The Mist Season 1, Episode 4
This The Mist Review contains spoilers.
The Mist, episode 4, “Pequod,” veers wildly from Stephen King’s book as Kevin Copeland (Morgan Spector), Adrian Garff (Russell Posner), Mia (Danica Curcic) and Bryan (Okezie Morro) make a break from the relative safety of the church, and the guys at the mall comic book store let the foggy atmosphere and its inhabitants into the book store.
It’s true that the main characters in the novel did leave the supermarket. They only got to the store next door and lost half of the frightened adventurers. Here the quartet not only make it to a car, but venture through the mist on foot until they come to an abandoned gas station and run into a gas-mask-wearing, gun-toting frightened father who lost his son in the mist. The series introduces the concept that things get safe when the mist thins out, which adds an element of control the characters in the book were denied. The problem with this is it gives a glimmer of hope and a light at the end of a tunnel King refused to share. With good reason. The fear of solitude, even a crowded solitude, forces the supermarket dwellers into a claustrophobic universe that is a complete and unbreakable mystery.
TV loves a good mystery, but it is uncomfortable airing despair, and if ever there is despair in the air, it’s the atmosphere of the mist. It’s already been established that people who breathe in the heavy overcast shadow have their minds fogged with, but we keep seeing people who keep their sanity. The gas mask may protect the father in the truck from the days before computer dashboard, but the carjackers from the second episode were a real-life threat in somewhat control of their actions.
Everyone in town tries to employ their own coping methods. The priest at the church bangs out the theme from The Sting, while praying to god to forgive Mrs. Raven who’s gone buggy. Mall manager Gus Redman (Isiah Whitlock, Jr.) passes out toys and gets the creepy ass jock Jay (Luke Cosgrove) to start an athletic league in their mini-community. Who could say no to a high school star quarterback, the manager asks, completely ignoring the tension of the date-rape controversy.
Jay gets an instant reminder and, in a huff, throws a long pass. I gotta say though, the jock throws that ball with all his angry might and it only spirals about 20 feet. It lands right next to the very girl he date raped, who tosses it back easily, underhanded, with a twisted smile and more spin than he put on it. What is she doing on that side of the mall anyway? She left the fountain area to set up camp with her mother and the few last-minute shoppers who were getting a little fed up with the rules of mall security.
Eve (Alyssa Sutherland) agrees, however, to the rent-a-mall-cop’s suggestion that anyone who endangers the group should be banished to the encroaching haze, a death sentence. One of the comic book guys gets killed, deal with it, venturing into the mist to retrieve a soldier’s body, and lets in the fog and the shadow people. It costs a life, two including the gamestopper who doesn’t come back. The mob votes, and The Mist sheers its first sacrificial lamb. This reminds me of the South Park episode “Cartman’s Mom Is Still a Dirty Slut,” part two, when all the adults get stuck on a reenactment set for America’s Most Wanted, after the electricity goes out. Mr. Garrison asks whether it’s too early to consider cannibalism, and someone points out they’ve only been without power for a half hour. But Garrison is hungry now and resistance is a mere appetizer.
So it is in the mall. They shoppers have only been stuck for two days. They don’t yet know the rules of the new situation, and an accident, lethal though it is, is not done with malicious intent. Now we know there is no judge and jury in the new world, which is frightening. But that suggestion was never ratified and there never was a learning curve, which is more frightening. The kid is given three days’ provisions, a flashlight and a means of defending himself. Sadly, he doesn’t turn it on his banishers.
Police chief Connor Heisel (Darren Pettie) is surprisingly understanding to Natalie Raven (Frances Conroy), maybe because he also doesn’t kill spiders. Maybe because he finally loosened his tie. Either way, he is certainly more sympathetic than Father Romanov (Dan Butler), who gets creepier and creepier as the pews start closing in on everyone. He’s no believer in judgement day, but he’s had a few beers in his life, and is worried about his immortal soul. He is a friend to all god’s children, but really has a problem with eight-legged one. He hates bugs in the church, even if they are under glass.
Natalie threatens his spiritual well-being as well as his sanity. But she is very clear-headed when she talks about how familiar their situation is to May 12, 1860 when six people were killed by nature. Mrs. Raven finds answers in an old priest’s diary while the new priest wants her to find it in an even older book. In the King book, Mrs. Carmody puts in a collect call to the old gods, Mrs. Raven surrenders to creatures of nature.
This brings us to the creature in the book store that sucked out the soul of the little girl, but passed on Alex (Gus Birney). First of all, best effect of the episode, spooky, etheric, almost sexy in its oppressive menace. That is until it drops its head down on the little girl and we see her putrefy and rot. Secondly, the creature is filled with mystery. Why doesn’t it eat Alex’s life force? What is she hiding? Is it now a part of her? She gets labeled a liar, giving Jay a chance to pull a quarterback sneak. And she admits to her mother that she is. She couldn’t tell the truth about the creature, but she’s holding something else back.
The creature is a little reminiscent of the Dementor guards at the ministry prison for the criminally insane in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. Here is where the writers can have fun riffing on King horror themes while imposing their own narrative. They might have developed a new breed of Game of Thrones’ White Walkers for basic cable. At least now I know who I’m rooting for.
“Pequod” was written by Andrew Wilder, and directed by TJ Scott.