Station Eleven’s finale found a silver lining in the post-apocalypse
[Ed. note: This piece contains spoilers for Station Eleven.]
Midway through the Station Eleven pilot, Jeevan Chaudhary has an anxiety attack, as he recognizes the world will completely alter. His sis Siya, who operates at a health center, has actually alerted him to nestle, to discover his sibling Frank and barricade themselves inside. Jeevan goes to the supermarket — with young starlet Kirsten, for whom he has actually ended up being an unintentional sitter — and loads up various complete carts of food. As he dissociates through having a look at the groceries, the only cashier asks him if the influenza deserves stressing over. Jeevan informs the clerk, in no unpredictable terms, to head house.
I still remember my last pre-mask supermarket run, an impulse journey to Ralphs to stockpile on basics. I’ve constantly fallen on the stress and anxiety side of things, and one early morning in the very first week of March 2020, I chose to follow the impulses that shouted “better safe than sorry.” I took an ill day from work. It wasn’t hectic, and individuals took a look at me strangely as I made my mountain of purchases — getting products with the fatalistic hubris that I’d be obliged to consume them, which implies I have beans in an amount that I am still resolving.
I haven’t viewed any sort of imaginary pandemic media because March 2020 — back when loved ones were fretted about the effect of a couple of months of quarantine. Now it’s the 3rd year of the pandemic: Omicron alternative caseloads are increasing, the American COVID-19 test facilities is busted, and health centers are overloaded. Viewing Station Eleven under these situations is equivalent parts penalty and a breath of fresh air. It’s the closest to anything I’ve seen that lives at the knife edge of misery and hope of the last 2 years — an elegy to sorrow and living beyond survival.
HBO Max’s Station Eleven adjusts Emily St. John Mandel’s Arthur C. Clarke Acclaimed 2014 book of the exact same name into a 10-episode restricted series. Mandel’s armageddon arises from an influenza that has no incubation duration and triggers near-immediate death. (The scary of this is just clearer after months of finding out incubation durations of COVID alternative pressures, in the procedure of investigating which tests can be relied on at what times after direct exposure.) A handful of neighborhoods increase out of these scaries, making their method forward in the debris of a now defunct society.
The program makes piercing work of this source product, tracking the lives of different individuals. There’s Kristen, the girl orphaned by the pandemic, and Jeevan, the guy who takes her in. There’s the taking a trip Shakespeare performers — Kirsten has actually ended up being a starlet with them, years later on — that carries out plays around the Excellent Lakes in a course they call “The Wheel.” There are individuals of Severn City Airport, in Michigan, a diverted flight that developed into a long-term neighborhood of survivors. As in Mandel’s unique, these individuals’s lives are linked. Their connections grow evident throughout the program, as episodes shift time and topic, in between the more instant collapse of society and life twenty years after.
This rhythm is an efficient departure from the storytelling of the book, putting different timelines in more constant discussion with each other. The program layers the Act 1, Scene 2 monologue from Hamlet — Hamlet is still worn grieving for his dad, 3 months later on — over the scene of a kid getting a text from a morgue. It weaves together scenes where a character is dead instantly with scenes where that character is still alive, throughout one episode — frequently utilizing comparable framing strategies to develop the impression that the pandemic is constantly at every point of its beginning, that every character resides in a liminal area where they are both alive and dead, both corporeal and not. These blended timelines provide stars area to carry out the worry, austerity, and grit needed of survival throughout various points in their life. It’s the program’s extravagance, and with any other subject it may have checked out as ugly or like ignorant camp.
In Station Eleven the impact is suffocating, claustrophobic, and relentless, like the influenza is constantly about to occur, constantly taking place, constantly having actually simply taken place. It’s a lot like enduring the previous 2 years, where the ground underfoot keeps moving. The guidelines of what we understand about the pandemic modification, and what is thought about safe or risky is under consistent development. Just the overwelming sense of loss stays constant: Loss of regular or the enjoyment of being around other individuals, loss of faith, death.
COVID-19 has actually turned the modern pester unique into a type of predictive totem, though couple of have actually reached the sort of important beloved status as Mandel’s book. Much of the poignant images in Station Eleven’s opening episodes have reality analogues. There’s the consistent alertness versus illness, which minute you recognize individuals around you — the dynamic material of the crowd on public transit, the buddies in your house — end up being a prospective danger.
The program’s post-apocalyptic world never ever stops sensation genuine. Lovely, lavish cinematography provides scenes a sense of contemporaneousness — withstanding the ugly tones that frequently mark the armageddon category. As the taking a trip Shakespeare performers rounds The Wheel, carrying out at different encampments, their horses pull “wagons” that remain in truth old pickup. Outfits are made from restored products. Extravagant, well-stocked structures — a the old country club, a vast airport — end up being centers from which neighborhood sprouts. “Pre-pan” members (those who lived prior to the pandemic) discuss artifacts of innovation to the “post-pan.” There were phones, and you might utilize them to discover anybody, and search for anything; you might save all of Shakespeare’s plays on them. Much of these artifacts of civilization feel progressively pointless, as the Scotch tape holding together facilities removes.
COVID-19 has actually exposed the failures of that American facilities. There’s the outright pressure on health center personnel — much more strained after 2 years — and other necessary employees, much of whom discovered themselves identified “heroes” and yet do not have significant work defenses. There’s the absence of assistance for working moms and dads and, more broadly, working individuals, who require to discover a method to pay lease and feed their households. We truck on, even as living under late-stage commercialism progressively seems like an efficiency that cannot continue. We continue working due to the fact that we have no other option, impacting normalcy even as things are drastically hard.
The program’s ending aired near the two-year anniversary of the very first COVID case being found in the United States; however much has actually altered, it’s simply as frightening to think about just how much has actually remained simply the exact same. Contemporary life is as inflexible as ever, the indifference of commercialism a currently developed standard. In the 3rd episode of Station Eleven, Miranda Carroll (Danielle Deadwyler) takes a trip to Malaysia to pitch a work collaboration chance in the logistics market. Previously that day she discovers she’s caught there, as the influenza makes its method throughout the nation. She likewise discovers her ex-husband — the guy she liked and left, who has actually because remarried and had a kid — has actually passed away on phase. Nevertheless, she goes to business pitch. What else exists to do.
“The man I loved died last night, and —” she states to the space, reducing a sob. “The man I loved died last night, and I went to work. The man I love died last night, and I went to work instead.”
Station Eleven is shaded by this injury. Everyone’s story is approached from many instructions it seems like taking a look at them through a kaleidoscope, refracting their experiences through the context of their whole personhood, and the totality of their sorrow. However it’s similarly worried with what it implies to do more than make it through — sorrow is a condition without end, one we should discover lifestyles with, if never ever moving beyond.
People discover various methods to cope. They lie to protect themselves, they lie to give others the dignity of hope. They grow tougher, they grow nostalgic. They carry these heavy burdens, they continue to wake up each day. Kirsten becomes fiercely protective of her found family in the traveling symphony, and wields different knives for self-defense, which the show flashes as Chekov’s guns. Older timers cling onto the memory of civilization as it was before. The survivors who form an enclave in Severn City Airport create a museum where technology from pre-pan is put on display. One of the show’s primary antagonists, “The Prophet,” spends most of Station Eleven insisting on erasing the past.
From this state of duress grow the seeds of life: A Shakespeare troupe, a big-box store converted into a maternity ward, the Severn City Airport’s makeshift classroom where children are taught. Station Eleven is that rare piece of pandemic media that dwells less on the heroism of a solution, or the thrill of a core cause, and more on the idea of the persistence of community and the creation of art. Even as the show forges numerous circuitous connections between its characters, much of its plot is left open-ended. The show’s vignettes work out more like a collage that convey emotional tones. “Survival is insufficient” is more than a mantra painted on the side of the troupe’s wagon. It’s a thread that binds episodes together; it’s a reason to stay alive at all.
Have I felt the same way in the past two years? As I’ve gone on my silly little walks, attempted picnics in the park, and picked up a dozen or so quickly abandoned hobbies. Joy has felt available if distant, each brief moment a kind of ecstatic reminder of what it felt to move more freely, worry less about the people in my life. I’ve grappled with the past two years by trying to create emotional distance — between me and others, between me and myself — though ultimately I’ve only ever discovered relief in making new friends where I can, even as I’ve struggled to see the friends and household who I care most about. I still make time to read and write, though I can’t say if there’s any meaning beyond clinging to what feels normal, and collating my feelings in the medium that has always made the most sense to me.
As Station Eleven’s society slowly rebuilds, art remains worthwhile; though, true to Shakespeare’s anxieties, art also outlives many of the show’s characters. For the taking a trip troupe, performing remains a reason to keep going; or a way to make meaning out of a horrible situation. The airport community curates their museum, processing the loss of the past. Miranda writes the graphic novel Station Eleven (the program’s book within a book) to make sense of losing her family. For Kirsten and Jeevan — whose relationship contains the heart of the program, in microcosm — art ends up fostering their unlikely reunion. These lucky survivors finally get the opportunity to say goodbye on their own terms, this time knowing goodbye may just be short-lived. That appears factor enough to hope.
Jobber Wiki author Frank Long contributed to this report.