I have been broken by The Mist. Much like poor, innocent Jay Heisel, the mist has worked its way inside my head and turned my eyes a foggy white—something the mist does now, apparently—leaving nothing but a smoking dead-eyed husk to write a review of this season finale. “The Tenth Meal” is an hour of television so jarringly nonsensical—so filled with logical leaps and narrative holes—that I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t enjoyable in its way, the same way we are lying when we say we don’t slow down to gawk at car wrecks. By the end, three-quarters of the characters are dead and the survivors have had their relationships altered completely, rendering much of what we experienced in this first season a waste of time, and any viewer who made the choice to invest in it is a worse off human being for having done so.
So, where to begin? I suppose nothing is more indicative of what we’re dealing with here more than the reveal that Jay Heisel and Alex Copeland—mostly seen this season crushing, canoodling, and even kissing—are in fact half-siblings. And, by extension, Connor Heisel—former stock asshole character turned fanatic cult member then just as quickly turned former cult member—is Alex’s real father.
The most insane part of this twist, which is saying a lot considering it is insane on a fundamental level of filmmaking and storytelling, is that it falls directly in line with the most perfect version of The Mist. It’s different from “the gay outcast is secretly a psychotic rapist and murder” twist; that was bad television, sure, but it was also actively harmful, utilizing an all-too-real toxic narrative as plot progression. This, however, is a bad twist that rounds back on itself to become a flawless example of pure, nonsensical abandon. It’s Maury Povich inside a haunted house. It’s a daytime telenovela told around a campfire. If The Mist wants a future—and this episode ended on a cliffhanger, so you know their fingers are crossed—the writers need to stop pretending they were ever telling a structured story or that any of these people are emotionally relatable, and lean in hard to utter preposterousness.
Nothing helped set that tone in this episode more than the lower-level survivors in the mall, who I refuse to believe were ever given names other than Rage-Filled Security Guard, or Increasingly Concerned Housewife. Here, as tensions escalated in the lobby, those background characters acted as a Greek chorus of gibberish opinions. It’s a storytelling tactic this show has never used before—similar to how one episode utilized flashbacks and then never again—but I highly recommend going back and seeing if you can pick out the exclamations in the background, clearly added in during post, each more overblown than the last. The highlight, for me, came after Eve revealed Alex’s true father, but Kevin still fights to protect his family. “You disgust me! You’re freaks!” cries one voice. “The whole family is sick,” whispers another. Apparently, in the town of Bridgeville, there is nothing more appalling than a man raising a child from his wife’s previous relationship.
Of course, none of that matters because all of those people are dead. Kevin—having escaped with Alex, Eve, and Vic—chooses petty murder over guaranteed safety and rams his car backward into the mall entrance. The family escapes again, this time with Connor in tow, but Nathalie Raven is among those overtaken by the mist. And what a strange, unfortunate handling of a character that is. Frances Conroy put in the most engaging performance by an almost infinite margin, and Nathalie’s blend of creep and charisma was often the only intriguing plot-point happening on this show. But here, it’s revealed that her talk of Black Spring and Mother Nature was just...bullshit. That’s the twist. Her philosophy preached across nine previous episodes, strong enough to convince Connor to sacrifice his own son, were just the ravings of a sad, damaged woman. Which is perfectly fine; sometimes stories take the cynical road and the magic turns out to be a mask. But it leaves so much unexplained. From where I’m sitting, the only difference between the time Nathalie survived the mist unscathed, and the time a demon baby sucked the life from her breast, is that the first time she was naked.
Like I said, the episode ends on an unresolved note. What’s left of the main cast flees the mall, a beat-to-shit Adrien hiding unnoticed in the trunk. It speaks volumes that how he got in there is barely a blip on my list of questions. What’s important is that Kevin notices a train approaching; it stops, the doors open, and what appears to be military starts unloading prisoners into the mist.
“They’re feeding it,” Kevin says.
By all that is adapted from the works of Stephen King, do I...want a second season of The Mist? Make no mistake, this is an overall ill-advised, poorly made season of television. It’s occasionally well-shot and framed, yes, but the writing throughout ranged from painfully dull to straight up offensive. But this episode alone was so balls-to-the-wall devoid of logic and rules that in some cosmically backward way it ended up making a case for itself. I don’t know. I think to what Eve says while surrounded by mist and madness in the mall: “You’ve all lost your fucking minds.”
Maybe she’s right. Maybe we have.
- It’s a shame that this show undercut the genuine sweetness between Bryan and Mia last week by having Bryan peace out immediately with someone he just met. It’s doubly a shame that Bryan and Mia’s farewell scene was robbed of emotion by the fact that every character involved said the word “go” roughly 65 times.
- Did Gus Bradley survive the mist? It appeared so. But if not, he died the way he lived, hidden among his secret stash of snacks.
- A huge, sincere thank you to anyone who followed our coverage of The Mist, and an equally huge, equally sincere apology to anyone who actually watched The Mist while doing so. It’s been fun!