“Station Eleven” Miniseries Episode 10 Recap
Miranda Carroll was once a little girl drawing Hurricane Hugo’s swirling eye in her coloring book, what it looked like on TV’s weather forecaster’s map – a stormy circle spinning around a void that could one day be reimagined as a galaxy in outer space, or even a dirt road that circles Lake Michigan. A live wire fell through her family’s flooded home, electrocuting everyone except the little girl perched on the counter with her pencils. She should have died too, but instead Miranda goes through life with a spectral reluctance to show herself. Only Dr. Eleven kept him company throughout the end of his world.
Clark talks to Miranda the day she died. He will outlive her for at least twenty years, but there is still a haunting symmetry in their situations: each has arrived at the last place they will ever know. Miranda is stuck in a hotel room in Malaysia, and Clark has just arrived in Severn City en route to Arthur’s funeral, which no one will attend. No one will attend anyone’s funeral. There will be no funerals, no ritualized farewells, no commemorations, no accountability. All who survive the plague will be in mourning, and all that mourning will be private. Clark and Miranda, who have both seen Arthur for the last time after long separations, are lucky to have managed to bond with the recent dead.
Clark left first. His reunion with Arthur ended in slander, but he said some nice things about Miranda, and Arthur repeated them. They were the boost she needed to finish the last panels of Eleven station, the graphic novel she unknowingly started drawing as a child – her magnum opus. She went to meet Arthur with copies in hand. When Clark hears about this in the days following his old friend’s death, he smiles. On the phone, he tells Miranda that Arthur’s son is also at the airport and that Miranda is spending the last hours of her life saving theirs. Miranda explained her job in logistics as “the path things take,” but really her job was to shape that path, to control it, to protect it from the entropy of the world. Coincidence is a kind of entropy. Miranda was on a journey that changed the day she met Arthur at a restaurant in Chicago; Clark was on the road to near and inevitable death until Miranda answered his call.
In the year 20, the Traveling Symphony is finally admitted to the airport. “Is it before? Alex asks about the wonderful greenhouse and the monstrous sound system. The answer is yes and no, but it is the question that is telling. The domestic wrecks the troupe encounter along The Wheel belong to a culture as far removed from Alex’s as Shakespeare’s England. The world is made of pre-pans with strong memories of Before and people born a few years too late to catch the credentials of the greats. Post-pans are born stuck in a foreign language.
Dieter looks bewildered to be inside; Sayid looks delighted; Kirsten looks suspicious, which is her face at rest. She is adamant about leaving the troupe, wary of the barbed wire fences, the draconian quarantine, and the fact that no one has been allowed to see Sarah since her heart attack. Elizabeth promises they can leave after the play, but their tension runs deeper. Homecomings and second chances are supposed to die when the flu hits, but Elizabeth’s son is alone somewhere in this airport, handcuffed to a security barrier. Kirsten never got the chance to say goodbye to someone she loved. She call dibs on the making Hamlet and sees in Elizabeth a model Gertrude: resourceful, secretive, struggling to sympathize with her son.
Elsewhere in the poster, Alex is demoted to Laertes, his annoyance only underscoring how well the role suits him. Basically, its revamp makes way for a new Hamlet: introducing, for one night only, The Prophet. Tyler is resilient at first, but he’s quickly overcome with the thrill of saying really mean shit to Elizabeth under the guise of art: “You ain’t gon’ go till I set you a drink/ Where you can see the most intimate part of you.” Tyler, of course, is the devastating mirror, forcing Elizabeth to confront the failed mother in her reflection.
Clark, whose influence was waning even before he burned his arm trying to save his museum from Tyler’s IED, forbade Kirsten from handing out pieces as required by art therapy. This is not a sleeping backwater. This is Severn City Airport; this is the West End. It’s post-panoramic Broadway, baby. But he relents when she shows him her ramshackle copy of Eleven station. Arthur gave Kirsten Miranda’s book, which Miranda finished because Clark spoke well of her. Paths don’t just cross; they change. He remembers meeting Kirsten backstage when she played young Goneril. If you can’t beat them, join them or whatever. Clark casts himself as Claudius, ready with two decades of resentment for his prince-nephew to stage.
The play is as cathartic as Clark feared. In her new role as director, Kirsten is at the heart of every scene, which means that when Laertes tells Polonius he can’t wait to leave the house, she can accept the request as Alex’s. As Claudius, Clark steals a moment to tell Tyler how much he loved Arthur too; as Gertrude, Elizabeth implores her son to move on. But no one retrieves more of himself from across the room than Tyler, who is finally able to channel the depths of his own pain. In an unscripted act, he threatens his uncle with a knife — the same knife that killed Frank, the one Kirsten gave Alex in a moment of sympathy, the one Alex gave Tyler in a disturbing show of devotion — but does not. not kill him. Their feelings for each other are more complicated than Hamlet may reflect, but the imposed narrative gives them a path to repair.
Because even in a post-apocalyptic world, stories are heartwarming. After the show, Kirsten spots Hailey, who tells her that Station Eleven will be landing any minute. Compassionately, Kirsten shows him the same copy of Miranda’s book that she showed Clark, which Tyler found when Kirsten was poisoned. Time and again, the book has been his passport into a stranger’s trust. Hailey comes to realize that there is no spaceship, but that doesn’t make the allegory any less important for how it makes sense of the world. She’s still the Undersea, and Miranda’s ideas keep her company as they once did Kirsten. I found you because I know you, and I know you because we’re the same. When Hailey steals the book, Kirsten lets her. She is no longer the lost young starlet. She’s the director.
In Malaysia, with the flu raging, we finally learn Miranda’s own origin story, the brutal path the hurricane took through her submerged kitchen and the rest of her life. She tells it all to Hugo Bennett, the pilot of Gitchegumee Air Flight 452, as he sits on the tarmac outside Severn City. The people from the airport are on the counter, she tells him, and Hugo has a choice to keep them there. Even at the end of the world, a dying Miranda harnesses the power of a story, instinctively understanding that story is her best tool to control the path things take. She passes the pen to a named airline captain for a hurricane to write an ending none of them will live to see.
At the closing party which becomes Sarah’s memorial, Wendy sings “Midnight Train to Georgia”, Sarah’s favorite song. It occurred to me that the lyrics are littered with concepts that a post-panoramic wouldn’t be able to understand: trains, state lines, Los Angeles. But the themes – love, longing and coming home – are starting to make sense again. Tyler and Elizabeth take their second chance to reconcile. This time, when he leaves, she will go with him. Alex too. She dreams of a life beyond the wheel.
Dr. Jeevan Chaudhary, called to the airport to treat Clark’s burns, lurks temptingly in the background for most of the series finale. He finds Sarah in her hospital bed and sits with her until she passes, but she doesn’t mention Kirsten. Later, Miles talks to Jeevan about Hamlet as Kirsten passes an excruciating distance, screaming at your television. But when I lost hope that Jeevan stayed for the play, he finally spotted Kirsten a few feet away. Their embrace is one of the most romantic and well-deserved TV moments I’ve ever seen – emotional, loving, simple. Quiet, moving and beautifully lit. This is perhaps another high point in the remaking of civilization: people have survived long enough to shed versions of themselves, just like in Wendy’s song. “Bought a one-way ticket back to the life he knew.” The past is not so squarely in the past. It’s not just before and after.
The next day, Elizabeth leaves the airport with Tyler on good terms with Clark, as Alex departs on Kirsten’s Luli to reach the Undersea. The characters named here find fitting endings, but when it comes to the parentless children hiding in the brush beyond the airport, I feel closer to Clark. Looking at the hordes in their improvised space helmets, he only says, “What the fuck?” This series has taken me on a long walk to feel compassion for Tyler, but these stolen children are not his family, and I see no beauty in Alex or Elizabeth joining him in a life that has brought so much destruction. This is not a post-panoramic utopia of equals progressing to the woods; to me it’s still a cult led by a broken man who indoctrinated children with a comic book.
As the Traveling Symphony hits the road again, Jeevan and Kirsten travel in the same direction again, at least for a little while. He recoils into something that feels like an apology for what happened in the cabin: how hard it is to raise children, how sometimes you get out of sync. She understands because she experienced that with Alex. “You walked her home,” Kirsten tells Jeevan, releasing him from the promise he first made in Chicago and perhaps the guilt that has haunted him since losing track of her. .
They’ll have more time to talk about it next year, when the troupe plays at the airport. Severn City is on the wheel now. Their road forks as before, but everything in Eleven station comes back around. Paths cross, then cross again. When you delete almost everything and everyone in the world, it turns out that what’s left is deeply and indelibly linked. I’ve already found you nine times, maybe ten, and I’ll find you. In 20th grade, you can say goodbye to someone on purpose. You miss people until you see them next. There are no forks, no ends. The weather is a stormy circle that goes round and round.