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"A Small Town" is the eighteenth episode of the 2019 series of The Twilight Zone and is the eighth episode of the second season.

Synopsis

A recently widowed handyman discovers a detailed model town that gives him god-like powers to help his small community, but soon finds somebody else looking to steal his thunder.

Opening Narration

"Mr. Jason Grant, a man looking to make a big difference in a small town. But being the change he wished to see in the world is a lot more complicated when you got that whole world in your hands. It's all a matter of perspective here in the Twilight Zone."

Plot

Act I

The small town of Littleton is shaken up when its beloved mayor Trina Grant dies in a tragic car accident. While Trina was instrumental in turning the town into a lucrative tourist spot, the new mayor — town treasurer John Conley — is in favor of extending the nearby freeway and cutting the town off from it. Due to the fact he never actually won an election and only got the job base on a succession, Conley isn't well liked by the community.

A year later, Littleton is in terrible shape. The lack of tourism has caused most of the townspeople to go broke; the sole exception is Mayor Conley, who owns the bank and drives a flashy sports car. A teenager named Emilio brings supplies to Jason Grant, a church handyman and Trina's widow. While seen as a kind person by the town, Jason never fully recovered from his wife's death and now spends most of his time in the church attic rather than his own home — citing Trina's suggestion to be "closer to God."

Jason explores the model town

Later in the day, Jason gets permission from Pastor Nichelle Del Rio to clean out the attic. While cleaning out the back corner, he finds a large model of the town and props it up on two stands. He presses a button on its side and lights within all the model buildings flicker on and off. While fascinated by its precise details, Jason becomes unnerved when he looks into the church's window and sees a small figure with his resemblance inside. He shrugs it off and sprays some water on the church to clean the dust off. It suddenly starts raining outside.

Act II

Ana and Emilio

The next morning, Jason has breakfast at the Busy Bee Diner. He talks with Ana, the diner waitress and Emilio's mom. After hearing her tell Emilio they will be painting the diner tomorrow, Jason heads back to the church and uses Pastor Nichelle's peach nail polish to paint the model diner. The next morning, the town wakes up to a new peach paint job on the diner. Nobody knows who did it which upsets Ana at first, but she eventually warms up to it since it cheers the town up. As Jason quietly takes pride in his Robin Hood-like deed, he sees an old woman trip in a pothole. He rushes to her aid, learning she has put in a request for the mayor to fix the pothole a long time ago. Jason is directed to the towns overstuffed suggestion box and hatches an idea.

Jason goes through each suggestion and fixes many things around the model town; for every pothole and tree stump he fixes, it immediately fixes itself in real life. He even tests the models power by putting a chicken bone on the model street — a life sized chicken bone appears on the real street, which feeds a barking dog. The town reacts positively, but they start to suspect Mayor Conley is behind it all due to the upcoming election season. This irks Jason, especially after an earlier incident where Conley failed to recognize him as Trina's husband.

After much pondering, Jason decides next to build a model sign declaring Littleton as The Most Magical Small Town in America. He places it on the corner of the model; the next day, hundreds of travelers exit off the road and the town flourishes again. Jason attends Pastor Nichelle's morning service where she talks about the mystery helper, who has been dubbed "El Ayudante." As a prideful Jason plays with his golden wedding ring, a churchgoer loudly theorizes the helper is Conley. Conley, who is at the service, does not deny it but accepts the townspeople's gratitude regardless.

A furious Jason plots revenge on Conley. He drops a pebble on a model car — the next morning, the town wakes up to find a meteor has totaled Conley's sports car. He furiously demands any information, then sees Emilio laughing. He grabs his notebook and sees he has drawn his smashed car. Conley verbally attacks him, causing an angry Ana to defend her son. Conley regains his composure and speaks charismatically to the rest of the town. A rousing speech ends with him calling himself "El Ayudante", drawing applause from the crowd and an angry stare from Jason.

The giant spider attacks Conley

Later that night, Jason places a tarantula in the model town around the same time Conley is taking a leisurely stroll through town. A huge building-size tarantula creeps down the street — past Emilio's bedroom window — and petrifies Conley. As a satisfied Jason takes the spider off the model, the giant version gets pulled up into the sky. A visibly shaken Conley looks around but finds nothing.

Act III

Emilio paints a large multicolored spider on the wall the next morning. A paranoid Conley sees it while walking down the street and demands answers from Emilio. Ana steps in once more and angrily tells Conley to talk it up with her if he has a problem with her son.

Pastor Nichelle checks in on Jason one night. They discuss the town's recent turnarounds and Jason insists Conley isn't the mystery helper. Nichelle corrects him and says anyone is capable of good change, even the most stubborn ones. He stops terrorizing Conley and returns to his good deeds, now adding more lights to the Littleton sign. While the new sign reappears and shines bright, it drains too much electricity and the town loses power.

An emergency town meeting is held in the church. The townspeople are obviously panicked and demands Conley fix it. He fails to say anything, causing the people to accuse him of trying to kick everyone out of town for a political agenda. He cowardly leaves the church and spots Emilio across the street drawing into his notebook. Conley grabs it out of his hands and shows the town his drawings, linking the boy to every recent bizarre happening. The town starts diving into chaos, with most of them demanding solutions from Conley. With no other choice, Jason steps in and finally admits to being behind everything. He insists he only wanted to help the town while Conley nearly destroyed it. To prove it, Jason goes up to the church attic and lights a group of matches on the model street; a bonfire suddenly ignites in the middle of the real street. Jason takes off his wedding ring and apologizes to Trina for letting her down. Conley and the Sheriff intrude on Jason and witness the model in action. Conley gets evil thoughts and ponders turning the town into "the new Vegas" with the model's powers. He demands the Sheriff take it; Jason fights him for control, causing them to bump into the model. An earthquake outside erupts as the three fight and accidentally knock the model off the stands.

Jason's wedding ring put to good use

Littleton is in shambles the next morning, but nobody was seriously injured. Ana wonders how the town will pay for the property damage, but Jason insists they won't have to worry. He leads them to the middle of the street, where Jason's life sized wedding ring has landed. A nearby newscaster reports it as one of the largest pieces of gold ever found.

Closing Narration

"We can never calculate what change our actions will bring into the world. Despite our best intentions and whether they will be for good or ill. Yet without action, the stars themselves go cold. Jason Grant wanted to change the world for the better, but the power to do so got the best of him until he lost it all. But today, perhaps losing it all both for Mr. Grant and the town of Littleton was the beginning of something new. Lonely hands find each other in the shadows both in our imperfect world and in the Twilight Zone."

Cast

  • Damon Wayans Jr as Jason Grant
  • David Krumholtz as Mayor John Conley
  • Natalie Martinez as Ana
  • Paula Newsome as Pastor Nichelle Del Rio
  • Andrew Alvarez as Emilio
  • Keegan Connor Tracy as Gloria

Trivia

  • The diner is a reference to the Busy Bee Cafe from the classic episode "Nick of Time"; even the "mystic seer" fortune telling machine can be briefly seen at the counter. Another version of the cafe is seen in the Season 1 episode "Replay".


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