The Mist Episode 5 Review: The Waiting Room

The Mist’s amnesiac soldier finds himself in post-op, but Kevin loses his innocence in The Waiting Room.

The Mist Season 1, Episode 5

This The Mist Review contains spoilers.

The Mist episode 5, “The Waiting Room,” brings the past into the present only to have it obfuscated by a fog. Kevin Copeland (Morgan Spector) and his rag-tag team of apocalypse refugees braved the overcast to bring Bryan (Okezie Morro)  to the hospital, something unconceivable in Stephen King’s novella. The amnesiac soldier was shot in the leg by a desperate father whose son was lost in the chaos of the mist.

Kevin is the unexpected leader of his group, and gets the blame for any weakness. He is separated from his wife, Eve (Alyssa Sutherland), and daughter, Alex (Gus Birney), who are on the other side of town in the mall, and his unease has been growing steadily. There is a wonderful split second before Kevin asks the doctor where he would find his wife and daughter, if indeed they are in the hospital. Right before he asks the question, it looks like he’s about to cry. I was surprised he didn’t. He does later get to break down, but until he does, it plays on his face.

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Kevin becomes a nuisance to everyone in the hospital, and every time someone says they haven’t seen his wife and daughter, he shoots them a passively aggressive angry suspicious look. He no longer trusts anyone, even though he used to be the caring liberal. This is because Mia (Danica Curcic) told him it would be his fault if Bryan dies. She blames him for not killing the anguished father in the gas station. This is a new world, with new rules. None of these apply to Kevin, of course, as he wanders around the hospital, sitting on empty beds, getting information on how much food and medicine is at the hospital. Doing pretty much anything he wants, including performing an operation without a medical license. Local celebrity still counts for something in a fogged up world.

The person Kevin gets to cut open is his brother Mike, who got the shit kicked out of him by mist-infused mystical teens. He tells Kevin that the kids knew details about him that no one should know before they vertically impale him. Mike doesn’t infer that the mist made the kids telepathic, but he can no longer trust himself to know what’s real. He only knows he will die of infection before he can get to the emergency room for anti-coagulants. Kevin performs the operation to save himself from committing fratricidal euthanasia. Though I think he made the incision a little low, the liver is in the right upper quadrant, under the ribs, not where Kevin is cutting.

Romance finds its way into The Mist. In the book, it was the husband, David Drayton, who hooked up with a former babysitter on what they both thought might be their last night. They are still a little prickly about that on TV, though, so the soldier and the junkie sexlessly “make sweet love,” as the angsty teen puts it. She’s not ready for the kindness of soldiers, though, and to this soldier, everyone is a stranger. I don’t think Adrian Garff (Russell Posner) would have known nor cared about Kevin’s relationship with his brother. It’s really not the kind of thing teens discuss, no matter how much they share. It just wouldn’t come up in conversation.

Adrian tries to hook up, only to be roundly and roughly rebuffed by one of the tough guys from school, now emotionally open because he transported family to the hospital through the mist. Adrian thinks the other kid protested too much, so they buff up. The beat-down is pretty brutal but works so well as foreplay even Mia reveals her safe word, dolphin, with cute a little squeak to make the point. This also gives her a life before the catastrophe, though it still feeds into the violence of her past.

The red balloons in the flashback scene look creepy rather than celebratory. This is partially due to the atmosphere that has descended on the town, a little because of the foreshadowing of the situation, and a lot to do with Stephen King’s It.  Pennywise the Clown will always infuse a little subliminal scare into any TV adaptation of King’s work. As the scenario plays out, we see that good guy Kevin shows how needy he is by pretending he doesn’t care about his own needs.

Eve also gets in some nasty passive aggressive shots. During the flashback she tells Kevin she’s never been less herself, how she used to go for the bad guy crowd, like his brother; and she’d still be flitting around from guy to guy if she hadn’t met Kevin. Even though she makes sure she gets in the zinger that, she’s also still that girl too. No wonder Mia calls him a wuss.

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Conspiracies and paranoia creep further into the series with Mia’s double take of Bryan in the hospital bed. King said nothing about what was going on at Arrowhead in the book, so Christian Torpe, the showrunner and co-writer of this episode, is free to expand however he likes. Duplicate people in science fiction are always disconcerting on some level. Here it is compounded by the intermittent amnesia of both soldiers. What if the person we’ve been seeing is the duplicate and not the new character we’ve been introduced to? What if there is more than one Bryan? The audience brings expectations of further twists, especially after Tatiana Maslany’s multi-role tour de force in Orphan Black.

Every week, during the last three minutes, The Mist serves up their monster of the week. Tonight’s monster is a pack of leeches, or is it a gaggle? Not quite as impressive as last week’s shadow monster or the angelic moth creature, the leeches bring more of a gross-out factor which amplifies the desperate running out of time energy. The effects on The Mist are wholly successful, the wounds are rendered well, though the Mike doesn’t have the same paleness of blood loss that we saw with such detail on Penny Dreadful.

The Mist is beginning to engulf Kevin, as he is now the killer he has to be in the new society. We watch as he finally break, but it doesn’t seem bad enough. “The Waiting Room” is a little too diversionary an episode, bringing in more unnecessary emotional baggage to a simple but rising frightening arc.

“The Waiting Room” was written by Amanda Segel and Christian Torpe, and directed by Richard Laxton.

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3 out of 5