Eve Martin (Ginnifer Goodwin) is the walking/talking cliche of a privileged, upper-middle class suburban wife/mother. During our introduction to her, she is planning a big PTA mixer in her mansion-esque home in what looks like a Tim Burton vision of 1950s Connecticut.
Eve’s longtime housekeeper Anna (Zebrena Guevara), a Guatemalan immigrant, humbly asks her employer if she may use Eve’s address in order for her grandson to go a better school in the area. Eve condescendingly tells Anna that of course she can use her address; reminding Anna that she is ‘one of the family’, despite knowing next to nothing of her housekeeper’s kids or life outside of the Martin home.
A grateful Anna is on her way out when ICE-like agents seize her at the front door, dragging the frightened woman into the back of a black SUV. Eve is initially shocked, but soon resumes her daily existence, taking her twin daughters Isabelle & Jackie (Ella and Ellexis Wejr) shopping for groceries. Eve’s credit cards are repeatedly declined at checkout. In an indignant huff, she and her twins leave their groceries on the conveyor and storm back to their car in the parking garage when they are suddenly blocked and detained by agents emerging from a black SUV. Thinking this detainment of her and her kids has something to do with Anna’s using their address, Eve reluctantly cooperates.
Held in a shadowy, film noir-ish detention center, Eve’s husband William (Toby Levins) meets her there and promises that they’ll straighten this “misunderstanding” out. Meeting with an enigmatic immigration official named Allendale (James Frain), William and the twins learn they are to be released… but Eve has to remain for reasons unknown. This part of the episode was very reminiscent of Orson Welles’ adaptation of Kafka’s “The Trial”, where a prisoner is held and tried for reasons that are never made clear.
In her prison garb, Eve meets a janitor named Otto (Michael Eklund) whom she recognized playing street music in the parking garage earlier. Otto takes her to meet ‘others’ like her within the detention facility. It turns out these others are from a parallel dimension and came into ours 30 years earlier (in a ‘caravan’) to escape a post-apocalyptic, gray-skied dystopian hell that is their native dimension (a clear metaphor for the real-life hells that many undocumented immigrants flee from). Eve has no memory of being from this nether world, though she has had random nightmares of such a place.
Under ‘enhanced interrogation’ (i.e. torture) by Allendale, Eve is tricked (via hallucinations of returning home) into revealing that she is from the other realm and that she’s lived most of her life in our dimension. Her life is entirely here now. She has a husband, kids, etc. She is an cross-dimension ‘Dreamer.’
With help from inside the detention facility, Eve is forced to escape inside of a bin with a corpse. She then insists on being reunited with Anna and the two eventually make their way outside, where they meet an ice cream truck driver who was arranged to takes them to safety. Anna doesn’t trust the man, and chooses to find her own way. A desperate Eve takes the ride…
Eve is dropped off the next morning at her house, where William and the kids are waiting for her. But they’re not glad to see her. The twins refuse to hug their mother, claiming they don’t know who she is anymore. A bedraggled and exhausted Anna soon realizes she’s being set up as Allendale and his ICE-like agents barge in and take her away. A humiliated Eve is seen kicking and screaming in a beat-for-beat recreation of Anna’s brutal apprehension seen earlier in the episode. Eve’s ‘friends’ watch as she is taken away… shaking their heads.
Jordan Peele reminds us that we’re all immigrants from somewhere; different cities, countries or even dimensions, but that no passport can be stamped.. in The Twilight Zone.
There are certainly no issues with the story’s performances; Ginnifer Goodwin really gives it her all in the role of the white privileged suburban wife/mother whose entire life unravels before her disbelieving eyes. She reminds me a bit of a younger Sally Field (in “Not Without My Daughter” mode). Equally solid is Zebrena Guevara is the Guatemalan immigrant Anna, who has been through the torment that awaits the unprepared interdimensional immigrant Eve. She has a Sonia Braga (“Kiss Of The Spider Woman”) quality about her.
“Point of Origin” recreates the modern undocumented immigrant’s ISIS nightmare, using white-skinned ‘refugees’ from a hostile dimension as obvious metaphors for Central and South American immigrants who risk everything to escape their own hells for a better life elsewhere. The element of the nether dimension seems like a tacked-on qualifier to make this a science fiction story. It’s as if the writers felt an audience couldn’t adequately relate to a regular Earth-born Guatemalan going through all of this. I found that conclusion almost insulting… as if the protagonist has to be a white person of privilege to make the horror ‘real’ to viewers.
There is also the curiously draconian notion that we have to see Eve, a woman of privilege, taken down a few pegs and dragged through her housekeeper’s horror in order for the story to be a just one. The suburban mom’s biggest crime is being out of touch with her longtime housekeeper’s personal life, so… that warrants her torture and humiliation? And are we also supposed to just forget that Eve risked everything, including her life, just to ensure that she and Anna escaped together?
For me, the biggest villains of the piece are let off the hook. The sadistic Allendale and his goon squad are free to terrorize more inter-dimensional (and Earthly) immigrants another day. If this was truly supposed to be a Twilight Zone-style tale of a right being wronged, it should be Allendale who is revealed to be the unwitting “alien” and taken away in disgrace in front of his men (see: “The Obsolete Man”). That would feel more like an ending Rod Serling might’ve signed off on (or wrote himself).
Serling believed in a just and moral universe…wrongs were righted and the evil were punished. Eve’s crimes (at worst) are cultural insensitivity and a life of privilege, but when the chips were down, she refused to escape from detention without Anna. Eve is essentially a good person, despite her insulation.
Once again, Jordan Peele’s new Twilight Zone tries to give us a modern day allegory for a current social conflagration but misfires a bit. Such a shame, since Peele’s films “Get Out” and “Us” did this sort of thing so much more effectively. Maybe if “The Narrator” Peele would actually get his hands dirty and write or direct an episode or two…?