The Mist does not f*ck around. That was my initial thought when the credits rolled on the first slice of Spike TV’s new adaptation of Stephen King’s novella. Striking out in a different, broader direction from King’s words but retaining the essence of the nasty condensation of the original, The Mist is already packed with some grim delights. Given that we’re only on the first episode of ten, things are clearly only going to get more horrific which is great news for people who really don’t want to sleep ever again.
It’s too early to tell whether this can compete with Frank Darabont’s movie adaptation but things are looking good so far. If by ‘good’ I mean ‘full of horrific surprises and bugs that eat people’. What’s very clear though is that The Mist wants to play us. Episode 1 is a terrific pilot for those who enjoy not having a clue what’s going on. Questions abound. Also, it should be obvious given the fact that you’ve clicked this but if you haven’t already seen the first episode of the Mist and don’t want to know what happens, clear out now. From here on in, we’re in Spoilerville USA. Here are the nine questions I have after watching The Mist.
What is in the mist?
Well, isn’t this a can of worms? If you’ve already seen the Darabont movie or have read the novella, you’ll have a better idea of the things that lurk in the swirling fog. So far, the TV series is playing with us, delivering only scuttling bugs in full view but instead only showing the fallout of whatever else might be hiding in there. Mrs Carmody (in an interesting disposal of a leading character from the book to show that this isn’t playing by any of King’s rules) didn’t lose the lower half of her jaw to an oversize ant, did she? No, there are hungrier monsters lurking in there. Creatures with tentacles and teeth. So many teeth. I’m sure we’ll be catching glimpses of them sooner rather than later.
Is the mall going to be the equivalent to the supermarket from the novella?
Rather than being the TV series’ version of the novella’s central supermarket from hell, the mall looks like it’s going to be only one of many safe havens as the town attempts to survive the invasion. In our 5 things you need to know about The Mist TV show executive producer Christian Torpe says they’ve done things a little differently. “We expanded with several little groups all over town,” he explains. “Some people are trapped at the mall. Some people are travelling through the mist, trying to get from one location to another. We have others at a church. At one point, the stories dovetail.” Travelling through the mist sounds like a deathwish but it might not be that much more comfortable in the mall where it appears to be ‘safe’ but where Alex has to see her accused rapist Jay.
Why can’t Bryan remember who he is?
Poor Bryan. You wake up in the woods with a dog - oh no, rest in pieces, Rufus - with no idea who you are and how you got there, only for police to arrest you and throw you into a cell. Bryan only has the clothes on his back, Arrowhead stamped on his shoulder, a wallet with his bank card and now a knowledge that there’s something truly horrific hiding in the mist. The answer to how he got there is very much associated with the next question but why is he just lying there? Did he hit his head to cause amnesia or has he seen things so horrific that his mind has blocked everything out entirely…?
What is Arrowhead?
*Skip this if you don’t want to know anything at all from the novella*
In the book and the movie, the Arrowhead Project is a series of experiments being run at an army base up on the mountain above the town of Bridgeville. Conspiracy theorists in the town are very right when they say there’s something not quite right going on as this is what causes a rip into another dimension from whence all manner of beasties come. It’s unclear as to whether this will be exactly the cause in the TV series but expect some kind of variation on a theme of alternate dimensions and government conspiracies and you’re probably not going to be too far wrong. Whether we’ll get to actually see the base is another matter but the show seems to be pretty mobile so fingers crossed for seeing another world.
What’s with all the bugs?
Insects are a running theme in this pilot, and they act as a precursor to the arrival of the mist itself. Initially, I just assumed they were driven out of their natural habitats by the giant cloud, much like the frogs, but as we see later on they appear to be part of it (see: the cockroaches that kill the cop). There’s no solid explanation for them yet, but they could be a subtle nod to the religious themes from the novella. The (now dead) Mrs Carmody, convinces the survivors in the novel that it’s the Christian end-of-days, so the insect swarms / plagues could be a nod to that. We know from the teaser trailer that the insects actually grow inside human bodies and burst out, so I guess we have that to look forward to...
Why can’t the Mist go inside buildings?
This is an odd one, and probably a conceit to build suspense. The show (so far) suggests that the Mist can’t penetrate buildings, although that doesn’t stop the creatures inside it from smashing their way in. As a narrative device, this is just convenient - if the mist could get inside, everyone would be dead by episode 3. It allows the showrunners to create small pockets of survivors and tell stories from there, and stays true to King’s initial inspiration for The Mist when he visited a supermarket the day after a major storm, and imagined a giant monster flapping around terrorising the ‘survivors’ inside.
What is in the bag the hooded woman (Mia) was digging up?
The criminal element of the mist is new to the TV show, so it’s unclear what’s happening. We see Mia - who is clearly caught up in something bad - escape a sexual assault, kill a man with a pitchfork, attempt to dig up a bag with ‘something’ inside it, and eventually get jailed. The bag seems to be the key here, but what’s in it? It’d be dull if the answer was simply ‘money’, and that seems unlikely. Whatever is in the bag, it could be a perfect McGuffin to keep several members of the cast trapped inside Bridgeville as they attempt to grab it for themselves. In that sense, I’m rather hoping the contents of the bag is woefully underwhelming, and its eventual owner dies horribly, making a comment on the futility of greed. But that’s just me.
What was the previous event in the town, where the lake turned black like a rotten tooth?
Well here’s the interesting part. Bridgeville definitely doesn’t seem to be a stranger to weird. Frances Conroy’s Natalie Raven does some digging in the horror staple of microfiche at the local library and discovers that the lake turned black back in the 19th century. It wasn’t exactly a mist full of deadly bugs but sounds like the area is partial to some supernatural activity. Tying in with the Arrowhead Project, that would make the area a great place to start experimenting if the town is particularly susceptible to grim goings on. Nice town you’ve got here. It would be a shame if someone SET A LOVECRAFTIAN NIGHTMARE on it.
What really happened at that party?
Taking a step back from all the supernatural goings on, there’s clearly a story we’re not being told just yet about what happened between Alex and Jay at the party. The cut from her looking hopefully at her crush who is off to get her a drink to her panicked parents finding her sitting outside on the swing the next morning was a particularly harsh one. There are hours of story here that we just don’t know. A drug rape is a stark and disturbing human drama amongst the bugs and the monsters. Did it all happen just as Alex’s friend Adrian says it did? Or does he have a vendetta against the letterman jacket-ed Jay that runs a little deeper? I have a feeling we’re not going to get to the bottom of this one for a while and hopefully no one has to be at the stage of burping up blood for the truth to finally out on a dying breath.