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The Mist: Season 1, Episode 2: 'Withdrawal' Review


The Mist: Season 1, Episode 2: ‘Withdrawal’ Review

Last week, the pilot episode ended with both the aforementioned mist along with the series’ various plot points rolling into town. Instead of everyone being stuck in a grocery store, however, we have three groups divided between a church, a mall, and a police station.

Since this show has a ton of characters (for now), I’ll attempt to identify them as we go to help us keep track of things. Let’s check in with the folks at the police station, first.

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Break out and crash in

The episode opens with Kevin (world’s worst dad) and Adrian (eye shadow kid) still shell shocked about the police officer from last episode who had insects crawling out of his head before Mia (heroin junkie) blew it off with a shotgun. She and Jonah (forgetful soldier) try in vain to scan outside via the mist-clouded windows while Kevin tries multiple phones at the police station, none of which work.

After a bit of speculation over what the mist might be, Kevin convinces the others to come with him to mall to get his family.

Before they take off, Mia makes a quick pit stop by the evidence room to score some drugs. When Jonah asks what she’s doing, she tells him that she’s looking for car keys. Unfortunately, Mia forgot this is a TV show, which means police officers leave spare squad car keys lying around all over the place.

Realizing she’s been caught in a lie, Mia begs Jonah not to tell Kevin because she doesn’t want to be left behind…which is kind of weird. Out of all the people in this group, I’d want the trained soldier on my side the most, especially if I didn’t know yet that he has amnesia.

Anyway, Jonah responds by asking Mia point blank if she’s an addict. She responds with a non-answer that any politician would be proud of, not admitting to her addiction while also asking Jonah for help. Jonah says he’ll keep her habit a secret and help her, but she can’t take the drugs with her. He then takes the drugs from her hand, puts them on a shelf, and leaves her alone again inside of a room filled with narcotics.

The Mist: Season 1, Episode 2: 'Withdrawal' Review
“I’ll just assume any pills I see you with from here on out are for headaches.”

Convenient roadkill

Meanwhile, Conner Heisel (asshole sheriff) is driving along in zero visibility conditions when an elk comes out of nowhere and crashes through his front windshield. Thankfully, the elk was polite enough to collide with him right in front of the church where a bunch of the series’ other main characters are.

Inside the church, Father Romanov (bearded priest) is attempting to comfort Mrs. Raven (discount Ms. Carmody) after witnessing her husband’s murder. After Sheriff Heisel comes inside, he’s caught up to speed by Romanov on what happened to Mrs. Raven’s husband. The sheriff decides that everyone should stay inside the church, which seems kind of redundant since no one appears to want to leave, anyway.

Convenient carjacking

As the prison group heads down the highway, Mia snorts and twitches a lot so we know she’s tweaking from not having any drugs in her system…and more importantly, that despite the possible end of the world and an unlimited supply of high end narcotics in the evidence room, she didn’t take any.

They pass some burning trees (?) before getting stopped and held at gunpoint by another group of people. Mia, who is already in no mood/state for nonsense, floors it and runs the gunman over. She continues going at top speed down the foggy highway despite everyone’s pleas that she slow down. Eventually, the car hits something and flips over, making it of no use to anyone.

Thankfully, everyone in the car survives (OF COURSE). They also crashed near the church, which is apparently the hip new place to wreck your vehicle. As if all that weren’t lucky enough, the church bells start ringing as soon as they leave the car to help guide them inside. Before they make it, though, Mia has a vision of her mom speaking to her in a creepy manner. The hallucination says it’s just the effects of her drug withdrawal, but I think we all know better than that.

The Mist: Season 1, Episode 2: 'Withdrawal' Review
“Got any more of those pills, Mia?”

Angels and demons

As you might imagine, Sheriff Heisel and Kevin’s reunion in the church doesn’t go well.

After Kevin points out that Sheriff Heisel left them at the police station, Mia takes things a step further and lunges at him. Sheriff Heisel responds by physically subduing Mia and handcuffing her to the prayer altar. He also gets pissed at Kevin for releasing his prisoners, which is pretty ballsy considering that he did abandon them (along with the fact his son is being investigated for possibly raping Kevin’s daughter).

Later, Kevin tries to comfort Mrs. Raven, which results in her talking about how humanity is doomed if all the bees in the world die (she’s right) and her belief that there is no afterlife. Meanwhile, Mia struggles with her withdrawal symptoms as Jonah incredulously asks why she told him she wasn’t an addict (answer: because she didn’t). She also informs him that she thinks she’s hallucinating.

Vinegar and wine

Back inside the church’s kitchen, a kid named Link (no, seriously) tells Father Romanov that he think they should have a service that night. When he explains that current events have him thinking a lot about the Book of Revelations, Romanov responds by saying that they should “think less and pray more.” (Father Romanov is apparently planning to run for a Texas senate seat in the near future).

After Link leaves, Romanov brings out plates of food to the people in the church. He also requests that they all wait for grace to be said before eating. Adrian responds by asking what to do if they don’t believe in God, which is a pretty dick move. The man is providing your food and shelter—just wait a few seconds to eat instead of starting a theological argument, dude.

The Mist: Season 1, Episode 2: 'Withdrawal' Review
To make sure we know what a rebel atheist Adrian is, he begins munching on a cracker while Romanov prays.

Later, Mrs. Raven emerges with the church’s communion wine and asks to have a drink/toast for her dead husband. After a bit of prodding, Romanov relents allows it. Mrs. Raven gives a moving tribute before asking that everyone drink to his memory…which of course leads Jonah to bring a wine bottle over to Mia the admitted addict, who begins gulping it down like she’s doing a keg stand (nice work, Jonah).

When Adrian attempts to take a swig, Sheriff Heisel prevents it, citing the fact that he’s underage. When Kevin asks that he lighten up, Sheriff Heisel responds with a terrible quip about how he of all people should know what underage drinking can lead to. This obviously/understandably pisses Kevin off, but not enough to do anything besides walk away.

That night as everyone goes to sleep, Jonah redeems himself a bit by confessing to Mia that he saw the old ghost lady outside, too.

Dawn of the dunces

Back at the mall, mall manager Gus Bradley (the guy from The Wire) and Kyle (Security Guard 1) asks Even (mom) and Alice (traumatized daughter) about what happened to the Ms. Carmody (the mean lady who got her jaw ripped off at the end of last episode).

The Mist: Season 1, Episode 2: 'Withdrawal' Review
Mrs. Carmody: A firm believer in the separation of skull and jaw.

When Raj (Security Guard 2) suggest they go out to look for Ms. Carmody’s son, Gus does exactly what I would have done: Bravely vetoes the idea and locks the damn door.

He then tells everyone in the mall that no one is leaving until they know it’s safe. You’d figure this would cause some type of disagreement, but everyone appears to be cool with it. Gus also decides to hand out keys to a few people to help him lock the doors, which seems exceptionally lazy, especially when he’s got two security guards with him.

One of the volunteers to help lock the doors happens to be a person who gave Alice a bottle of water, which immediately causes Alex to trust the woman and ask her mom if they can go with her. To be fair, though, Alex also explains that she can’t stand being in the same area as Jay (star quarterback/potential rapist) anymore. Jay responds to this by glaring at her, which really doesn’t help things.

The Mist: Season 1, Episode 2: 'Withdrawal' Review
Not the way to look at someone when you’re their suspected rapist.

Eve, Alice, and Kimi (water bottle lady) cautiously make their way toward their assigned door. Just when it looks like we’re in for a good old fashioned jump scare, they manage to lock it without any issues. On their way back, however, they noticed that the administration wing hallway is filled with mist…and a dead body.

Someone’s gotta lose

When Eve reports their findings to Gus, one of the mall patrons reminds him that after 9/11, Homeland Security issued radios to all major public outlets (including malls in Maine, apparently). Unfortunately, it’s located in the administration wing that’s currently filled with death gas.

As they debate what to do, Security Guard 1 suggests that it could be a terrorist attack while not-so-subtly looking at Security Guard 2, who is Muslim. Before the situation escalates any further, Jay tells Security Guard 1 to back off. If this is supposed to make us question whether or not he’s a rapist, then I’m definitely not convinced, especially with him still glaring at Alex constantly while also never once proclaiming his innocence.

But I digress…as Gus fusses over how to see what might be inside the hallway, Alex suggests that they get one of the drones from the electronics store and use that instead. Anyone want to take a wild guess who is improbably the only person that knows how to operate it?

The Mist: Season 1, Episode 2: 'Withdrawal' Review
“How you doin’?”

The drone eventually discovers an open office with an open window, which the mist (and whatever is inside of it) used to come to get inside. It also spots another dead body along with a series of letters written in blood on the floor.

There’s some debate as to what the letters actually are, but they initially looked like “arrc” to me—which could potentially refer to the Advanced Radar Research Center…or Alternative Reference Rates Committee at the Federal Reserve, which is a far more evil and manipulative organization.

It could also be “arro,” which are the first few letters of Arrowhead—as in Project Arrowhead, which plays a vital role in The Mist’s original source material.

The Mist: Season 1, Episode 2: 'Withdrawal' Review
Yeah, it’s probably that.

Back outside, Gus declares that someone needs to go in there and check things out. When one of the mall patrons correctly points out that mall security is his job, he responds by saying that he’ll go only if he’s picked in a lottery.

That’s right. The guy in charge of things just declared a draft for who gets to go into the misty hallway of death. As if that weren’t bad enough, the mall patrons barely put up any resistance. I’ve seen shoppers get more pissed off about Starbucks closing early.

The Mist: Season 1, Episode 2: 'Withdrawal' Review
“If you survive, then we can talk about Cinnabon coupons.”

Eve is a main character, so OF COURSE her name gets drawn. Surprisingly, some random dude named Clint volunteers to go with her, which seems to really piss off his two friends.

Arrow to the head

Clint and Eve go through the door, run down the misty hallway, and make it into the administrative office with the radio. After opening it up and discovering the device to be fully charged and operational, they promptly take the device and return to the rest of the group…

…at least that’s what they should have done. Instead, Clint attempts to call every channel on the radio from inside the potential death room while Eve looks on.

After multiple failed attempts, Clint pushes a series of buttons and begins asking for “Arrowhead” while also designating himself with some sort of call sign. A confused and suspicious Eve (FINALLY) suggests that they take the radio back to the main mall area. Clint refuses, insisting that the radio must stay where it is. He also chooses this moment to carelessly allow a gun he was carrying to peek out from behind his jacket.

Sure, a bullet to the head might not be as horrifying as having your arm ripped off or insects crawling out of your face, but it’s still pretty scary.

Eve tries to play it cool and leave, but Clint demands that she stay. When she asks why he has a gun, he reaches for it.

The Mist: Season 1, Episode 2: 'Withdrawal' Review
“Why you eyeing my piece, bruh?”

Eve pushes the radio over and bolts out of the room with Clint in hot pursuit. He trips and drops the gun (OF COURSE), allowing Eve to grab it. Clint catches up to Eve and slams her against the wall next to a conveniently placed fire extinguisher, which Eve not-so-subtly glances at.

After Clint chokes Eve and slams her wrist into the wall few times, the gun pops free from her hand and somehow flies down the hallway like it had been shot out of a cannon. At this point, the trained soldier who just had Eve dead to rights (via the relatively quiet method of strangulation) turns around and scrambles after the gun like a horny bridesmaid going after a wedding bouquet. Eve picks up Chekov’s fire extinguisher, runs Clint down, and bashes him in the head just as he’s picking up the gun.

I fully expected this to kill him. Instead, he gets right back up, takes Even down to the floor, and proceeds to choke her again…with the gun inches from Eve’s hand.

A random noise causes Clint to turn around, allowing Eve to pick up the gun and shoot him.

Eve takes the gun with her and flees back out of the hallway into the mall. After returning to the group, she informs them that she and Clint lost each other in the hallway (ha!) and that the radio wasn’t working. As the group disperses to mull over the fake bad news, Eve asks Gus about Clint’s friends, who says that he’d never seen them until that morning.

That night, Eve goes to sleep with the gun hidden near her pillow.

Later, Jay decides to go to the bathroom, where he discovers that two of Clint’s friends have hung themselves, most likely due to extreme boredom and/or their potential involvement in Arrowhead.

The Mist: Season 1, Episode 2: 'Withdrawal' Review
…or because the mall didn’t have wifi.

The Verdict

I’ve read quite a few other reviewers say that they will be critiquing The Mist solely on its own merits without any consideration for the source material. I, however, will be doing no such thing.

Stephen King’s original novella and its 2007 movie adaptations are two of my favorite pieces of horror storytelling. While the “humans are the real monsters” trope is well-worn territory, I loved how the benign grocery store evolved into an ideological battleground fueled by fear and hysteria.

Also, the monsters were really cool.

As far as the television series is concerned, it feels like all these characters are taking beta-blockers are something. When Gus announced a lottery for who would be forced to walk down the hallway of death, there should have been a riot—or at least a group of people who adamantly refused to participate. Instead, it appears that whatever setting we happen to be in, everyone is cool with following the direction of the person who’s supposed to be in charge. They’re scared, but they’re not losing it like you’d expect people afraid of an otherworldly/indefinable horror to be.

And even taking into account most people’s inclination to bow to authority, how has Kevin not kicked the sheriff’s ass yet, especially after some of the things he’s said? More importantly, how has Eve not killed or seriously injured Jay, her daughter’s alleged rapist?

Speaking of that, the rape subplot is really starting to bother me. Monsters and adults getting ripped apart is one thing, but a teenage girl being drugged and sexually assaulted is horrifying in a much more raw/real manner. I’m not saying it’s a topic that should be off limits for a TV show, but it needs to be handled with care.

Right now, though, we’ve got Jay refusing to say anything in his defense or confess his sins, instead being content to glare at Alex like she’s a medium rare steak. The show’s attempts to cast doubt on Jay’s guilt by showing him to be a “good guy” ring incredibly hollow. Even if he didn’t rape her, he was firmly established in the pilot as someone who holds sway over his friends and the guy who encouraged Alex to drink against her better judgment.

And if you’re going to try and say that Alex is in some way culpable for her rape in some way, then:

  1. The character is a 16-year-old girl.
  2. You’re an asshole.

On the technical side of things, would it be too much to ask that the show invest in some fog machines or something? The CGI mist is killing me. I certainly hope the monster effects are better—if we ever get to see them.

Look, I can appreciate a slow burn, but I need more than insects and a telegraphed plot to continue keeping me engaged. So far, the scariest creature we’ve seen is on the KFC commercials using the Extra Crispy Colonel.

The Mist: Season 1, Episode 2: 'Withdrawal' Review

That being said, the individual performances are The Mist’s saving grace so far. Frances Conroy’s turn as Mrs. Raven is particularly captivating. I should also give the show’s writers credit for (seemingly) setting her up in the Mrs. Carmody role, but with a great deal more sympathy and layers than the original character.

Let’s hope the show’s overarching narrative starts to catch up soon.

The Mist: Season 1, Episode 2: 'Withdrawal' Review
Is it good?
Humans may be evil, but the lack of creatures, telegraphed story beats, and a poorly handled rape subplot are making the screen writers look like the real monsters.
Frances Conroy’s turn as Mrs. Raven, a much more sympathetic and layered stand in for Mrs. Carmody, is captivating.
The individual performances are great across the board.
So far the show's overarching narrative is predictable and boring.
The rape subplot is on the verge of being tastelessly offensive.
CGI mist and no monsters aren't helping things.

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