Amazing Stories “The Rift” is a time-traveling adventure story with a classic Steven Spielberg feel and the series finale for season 1. Similar to episode 3, “Dynoman and the Volt”, “The Rift” features a young boy as the protagonist. It opens with Elijah Whitaker (Duncan Joiner) riding in the car with his stepmom, passing through Dayton, Ohio on the way to San Diego, California when a sudden storm fills the sky and a fighter plane from World War II crashes in a nearby creek. They jump out of the car and Mary rushes down the slope to free a soldier from the plane, a young man by the name of Lieutenant Theodore Cole.
Confused, Mary Ann and Elijah agree to help Lieutenant Cole, giving him a ride into town. In a classic Spielberg sci-fi kind of way, Elijah is young enough to still believe in fantastic things and immediately knows Cole’s story that he is a fighter pilot from 1938 is true, while his stepmom Mary Ann thinks Cole must be delusional. When Elijah discovers a photo at the local police station that proves he is who he says, he begs his stepmom to help him. When authorities that know about the rift come after Cole to send him back to his own time, Elijah helps him to escape, but Cole realizes that he has to return to his own time.
What Happens In Amazing Stories: The Rift’s Ending
Amazing Stories “The Rift” comes to a head as Lieutenant Cole begins to believe, with Elijah’s help, that he was brought through time for a reason. He learns the love of his life, whom he left behind without saying goodbye, is now an elderly woman who has lived a fulfilling life. Pauline is married and had kids, and Cole feels he should leave her alone. However, Elijah convinces him that he was brought here to tie up the loose ends of the past, so he meets Pauline to apologize for never saying goodbye.
He agrees to take himself and everything he brought from the past back through the rift. The problem is, earlier he gave a candy bar to Elijah, who ate it. According to the authorities who have dealt with rifts such as these in the past, if anything is left behind, the rift will explode, destroying the entire town. However, if the theory is correct and the rift’s purpose was for Cole to say goodbye to Pauline, it shouldn’t explode, despite returning without the candy bar. Cole gets in his plane and flies into the rift. There is a flash of lightning and the rift closes.
Why Is The NTSB Interested In The Rift?
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is a government agency responsible for investigating transportation accidents, as well as hazardous materials released during transport. In this case, they are responding to a crashing plane, although the circumstances for this particular accident seem a bit unusual. Despite that, the agents are fully aware of the rift and its time-traveling capabilities. It seems they have dealt with similar situations before.
This raises the question as to what other rifts have appeared before and who or what came through them. Although this knowledge is never revealed, one agent, while driving Mary Ann to find Elijah and Cole, admits she’s encountered these kinds of rifts “more than most people feel comfortable knowing about.” Apparently, many of them have exploded as well, sometimes wiping out entire towns. When this happens, the agency covers up the truth with the story of some kind of accident.
Amazing Stories: The Rift Is Saved By Its Cast
Most of the episodes in the Amazing Stories reboot have plots audiences have seen before, with predictable twists. Amazing Stories “The Rift” is no exception. The series has been relying heavily on nostalgia for the original, giving writers and directors a chance to indulge their Spielberg fantasies. The problem with this is that the reboot fails to create much of anything new and exciting. With that in mind, Amazing Stories “The Rift” includes some excellent performances from its cast, especially Duncan Joiner as young Elijah. Without him, the magic and wonder of this episode would likely fall flat.
Amazing Stories: The Rift’s Real Meaning
Overall, Amazing Stories “The Rift” plays with the idea of cosmic destiny. At first, it seems the rift is a random phenomenon that Lieutenant Cole accidentally stumbled upon in the heat of battle. However, the NTSB agents reveal from their studies that it may appear with a purpose, a theory that was proven when the rift doesn’t blow up after Cole returns through it. If this is true, however, then what force is bringing about holes in space and time so that people can right the wrongs of their pasts? Is it destiny or something greater? Either way, it is these wondrous questions that bring Amazing Stories to life.
Amazing Stories “The Rift” is also about family relationships. It revolves around Elijah and his stepmother Mary Ann, who, at the beginning of the episode, plans to drop Elijah off at his aunt’s house instead of taking him to San Diego with her. She feels that she can hardly take care of herself, let alone take on the responsibility of a young boy. Life is hard, and it’s never easy to know what’s the right thing to do. By the end of the episode, however, Mary Ann seems to have changed her mind about Elijah, partly because of a talk from Lieutenant Cole, bringing season 1 of Amazing Stories to a heartwarming conclusion.
The Rift Was Inspired By An Amazing Stories Comic
Most of the stories in the reboot were originals or paid homage to the original series. This was different from the original show, as the new one didn’t pay much attention to the comic books that provided the source material. According to co-showrunner Edward Kitsis, Amazing Stories “The Rift” was the only new episode that was based on the comic, although Adam Horowitz clarified it was based on a graphic novel and not the actual monthly comic book series. As expected with these sorts of adaptations, there were changes made to the source material.
The episode is more of a condensed version of the comic story, and it cuts a lot out to make it more straightforward for the show. One difference is that Cole’s wife is angry and bitter in the comics, and she wants nothing to do with talking to Cole when he shows up at first. She also doesn’t have a husband and kids mentioned in the comics, and that was new for the episode. The government team in the comics is also bigger, and more dangerous with a scientist who is completely by the books and not willing to compromise.
The biggest change in the Amazing Stories episode is that Cole never leaves in the comics, and the rift closes when his wife dies in his arms. The government starts to use Cole, Mary, and Elijah to investigate new rifts, including one that blows up in San Francisco. However, when a child they save returns as an adult, they learn the government forces are not honest, and they end up in on the run from a serial killer from the past. The comic could have easily been a miniseries or movie, but thanks to the format of Amazing Stories, “The Rift” was a stripped-down version of the original.