This week’s The Mist S01E05, limped along at its usual dullard pace but at least “The Waiting Room” tried a couple of daring character arcs and more ambitious storytelling. Neither worked.

In amongst the fog of confusion caused by the series’ expertly bad writing, I was happy to see the introduction of flashbacks, which should help clear the mist up a bit… They didn’t.

Kevin, Adrian and Mia arrive at a hospital with injured Bryan. Kevin finds his mouth-breather brother, Mike who pleads to be put of his misery on account of the rebar sticking out of his liver… and the hospital having run out of every medicine, ever. Obviously.

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After several ten year flashbacks, Mike tells a story from his hospital bed. He reminisces about the time, as kids, when he and brother Kevin met a crazy man in the woods – a man straight out of a Stephen King novel who creepily wanted to become blood brothers with the two young lads.

Here, I thought, we were going to get a real flashback to explain why these brothers hate each other… only, it never came. In the one moment begging out for a flashback, we didn’t get one! Instead, The Mist once again became guilty as charged of telling, not showing.

CUE FLASHBACK… THE MIST S01E05 STYLE

Ever since Alain Resnais perfected the technique in his 1959 film about memory, Hiroshima, Mon Amour, flashbacks have been a staple of film and TV. I love a good flashback because they can really add another dimension to story and/or character. “Come on, then…” I thought; let’s see what drives these people, but The Mist S01E05 had other ideas.

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The flashbacks of Mike acting weird at Eve and Kevin’s new lakeside home and subsequent lame (but meant to be interpreted as rough) sex scene only reason for existing was to set up the later reveal that Mike is actually Alex’s father (not Kevin). Problem is, the writers set up precisely zero breadcrumbs, signposts or telegraphs along the way, so precisely zero percent of the audience give a shit.

I tend to split flashbacks into two categories, Plot Flashbacks and Character Flashbacks – of course, the two often intermingle but they should be used to convey one of (but not limited to) the following:

PLOT FLASHBACKS:

  • To reveal a vital new piece of information to the audience, i.e. a “switcheroo” as I call them
    “Haha! I switched the suitcases at the last moment, Fuck you, Inch High Private Eye!
  • As a choice of narrative structure – for example, Forrest GumpSaving Private Ryan, and, to a certain extent, Citizen Kane (though Kane is actually present tense leading to a flashback structure) are all examples of bookending flashbacks.
  • To reveal a new perspective after a vital piece of information like Rashomon, or that amazing reveal in The Sixth Sense is also conveyed via a series of flashbacks.

CHARACTER FLASHBACKS:

  • To convey a memory being triggered, often via PTSD.
  • To reveal a pertinent memory that has a significant bearing on the plot.
  • To show how things used to be, and how much relationships have changed like in Better Call Saul’s season three finalé “Lantern”.
  • To demonstrate how the character became who they are (often in childhood or formative years) as done weekly in Arrow.
  • To show a character has either learnt from a previous mistake or stayed the same à la Lost

So, after badly setting up the storyline that sees Mike revealed as Alex’s father, Eve then reveals this information to Kevin DURING A FUCKING FLASHBACK!

No! No! A thousand times no!

Writers – Mike must reveal to Kevin that he is the father in the present, not in flashback. Not only does this waste a valuable and interesting potential storyline when Kevin does eventually catch up with his wife and daughter but this information should be Mike’s last resort. This devastating reveal is Mike’s coup de grace to get Kevin to shoot him. But because this is The Mist, it’s a garbled, meaningless choice about Kevin’s love and “doing anything for Eve.”

LEECHES!

The final scenes of The Mist S01E05, The Waiting Room saw Kevin wheel brother Mike through the mist-covered hospital’s east wing to perform surgery with the doctor talking him through the procedure via walkie talkie. I must admit this was an incredibly well-executed and tense scene which deserves props.

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As does the final scene in The Mist S01E05. It’s the same trick this show tried in its very first flashback parallelism but this time it worked. In this instance, pacifist-coward Kevin eventually grew enough of a pair to shoot his leech-covered, dying brother, i.e. what he said he would do in the past, he did in the present. Well done, The Mist, you are learning.

In other news, the writer’s room seems to think the best way for homosexual emo-kid Adrian to respond to having the shit kicked out of him after trying to kiss a jock is… to immediately try to do the self-same thing again… and it working!

And, while Adrian is having sex with aforementioned jock, Mia discovers that her newfound beau Bryan Hunt isn’t who he says he is, and therefore must have stolen the real Bryan Hunt’s wallet and army clothes. Yawn.

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When I said The Mist mist must try harder, it seems Christian Torpe was listening. Just not hard enough. 2/10 for effort.

I just wish I could be given me my own show where I could try hard to learn to write and direct television.

The Mist continues on Wednesday 26th July on Spike.