Episode 8 of Station Eleven begins with Kirsten awakening in the middle of the woods. She’s exhausted but certainly not alone. Tyler is with her of course, and he hands over the Station Eleven comic.
As they continue on, a strange man in a gas mask holds a gun up to them and demands to know who they are. Kirsten has been in this situation before, given what happened in Frank’s apartment, and she smiles warmly. As warmly as you can with a gun to your head of course. She tells him they’re part of the Symphony.
At the airport, Clark is a much older man now but he’s no less deterred about keeping the place infection free. Elizabeth is there too, and she soon receives word of Kirsten and The Prophet out by the lake. She implores Clark to open the doors, reinforcing how there’s no infection outside. Clark though is not so sure, bound by his own paranoia. He’s going to interview Kirsten and this mysterious Prophet himself, unaware that this is actually a returning Tyler.
With hazmat suits and face shields, Kirsten and The Prophet arrive at the Museum of Civilization. Clark tests their credentials, as the pair are told to recite familiar lineS from the Station Eleven comic. The same scene, ironically, that Javeen and Frank performed back in the apartment before the intruder showed up.
Their performance does the trick, and Clark allows them to progress on to see the rest of the Symphony outside. However, Sarah isn’t there given she actually had a heart attack.
Sarah has also been quarantined away from the others, who are basically trapped here behind barbed wire fences. Elizabeth has been directing the group in Kirsten’s absence, and collectively they’ve decided to stick around and stay through the Winter, especially given the tantalizing promise of houses.
As we soon find out, Sarah is starting to recover but Elizabeth decides to keep the Symphony separate from her until after the play is over.
Clark starts to have doubts over what he’s built at this airport, mainly thanks to his estranged relationship with Arthur in the past. The flashbacks here dive into their friendship, and specifically how Clark feels jealous of Arthur’s ease of gliding through life.
Clark’s hot and cold relationship with Tim and losing Miranda after Arthur’s divorce are also big topics explored throughout the episode. All of this crescendos into a big fight between Arthur and Clark – coming off the back of Clark snorting cocaine and drinking alcohol I may add.
When Arthur tells Clark to leave, he badmouths him in the worst way possible. “I feel f*cking sorry for Tyler having you as a father,” He rasps, unbeknownst to him that Tyler and Elizabeth happen to be in the adjacent room. Oof. Thankfully Tyler has headphones on but for Elizabeth, she overhears the whole thing, This also explains her initial hostility toward Clark on the plane.
Back at the airport, Tyler guides Kirsten through the vents after-hours to see Sarah, who’s still isolated from the others. She tells Sarah that this place isn’t safe but Sarah refuses to leave. She claims her heart is broken and tells Kirsten to say goodbye, urging her to tell the others she’s dead after the play.
Following their teary goodbye, Tyler heads off on a mission of his own. He steals an old remote module from the museum. His target is the airport tower, where most of the museum’s artifacts are being kept.
He urges Kirsten to go back to the others, but she follows him outside instead, hearing his side of the story. With tears running down his cheeks, Tyler talks about the bloodshed he endured during “the Before”, with flashbacks cutting in to this.
Touching Kirsten’s forehead he says: “I release you from the Undersea” before allowing her to walk away.
Meanwhile, Elizabeth heads outside and finds Tyler by the fire he’s just started. There’s a moment where it seems like Tyler is going to come around but when Clark shows up, Tyler retreats back into the bitter, enraged shell he’s been occupying.
When Clark curses him out for leaving, it’s all the motivation Tyler needs to activate the console and destroy the museum completely, blowing the airport tower up. As the camera pans across the devastation, we see numerous kids begin to walk through the grass toward the airport.
The Episode Review
The acting in this series is brilliant, and the flashbacks (now that they’ve settled down a bit) are actually well placed and help to add a sense of depth to each of these characters. However, it also comes at the expense of a slow, methodical pace and an unrealistic story where future survivors value art and singing over basic necessities like food and water. Honestly, where is this airport getting all its food from to sustain so many people?
Despite that though, there’s a nice, quiet reflection to this story but at times the immersion is shattered by unrealistic motivations and characters that you wonder quite how they survived this long in the apocalypse. The Traveling Symphony have stumbled head-first into danger every step of the way (the minefield, stingy defences & willingly being held at the airport) that you wonder why more scavengers haven’t stolen all of their gear before. I mean, we know they’re out there given what we saw last episode during that excellent dreamy flashback chapter.
However, this chapter turns the attention back around to Clark, offering a deeper examination of his character and how his troubles tie into the larger story at work here. The sins of a mother come back to haunt Elizabeth, and seeing how she and Clark have indirectly been responsible for molding him into this character is pretty fascinating and damning to see – it’s also easily the highlight of the whole episode.