The Mist: “The Waiting Room” Review

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By: Jaclyn Cascio (@jaclynator)

We’ve reached the halfway point of the first season of The Mist. “The Waiting Room” introduced a new setting, provided some character backstory, and reminded us that many unknowns still remain. Was the fifth episode a turning point for the season, or more of the same? Read on for a review of this week’s episode of The Mist and see if you agree!

In an effort to take a novella that focuses on a single location and expand its scope to present enough material to keep a television series going, The Mist has introduced many characters and multiple locations. This week brought Kevin (Morgan Spector), Mia (Danica Curcic), the amnesiac military man who might be Bryan (Okezie Morro), and Adrian (Russell Posner) to the local hospital to seek treatment for the gunshot wound received last week. However, moving once again only keeps the characters in a transient status, never allowing them to put down roots to which the audience can also attach themselves. With each new setting more characters are brought in, but with little to offer to allow viewers to feel for them. “The Waiting Room” hospital environment shows that there are more than the central characters trapped in the mist covering the town and provides scope, but overall adds little the story itself.

On the bright side, “The Waiting Room” brought a character to the forefront who at least made an appearance in previous episodes and has a relationship of some kind with a focal character of The Mist. Kevin finds his brother, Mike (Peter Murnik), in the hospital, in dire need of medical attention that appears unattainable with a wing of the medical facility cut off from the doctors by the dangerous fog. While it’s fairly clear that Mike was re-introduced as a foil for his brother and as a meat suit for the mist to kill off and show its morbid abilities, Mike had more than a thin thread of connection to the story (like last week’s character, Gus, for example), which is progress from previous episodes. Unfortunately, despite the established relationship, the loss of Mike was hardly felt. Not only was he not around long enough for the audience to actually care about him, the flashbacks utilized to provide background didn’t paint him in any redeemable light.

On the subject of flashbacks, “The Waiting Room” is the first episode of the season to use that particular storytelling technique. Honestly, flashbacks might have been used far sooner, to great effect, through the season to tell us more about the central characters trapped in the mist. Waiting to introduce this tool halfway through the season, however, was perhaps not the wisest choice. First, waiting too long to try a new method of storytelling broke the norms established by the series and felt incongruous with the previous episodes. Second, flashbacks are most effective when they relate closely to the events happening in the present, and the connection between the two in “The Waiting Room” was weak. The CW’s Arrow integrated flashbacks into the series from the very first episode, and the flashbacks of each episode have related to skills, ideas, etc. that were being shown in the present, thereby providing a tangible connection between past and present. Arrow has used flashbacks with great success because the writers understood the strengths of the tool. Meanwhile, “The Waiting Room” gave us flashbacks, but they were too little, too late.

Meanwhile, Adrian had a rough-and-tumble sexual encounter with a high school classmate in one of the hospital’s bathrooms, and I’m genuinely stumped about the purpose it ultimately served. There was little background provided leading up to it, and zero follow-up after it occurred; what was the point? The scene might have been saved for a more appropriate time when the focus of an episode might have been shifted to Adrian. Instead, the episode was mostly about Kevin and his brother Mike, and the bathroom encounter felt like a random event thrown in to give the Adrian something to do.

While “The Waiting Room” gave us no further exposure to the interestingly weird Nathalie Raven (Frances Conroy) or the crew at the mall, this week’s episode finally touched on the Bryan Hunt mystery. The beginning of the pilot episode of The Mist introduced the man in military uniform with amnesia who believed himself to be Bryan Hunt (Okezie Morro), as evidenced by a credit card he found on his person. However, following that first introduction, there has been little exploration into the naturally intriguing mystery surrounding a lost man in the mist who remembers nothing. This week, the subject was broached, and all is not as it seems. There could be more questions or (more importantly) answers associated with the man’s story, if we are only given the opportunity to dig deeper. I was glad to see that this particular plot line might be picked up again, which is a more organic track for The Mist to take.

Overall, “The Waiting Room” wasn’t the strange disaster that last week’s episode was. While connections may have been thin in this episode, at least they were present – an improvement over the last four episodes of the season. The episode may have lacked focus on the initial story lines presented for the series, but it succeeded in gaining focus on the background of a particular character. If nothing else, there’s at least the mystery of Bryan Hunt to keep us going. The first season of The Mist is now officially half finished, and we will see what comes.


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