December 27, 2021

CABLE | Post-Pandemic Future Present – Surviving 'Station Eleven'

"To the monsters, we're the monsters."
Himesh Patel Matilda Lawler Hiro Murai Patrick Somerville | Station Eleven HBO Max
Paramount Television Studios
Based on Canadian author Emily St. John Mandel's beloved and bestselling 2014 literary dystopian novel of the same name, Station Eleven offers a haunting yet stunningly reverent vision of post-apocalyptic life after a devastating flu-like pandemic ravages ninety-nine percent of the world's population. Adapted by fellow novelist turned showrunner Patrick Somerville, his ten-episode miniseries version brings such wondrous life and humanity to its captivating characters' hope for survival.

Shepherded visually by Atlanta director Hiro Murai, the show starts on day one of the spread of a deadly airborne virus (the "Georgia Flu") attacking urban Chicago as our protagonists, freelance writer Jeevan (Himesh Patel) and eight-year-old King Lear actress Kirsten—an absolutely captivating Matilda Lawler with Mackenzie Davis playing a weary adult version of her twenty years in the future)—in the thick of their struggle to not only survive and avoid danger but thrive in a simplified life.

Jumping back and forth through time focusing on interconnected characters, the layered narrative shifts from a survivor's tale to one of resiliency and the value of literature and theatre as an enduring part of society. As an adult, Davis' Kirsten has been hardened by growing up in wasteland as she dedicates her life to a travelling company of Shakespearan players. Her youth being raised surrounded by trauma and strangers is contrasted with her grown-up existence around a makeshift family she's fiercely protective of.

Himesh Patel Matilda Lawler Hiro Murai Patrick Somerville | Station Eleven HBO Max

How creativity and performance are weaved into human resilience is truly powerful in its conception on screen. Certain plot points and character revelations are presented straightforwardly knowing those developments are thrilling enough with being sensationalized. Making the global community all the smaller while layering in elements of the enduring quality of literature feels truly mesmerizing.

There's so much beauty and optimism in Somerville's must-watch interpretation of Mandel's literary sci-fi journey of devastation despite the melancholic and accidentally timely premise. If you can look past the pandemic storyline into the deep hopefulness of its artistic value as a poignant expression of our collective human will to create, your time is rewarded through scenes of remarkable depth about our existence and nature. It's essential viewing for an alternative view of post-pandemic life and reality than our own.

Station Eleven is available to stream weekly on Crave in Canada (and on HBO Max in the U.S.).

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