‘The Mist’ Season 1 Finale: I Can See Clearly Now

On the season finale of “The Mist,” the show finally came together for what was easily the best episode since the premiere, “The Tenth Meal.” Granted, it might not have had the subtlety and the nuance of that episode, but it more than made up for it in action and great twists that kept you guessing about what might happen next.

As tends to be the case with some of the better-written shows, the people you might have thought would be left standing at the end of the season weren’t always the one who were. There were plenty of casualties, to be sure, but I was definitely surprised by a few of the people who made it out alive, which we’ll get to soon enough, so spoiler alert from here on out.

We basically picked up where we left off, with all of our main characters converging on the mall. As this was the first episode since the pilot where that was the case, it was obvious that things were about to come to a head, big-time. But how exactly would things go down? Would Alex (Gus Birney) finally find out the truth about who assaulted her? Would her father, Kevin (Morgan Spector) get his revenge on the real culprit, the insidious Adrian (Russell Posner)?

For that matter, would Kevin get there in time to save Alex and Eve (Alyssa Sutherland), before the angry mob at the mall got to them? Or before his wife got to Jay (Luke Cosgrove)? Or before his bloodthirsty father, Connor (Darren Pettie), and the “prophet” he followed, Nathalie (Frances Conroy), could arrive and kill Jay themselves? And would those two stop there, given everything they did up until that point?

While certain things were predictable- Jay’s father got to him first and “rescued” him from the angry mob, only to “feed” him to the mist outside, at Nathalie’s behest; Kevin caught up to Adrian and beat the crap out of him- others were a lot more shocking. For instance, Jay managed to evade seemingly certain death and be there for Alex later on, to save her life from the mist- only to finally get taken by it in her place. Didn’t see that coming!

Even more surprising, Alex discovered her father wasn’t Kevin… but Connor, which was exactly why Eve was freaking out as much as she was- the two were brother and sister. Holy Lannisters! Definitely didn’t see THAT coming. TBH, I probably should have, after Eve intimated that Alex might not be Kevin’s in a flashback on a previous episode, but it just never occurred to me that it might be Connor who was, even though it makes perfect sense in retrospect.

So, while I’m not going to try and say that the show was perfect, by any means- it definitely had its ups and downs- I will say that there was maybe better plotting than some of us gave it credit for, in general. Oh, don’t get me wrong- there were almost certainly more downs than ups, to be sure. “The Mist” was nothing if not highly erratic, much like the mist itself, which couldn’t seem to decide on who to kill at any given moment, or whether to kill at all.

We absolutely had long stretches of time in which it would be completely understandable how someone could wonder if this was a proper genre show or not, given how easily people seemed to navigate the mist, weaving in and out of it like it was no big deal. Sure, the show would throw us- and the mist- a bone now and then, but there were a surprising amount of people running around in it, only to emerge completely unscathed, that’s for sure.

Granted, one could reasonably surmise that certain people might make it out alive- I don’t think anyone was surprised that Kevin, Eve and Alex made it out intact, even if there was always a chance that one of them might bite it. It certainly looked like Alex might, at one point- and for the record, she might not be completely unaffected by her experience, either.

After all, the mist was all over her, and even inside her (which sounds dirtier than I meant it to, lol). We’ll just have to wait and see. But one thing’s for sure, unless he makes a cameo as a “ghost” or whatever, Jay won’t be back. And, of course, his death was made all the worse by the fact that he was completely innocent of the crime of which he was accused, even by his own father.

I was even more shocked that Adrian emerged alive. I thought for sure if Kevin didn’t kill him, then the mist would. But a lot of how the mist works remains a mystery. It clearly doesn’t just kill the “guilty,” any more than it preys solely on the “innocent.” In fact, I’m not sure if there really is a method to its madness. Given that ending, it might well just “feed” when it’s hungry, nothing more.

About that ending. So, I’m assuming that the military that may well have created the mist, now sacrifices people to it to keep it at bay? That would seem to be the case here. Either way, in another surprise twist, we discovered that Jonah, aka Bryan (Okezie Morro), was actually the superior officer (or whatever) in charge of that one guy at the mall, Wes (Greg Hovanessian), with whom he ended up leaving- sans Mia (Danica Curcic), much to her dismay, in another unexpected development.

Wes claimed that he would take Jonah to Arrowhead to see the doctor that supposedly saved his life, though it sure looked like she was experimenting on him instead, what with all the weird questions she was asking him. I guess we’ll have to wait and see on that one, but regardless, the military is obviously up to this to their necks. Was the mist itself an experiment gone awry? Or was it already there, and the military were investigating it? We’ll just have to wait and see, presuming there even is a season two.

Another great twist came when, after seeming like they were free and clear, Kevin had second thoughts, and backed that thing up to reverse pummel the front entrance to the mall, thus allowing the mist to get in and pretty much kill everyone inside. Pretty hardcore! Needless to say, the mist made short work of all concerned, though it probably serves them right, after so many of them went off the reservation so quickly.

Don’t get me wrong- I’m not saying they ALL deserved to die- some were more actively horrible than others, obviously. But what they did to Alex and Eve was pretty heinous, not in the least after Eve revealed Alex’s real father to everyone. (Someone actually used that as a reason to further condemn Alex, as in “You made out with your brother!”- like she knew!)

And lest we forget, a few of them, including mall owner Gus (Isiah Whitlock, Jr.) and security guard Kyle (Romaine Waite), flat-out killed people. Technically, none of them were innocent, in terms of seemingly sending out Kevin and his family to their doom, so… what goes around, comes around, as they say.

Another shocker was the fact that Nathalie was exposed as the crazy person she actually was, much to the surprise of Connor, who had gone so far as to kill people at her behest. Although, he managed to survive the ordeal, after giving Kevin and company an assist to get out of there after their Kamikaze front door assault.

Nathalie wasn’t so lucky, as the mist presented her with her late ex-husband, and, in an especially creepy twist, her dead baby, which she didn’t hesitate to “feed,” even though it proved to be the end of her, as the ghost child quite literally sucked her dry, leaving her a hollowed-out husk in the process, and very much deader than a doornail. So much for false prophets, despite all that “trial by ordeal” business. I guess the mist doesn’t play favorites, after all.

All in all, it was a pretty action-packed, fun ride, ending the season on a decidedly high note. As I’ve covered in previous reviews, “The Mist” was almost maddeningly erratic at times, veering wildly from horror movie clichés to genuinely touching emotional moments and surprisingly effective plot twists.

On the other hand, it also used rape and gender confusion as a plot device to add a “mystery” element that wasn’t entirely successful, given how many people saw the “twist” coming. As a direct result of that, certain developments left a decidedly icky aftertaste to the show that is tough to defend.

As I’ve said before, I really think show developer and head writer Christian Torpe is very talented as a writer, when he’s on top of his game. When the show was well-written, it was very effective at times. Other times, though… not so much. If Torpe could rein in his lesser tendencies, like using dubious things as plot devices and indulging himself in too many horror tropes, not to mention hiring better writers for the episodes he isn’t directly involved in, then “The Mist” could be a reasonably decent show, with a brighter future.

Maybe now that the main cast is smaller and what’s going on isn’t so spread out and all over the place, the show could benefit from a tighter focus, perhaps concentrating on the two main groups at hand and not being overly ambitious. I mean, I get that there are going to be “redshirts,” as it were, and you can’t really go too much into detail about everyone, but in a way, that’s my point.

While I admire the show for at least trying to be ambitious, which not all horror aspires to be; the fact is, aside from Kevin and his extended “family”- including Adrian, Connor and Jay (and perhaps Mia and Jonah/Bryan, to a certain extent), we didn’t get a lot on the other characters. Hell, half the time, I didn’t even know their names. (I had to look up both Wes and Kyle, for instance.)

By focusing in on a tighter-knit group of people in the second season, if there is one, I think the show could benefit enormously. I don’t doubt we’ll get some new characters, especially on the military end of things, but I don’t think the show should get carried away on that front, moving forward. Instead, much like the novella that inspired it, and the movie that followed, it should keep the extraneous characters to a minimum and concentrate instead on telling a good story.

By that, I don’t necessarily mean bogging the plot down with a lot of back-story and specifics on the mist and its origins. There should be some of that, sure- certainly more than we’ve gotten so far. But the show should try and aim for a good balance of character and plot in the future, and I think Torpe has the talent to do just that.

From the interviews I read, he obviously has an idea of where this is all going, so that’s good. It just remains to be seen whether he can pull off a consistent tone for the show, given how erratic the quality of the first season was overall. For every good thing, there was at least half a dozen bad ones, and that’s not a great track record.

In the future, Torpe would do good to rein in his worst tendencies, or at least hire better writers to assist him, so that the negative things aren’t so glaringly bad. Let’s face it, the reviews for the show, whether from professional critics like myself or the armchair critics on the internet, weren’t exactly glowing. If anything, I sometimes wondered from what I was reading, if I wasn’t going too easy on the show, which is saying something, as I wasn’t exactly gung-ho about it, either.

But I really do think “The Mist” shows some promise, and if it does get renewed, then maybe it can fix the stuff that could use fixing and instead concentrate on things like strong character development, and especially better effects- what, no monsters in the mist? Let’s face it, all we got was a glorified smoke monster and the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, which was kind of out of nowhere. The novella and the movie had Lovecraftian beasties- where were they?

Hopefully, we’ll get a chance to find out, but until then, this was a decent, if heavily flawed take on the story that at least tried to be a cut above the typical genre fare, even if it was more than a little misguided at times. I can live with that, I suppose. What say you?

Be sure and sound off on the show down below, and thanks for reading!