The Mist (2017) – How To Write An Offensively Bad Queer Antagonist (And Plot Twist).
Warning: Major Spoilers (and graphic content warning).
A few weeks ago I concluded watching The Mist (TV Series) on Netflix, the one that was cancelled only after one season.
Adrian Garff is one of the main characters of The Mist. His role is that he is the best friend of Alex Copeland, the lead protagonist’s daughter.
Adrian is one of the only two queer characters in the series. He wears makeup to match his punk/emo style of fashion and he seemingly identifies as pansexual.
However, Adrian has to deal with homophobia and the harassment of both his father and other students from school. This is where Alex comes in to be the balance in Adrian’s life, becoming established as pretty close friends.
One of the sub-plots of The Mist is the circumstances surrounding Alex’s sexual assault (rape) that took place in the first episode.
Alex’s crush, Jay Heisel, is holding a party. Alex’s mother forbids her to go, but her father secretly allowed her to go so she sneaks out with Adrian. While at the party, Adrian and Alex get into a bit of trouble when one of Jay’s friends harasses Adrian, but Jay shows up in time save him.
All seems well as this gives Alex and Jay a chance to get together alone, where Jay encourages Alex to drink. This leads to her becoming intoxicated and unconscious for the rest of the party.
When she woke up, Alex recounted that there was blood on the sheets indicating she was raped. And as expected, Jay was the prime suspect, despite denying the accusations.
Now the hilariously awful writing of the show rears its head in episode eight when Adrian confronts his abusive father and reveals he was the one that raped Alex.
Contradiction: Adrian’s Sexuality.
Before we go into this stupid plot twist, let’s take a look at Adrian’s sexuality.
At the start of the show, he said he was attracted to personality so he would date either a boy or girl, which I call bullsh*t on because he is clearly portrayed as a gay character in the show.
“I promise I will follow you wherever you go when you fall in love with a guy, okay?” – Alex
“Or girl, I don’t fall for gender, I fall for-” – Adrian
“-for personality. Sure.” – Alex
The Mist, Episode 1
In episode five, Adrian makes a direct and silent advance on a guy who literally beats the everloving f**k out of him after Adrian kisses him. Adrian gets off the floor, bloody and bruised and proceeds to kiss his “love interest” again. This then leads to the two of them having sex.
No person who “falls for personality” is going to want to fall for someone they don’t even know, who beats the crap out of them and verbally abuses them (unless they’re not mentally sane).
So the first strike is that Adrian obviously isn’t attracted to personality and is definitely a gay character. You can take note that Adrian has not shown any sexual or romantic interest in any other girl in the show, much less shown any interest in Alex. So yes, the plot hole is that considering Adrian’s sexuality in the show, it doesn’t make sense that he would be infatuated with Alex.
Contradiction: Adrian’s Character.
The fact that Alex and Adrian are showed to be such close friends initially defeats the logic that Adrian would do something so heinous.
But let’s say that was Adrian’s agenda all along and he was only pretending to be a close friend to Alex. Even with that logic, Adrian’s cowardice, pacifist and meek personality make this plot twist lack even more sense.
The only time it would have made sense to imply that Adrian was capable of doing what he did was after his confrontation with his father, where Adrian kills his father after his father verbally abused him. Right there is where Adrian’s character develops and shifts to something more darker. That could have been the catalyst for Adrian raping Alex, thus a more cohesively dark sub-plot. But don’t forget, he’s still gay so it still wouldn’t make much sense unless it was purely done to inflict pain.
What really made this plot twist even more insulting was how they empathised Adrian as a sympathetic character due to his continuous abuse for being gay, and yet, the writers thought it made sense somehow to portray him as some sort of sub-antagonist who was evil all along. And choosing one of the show’s only gay character to do this insulting plot twist could be interpreted as a hidden homophobic remark.
Here’s an important lesson: Do not establish an emotionally sympathetic character only to make them into a villain with a bizarre plot twist. It conflicts emotionally with your audience. There are only a few ways this works:
- If the character has a split personality that is relevant to the main plot.
- If the character is already established as a villain, but their backstory develops their character to justify their actions.
- If the character is made intentionally to have a moral conflict to achieve their end goal (example, Zuko from The Last Airbender)
The only instance this plot twist would make sense, and actually be an interesting plot development is if Adrian was forced by Jay’s friends to rape Alex as a way to humiliate them both. That alone would have made things much more in-depth, darker and interesting.
- The side story can focus on Jay being accused and discovering the truth.
- Adrian would have a moral dilemma of telling Alex the truth.
- Alex and Jay can still proceed to have their moments as it was in the show.
- Adrian can confess the truth to Jay and then they could proceed to track down Jay’s friends and taking them out with things in the mist.
- It could have told an understandable and interesting love triangle, unlike the atrocious way the original story tried to do so.
Of course, Adrian’s idiotic plot twist isn’t the only bad thing regarding the story of the show. The Mist’s characters are weakly written and hardly gives you a reason to like most of its characters. From other things such as Jay being revealed to be Alex’s half brother and characters dying before they could reach their full potential, The Mist TV series shows in its first season why it getting renewed was met with pessimism.
Nonetheless, the second season that was teased on the last episode did admittingly look promising.