I worried for a hot minute that my failure to write a review for last week’s acrid pile of stinking dreck would perhaps wreak havoc with the continuity of these The Mist reviews. Circumstances beyond my control, and which I will not go into here (we’re friends, you and I, but not that close yet) prevented me from having the heart to write about it, though I assure you, I suffered through it. And it was bad. But the good news is that so very little actually happens from week to week, that I feel confident I can speak freely about the latest episode; which to be frank, is a part of an over-arcing problem with the series, which I will revisit later. For now, let’s just take a look at what happened:
Bryan, Mia, Kevin, and Adrian are all at the hospital. Last week, Bryan got shot and they are getting him treatment. While there, Kevin discovers his brother Mike, who was stabbed by some kids who were motivated by the mist (possibly? It is extremely difficult to tell exactly what roll the mist played here-but we’ll come back to that). The exact degree of abandoned this hospital is remains sort of a mystery and seems to vary – and with precious little explanation. We know that the mist has infiltrated a wing, but that somehow it hasn’t gotten past it. We also know that no efforts are being made to seal doorways – there’s no tell-tale duct tape around the edges of jams or windows, no sheets hanging or plastic wrap pushed to edges. Apparently a room need not be air-tight to keep the mist out, it just needs to close a door. Anyway, even by the standards of relatively low action set by every episode of this show, precious little happens. I’m being neither blithe nor pithy with this next bit. This is literally all that happens. Kevin and Mike talk. Mia goes to get Bryan a teddy bear, somehow can’t manage to re-find his room, asks for the room with his name, and gets sent to a room with a different man (which begs the question, what name does the hospital actually have our boy under? We never find out. Are they just down with some nameless dude squatting in their hospital and getting all that sweet, free medical care?) and finds out that the guy she knows as Bryan is definitely someone who beat this dude up and took his shit. Mia steals the car keys and bails. Bryan lies around in a hospital bed until he notices Mia’s been gone too long, goes looking for her, finds the real Bryan, and looks confused. Adrian gets beaten up and then porked by the same guy. Yay for Adrian.
Kevin rolls his stabbed brother through the mist, with no trouble at all to the operating room and then performs surgery on him with the help of a doctor guiding him through a headset. Good news, medical students, you can save all those college bills, because all it really takes to be a surgeon is to have someone who can’t actually see what you’re doing talk you through the process! Easy as that! Kevin successfully performs surgery on his brother but, when he is rolling him out of the operating room, slips on some blood and they both fall down. While they are trying to get back up, the mist manifests (?) some leeches and Mike tells Kevin to go save his terrible wife. Kevin apologizes to Mike and shoots him, so he can go save Eve. Laced throughout the episode are flashbacks that establish that Eve used to be more into Mike and his bros than Kevin, because Kevin’s a square? I guess? He’s well-read and looks a little like a bargain basement Oscar Isaac, which still makes him way more attractive than the other, “popular” guys, who all look like King of the Hill characters. But whatever. Anyway, we learn that Alex isn’t Kevin’s daughter, and if she’s not Mike’s, I’ll eat my whole damn hat. And that’s it. That’s everything.
I have – believe it or not – allowed The Mist some leeway, thinking that perhaps as the series comes together, certain aspects will make more sense, and the whole will be greater than the individual parts. Unfortunately, this is proving to not only be inaccurate, but very likely the opposite, unless they have a real blitz left in them. The further the show gets, the less sense it makes; and not in a “the mysteries just keep deepening” sort of way. It increasingly feels like a new writers room was hired for every individual episode, and given only a very general synopsis about what each prior episode contains. For this show – for this concept – to be successful, it must build on top of itself. The fact that I could speak about this episode in isolation illustrates excruciatingly just how little has been established.
The show is called The Mist, and yet precious little has been done to establish any sort of parameters and rules about the mist. It messes with peoples’ heads. We think. Yet in this episode, Mike says the kids who stabbed him knew things about him they couldn’t. Is the mist messing with his head, or is it speaking through these kids? But then, too, the mist manifests the leeches onto Kevin and Mike. We have no reason to believe this is a hallucination, since they are both experiencing it, and we previously saw that moth burst out of the church dweller. So the mist has some sort of actual, physical presence, or the ability to create physical presences, like the church moth-man’s wings. Or to summon physical presences, like potentially, the leeches. And while we have now had enough examples to state unequivocally that the mist is wildly inconsistent, we have also, in reality, seen the mist do precious little, and people freak out in a way that is disproportionate to the damage done. I have no idea how much time is supposed to have passed on this show – it’s impossible to get a read on it, though it would seem like just over 24 hours, maybe. Yet, so much is abandoned. Now. If this mist is creating chaos and, say, you don’t have much of a special affects budget, a potent way of delivering that information might be via showing a chaotic, crammed hospital waiting room. A hospital would seem like a safe space and the wounded would go there. This hospital is not bustling. Nor is there a tv on, tuned to a news station that could be saying things like, “this just in, ill-favored mist with bad intent, tearing shit up in a town near you.” There are ways to establish that this mist is actually causing havoc that don’t require you to see every individual kill. As it stands, we the viewers have seen the mist provide far more atmosphere than menace. We’ve seen Kevin’s group walk through it repeatedly with no trouble. In fact, we’ve mostly seen people navigate it with no problems. And there is a potential narrative where that is fine – if we know why. If the mist thinks they’re not pure of heart, or has a grudge against certain people, or something, anything. We need to start to understand the limits and rules of the mist, because we have veered into total nonsense, without any of the campy fun that could entail. A great deal of this might be forgivable if any of the characterization felt genuine or realized. As it is, we’re staring down the barrel of a Bryan/Mia romantic subplot that no one can possibly care about, because we don’t actually feel any connection to these characters. It’s impossible to. They’re just ciphers, warm bodies filling plot space while we wait for the mist to do something interesting.
You’ve got 5 more episodes, The Mist. Make ‘em count.