Episode 3 of Station Eleven begins with a shift to a completely different character. We’re in Chicago 2005 and following Miranda, who applies for a big job that’ll change her life forever.
Fast forward to 2020 and she’s high-flying in her career. Miranda has dedicated her life to this, and eventually heads up to visit Arthur Leander. Interestingly, she’s the one who has the Station Eleven book, handed over to him personally.
This coincides nicely with Kirsten’s flashback which includes her asking about this. It’s a nice way to tie things together and adds more context to scenes we’ve seen before. Now, their ties link back to an earlier scene where Arthur first met Miranda in a coffee shop, requesting to buy her work for $1000. The editing doesn’t make that very clear though, as we jump back to 2020.
After Miranda’s work trip in Malaysia, things begin to descend. There are less people at the office and some of the workers begin wearing gas masks. Now, without warning we cut forward again to see Miranda scribbling a symbol on a note, the same symbol we saw imprinted on Kirsten’s wrist during episode 2.
Back in Miranda’s apartment, she receives a call from Leon, her boss. He confirms that the flu has mutated and she needs to get out. Specifically she needs to head down to the shore and hop aboard a tanker called Robespierre. It’s ten miles off-shore and the Captain there owes Leon a favour, so he’s good value for this. That should be enough to get her out.
In the elevator, Miranda rings Arthur and tells him to hang tight in Chicago, encouraging him to stay safe. There’s a really beautiful shot here that cuts back to Chicago again through the elevator doors but it simultaneously highlights the problem this show has.
There are several scenes interconnected here that have no expository text to explain what timeframe we’re in; flashbacks within flashbacks (flashception?) that are actually in the past, allowing us to see more of Miranda and Arthur’s tumultuous relationship. Eventually though, we slam back to 2020 again as Miranda makes it to the shore.
When she gets there, she receives word that Arthur has died. It’s enough to shock her into submission, falling over and smacking her head. Some of her shock stems from the past, as we cut back once more to see how much time and dedication she’s putting into this book.
Everything goes awry during a dinner party that night though. When she finds out Arthur has shown off her work without consent to Elizabeth, Miranda is livid. Although it’s brushed off earlier on as a “misunderstanding” and not an affair, Clark confirms the brutal truth. As she sits by the pool, Miranda believes that the book has ruined her life.
That evening, she packs up her things and decides to leave, having had enough. Just before she goes though, she burns the workshop she’s worked so hard to work in, destroying all semblance of the spaceman and the Station Eleven work.
However, that was in the past and it also explains Arthur’s words earlier on in the episode. This explains its significance to this story. That doesn’t stop Miranda from searching for Arthur online, which in turn leads her to Kirsten’s social media profile. It’s a futile effort to connect the dots in truth, one that eventually leads Miranda into realizing how pointless all of her work actually is during her meeting with the Chinese.
As the episode closes out, Miranda doesn’t makes it aboard the Robespierre, heading back to her hotel room and taping up all the walls and doors to make sure she’s completely concealed inside. Just prior to this, during her teary breakdown at the meeting with the Chinese, her conflicted feelings about leaving or staying with Arthur make more sense.
The episode closes out with a heartbreaking flashback, as Miranda leaves Arthur. In the present, Miranda sees the gold spaceman; the protagonist of the Station Eleven comics.
The Episode Review
While Station Eleven still suffers from some pretty poor editing at times, this third and final episode of the week offers up some hope for HBO’s post-apocalyptic tale.
This a much better, more grounded chapter and allows us to see the life of Miranda and what she’s been through. Her intriguing ties with Arthur now hold a lot more gravitas in the story as a whole, especially the quip about Arthur claiming the book was written by “someone who ruined his life.”
This episode has a much better pacing to it all round as well and while I’m still not a fan of this suddenly descending into artsy flashbacks within flashbacks without warning, Miranda as a character is much more empathetic than the others we’ve followed across the chapters so far.
There’s definitely enough to like with this one though and it’ll be intriguing to see where the rest of the show goes from here. If it’s anything like episode 3, we could be in for a treat after such a shaky start!