The Severn City Airport
Episode 5 of Station Eleven begins back on day 1 of the infection. This time though we’re aboard a plane with a man named Clark sitting in economy class. He notices Elizabeth, a blonde woman who happens to be Arthur’s partner, further up the plane in first class.
The plane is bound for Chicago, with Clark and Elizabeth both called out to arrive and handle funeral preparations. Arthur’s son Tyler is here too and he’s quiet and reserved.
When the plane finally touches down, the passengers learn that all flights have been cancelled as news spreads about the virus. In fact, the news reporter goes completely off script, urging her loved ones to take back roads and get out of there.
Instead of panic – especially given the random TV screens showing anarchy in the streets – everyone here just nonchalantly hangs about in a sense of limbo. It’s basically a giant version of The Terminal; there’s nowhere to go with all planes grounded and no way out until this “blows over”. Only, this isn’t going to blow over.
With the airport in a state of self-contained lockdown (to an extent anyway, I mean Elizabeth and Tyler end up waiting on the runway at one point and anyone can leave at any time.) An entire week passes though and the group stick together for the most part.
A lot of the passengers here have given up even trying to leave, nonchalantly hanging around; brushing teeth in visitor lounges and wandering aimlessly around are the pandemic dishes of the day here.
Clark hits a breakthrough a day later (Day 8) when he manages to gain entry to the flight control room. In doing so, he gains a sliver of signal and listens to numerous voicemails from an ever-increasingly ill Tim.
In the airport, a custodian called Jerry Mercer disguises himself as a Homeland Security agent and encourages a third of the passengers to leave for greener pastures. Among those who left are an entire soccer team and “mostly women”, at least according to the rumblings from different people in the airport.
Clark senses an opportunity and tells the rest of those in the airport that Jerry is a fraud. He rallies the people together with a rousing speech, claiming they’ve won the “post-apocalyptic lottery”. This group leaving has increased their food stocks and they’re tucked away from the majority of civilization in this connecting airport, so their risk of infection is quite slim. Save for the plane out on the runway that could hold infected people, but we’ll get back to that.
Ex-security guard Miles and Elizabeth join Clark and become the de-facto leaders in this community. The mood is positive and the gang even exchange presents too as we reach Day 12 of this lockdown. Elizabeth hands over a gift to Tyler from Arthur, all wrapped up. It’s the Station Eleven comic.
Tyler has always been a bit of an outsider, watching everything take place from afar, and on this twelfth day he makes a big decision. Reading the graphic novel outside, he notices the door to the plane open and a survivor stumble out. Tyler invites him in but the entire community is shocked and panic, claiming he’s a zombie and riddled with infection. Miles eventually shoots him in the head, right in front of Tyler.
In order to bring balance and peace back, Clark makes a big decision to force Elizabeth and Tyler into quarantine. In fact, we skip all the way forward to Day 42 where Elizabeth and Tyler are given masks before invited back into the airport lounge again.
From here, we propel forward to day 100. That’s quite a jump and not once has the subject of food scarcity or a lack of water come up. I’m not sure how many resources there are here but would there be 3 months of food stocked up at this airport? I have my doubts.
Anyway, Clark starts to lose some of that cool and calm composure he had originally, lashing out against Tyler, and Arthur’s poor taste in women (a dig at Elizabeth here as she talks to him.) Clark is convinced that they’ll thrive in this airport though, deciding that they’re going to turn this into the Museum of Civilization so that future generations can see the remnants of the world before the pandemic struck.
Tyler meanwhile, heads out to the plane with a lighter and a jerry can. Flicking his lighter up and down (a throwback to the early moments of this episode), he happens to overhear the whole conversation Elizabeth and Clark have about Arthur, courtesy of a walkie connected to the flight control room. Tyler has not responded well to the forced quarantine and this chat is the last straw for him.
He communicates with Arthur and sits aboard the plane out on the runway. He tells the others he’s going to set it alight, cutting to Clark and Elizabeth scrambling out onto the runway. As the plane is consumed hungrily by the growing inferno, we’re led to believe Tyler has died. Only, that’s not true.
As he watches from afar, hiding behind an airport luggage truck as the others weep and believe he’s dead. As the camera zooms in we see that Tyler has survived and gone on to become the Prophet. As he walks away into the night, the others are left with their grief.
The Episode Review
Unlike episode 4’s Traveling Symphony shenanigans, this stand-alone chapter takes the same stance we saw with Miranda in episode 3. This is very much another survivor’s journey, this time coming in the form of Clark. Arthur is still the thread that ties all these people together, and seeing how these survivors have dealt with the pandemic is nice to see, although it’s definitely not very accurate.
Imagining all of these people absolutely docile and fine with being stuck in a cramped airport for 100 days, with no in-fighting beyond the “zombie” showing up feels disingenuous.
Likewise, the fact that there seems to be enough food and water to sustain all these people for 3 months is equally as farfetched. We’ve seen what happens when shops aren’t supplied for several days and the shelves end up sparse, relying on regular deliveries to keep things stocked up. Would there be enough for all these people to survive for three months without going hungry? I’m not sure.
However, the actual story is pretty good and seeing another side of the pandemic that has gripped the nation is always interesting to see. Station Eleven definitely has an artistic style which, this time at least, doesn’t rely on whiplash flashbacks jumping backwards and forwards so quickly.
This series has been a solid watch, albeit one with a fair few logical jumps along the way. Despite that, Station Eleven remains a very watchable series.