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The Mist - The Waiting Room - Review: "Flashbacks"

The Mist 1.05 "The Waiting Room"
Directed by Richard Laxton & Written by Amanda Segel & Christian Torpe

One of my biggest issues going into this series was how the creative team behind this show would stretch a simple premise across an entire ten episode season, and it quickly becomes apparent that now that we're halfway through, The Mist is really struggling to do that. The Waiting Room, directed by Richard Laxton (Him & Her, Effie Gray) & written by Amanda Segel & Christian Torpe, the latter being the series' showrunner, takes us back to a time before The Mist whilst at the same time dealing with an interesting choice presented to Kevin in the present. However, until the last few minutes, when the show descended more into proper horror territory, we were left with another frustrating episode that continued to show a distinct lack of improvement.

This episode sees Bryan wounded from the encounter in the garage where he was shot by the man lost his child after a series of misunderstandings, and Kevin and company have now arrived at the hospital as his chase to be reunited with his wife is continuing to have obstacles thrown up in his and the group's way. The hospital itself is filled with The Mist and its patients aren't exactly in the best of positions right now, at least those that are left. Bryan is dying and Kevin is now backed into a corner where his trust circle is decreasing, with Mia warning Kevin that Bryan's death is on him because it was his idea to keep the information hidden from the father that his child had died. Mia was one of those who voiced her objection to Kevin's decision, but didn't act upon it herself initially. Maybe if things had turned out differently, Bryan wouldn't have been in this situation? Either way, it's too late to turn back now. Either way, Kevin uses the opportunity presented by the hospital to assess the stock of food and water and medical supplies in the hospital.

It turns out that Kevin's brother Mike is at the hospital and in comes another Stephen King staple, possessed kids, who have been infected by The Mist. They knew things about Mike that nobody should have known and he's in a very difficult situation indeed, having been impaled but will die of infection before he can be healed in time. All of this leads us to the conclusion presented that were made abundantly clear by the sheer amount of flashback narratives that we got to see, where Kevin and his wife were settling into their new home in a pre-Mist world. Kevin goes as far as to tell Mike that he'll do anything for his brother, but when Kevin made that promise, he never imagined that he'd have to literally decide between Mike and Eve. He knows that the longer they spend in the hospital the longer he's kept away from Eve, so it'll be interesting to see how things play out next episode with this in mind. Will we get an Eve-centric episode tonight to make up for the lack of focus on her present storyline? Will Kevin be kept to the side so we can spend more time at the Church with the crazy Nathalie Raven?

Either way, the storyline progresses so that Kevin is forced to take Mike's life when he is infected. Kevin's innocence is lost, and given the slow burn that this show seems to be favouring, how this affects his character going forward will no doubt have severe repercussions on him, especially if he ends up following a similiar path to what the main character in the movie did, which was pretty dark and twisted. I'm not sure whether or not we'll get a repeat ending with the show yet, but there's only five episodes left of the season to go until we reach the end, assuming this series is going to resolve its storyline by the end of Season 1.

The flashback sequences are something that I want to bring up a bit here again, serving as a distinctive reminder to how The Mist itself has actually made everything, even the non-Mist parts, creepy in hindsight. Maybe it's just because we're watching a Stephen King adaption but it was impossible not to connect the dots between the Red Balloons and the ones in It, which has a movie coming out later this year that I cannot wait for. Maybe this is just me overthinking things but with Castle Rock on the way and already confirmed to star Sissy Spacek (The titular Carrie) who may be reprising her role, is it all that far-fetched in the post-cinematic universe world to expect somehow that all Stephen King products coming out this year (there are a lot of them - we also have The Dark Tower and Mr. Mercedes) are connected somehow? It's unlikely, something spread across this many different mediums and networks would require a lot of organization, but the payoff would no doubt be excellent. And certainly a fair bit more exciting than what The Mist is currently doing, anyway...

One problem that I did have with the flashback sequences was the need for showing, not telling. We get told about the blood brother incident in the woods, but even with the flashback sequences that we got, it wouldn't have been that much difficult to have another flashback inside the flashback, which would have been more effective. Things just felt cheap and lazy here, which is something that this show seems to do a lot.Things need to be executed so much better in order for everything to work, but the introduction of Mike after a few episodes without him cropping up before didn't really make his inevitable ending emotional at all, feeling more like it was designed just to further Kevin's character development than anything else. But either way it gets Kevin to the point where he has now proven he can kill, and given the fact that this is Stephen King territory, his first kill will almost certainly not be his last.

The show also potentially foreshadows a future conflict between Eve and Kevin when it is revealed that Alex is not his daughter. This was such a random revelation with no build-up at all that certainly has potential to give extra depth to the characters, but will almost certainly be used to push the audience in favour of Kevin's side rather than Eve's should the two come to blows at some point on how to handle things, which easily has the potential to happen. Adrian's character too who finds out that the bully he interrogates is actually gay was something that felt a bit too uneven for his character and could have used some work, as so far his character is all over the place right now in terms of consistency.

One of the main problems here is that the show doesn't really have any decent actors who can convincingly sell the weak script material and enhance its quality by their performances, and they just feel really out of place. Maybe their characters would have worked with a good script but The Mist is really dragging it down, and at the moment Dan Butler, Frances Conroy, Isiah Whitlock Jr pretty much seem to be the only saving grace, character-wise, which is really not good for a show with such a large cast as it has. But still, it hasn't completely turned me off yet. If things don't go down the predictable route with Alex not being Kevin's son and takes into account Adrian's whereabouts on the night of when Alex was raped in a less-than obvious manner (Adrian still remains the Number One suspect if it wasn't Jay), then there could be potential there. But for now, things are fairly underwhelming and I can't see that changing anytime soon. There's also that pesky potential doppelgänger situation to deal with as well in the future at least, so we have that to look forward to as well.

What did you think of The Waiting Room? 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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