We’ve known for weeks that Spike’s adaptation of Stephen King’s “The Mist” would be focused more on the human aspect and not a supernatural monster thriller, but even knowing that we expected it to focus more on fear and panic of townspeople in response to the unknown and less of ghetto soap opera we got from the premiere.
It seems Spike was self aware that the pilot might not be flashy enough to keep people buzzing for a week, as f hey released episodes 2 and 3 for streaming right after the premiere.
If you are avoiding spoilers, we recommend you not look at the show’s IMDB page, as the number of episodes a character is in could be a giveaway to who dies next, and he recap below is full of spoilers too.
The episode opens by introducing us to one of the more interesting characters, Bryan, a lost man in an army uniform in the woods (you can barely see him through all the mist and camo), and his canine companion, Rufus. After establishing those baselines they take off to find their way to help, but Rufus spots something in The Mist and takes off. Bryan hears russeling and then the dog’s whining and we see the results of the first victim of The Mist. It’s a graphic display of the mutilated pup, and we suggest the squeamish turn back now.
The show then flips to the star family, the Copelands. Eve, played by the amazing and highly recognisable Alyssa Sutherland (watch for our TGON interview with her coming soon), is apparently a teacher at the local highschool and has made some enemies of other local parents with her “deviation” from Maine’s sex ed curriculum. She is placed under administrative leave, and we are left with a glimpse into the conservative nature of the locals.
The Copelands then attend a highschool football game, which focuses on yhe interactions of the teem daughter Alex, and her nonconforming, slight eyeliner wearing, implied demisexual friend Adrian. We also get a glimpse of his home life, and it isn’t welcoming, but seems typical of the town.
After the game the, we get a little too cliché when the hunky-hunky quarterback, Jay, flirts with Alex and invites her to a party. Her mom quickly says no, which leads to a fight with her husband, who eventually tells Alex to sneak out after her mom goes to sleep, but to take Adrian and the common rules to show they’re a normal, relatable family: no drinking, back by midnight, etc.
The party involved bullying of Adrian, but Jay gets to play hero and defend him and use it as as segway to get the girl. And it works, he even convinced her to drink after she’d stated multiple times the last two minutes that she doesn’t drink.
The night results in her being drugged and a subsequent investigation reveals she was roofied and there were signs of intercourse but not forced, but it’s “good they have witnesses.”
Writer comments: signs of force aren’t necessary for rape. If someone is too drunk, or on substances, and can’t give consent use proper judgement and don’t do anything with them. This isn’t properly stated, and we feel this was an unnecessary plotline that was handled poorly.
Fast forward to that night and some shockingly rude football players throwing a brick through a window at the Copeland house, but mostly the draw attention to the “Whore” message they written out front. Eve doesn’t feel safe and wants to leave town for a while, but The Mist rolls in while her and Alex are at the store picking up a prescription. Alex is waiting in the car, and calls her dad, but when The Mist approaches she loses cell signal and realizes something is wrong. She gets out and is rushed into by a panicking man, and finds a dead body before making it into the mall with her mom, who had been in a verbal smack down with one of the women that got her fired. Eve totally won though, calling out the woman and her son and loads of hypocrisy, we even had trouble feeling bad in the subsequent scene. The malls power went out and the woman ignored Eve and Alex’s warning to not go out in The Mist, but of course she drags her son out for andndndn dramatic exit–but it turns andndndn little too dragsramaticramatic when hear shrieks and she runs up against the glass with half her face missing before being dragged back by an unseen Mist Monster.
We will spare you the visual, but we feel like editing dropped the ball by not ending the scene on that image, but instead a shared glance between Alex and Jay, who is coincidentally now trapped and the mall with them after being accused of raping her.
Concurrently, we got continuation on the story of forgetful Bryan, who made it out of the woods and to the police station–where of course he was deemed crazy and thrown in a holding cell. He keepa hia wits about him and ends up joining the rage tag team that develops with Kevin Copeland, Adrian, and the mystery woman. Kevin had Adrian to the station to give his statement about the party, explaining why they were there, and the mystery woman had been trespassing and breaking into houses and barns looking for things all over town but had gotten caught. They don’t trust her but that quickly changes when she saves Kevin from an officer that comes in from The Mist. The Mist seems to have evil cockroach like bugs that swarm and eat into people, which isn’t the large, or even supernatural, monsters we expected, but it does add it’s own, unexpected layer of horror.
Our favorite storyline is definitely of the Copelands neighbor, Natalie (Frances Conroy), and her husband. Less gossipy than the rest of the town, Natalie and her husband are essentially the town hippies with their gardening and do biking and all over town. They even notice the local wildlife acting up before The Mist fully arrives and are at the library trying to research related conspiracy theories when The Mist rolls in (her husband is against this). We don’t get long to warm up to her sensible husband (a refreshing character in any horror or drama setting) as as panicked man runs at them in The Mist and after asking if they are real shoots her husband in cold blood.
The scene was marvelously done and the emotions were high, and it leads Natalie to seek refuge at the nearby church, which is the location we’ve been most excited to see develop during this season.
So with a slow start, Spike has set The Mist up to have very exciting episodes in the near future. And credit where credit is due, they are able to jump between the storylines very effectively and it doesn’t feel hard to keep up.