In "Replay," arguably the best episode of Jordan Peele's new "Twilight Zone" reboot, Sanaa Lathan plays a mother determined to get her son to his first day of college. Standing in her way is a racist police officer who finds one excuse after another to pull them off their path, always with disastrous results.
The episode possesses several elements of classic "Twilight Zone" storytelling — an unstoppable force that must somehow be overcome, strong social commentary and an unusual twist at the end.
Lathan, a fan of Rod Serling's original series, recognized all the aspects when she read the script. And she was floored by the force of what "Replay" had to say about the black experience in 2019.
"We're putting a lens up to racial profiling that's happening every day, and it's scary and sad and especially scary for black people, black men in particular," she said in a video interview at The Times. "But I also think the story's universal. I play a mother who's taking her son to his first day of college, and it's the emotional journey of this mother trying to save her son."
"Replay" is also a moving portrait of a woman who needs to come to grips with her past so she can move ahead.
"She had run away from home," Lathan said. "She didn't want to look back. But in order for her to save her son, she had to go back to where she came from and make peace with it and her family, which I think is a beautiful message."
Of course, this being "The Twilight Zone," the beauty might be temporary. Like so many "Twilight Zone" episodes, "Replay" has an unsettling ending.
"Every 'Twilight Zone' … it never leaves you comfortable," Lathan said. "You have to be a little bit, 'Ooooh, man!' It leaves that little kind of question mark. It gave me chills."
You can watch the full interview with Lathan below.