, racists, fake news and toxic masculinity.
Sophie reluctantly takes a couple of passes at a new narration, but she simply can't find the wonder in what she's writing. She tries to dumb it down, knowing her boss doesn't want something he views as overly pretentious. As she toes this fine line, she notices power dips and odd occurrences happening around the set, not realizing that listening to Peele has attracted a nefarious force.
"What's good about the show isn't the genre bullshit, it's the message!" is the mantra she lives by, and as she struggles to meet Peele's vision and make it simple, the force begins to grow stronger, haunting Sophie and stalking her around the set. It turns out that the behavior of Peele's Narrator is angering this malevolent entity. Peele wants his writers to churn out soulless product for him to read, and as they obey, that draws the wrath of what we eventually find out is the Blurryman.
The being shows up in old footage from previous episodes, believing writers should know better. And, as Sophie goes on to discover, Peele wouldn't be the one to pay the price for angering it; it's the writers and, as expected, the Blurryman has come to collect its toll in blood while the Narrator takes credit for making the episode resonate.
Hosted and produced by Jordan Peele, Season 1 of The Twilight Zone is streaming now on CBS All Access.