Welcome back, and thanks again for joining me as I take a look at The Mist Episode 3, Show and Tell.
For those of you who missed last week's episode, Spike was kind enough to offer a recap:
Now, before I dive headfirst into my review, a brief heads-up: I'm a huge fan of both Stephen King's work and the 2007 Thomas Jane movie, but since this is a "based on…", I'll be reviewing the television series based on its own merits instead of through comparisons. A lot of details are going to get spoiled, so please keep that in mind as you read this. I'll try to put up some kind of "subtle reminder" when the spoilage is about to start.
As always, my ratings system is based on a highly scientific 1-9 (with half-increments) John Cusack scale, with a 10 "Golden Cusack" score reserved only for incredibly rare and special circumstances. Why John Cusack? Because he's my pop-culture spirit animal. And he made High Fidelity. And Grosse Pointe Blank. And Better Off Dead. And One Crazy Summer. There's more, if you're interested, but maybe we should move on.
So here's what Spike had to say about Show and Tell:
"At the church, Connor locks up Mia, Bryan, and Kevin in the basement. Back at the mall, Jay confronts Alex to try and convince her he didn't rape her."
Three episodes in and The Mist is really making me reconsider my "don't judge until after the sixth episode" policy…and not in a good way. I'm finding it incredibly difficult to connect with this show — when I'm finding myself still having to rely on IMDB and Wikipedia for the characters' names, that's not good.
With a few exceptions this week, I found myself unable to relate to any of the characters — they just kept making incredibly stupid decisions. If that wasn't bad enough, the pacing of the story is painfully slow and the town's biggest danger comes from the rolling thunder of cliches, not the mist. At best, this episode was just as good as last week's…not exactly high praise.
For two or three minutes of decent acting and cool special effects, you're forced to sit through 40 minutes of painful mediocrity. Sorry if you're finding this intro a little harsh, and I'm definitely still sticking with the series, but my expectations for The Mist were very high. In my mind there was no way King's novella couldn't work as a series, or at least a two-season limited series. To say I'm disappointed would be a righteously huge understatement…like saying water is "kinda wet" or that fire is "kinda hot."
So I'm going to adjust how I work my reviews of The Mist starting this week. Instead of a "good/not-so-good" scenario, I'll be switching to a "pro/con" rundown for two reasons: to make sure I don't miss some of the (rare) positives from the episode; and to make sure I don't miss those aspects of the episode that are still making my brain hurt.
Con: So Kevin (Morgan Spector) thinks it's a smart move to have Mia (Danica Curcic) hot-wire a car and go with him to the mall…??? Isn't this the same drug-abusing ex-con/murder suspect who flipped their car last week and got all of them stuck in the church in the first place?
Pro: Alex (Gus Birney) gives one of the rare quality performances this episode, subtly presenting a young woman whose exterior may appear cold and detached, but inside is an emotional volcano ready to erupt: "Scared? About which thing? There are so many options."
Con: So who thought it was a good idea to roll those dead body-filled shopping carts into the middle of the mall, in front of everyone? Why couldn't Gus (Isiah Whitlock Jr.), Kyle (Romaine Waite) and Jay (Luke Cosgrove) just store the bodies and then speak to the crowd? Two dead military people in shopping carts isn't the best way to make frightened people feel safe.
Con: No one remembers the third shady military character who was hanging with the dead ones from last week? Oh, and some free advice: being the first one to move after the idea of checking military dog tags is brought up is a sure-fire way of getting caught. But at least you can be reassured of one thing: no matter how much they don't trust you, they won't check your backpack, no matter how connected to the mist they might think you are at this point.
Pro/Con: The exchanges at the church between Mrs. Raven (Frances Conroy) and Wine Guy from last week were actually very sweet and well acted. I could really see their relationship being an interesting one to watch develop. Wait, never mind. The mist turns him into a horrific butterfly after he tried to save Mrs. Raven from leaving the church to go die.
Pro/Con: Based on the facts in play (a soldier with no memory warning of the mist and an drug-abusing ex-con wanted for murder), Conner (Darren Pettie) was absolutely right to not only lock up Mia and Bryan (Okezie Morro), but to lock them up in the basement after Kevin tries to convince Conner to let them come with him. If only they didn't have Conner come across as your typical small-town sheriff d-bag…
Con: Bryan finds the pills in Mia's jacket…and gives them back to her. And releases her from her handcuffs. Yup.
Con: Why do video game players always get portrayed as lazy slackers with no compassion or common sense?
Pro: I thought using the bodies as bait to see what was out in the mist was actually a pretty good idea.
Con: There was no way that Bryan and Mia could hear Kevin from that far down in the basement.
Pro: Mia's description of Kevin was so on-point: "…the whining man from the police station."
Con: Why did Kevin even bother to try to go back upstairs? Conner pretty much just beats him down either physically or verbally every time they spar…
Con: What shopping center has shopping carts that work that well? You would've thought they had motors attached to them considering how far they went.
Con: Jay seems like a guy who has his shit together and two brain cells to rub together…which is why for the life of me I can't understand why he thought approaching Alex in private would ever be a good idea.
Pro: As much as I liked Wine Guy, the scene where his butterfly tattoo rips open as he turns into a real and horrific butterfly was actually really well done and disturbingly beautiful.
Con: Mrs. Raven's transformation from grieving widow to what appears to be a faith-in-the-mist-fueled zealot was way too quick of a transformation. As much as I love Conroy's acting, even she couldn't make it believable to me.
Con: Why would anyone (short of their military buddy) think bringing those bodies back in would ever be a good idea..especially if it's the guy with the dog tags that you don't trust?
Con: Father Romanov (Dan Butler) thinks the mist is actually a test from God for them to reaffirm their faith. I'm not sure telling a room filled with frightened people (some who've actually seen people get killed horribly) that all of this is their fault and they need to square things with God for it to get better. Not exactly tending to your flock there.
Con: Did Gus really compare what's going on to Hurricane Katrina? Really?
Con: Are there horror movies in their world? Because if there are, then they should damn well know that splitting up is usually a bad decision 99.999723% of the time.
Con: Eve (Alyssa Sutherland) grabbing Kyle's gun and threatening Jay wasn't surprising for two reasons: for one, as far as she knows, he raped her daughter. And two, she was dropping ten-ton hints about doing something to him about three times before this happened. So she's about to administer some hard vigilante justice on his ass as we go to commercial… but when we come back? She walks away with the others that were with her to another part of the mall. Huh?
Pro: Adrian (Russell Posner) runs a scam on Father Romanov that allows him to get the keys and release Kevin, Mia, and Bryan from the basement. The fact that Adrian was willing to go through a formal baptism to pull off his con showed an interestingly dark side to him: that he's willing to do whatever he needs to do to get what he wants. So about that theory I have that I'll be spilling next week about him, Alex and Jay…hmm.
Pro: I actually thought tying message onto balloons and letting them go was a pretty good idea.
Conclusion: Another bad week, but a slight step back from last week's mess. I'll be back next week to see if things improve as the action starts to heat up…but for now?
Show and Tell gets 3 Cusacks!
Come back and share some time with me next week when I look at The Mist's fourth episode, Pequod:
"Kevin, Mia, Bryan, and Adrian arrive at an abandoned gas station where Kevin tries to reason with Clay amid fears of the wherabouts of his child. At the mall bookstore, Alex comes face-to-face with the mist."