7 questions we have after watching The Mist episode 4

In a thankfully slightly better episode than last week, The Mist is back. However, we’re not even half way through the season and the mall survivors are already going feral, people are shouting about insects in jars and no one is talking about important plot points in any sensible way. So far, so poor for this adaptation of a brilliant story. Here are all the questions we have after watching the Mist episode 4. We promise not to be as mean as last week. Maybe. And remember, there are spoilers from the get go. 

1. What the hell is that monster and why didn’t it kill Alex?

So finally we get a monster in full view, not a suggestion, not a noise, not a few giant bugs. A monster. And it’s… A complete and utter disappointment. Alex and the little girl’s trip to the book shop - complete with an utter rip off of Jill Tomlinson’s The Owl Who Was Afraid of the Dark, might we add - ends in tragedy when the smoky creature appears and proceeds to murder the child. In all honesty, it’s a truly horrific moment as the little girl is killed in full view of the mall survivors and her own mother but the moment is destroyed when Alex proceeds to survive after just looking at the thing. Why didn’t it kill her? Well let’s think of some logical reasons. Perhaps souls are ultra filling and perhaps the monster had indigestion? Or maybe mental trauma means it sees her as one of its own instead of the pure, terrified innocence of the little girl? Whatever the answer is, going by previous episodes, The Mist will probably just toss this potentially interesting titbit on the trash fire that still holds all the intrigue from episode 1

2. What’s going on with the spiders?

“Kill the spider! KILL THE SPIDER!” In one of this episode’s more ludicrous scenes (and there are plenty to pick from), the Priest loses his shit and demands that Nathalie crushes the insect she has collected in a jar and proclaimed ‘God’. Sure, the priest is freaking out about the impending apocalypse and trying to keep his faith, but it’s the shift in his mood that seems most startling. Anyway, why does the dead spider then turn into many living spiders? Could be as simple as ‘because it was carrying a load of eggs’, but the more likely reason is that the mist does something to rapidly populate aggressive insects. We saw it with moth guy in the previous episode, although the reason or effect of this was never really explored. Yeah, it was religious imagery, very good. Have we seen the last of the spiders? No. They’ll be back, and probably turning everyone in the church into literal spider-men. A more interesting question, perhaps, is this: why do we see the effects of the mist inside the church, when there’s no actual mist to make it happen? If we assume it’s the mist that makes the spider burst into mini-spiders… does this mean it can happen after mere exposure to the mist, rather than within the mist itself? And should we be worried about Alex?

3. What is the motive of the priest’s right hand man?

And what caused the hilarious but oh-so-serious spider scene? The priest’s devout supporter hissing in his ear like Grima Wormtongue. Why does he care so much? Why does he hate Nathalie who, let’s face it, is basically looking after the mist’s equivalent of sea monkeys? While we’re all for religious fanaticism making the inside of the church as dangerous as the outside, this particular character motivation just doesn’t have a logical cause. Sure, everyone can be scared of the slightly mad woman but let’s give her a break, she saw her husband murdered and there’s the slightly bigger problem of monsters outside. Knowing this bunch of numbskulls, they probably still haven’t locked the door from the inside.  

4. What’s going to happen to gamer boy?

For anyone who still cares about Lazy Gamer Stereotype #2, the question is: what happens to him now? Having been ostracised by the group of quivering character vacuums in the mall, Lazy Gamer Stereotype #2 is sent into the mist with a backpack of food and a baseball bat because he ‘endangered the group’. Let’s overlook the fact that the show treats this discussion with a total lack of humanity (in much the same way it seems to kill off a young girl for little more than a cheap audience shock, almost immediately forgetting about the tragedy afterwards, save for a few scattered tears from her mother), and deal with the here and now: LGS#2 is out there and doesn’t seem to be dead yet. What happens to him? A more competent show might feature some kind of redemption story, but it seems unlikely we’ll see this guy again. We probably didn’t see his death because all this week’s CG budget was spunked on that dissatisfying cloud beast in the book shop. Maybe we’ll see LGS#2 as a corpse for another character to conveniently stumble over as they push this inhuman narrative to its dislikeable conclusion.

5. Why does the Mist fry electrical circuits in cars but not the power inside buildings?

We know from this episode that the mist has been messing up cars by destroying their electrical components. The only working vehicles are purely mechanical ones, which is a very convenient narrative device. No-one can really escape Bridgeville by car, so it contains the drama nicely. The question is, why doesn’t the mist mess up the electrics in the mall? Or the church? Or wherever else the characters find themselves? You could argue that it’s all about the fact the mist can’t enter buildings, for some reason, but it’s incredibly shaky narrative logic if you think about it too hard. What about powerlines? What about holes in brickwork, or pipes? How large does the opening need to be for Misty McMistface to get inside? And how long does the opening need to be for it to enter? It seems like the gas station door was open just as long as the mall door (when the gamers go fishing), yet the mist chooses not to enter the gas station. There are no solid rules covering what the mist can and can’t do, so it just seems to be a case of “Look, because I say so” from the showrunners.

6. Why does the mist come and go?

For narrative purposes. Next? No, seriously, as we’ve clocked in previous episode questions, the mist here is sometimes far less deadly than the fog from the novella or the Frank Darabont movie. This is now something that the characters have clocked onto, saying that sometimes it’s thin and they’re OK, and at other times it becomes a mass of swirling murder. Now that we’ve seen that this is a very different beast, complete with giant killer shapes who suck out the souls of young girls like Dementors, this is an intriguing update to the grim fates that can befall these characters. Whatever has been unleashed from this particular Arrowhead Project disaster is unlike anything we’ve ever seen before, meaning that the mist comes in different strengths and variations. 

7. Why didn’t they just tell the father where his dead son was?

The Mist has big problems when it comes to its characters actually speaking to each other. Like Batman Vs Superman, the actors do an awful lot of gazing and saying absolutely nothing instead of ‘I categorically did not harm you and here’s how’ or ‘we saw your son dead, we felt bad so lied, but here’s what he’s wearing so you know we’re telling the truth.’ Of course, none of that happens so we’re left with people shooting each other in the leg, stealing a man’s car and leaving us utterly disconnected from the lack of humanity of those on screen. The whole point of horror is to connect on a very human level. The Mist is full of despicable creatures who voted almost unanimously to murder a man by sending him out of the mall. One minute everyone is happy playing board games, the next, it’s instant Lord of the Flies, just add condensation for a tasty murder soup. Poor LGS#2...