Nina, a young mother, (Sanaa Lathan) discovers that her camcorder can reverse time and tries to use this to prevent the death of her son, Dorian, (Damson Idris) at the hands of a persistent highway patrol officer (Glenn Fleshler).
Tropes for this episode include:
- Adult Fear: For many minority viewers, this episode hits far too close to home. Being pulled over for a DWB,note subject to the arbitrary whims of a police officer, having to stay polite and friendly even as your rights are violated, and still having the risk of being attacked for any reason is not fiction but Real Life.Nina: "Just like we always talk about. No attitude. Just be respectful."
- Ancestral Weapon: The camera seems to be a heroic equivalent, as Nina inherited it from her father.
- All for Nothing / Ambiguous Situation: It's implied with the last shot of the episode (Nina's look of shock as red lights begin flashing on her face) that despite her efforts, Dorian still meets his end by the cops. Or it may just mean that Dorian will always be in danger by the police and that it's ultimately unavoidable.
- Allegory: For racial profiling and Police Brutality, to the point of being Anvilicious.
- Arc Number: Officer Lasky's patrol number is 510 and his license plate is 1510.
- Bad Cop/Incompetent Cop: An enforced trope, as all of the police who appear in this episode are ready and willing to harass and threaten the protagonists for no reason whatsoever.
- Berserk Button: In every encounter, Officer Lasky's demeanor suddenly turns aggressively hostile as soon as he sees someone is recording him.Lasky: "What is that in your hand?"
Nina: "It— it's just an old camcorder."
Lasky: "Put it down, on the table now."
Dorian: "You scared of being on camera?"
Lasky: "PUT IT DOWN!"
- Continuity Nod: Lasky shares his name with a street sign that appears in "The Comedian".
- Cosmic Plaything: Nina and Damien come across as random victims of a malicious universe. Or, at least, a malicious society.
- Disappeared Dad: Nina appears to be a single mother, since Dorian's father isn't on the road with them, nor is he even mentioned.
- Five-Second Foreshadowing: Right before the Wham Shot that ends the episode, Nina's camcorder breaks after Dorian's daughter drops it by accident.
- Dorian staining his shirt echoes when he is shot by the officer.
- If one interprets that Dorian is destined to die at Officer Lasky's hand, then the motel discussion about how everything in the universe is predetermined would count.
- "Groundhog Day" Loop: What the story revolves around, with the twist that Nina is actively causing the loop rather than some outside force acting upon the characters.
- Heroic Bystander: All of the ordinary college crowd that forms to help Nina and Dorian when Dorian is threatened by the police.
- Hidden Agenda Villain: No explanation is ever given for why Officer Lasky is targeting Nina and Damien.
- I Want Grandkids: In the diner, Nina teases Dorian about how he's eventually going to have a daughter named "Trinity." He does.
- Implacable Man: No matter what measures Nina takes, Officer Lasky inevitably finds her and her son.
- Mama Bear: The sole reason why Nina is willing to rewind the day with her video recorder is so she can try to protect her son. In the end, it's sadly implied that she only delayed what might have been inevitable.
- Mundanger: Even though the camcorder is able to rewind time, the only threat is Officer Lasky. However, there is no explanation as to how or why the officer keeps following the two and pulling them over with different reasons.
- Mythology Gag:
- The napkin dispenser from "Nick of Time" appears in the cafe. The episode also starts in The Busy Bee Cafe.
- Like the previous episode, Whipple appears on a piece of technology — this time, the video recorder.
- On the side of the camera reads "Dix A La Proprietaire" which is the same inscription on another Twilight Zone camera "A Most Unusual Camera".
- The headline of Jordan Peele's newspaper references "I Shot An Arrow Into The Air", explaining the twist in the end of that particular episode.
- The motel they visit is called The Old Cadwallader, a reference to "The Escape Clause".
- The license plate of Nina's car is 2D7876, the same plate of the main character's car in "The Hitchhiker".
- At Tennyson University, a sign for "Corrigan Men's Club" can be seen. The main character of the original series episode "Back There" was Pete Corrigan.
- This isn't the first time where a Twilight Zone episode concerned an object with a literal rewind button.
- Police Brutality: Officer Lasky repeatedly antagonizes the family throughout the episode, and he's really quick to use his Taser and sidearm.
- Not Afraid of You Anymore: Nina finally confronts Officer Lasky head on at the college gates, refusing to rewind time when Dorian is so close to the goal.
Nina: "You've crossed the line. Harassing us, abusing authority. You've been profiling us, targeting us, following us, shooting us, killing us. Not anymore. Now we cross the line. My son will cross that gate — right now, right here. My son will go to college. So back the fuck up!"
- Kirk Summation: Nina delivers one to Lasky when she confronts him.
- Ripple Effect-Proof Memory: Nina is the only one who can remember what happened before time was rewound.
- Screw the Rules, I Make Them!: Officer Lasky insists that Nina and Dorian comply with his orders, regardless of their legality.Lasky: "I need to see pieces of identification from the both of you."
Nina: "Mine is in my purse—"
Dorian: "Why do we need to show our ID?"
Lasky: "Because I asked you."
Dorian: "That's not sufficient grounds. I know my rights."
- Set Right What Once Went Wrong: As detailed above, Nina uses her camcorder to try to prevent the death of Dorian.
- "Shaggy Dog" Story: Implied with the final scene.
- Shoot Him! He Has a... Wallet: In one of the timelines, as Dorian tries to show his phone for the pink slip, Lasky pulls out his gun and shoots him.
- Spontaneous Crowd Formation: Occurs (heroically) at the moment that Dorian is about to be killed in front of his college.
- Struggling Single Mother: Nina loves her son, but still has a hard time being around him, especially when he insists on meeting his relatives, whom she wishes to avoid.
- Sudden Downer Ending: Implied with the final scene: despite managing to prevent her son's death when he goes to college, after a Time Skip to when he's an adult with a daughter, he leaves to go get ice cream... and it's suggested the cops show up not too long after he gets outside. To make it even worse, the camcorder breaks before Dorian leaves after Dorian's daughter accidentally dropped it.
- Time Skip: The episode ends ten years after the main events of the episode, with Dorian having a daughter.
- Tunnel Network: There's one close to Nina and Zeke's old home that allows Dorian to get directly to college.
- Turn Off the Camera: The officer repeatedly tries to enforce this.
- Wham Shot: A subtle one: At the end of the episode, after we skip ahead several years in the future, Dorian decides to head out to get ice cream for his daughter, with Nina staying behind to watch after her. As Jordan Peele gives the ending monologue, we cut to a close-up on Nina's face... as her expression falls into quiet shock as we see red flashing lights illuminated on her face. To make matters worse, this scene happens after the camcorder breaks.
- You Can't Fight Fate: Implied by the Bolivian Army Ending.
- You Have to Believe Me!: Averted. Both Nina's son and her brother believe her when she says the camcorder is magic.