"Paul Levinson's It's Real Life is a page-turning exploration into that multiverse known as rock and roll. But it is much more than a marvelous adventure narrated by a master storyteller...it is also an exquisite meditation on the very nature of alternate history." -- Jack Dann, The Fiction Writer's Guide to Alternate History

Thursday, December 23, 2021

Station Eleven 1.4-5: Shakespearean Prophet

Well, if you thought Station Eleven wasn't dead serious, you'll give up any hope that it wasn't after you've seen episodes 1.4-5, up on HBO Max today.  No, only kidding, of course.  This is a series about the near extinction of the human species, so how could it not be deadly serious?  But I wasn't really kidding, if that makes any sense.   As serious and to-the-core frightening as this narrative was from the get-go, it's even more, a lot more so, after these two new episodes.

Before getting into why, let me say that the cinematography and music in this television series is an Impressionistic triumph.  The images range from the watercolor fields of Monet to the rage and confusion in oil of Van Gogh (nice phrase, right?).  And the music is some kind of riff on Debussy, though as far as I know none of the music in this TV series that is more like a movie was actually written by him.

[Ok, time for just one big spoiler ... ]

I guessed pretty early on in 1.5 that Tyler was, or would grow up to be, David aka the Prophet.  And in 1.4, we learn why Kirsten tried to kill him, and why he deserved to be.  I said in a review of the Succession season 3 finale that that ultra-contemporary series was Shakespearean.  Not to throw too many compliment bouquets, but the post-ultra-contemporary Station Eleven is Shakespearean, too.  It shouts that out literally from the stage at the beginning of the very first episode with King Lear.  And it continues that, with actors who speak as if they are on stage not screens,* in situations which are exquisite human tragedies.

Tyler's voyage in that airport was a sight to behold.   Although Station Eleven had this quality all along, that airport story for the first time tipped the balance from science fiction to horror, though the action was psychological, not blood and gore.  I'll also say, as the series completes its midpoint, though I know already that I'm going to think the series will conclude its first season far too soon.  And that's because it's taking so much time to tell its story, and I'm luxuriously bathing in, with a wary eye, every minute.

Station Eleven is quickly shaping up, with not much time left to contest it, as the best new science fiction series from a non-classic source on 2021 television.

*You can hear my Bronx accent in the audio podcast of this review:

See also Station Eleven 1.1-3: "Looking Over the Damage" Well Worth Seeing ... Station Eleven 1.6-7: Time, Blake, and Bosch


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