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SYFY WIRE Twisted Metal

Unpacking the Apocalypse: How Did the World End in Peacock’s Twisted Metal?

Let's all sing along to the "Thong Song" as the world burns.

By Trent Moore
A shot from Twisted Metal featuring Anthony Mackie, Neve Campbell, and Tahj Vaughans

Sci-fi fans have watched the world end a whole lot of ways over the years, but Peacock’s new Twisted Metal adaptation put a bit of a retro spin on the apocalypse. The sci-fi-ish action-comedy picks up in the modern day, with Anthony Mackie’s John Doe ripping his way around the wasteland, delivering goods and dodging killer clowns in ice cream trucks.

Thankfully, critics also seem to be digging this spin on the end of the world, too.

How does the world end in Peacock’s Twisted Metal series?

The fall of civilization is kicked off by a Y2K-esque technology breakdown, which leads society to fall apart and the world around it. There are also some wild lightning storms that break out from time to time, which could perhaps be related to what fried all the technology and sent the globe into a death spiral.

So when does the world end? Pop culture seems to be frozen in approximately 2002, as everything from the soundtrack (“Thong Song” for the win!) to the cars and style choices (including John Doe’s Nike’s he snatches up from a Foot Locker) seem to have come from the very early 2000s era.

A shot from Twisted Metal featuring a cop in front of junk cars

Though society as we know it may have ended around 2002, it didn’t stop the world from turning, meaning all the stuff you might recognize from the early 2000s is a little dirtier, a little older, and a lot more broken as survivors repurpose tech and tools to find ways to survive. We also see how survivors have broken off into different gangs and groups to survive, from a roving group living out of semi-trucks on the road, to Agent Stone's (Thomas Haden Church) attempt to rule the apocalypse with an iron grip, to the upper class' walled cities.

It makes for a unique aesthetic, as Mackie’s John spends much of the series ripping around in an early 2000s Subaru sports car, with analog music providing the soundtrack and fun throwback pop culture nods to old movies (did you catch the A Knight’s Tale poster?) and touchstones littered along the way.

The series stars Mackie, alongside Brooklyn Nine-Nine alum Stephanie Beatriz as Quiet; Spider-Man 3 baddie Thomas Haden Church as Agent Stone; and Samoa Joe as Sweet Tooth (voiced by Will Arnett). The supporting cast is also stacked, with names like Neve Campbell, Jason Mantzoukas and Chloe Fineman popping up along the way.

The entire 10-episode season of Twisted Metal is streaming now on Peacock