This The Mist Review contains spoilers.
The Mist Episode 2
The Mist, episode 2, “Withdrawal,” wastes no time on introductions. We are right in the middle of that feels like a standoff at the police station. The phones don’t work, there are dead bodies scattered on blood stain floors. Trigger fingers are itchy, but there is no visible target. Welcome to The Mist.
Kevin Copeland (Morgan Spector), soldier Bryan Hunt, mysterious refugee Mia Lambert, and teenaged Adrian Garf are locked inside a police station, filled with guns, and the only person they trust to shoot one is the mystery date. The setting is claustrophobic in the station and it’s actually expansive when they make a break for it into the heavy haze.
Mia takes a quick pop into the evidence room for something to take the edge off. This is perfectly understandable under the circumstances, but you have to wonder why she’s so afraid Kevin will find out. She got in the first kill and it’s already been established that Kevin’s not the most disciplinary guy in town. By the time the group gets to the car, Mia is sniffling, shaking, and her eyes are watering. There’s a little bit of sweat pooling up over her eyebrows. Of course, she drives. She’s already in a fog and acclimated. The compassionate liberal Kevin sits behind her with a gun to the back of the driver’s seat to keep her calm. Until she’s not, and we notice that all the usual suspects dwell with the unusual ones in the dense dim.
The slows down a little for the scene with the priest. At first it looks like everyone wants to get together and pitch in, except the cowardly top cop Connor Heisel (Darren Pettie) who runs blindly through the haze after having dispatched some rather large road kill and has to reassert his dominance in the small flock of frightened sheep. What happens when order breaks down from an unknown threat? Panic, and the cop does have a point about keeping secrets, but it’s also true that authoritative secrets might have gotten them into this murky mess.
The church is a much calmer place. Because of Natalie Raven (Frances Conroy), there is a funereal feel to it. Her husband got shot by a crazed neighbor lost in a hallucinogenic fog and she’s looking for answers. So is the priest, who wants to give more than solace to his perishing parishioners. He’s not going to get anything from the chief of police, who changes his story as he goes along, so as not to incite panic inside the stained-glass sanctuary.
Eve (Alyssa Sutherland) and Alex (Gus Birney) have no time to window shop. Amid the fogged up tension in the mall is the small town tension emanating off the treasured jock, Jay (Luke Cosgrove), who happens to also be the police chief’s son and was accused of raping eve at a jock party. The jock stands there inscrutably watching the Copeland mom and daughter. You might call it looming if Eve wasn’t scarier than the teen athlete.
Isiah Whitlock, Jr. is fantastic at vaguely hiding his complete and utter chickenshit nature as mall manager Gus Redman. Oh, he lets everyone know he’s a chickenshit, but he does it with such a detached aplomb, you barely notice he’s probably wet himself repeatedly. You can’t argue with him. He’s very upfront and casual about it. He doesn’t have to say he’s scared. That would only lead to panic, and that scares him too. I see this as an underrated comic performance that works for me in a dramatic way.
The mall manager lets the last drone in the electronics store get unboxed in a search for truth. There is no real precedent in the book, because of locale and time. It bothers me as a diversion because the people in the book’s supermarket couldn’t get a drone even if they did exist. The only forewarning they got was when something rubbed up against their legs. I understand that it gives us an extra five minutes of suspense, but at the cost of being lost in a fog. I don’t want to be warned in a horror series based on a Stephen King book. I want to realize the monsters are eating my leg when it’s already half gone. That’s Stephen King.
In 20 years, this will be dated based on the technology of the time. Hey, maybe by the time this review comes out. But the way the people were trapped in in the supermarket will never change. They are stuck looking out a huge window, protected by nothing more than stacks of fertilizer and big ticket items. That will always be the same. Of course the kid we’re supposed to hate is the only one who can run it and only has one minor almost incident.
What are the odds that the female lead would be picked in a lottery? Pretty good, I’d say. But sadly you’ll be saying the same thing before the mall manager’s hands even reach into the sack of names. It’s okay, Alyssa Sutherland gets hazard pay as lead actress in a horror series. Too bad you can’t say the same for the guy who volunteers to do the exploratory with her. Unless you said it at the same time he volunteered, like I did. But I didn’t expect he would deserve it. Sutherland swerves from being in control to the exhaustion of losing it believably.
The series indulges in only the most basic clues to what might be causing the mist and why it fogs through peoples’ minds. The cast mentions poison gas a few times, but before you ask what they’re huffing, it starts to make sense. Between the blood stained “arr,” or “ann,” who could have run security at Arrowhead, and the mall rat with the pistol in his pocket, we know there’s a lot more that’s still obscured by clouds.
Frances Conroy is unnervingly effective, especially as she equates her personal loss to the loss of the bees, which will be a devastating loss to humanity. She gives us four years. It’s nature. It’s here and not here. Like the communal wine she convinces the priest to share. Like whatever goes out into the mist. The show ends on nightfall. In the book, that’s when the bugs really come out. The Mist leave us hanging this week ends on two harrowing reveals, one of which is that the hallucinations are apparently shared. Next week should be a major turning point.
“Withdrawal” was written by Peter MacManus and directed by David Boyd.