After two dangerously tedious filler episodes in a row it is refreshing to see The Mist get back on track. Episode 7 of Spike TV’s Stephen King adaptation finally shows us meaningful clues about Bryan/Jonah’s ordeal that left him amnesiac, the hospital group tangle with a truly dangerous antagonist, and Nathalie and Father Romanov engage in a deadly wager that will leave the winner in control of the church’s survivors once and for all.
It should be stated right off that episode is not perfect. The twist that the helpful psych ward orderly is actually a criminally insane mental patient in disguise is so obvious and predictable it’s not even worth a spoiler warning. And the dialogue is as aimlessly overwrought as we’ve come to expect. (“I have nothing to live for. Except… Maybe I do!”) But the episode, entitled “Over the River and Through the Woods” manages to be greater than the sum of its parts. That insane orderly might be predictable, but he is scary, and so convincing in his belief in visions of good and evil that the episode leaves you wondering if there might be something to it. The burgeoning relationship between Adrian (Russell Posner) and Tyler (Christopher Gray) is at the crux of this frightening story and the pair make the final act of the tedious hospital arc very fun to watch.
The dynamic between Nathalie (Frances Conroy) and Fr. Romanov (Dan Butler) is also at its best. The church scenes have consistently been among the best in the series and it is largely thanks to these two veteran actors and the opposing world views their characters represent. As mentioned, the clashing personalities decide to put their respective faiths to the test and the result feels like it truly signals the endgame of this season.
The mall group gets the shortest shrift this episode, feeling like it was tacked on to give those characters something to do. The background extras’ bickering about food feels like it’s happening because it’s what is expected to happen at this point in an apocalyptic story rather than being due to a genuine crisis. Eve (Alyssa Sutherland) even gives a boilerplate speech about how fast society breaks down in a crisis just in case the audience didn’t pick up on how super serious things have become. There are some interesting characters among the mall’s crew and they get some nice little moments during their few scenes in this episode. Hopefully they will build to something meaningful as the season closes.
It’s a bumpy ride “Over the River and Through the Woods,” but the important thing is that The Mist is going somewhere again.