The Mist: “Withdrawal” Review

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By: Jaclyn Cascio (@jaclynator)

In the second episode of The Mist, the mysteries of the heavy fog remain undiscovered. When the only thing known is potential death within the mist, the unknown becomes all the more fearsome. So how did the show handle the unknown this week?

The pilot episode of The Mist covered a lot of ground in a single episode, creating tensions among the characters now trapped in the occlusive fog. While events and their resulting tensions received the lion’s share of attention, character depth was lacking. This week, “Withdrawal” did little to remedy the problem. The main characters began to fill very general archetypal roles in the story in the first episode, with potential for growth. However, “Withdrawal” mistakenly failed to live up to the potential possible. Instead, events seemed to happen to the characters, not because of the characters. Simply going through the motions, events unfolded around them, but their traits and personalities (as shallow and underdeveloped as they may be) did very little to affect any situations. In a particular case of assumptions and judgment, a lead character made a life or death choice, giving her control in a script otherwise using characters as simple tools. However, without significant development of her motivations and thoughts, the situation lacked the emotional impact it could have had.

Further perpetuating the flaw of under-developed characters, new characters were introduced throughout “Withdrawal.” Unfortunately, it means that there are more one-dimensional figures added into the mix, detracting from those the show is already struggling to adequately focus on. A new character, Clint, trapped in the mall by the mist, was perhaps the most interesting individual presented in the episode, and the mystery surrounding him and his friends felt like the first true pieces of the book and movie to make their way into the show. For the first time, I actually wanted to root for someone and get to know them! But the potential answers that might have been gleaned from such characters are now lost to the new mall residents and the audience. Another mystery come and gone before its time, it seems.

On the bright side, “Withdrawal” managed to move events forward, even if the characters are stalled. The show appears to be now focused on two distinct groups trapped within the town – one at the mall and the other at the church. Each group has interacted with the mist in different capacities, from mind-bending hallucinations (that might be more than a head trip), to tangible and frighteningly real threats maiming and killing those unlucky enough to find themselves in the mist, unsheltered. The episode gave the audience a taste of what the mist is capable of, both physically and mentally. In fact, the mist itself might be the most interesting and well-developed character so far! The on-screen personalities began to ask the right questions about the mysterious fog, loaded with a healthy dose of fear. But cooler heads have prevailed in some cases and it seems that the not-so-clear but definitely present danger are reason enough to plan to take action.

In moving events forward, this week’s episode of The Mist also managed to throw in some action and scares, which were glaringly inadequate in the pilot. Even the annoying blurring used as a special effect of the mist itself couldn’t detract from the fights, crashes, and bangs that punctuated “Withdrawal.” There was just enough action to wet the whistle for those who are fans of the book and movie, and it helped to maintain a solid pace for the episode. (Because we could get bogged down with all the simple characters right now without throwing them an action bone to sink their teeth into once in a while.) The writing in blood could really open some doors for the mall group to explore the mystery of the mist in the future (if they can just figure out that it’s definitely an attempt to spell out “Arrowhead,” not “Anna”).

Fans of the movie would likely say that humans might be their own most dangerous enemies when thrown into the mist. However, this week, “Withdrawal” did little to make the humans on screen elicit a reaction from the audience. Love or hate, anger or grief – the audience should feel something about the characters, which, disappointingly, The Mist has yet to deliver. Meanwhile, the mist itself is actually becoming increasingly interesting. The little we know about it, nearly overpowered by the total lack of knowing, is where the fun is going to be. Fear, anxiety, and uncertainty are all potential byproducts of the mist, and if nothing else, the show is keeping us in the dark – as we should be! I’m anxious to see what doom awaits some individuals at the ghostly hands of the frightening fog.

A second episode on the books, The Mist is missing some key elements to keep viewers interested, but it still feels like it has potential. Maybe the next episode will rise to the occasion!


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