Dimension and Spike TV’s “The Mist” opens with a shot of a spider, which is a metaphor for the web the residents of Bridgeville, Maine are trapped in. It’s also instant foreshadowing that becomes a reoccurring theme throughout the show.
“The Mist”, adapted from Stephen King‘s novel, spends the opening moments of the series intercutting between a soldier and the residents of Bridgeville. The soldier awakens with amnesia but catches a glimpse of a terrifying fog rolling into town. Meanwhile, Eve (Alyssa Sutherland) and Kevin (Morgan Spector) Copeland fight over letting their daughter, Alex (Gus Birney), attend a party.
The pilot takes its time introducing the town’s characters and setting up their series arcs. Penned by Amanda Segel and Christian Torpe, “The Mist” fights hard to wedge in social commentary, from drugs to bullying, sexual preference, and even rape. Yes, the major conflict in the first episode begins when Alex alleges that Jay (Luke Cosgrove), the town football star, raped her. A rift is formed between her parents being that Kevin allowed her to go to the party behind Eve’s back. While the social commentary is commendable, I see many having an issue with how it’s presented; not only do the locals not believe her, but the show eludes to the idea that maybe she’s lying. This, of course, isn’t socially acceptable, yet it’s impossible to know where the writers are taking this arc over the course of the season.
But I digress, the point is that the writers are working overtime to insert drama, conflict and add more than one dimension to a story that needs to be more than a horror show. That’s the difficult task at hand; how do they expand on King’s story without blowing the load too early? “The Mist” is more about people being monsters than the show’s creatures. This hearkens back to George A. Romero’s initial zombie trilogy, especially Dawn of the Dead.
Once the mist actually rolls in, the town’s people are caught in a web and unable to move. One group find themselves trapped in a mall, where they’re fighting fear and paranoia, while unseen horrors outside drive their insanity. Here, shit hits the fan, and it never slows down. Those hoping for monsters are going to have to wait being that it appears the first season will torment the town with “normal” insects. Still, these bugs are vicious as they devour anyone who crosses their path; it’s violent, bloody and absolutely bonkers. The hope is that the filmmakers are able to continually deliver the goods over the course of ten episodes, which will have to be deluded by more character work.
Speaking of, Frances Conroy‘s performance is enough to warrant a weekly return to Bridgeville. She’s being set up as one of the town’s antagonists and single-handedly elevates the quality of the pilot episode. Just wait until you see what comes next…
And while the debut does a solid job of setting up various mysteries, the one thing that bothers me is the opening sequence with the soldier and his dog; it’s a constant reminder that the military has something to do with the mist. With that said, “The Mist” is a beautiful blend of drama and horror that delivers on its immediate promise. Feeling like an episode of “Friday Night Lights” with man-eating insects, “The Mist” is as dense as it’s terrifying and promises to be one of the best new genre shows on television.
“The Mist” premieres Thursday, June 22 at 10 PM, ET/PT on Spike.