The Mist’s eighth episode is basically Christmas with your elderly relatives, in that there is a lot to unpack here and absolutely none of it is good. “The Law of Nature” is all gym socks and sweaters, folks. Showrunner Christian Torpe (who co-wrote the episode) didn’t even include the gift receipt, so we can’t even trade this in for something we actually want (like a brand new Mercedes). Maybe even more so than the characters themselves we are stuck inside this mist, going nowhere anytime soon, and help is apparently not on the way.
Where to begin? With Mother Nature ordering Nathalie Raven to murder a church full of people, Bryan Hunt and Mia Lambert’s spontaneous backseat tryst, or Gus Bradley murdering Shelley DeWitt to keep his hidden snack pantry safe? No, right upfront, we need to discuss the revelation that Adrien not only raped Alex at that party, but did so because he is batshit bananas out of his mind. Not in a subtle way—or, you know, a way that’s been hinted in any shape or form during the previous seven episodes—but cartoonishly crazy; he’s a horror, dangerously obsessed with Alex (“I wasn’t going to let her choose someone like Jay”), apparently such a monster in his personal life that his father was afraid of him and his mother needed high-strength sedatives (the same found in Alex’s body) just to live under the same roof.
It is the worst kind of twist because it’s not a twist, it’s just a lie. You showed us one thing and then, in one scene of exposition, revealed it was something different the whole time. If you took a left turn so jarringly sudden in a car you’d flip the thing over. And that’s exactly where we are, in a show turned morally upside down. Because you know Adrien’s father, the abusive, close-minded bigot? The Mist is asking us to side with him. The only clues—if you could call them clues—that pointed to Adrien’s deranged state are that he wears eyeliner, or that he’s unsure about his sexuality, or that he’s unpopular in school. This show is taking a toxic, all too real social stigma—that being gay, or bi, or even just different somehow is equal to being dangerously, mentally unstable—and calling it character development.
In an alternate universe where rape as a plot device doesn’t need to be handled with any sort of delicacy, this story might, might have worked if it gave Alex anything—anything at all—to do. Instead, she just sort of exists while the characters circling around her offer their judgement. Eve—who at one point looked to be the bedrock of this shaky show—has been relegated to seething about her daughter from the shadows. Here, she locks Jay—who, again, is innocent and I suppose something of a Good Guy—in a closet, but is thoughtful enough to leave him several magazines.
Elsewhere, the rest of the townsfolk trapped in the mall graduate from “scared and restless” to “alarmingly cult-like.” Rations are dwindling, and the assembled are willing to believe anything, including Shelley’s assertion that Alex is a part of the mist. She doesn’t believe it, but she asserts it. Or, she did, up until the point she discovers Gus’ food stash kept hidden in his unlocked office. Gus brains Shelley over the head, chokes her to death, and then—because not a single character on this show is not a terrible human being when push comes to shove—he blames the murder on Alex.
Who are we supposed to root for in the middle of all this? Characters do not have to be likable, but they do have to be something. The Mist is only aptly named because its characters are all vaguely discernible outlines, running through the fog from one terrible thing to the next. After eight episodes there not only is no discernible end goal in sight—just “surviving” is not compelling enough when most of the main cast walks through the mist unharmed—but no reason for us to hope anyone makes it there at all. At this point, if this series went for the ballsy finale of the 2014 film, I’d consider it a happy ending. That’s harsh, but there is simply no personality to grab onto across the board, much less root for.
Well, that’s actually not true. There is one small moment of saving grace here. It comes after Nathalie pontificates ad nauseum on miracles, and Black Springs, and Nature herself.
“This is bullshit,” responds an unnamed bearded man—my new hero—before moving to leave the room. If only I could follow him.
- It’s a shame how quickly the writers turned Nathalie Raven from intriguingly creepy to the same level of homicidal as everyone else, because Frances Conroy continues to exist on another level altogether from her castmates, acting-wise.
- It’s also a shame that, as Adrien, Russell Posner actually does put in a pretty great unhinged performance. But the context is just…unforgivable.
- I’m not entirely sure that if you removed Bryan and Mia from this show altogether, anything would change. Their solo exploits have mostly been superfluous, their hallucinations and flashbacks seem more important to a hypothetical second season, and their romantic pairing reads like Spike TV realizing if it wants to get into the prestige TV game, there has to be at least a little sex.
- Many people both in the comments and online pointed out how obvious Adrien’s guilt was. But until it was confirmed, I think I was holding out hope that there was more to it. Anything else, really.
- I will say, this episode did include one of my favorite horror tropes: Someone stopping in the middle of horrific terror and bloodshed to spray paint ominous graffiti.