This The Mist Review contains spoilers.
The Mist Episode 9
In The Mist, episode 9, “The Waking Dream,” shadowy sleeper cell soldiers move under the city or house to house. No, it isn’t the fearsome creatures in the foggy depths. The biggest threats continue to seep in from much closer to home. The series continues to take what clues Stephen King’s book left and run with them, but at their current level of athleticism, they’re in danger of running off course.
Not with the people. For anyone who likes rooting for the villain, The Mist is full of them. The entire arc of each of the characters seems to be how far they can fall from grace. Once dropped, of course, they become the property of Nathaly Raven (Frances Conroy), who wants to feed the fallen into the ethereally gaping jaws of the mist. She suckered Connor Heisel (Darren Pettie) in pretty fast. Even if the chief of police does believe his son is a rapist, I don’t see how he’d be on board with stringing the kid up in a mob ruled lynching, especially since he’s the only one in the mob. is fed up with the worst crimes. Last week we saw him become humanized by the crazy lady, this week he lets the animal out.
But she gets into his head pretty deep for Heisel to stick it to an innocent couple who are just a few rungs short of a ladder. As the foursome is walking down the sewers on the way to the mall, one of them lets it be known that he’s afraid of rats. So, of course Nathalie and Heisel are going to wind up leaving him to be gobbled up by them, as they trudge valiantly forward in a death march to the mall. Sooner or later everybody goes to the mall. In the book, everybody wants to get out of the supermarket but in the series, people kill go get into it. It’s worse than the rush of Black Friday.
The chase through the mall basement is almost suspenseful. It reminds me of the chase through Soho in Martin Scorsese’s After Hours, without the Mr. Softee truck. Mall manager Gus Redman (Isiah Whitlock, Jr.) knows the pursuit is crazy, but forges ahead because he’d be next on the chopping block. But he does give one great line delivery. At one point, the mall security guard says what everybody’s thinking: Alex (Gus Birney) is evil incarnate. The mall manager crinkles his eyes just a little bit and asks if that’s a little bit of a stretch. He recovers when the mall cop reminds him they have to blame somebody, and leads the charge. Of course, he’s actually just trying to keep his office clear of anyone who might find his stash of snacks. Gus gives Eve (Alyssa Sutherland) a nasty whack in the belly when she accuses him of killing a woman and blaming Alex.
Jay (Luke Cosgrove), the high school star quarterback accused of raping Alex, has been locked up in a personal holding cell awaiting slaughter. The boy who actually committed the crime and admitted it to Eve’s father before he shot him presumably dead, is free, and coming to protect Alex. Adrian practices his lines before he breaks the bad news to Eve and Alex. The shot opens with some ambiguity, but it doesn’t last long. The audience certainly knows long before the teenaged love monster decides he’ll pass the audition.
Adrian improvises well when he actually breaks the news, but his audience is a little distracted to give him what he needs, love. Alex completely falls apart, sliding down to the floor in puddle of hyperventilating tears. Gus Birney, who plays Alex, really throws herself into this. She’s been facetiously playing up the ambiguity with her coquettish come-hither avoidance of Jay. Here she throws subtlety away with the same ease she out-threw the quarterback’s football a few weeks ago.
Daddy Copeland isn’t quite dead yet. Kevin (Morgan Spector) and the game store clerk Vic (Erik Knudsen) are on the way to the mall. They move three houses at a time and show up at an aftermath of a slaughter. The dead men are soldiers and Kevin immediately pins them as Arrowhead. Kevin’s already been shot at by Adrian Garff (Russell Posner). The game boy lets him sleep off his concussion, knowing it’s a bad idea, but figuring it’s good for him. And when the owner of the house finds Kevin fumbling around with one of the soldier’s radios, he shoots him. Everyone wants to shoot Kevin. Even I want to shoot Kevin.
The dream sequence with Kevin beating the shit out of himself amidst all the dead people he left behind in the mist has the spookiest atmosphere of the episode. His brother, the first cop who bugged out and the orderly from the psych ward all know Kevin is evil. Kevin knows Kevin is evil. He and Adrian should get a room. Instead he takes out all his malevolence on his, supposedly evil, doppelganger, and out-bads himself. But Kevin doesn’t want to be seen as the bad guy. Even after he knocks the gun from the homeowner’s hands, he tells the guy he’s sorry and won’t tell anyone where he’s hiding or say a word about the dead Arrowhead soldiers festering in his living room. The homeowner doesn’t take this too well and goes off like a grenade.
Mia (Danica Curcic) drops a bomb on Jonah (Okezie Morro) in a rare quiet moment. After lulling the soldier into an imaginative state, she suggests the two of them could have run away if they’d met under different circumstances. Then she shows him a real sack of bills she rolled off her real drug dealer boyfriend before the mist rolled in. When they finally break apart to look for provisions, Jonah is knocked out and locked down by the mystery soldier guarding the stores at the mall. In the last scene we learn that Jonah has rank.
With a slap of the salute, The Mist adds a new twist to an overly serpentine plot. Stephen King’s book is a condensed marvel. There is no outside world. King worried about one character. The writers in the writers’ room adapting and expanding the book’s worldview often tug at the internal logic of their characters. We get it. Everything falls apart under the oppressive fog of The Mist, without the oppression of authority. But it doesn’t always have to fall apart so stupidly.
“The Waking Dream” was written by Amanda Segel, and directed by Nick Murphy.