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The Mist - Pequod - Review: "Slowing Down"

The Mist 1.04 Pequod - Review:
Directed by T.J. Scott & Written by Andrew Wilder

There comes a certain point with slow-burn television series like The Mist when you wonder two things. The first is whether the series will be worth all the effort that you're putting into watching it, and the second is that are you still actually interested in the outcome? The series decided to take the time in this episode to explore what happened to the others caught in The Mist as it looked how different people might have been affected, but failed to move with any real agency. We're now four episodes in and the series it seems, is not taking any real steps in the right direction. For those who stick to the "four episode rule" of giving shows four episodes before making their mind up, are you in or out after this episode? Because it seems that despite everything we've seen, there hasn't been an improvement in terms of quality since the pilot, offering only tantalising hints of what the show could be but never really making that stage.

Here, we follow Kevin, Adrian, Mia and Bryan who are making a run for it from the church. They manage to make it into the car and even further, before they run into a crazed man in a gas mask, who is frightened, and for good reason too, his son has been lost somewhere out there in The Mist, and he hasn't found him. It turns out that his name is Clay and his kid attended Eve's class, and he recognises Kevin as being Eve's husband. The thing is about these small environments like these is that everyone knows everyone, even by off chance, and that makes everything a bit more personal than it would if we were in a bigger city, for example. Everyone denies seeing Clay's son, but not because they actually found him. It's because a body looking very much like the boy in the photo was found outside the church, and as a result, Clay is looking for his son pretty much in vain. Clay reveals that he hasn't slept in two days, and is not going to take the fact that they're lying to him well. This creates some more forced drama that The Mist didn't really need, and it would have been a lot easier for Kevin to tell him straight up. You just know that this is going to come back to bite them in the future, and Mia seems to agree, wondering why they're lying to him.

Eventually, Kevin invites Clay to dinner where he is able to apologise for using the gun earlier. Most of the cars aren't working which makes travelling in The Mist a lot harder, but there's an older one that does still work. The main problem that I had with this storyline here is that it pretty much seems to largely be about getting the group from point A to point B without much depth added. It seems like Clay is only serving to extend the episode and keep Kevin and Eve apart for longer than necessary, because especially, given that this is a small town where everyone knows everyone, The Mall probably isn't that far from the Church at all. In The Mist, though, everything seems further and further away, and it's not just the locations. It's also the writing, because at this point as well, things are becoming less and less scarier by the second.

We've gone into plenty dark situations before as one would expect from a Stephen King series but the dark moments have all felt cheap, and not as well executed as they could have been, which is a real shame given the horror potential. When Clay is eventually told about his son he naturally refuses to believe it and is convinced that it's a lie. Of course that was going to be Clay's reaction, and he's convinced that they're only making it up to steal the car. Bryan ends up tackling Clay, and he gets accidentally shot in the process. One of the things that weakens this series from the movie adaption is that in the film there was always a growing sense of despair and a no-hope scenario, pushing the main characters into more difficult decisions where they were faced with increasingly bleak odds. Indeed, the movie has one of the darkest endings I've ever seen. But there's nothing here that seems to suggest The Mist TV series is capable of reaching those heights, because unlike the movie, there's always that element of hope. There's always that element that things are going to get better at some point. This is something that the movie never offered any guarantee of. However, that said, this is still the fourth episode and there are still developing storylines that could take this show into more interesting territory.

The Church has the most potential out of the three storylines to be the one that moves into more interesting territory as Nathalie is pushing forward the idea of befriending The Mist and the creatures that inhabit it for some reward rather than standing in its way and trying to fight it. In a rare highlight of the episode, the tense sequence where Father Romanov, who was naturally at odds with Nathalie's idea, decided to force her to kill the trapped spider, really showed that yes, despite everything, there isn't anything that's completely lost in the show just yet. Romanov himself is still debating as well whether this is truly the apocalypse and it's something that he's come to accept, wondering who would be reaped if the reaping came at that very moment, and the balance between Romanov and Nathalie's characters are far more engaging than say, the forgettable storylines with Kevin and Eve. That's one of the troubles with balancing three separate storylines on a series like this, there's always potential for one to be weaker than the other, and unfortunately, that was very much the case here with this episode in particular. There's a clear difference and it's showing.

At the mall, board games are distributed to the guests to serve as a distraction and a game of catch gets going with a football, which of course Jay is involved in, being the town's star quarterback, and things turn to the worse after a discussion where it turns out that not everyone is so eager to take Jay's side after all. Jay, angered, tosses the ball away, where it's caught by Alex. Later, Eve and Alex are sitting in the mall where Alex tells a little girl the same story told by her father, and they decide to go to the bookstore to get the book in question. After finding the book, they end up reading it, but things quickly go downhill when Ted and Vic decide to reel the shopping carts back inside nearby using harpoons. Whilst the first attempt goes off without a hitch, the second is stuck and the line is broken, putting them in trouble as the door breaks open near the bookstore. Vic is rushing inside, followed by a monster from The Mist itself, disrupting Alex and the little girl's quiet retreat in the bookstore. The girl is killed by the monster, in a cheap shock moment that felt like the series was trying to desperately remind the audience that it is edgy and isn't afraid to break the rules. It didn't work. Eventually however Nathalie's theory that those who don't fight The Mist won't get attacked seems to gain some momentum when Alex emerges unharmed.

Vic is quickly voted out by the group with only a few people raising their hands to keep him in. Vic tries to object saying that this isn't right but Gus reminds him that this is what they wanted, and Vic is eventually given a weapon and pushed outside the door, presumably to his death, cursing the people behind. During the girl's memorial, Alex reveals that she lied about fighting off the monster, which is something that's picked up by the mother of the dead girl. She decides to tell Jay that he was right, and that Alex is is a liar, ending the episode on an intriguing if underwhelming note that does not bode well for Alex in the future as divisions are further brought to light.

It's no surprise to see that the show itself is at is most effective when the monsters are kept in the background and out of sight. How the show decides to progress from here should be fun to watch play out, but first it needs to address several of its problems before continuing. Too many of its storylines feel hollow and forced at this point to make any real impact, and as a result, it suffers. It's time for the show to start realising its potential sooner rather than later, before it runs out of episodes in its first season to do so.

What did you think of Pequod? Let me know in the comments section below and be sure to check out the next episode of The Mist at 10pm tonight on SpikeTV.

About the Author - Milo MJ
Milo is an Arsenal FC supporter and loves TV shows like Battlestar Galactica, Justified, Black Sails, The Americans and Person of Interest. He reviews Preacher, The Mist, Star Wars Rebels, Silicon Valley and Veep for Spoiler TV and will be covering Castle Rock, Counterpart, Krypton, Marvel's New Warriors, Rise, Marvel's Runaways, Snowfall, Succession, Star Trek Discovery, and Trust. He also contributes to comic reviews on a weekly basis for All-Comic. He also regularly watches and reviews films on Letterboxd, and you can find his ever-changing list of 300 favourite movies here.
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