Tuesday, 26 December 2017

The Mist Season One Review



It's always interesting hearing other people's thoughts on something you've been watching. I mentioned The Mist in a post I wrote last week on shows you should be watching on Netflix. Is it still something I think you should be watching? Yes and no. Google told me that 83% of it's users had really liked the show - I am one of those users. Rotten Tomatoes gave it a pretty mediocre 60% rating. Metacritic will show you a range of opinions from users and critics about the show, itself giving a rating of only 53%. An interesting review that I found was from Ben Travers on Indie Wire. But he gave it a "Grade D".

This series is a difficult one to judge. It's pretty small, has a low budget, doesn't really have any actors that you would immediately recognise - well I didn't anyway. The main cast features Alyssa Sutherland (Eve), Morgan Spector (Kevin), Gus Birney (Alex), Russell Posner (Adrian) and Luke Cosgrove (Jay). I personally do not recognise any of these names, apart from maybe Luke Cosgrove, which is only because I'm wrongly associating it with Miranda Cosgrove from Drake and Josh. Speaking of, how great was Drake and Josh?!

The Mist is based on a Stephen King novel. I haven't read any Stephen King, so I went into this completely open minded. You can tell that this is a story that is supposed to be all about fear. Fear of the mind and what lengths we will go to when we feel threatened by the unknown. To me that's quite a solid foundation for a great TV show, so I was expecting big things. I'm not talking big things in terms of visual effects and the actors that they hire. I just mean with the simple things like plotting, character development, pacing etc. I did keep watching until the end, which is more than can be said for some of the shows I've tried watching in the past. But I can't figure out whether I kept watching because I was genuinely intrigued or because with each episode I was just hoping and waiting for something interesting to happen. From episode to episode it was all pretty same old.

A huge part of this comes down to the setting. There really are only two settings for the whole series and it's the mall and the church. I understand that everybody is trapped there, but there are so many people there with so many different stories. Using flashbacks to show the characters' history would have provided some diversity in the colours used (it's pretty much all grey and cool blue toned) and the settings, interactions and behaviours we see from and between the characters. Thus, creating better characterisation and more depth. What we had instead was characters who do not surprise us at all. After episode one, you can predict everybody's actions fairly easily because there is little to no character development.

Plot wise, there isn't too much going on. Firstly, we've got the whole Jay and Alex rape drama. Did he rape her? Did he not rape her? This is something I did actually care about as the first episode sets you up well for a mystery that you want to solve. You'll never believe how this one unravels either. It was one of few things to actually surprise me in the series so I can't give that one away.

Secondly, Alex's mum Eve keeps getting branded as the town slut due to "her past". It didn't take me very long to not care about why Eve was a slut and what her past was. To me, it just sounded like small town shaming over absolutely nothing. If Eve wanted to sleep around, who cares? She's married, has a husband and a child now so I really didn't see the problem. I suppose the problem and also the third thing we have going on, is that we find out pretty early on that Kevin isn't Eve's real dad. However,  because they tell us this in like episode two, it's really not very shocking when she confesses this in the final episode.

Now don't get me wrong, I did enjoy watching the series. I liked the script and the premise and I thought it was fairly well executed. I just really struggled with the fact that from episode to episode, there was barely any action. It seemed to be more of an explanation of people's verbal reactions to the mist - praying and arguing turning out to be the main two. And what made it worse was the unnecessary implication of some very irritating and irrelevant characters. Gus, the mall manager is first on my list of horrendously annoying characters. If you asked me what he actually contributed to the show I wouldn't be able to tell you. He had no backstory, no backbone and all he did was disappear to binge on his secret stash of food whilst throwing people out of the mall for not sharing rations or not following "the rules".

Next on my list of annoying people is Nathalie. Although her character probably had the most depth out of anyone on the show, it was like wading through dark black water with her. I couldn't tell you who she is, what she was talking about, I can't tell you anything substantial about her. Maybe I missed something important about her, but all I really got was that she had a special connection to mother nature and kept professing that the mist had come to cleanse people of their sins. Even more confusing was her breast feeding the zombie looking baby at the end and then curling up into a skeleton. Someone explain this please?!

Finally, Alex. Whoever cast Gus as Alex made a very poor decision. For the whole series she had on the same facial expression, which personally I found quite jarring. Considering that there was a thick mist killing people just beyond the glass doors of the mall where she was staying and considering that she was raped and considering that Kevin is not her real father, I struggle to understand how she didn't have the most turbulent personality in the whole series. You would never imagine that this was a girl who had faced all of these things.

Part of the reason I kept watching so long was down to Mia and Jonah/Bryan. They were hands down the two most interesting characters in the series because they actually had back stories! They are also one of the only reasons the show could probably have a second series - so that we can properly figure out who they both are and what their future is going to be. Will they be together? Will they be alone? Who knows.

The Mist's main problem is its indecisiveness. Did it want to be a horror show? Did it want to be a thriller? Did it want to be a teen drama? We had issues of underage drinking and sex and sexuality, which all unfolded very separately to the mist. The storylines, the characters and the whole atmosphere that they created with this show just don't blend seamlessly together. I think that if you remove the mist and keep Adrian, Alex, Kevin, Jay and Eve, you've got a pretty good show. Together? I don't know if it quite works.

Although I really did enjoy watching, in retrospect, I can't say that it's the best series I've watched in a while because it isn't. By episode ten, everything had descended into complete anarchy. I had no real connection to any of the characters apart from Jonah and Mia at this point and both of them had separated, so I really didn't know who to follow. When the train pulled up at the end of the episode and we saw soldiers throwing convicts into the mist, I got the sense that the mist was something created by the government as punishment. Which would make this dystopian and very interesting. It would also set the second series up for an explanation of each character's crimes. However, this doesn't really add up, as the mist definitely has a supernatural element to it. We've seen it. So what is it? And why is it there? Ten episodes later and I still have no clue.


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