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This Twilight Zone Episode Is Like a Mini Get Out and Sanaa Lathan Explains Why You Will Be Shooketh

Star Sanaa Lathan breaks down the seriously creepy journey in "Replay"

Malcolm Venable

[Caution: this story contains spoilers from "Replay," Episode 3 of The Twilight Zone].

Jordan Peele, the new king of psychological suspense and social-commentary infused thrillers, did not write "Replay," Episode 3 of CBS All Access' The Twilight Zone-- it was penned by writer Selwyn Seyfu Hinds --but the chilling tale has executive producer Peele's handprints all over it. A haunting, unsettling story about a black woman and her son being hunted by a racist police officer, "Replay" feels like the episodic equivalent of Peele's breakout film Get Out.

"As soon as I got the script I was on the edge of my seat," Sanaa Lathan, who plays Nina Harrison, told TV Guide. "What an emotional journey through a nightmare. For me as an actress, I was jumping up and down."

(Seriously stop reading this now if you don't want spoilers about this episode!)

Sanaa Lathan and Damson Idris

Sanaa Lathan and Damson Idris

Robert Falconer, CBS

What makes "Replay" so deeply uncomfortable isn't just that it has a police officer (a marvelously creepy Glenn Fleshler) stalking and harassing Nina (Lathan) and her son Dorian (Damson Idris) -- it's that the officer preys on them over and over since they're in a, well, twilight zone, where Nina can rewind time. The episode begins innocently enough as mother and son nosh in a fictional Virginia town's diner before dropping Dorian, an aspiring filmmaker, off at school. Nina soon realizes that Dorian's old-school, hand-me-down camcorder has the ability to rewind time -- thus giving Nina the ability to see events "before" they happen and in turn alter the future. Dorian's celebratory mood is short-lived though. When the family departs, they're pursued by Officer Lasky, who pulls them over and cloaks his hatred of black people behind a thin veneer of civility and, of course, a badge and a gun. Things get dark, fast.

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Sanaa Lathan and Damson Idris

Sanaa Lathan and Damson Idris

Robert Falconer, CBS

Nina knows her only weapon has a rewind button, and she uses it to escape Officer Lasky, but it only goes so far. In every reworked scenario, the Harrisons remain Lasky's prey -- an inescapable nightmare scenario that, for African American viewers, will feel like a waking dream, implausible as it is frighteningly real.

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"Replay" burrows deep into a specific paranoia African Americans live with every day, because as Nina learns, no amount of money, success, power or even polite speech can prevent something like this from happening to you. Nina and Dorian are trapped on multiple levels. They're caught in a big bad's grip; they're suspended in a world where their only weapon won't work; they're terrorized by the force that's supposed to protect them, and there's no way out. "I'm not a mother but I understand that mother's love," Lathan said. "[Nina] would do anything to assure the safety of her son."

Compounding the tension is the fact that Officer Lasky makes Nina his target as much as he does Dorian, a point that had even more significance for Lathan. "We are targets. And not just black men anymore but now, black women too." For a long time, the conventional wisdom was that police brutality was the sole worry of black men. But, as the of Sandra Bland death and videos of black women being tackled for minor infractions -- or even being assaulted after calling the police for help-- have shown, police brutality does not discriminate by gender and remains a pervasive problem. (One group, Mapping Police Violence, which counts activist DeRay Mckesson among its advisors, says 25 percent of people killed by police are black, despite black people being 13 percent of the population.) "The amount of killings that have happened and are still happening is terrifying," Lathan said. "Something needs to be done about it."

Fortunately for Nina and Dorian, there is a way out, and it comes when Nina looks to her past for answers. Lathan said that while the police violence is the episode's obvious theme, it contains another more hopeful message. "You have to face your past in order to move forward," she said, adding that the episode is, in some ways, a metaphor for mental and emotional health. "I hope it gets people talking, thinking and debating."

New episodes of The Twilight Zone are available Thursdays on CBS All Access starting April 11.

(Disclosure: TV Guide is owned by CBS Interactive, a division of CBS Corporation.)

​​Jordan Peele, ​The Twilight Zone

Jordan Peele, The Twilight Zone

Robert Falconer/CBS All Access

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