Station Eleven: Full Season
January 13, 2022 12:14 PM - Season 1 (Full Season) - Subscribe

Based on the bestselling novel, this post-apocalyptic saga follows the survivors of a devastating flu as they attempt to rebuild and reimagine the world anew – while holding on to the best of what’s been lost.

This was by far my favorite series to watch in years. The story of Kirstin and Jeevan and Clark and Tyler left me feeling hope in a way that's been hard to find recently. It ended at a good spot but I really want more. Please, HBO, please?
posted by Stanczyk (58 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
I suppose I also need to beg Emily St. John Mandel. I hadn't read the book but my wife did and thinks they did an excellent job adapting it. I'm sure Emily St. John Mandel's participation in the production played no small part in its success.
posted by Stanczyk at 12:18 PM on January 13, 2022

The costume design was also simply amazing, especially for the Travelling Symphony's productions. That fictional costume designer deserves a Tony for those costumes.
posted by Stanczyk at 12:21 PM on January 13, 2022 [17 favorites]

Book readers, would you recommend book first or show first?
posted by sammyo at 1:17 PM on January 13, 2022

I don’t think it makes a huge difference tbh - I read and loved the book many years ago and remembered so little of it when I started watching the show! I believe there are quite a few differences between the two.
posted by adrianhon at 1:26 PM on January 13, 2022 [1 favorite]

Oh - and what a show! Absolutely one of the best in recent years. Jeevan’s story in particular… just perfect.

“I was always scared. Then I met this girl. Said I’d walk her home. It was cold. She forgot her key.”

“…You walked her home.”
posted by adrianhon at 1:28 PM on January 13, 2022 [13 favorites]

I read the book a few years ago but don't remember too much of it. I was skeptical of the series and I began watching it on a night when maybe I shouldn't have and ten minutes in when someone on the phone said "I'm not feeling too well" I decided I just couldn't handle it right now.

Should I give it another chance? I did hear it was somewhat hopeful but I'm not sure I can handle scenes with thousands of sick people dying just now.
posted by bondcliff at 2:00 PM on January 13, 2022 [2 favorites]

Just… wow.

This show is SO TENSE sometimes but usually if I cry they’re happy tears.
posted by sixswitch at 2:05 PM on January 13, 2022

This show is like a warm hug.
posted by roolya_boolya at 2:22 PM on January 13, 2022

Bondcliff: The best I can say about the show is that it is kind. There are some very dark moments but it is a hopeful show.
posted by adrianhon at 3:21 PM on January 13, 2022 [10 favorites]

Although when they teased Doc Chaudhary not staying for the play I was ready to tear my hair out. And then I realized it was a valid choice because, like, to paraphrase Mostly Harmless, if life has taught that man one thing, it’s leave before the play.

(Although Frank never would have made it across the ice.)
posted by sixswitch at 3:48 PM on January 13, 2022 [11 favorites]

And then when they saw each other… what a beautiful lead in, and then the moment… she’s lit warm against cool, so he’s cool against warm, and he just can’t believe it, and I cried.
posted by sixswitch at 3:51 PM on January 13, 2022 [7 favorites]

BRB watching again.

I’m glad Tyler didn’t stick around, I’m not sure you get over the whole minecraft for kids thing.
posted by sixswitch at 3:52 PM on January 13, 2022 [1 favorite]

I would recommend book first. There are quite a few differences. They are both excellent but the tv adaptation treats the characters differently in some cases. It extends and ties some ends that aren’t in the original. It almost feels like another draft was done. This was such a satisfying series for 2021/22.
posted by Cuke at 4:09 PM on January 13, 2022 [4 favorites]

It ended at a good spot but I really want more. Please, HBO, please?

It ended at a perfect spot and I hope that they just leave it at that.
posted by octothorpe at 6:09 PM on January 13, 2022 [19 favorites]

This was an amazing, amazing show. I just can't get over how good every actor was. Obviously the leads were incredible - maybe the best child performance I've ever seen. So thoughtfully and beautifully shot and directed. And all the plot threads come together so neatly. I think Reservation Dogs is still my favorite show of the year, but this is a very, very close second.
posted by ssmith at 10:35 PM on January 13, 2022 [5 favorites]

I loved it. I loved the way they let it unfold.
posted by h00py at 3:28 AM on January 14, 2022

Absolutely loved it. The podcast Still Watching did an interview with the show runner on yesterday’s episode and I really recommend it. They discussed how the story could be an allegory for parenting. I had not made that connection and it really touched me.
posted by pearlybob at 3:46 AM on January 14, 2022

The costumes are by Helen Huang (decent interview here), who hasn't done anything else I thought was really important, but I absolutely agree the costumes are super important to the feel of the show--both the theatrical costumes, which are great, but also the kids and actually all the other characters in the future timeline. To me it's a bit like if you took a Wes Anderson world and made it less twee and a lot scarier, but also more grungily relatable.
posted by Mngo at 4:28 AM on January 14, 2022 [6 favorites]

Alan Sepinwall has a great interview with Patrick Somerville, the showrunner.
posted by General Malaise at 5:14 AM on January 14, 2022 [2 favorites]

bondcliff, i was worried about that too but the pandemic really takes a back seat in the story, as much as it's possible in a story based on a pandemic. I was expecting to not be able to watch it right now, and I am in love with this show. It's all about the characters, and hope and love and connecting.

I really only had one moment -- when the surviving passenger got off the plane and came into the airport. Shit got a little too real for me in that moment, like this is what really happens to scared people in a pandemic. It's such an important scene for many reasons (no spoilers!) but man was that a hard scene to watch, like any one of us could be any one of those people in that moment where you are faced with an impossible choice and intense fear. I had to take a break before finishing the episode.

Lori Petty has never gotten the credit she deserves. She can be a little one-note (oh another wacky sage character!) but damn is she fantastic in this.
posted by archimago at 6:50 AM on January 14, 2022 [9 favorites]

My partner pointed out that Kirsten NOT chasing the child who stole her copy of Station Eleven allowed her to have that reunion with Jeevan. Letting something of inestimable value go to get something even more valuable.

We also noticed all the circular motifs - physically in their environment, in Station Eleven, and in the characters' connections with each other. It's all a closed loop in a way. (which does stretch the imagination a bit, but I think they earned it and it works here)
posted by jeoc at 9:02 AM on January 14, 2022 [8 favorites]

The Severn City airport rotunda is the Ontario Science Centre’s main non-permanent exhibition space. I spent a lot of time there as a kid.
posted by sixswitch at 9:57 AM on January 14, 2022 [2 favorites]

Is the man that Clark shoots in the airport the pilot that Miranda calls in the final episode or just a random passenger?
posted by roolya_boolya at 11:13 AM on January 15, 2022

Random passenger, I think. Didn’t look like the pilot we saw in the final ep.
posted by sixswitch at 6:20 PM on January 15, 2022 [1 favorite]

So I just looked at the credits of both episodes (the IMDB listings don't seem totally accurate yet), and Pilot Hugo is credited to Paul Nusbaum, whereas he is not credited in the earlier episode, and I think the man Miles shoots is called "frail man" credited to Nicholas Van Burek.
posted by General Malaise at 6:23 PM on January 15, 2022 [2 favorites]

Loved this show. My brother and I had different suspicions about the meaning of the spaceman. I thought it was symbolic of each character finding their destiny in and through the pandemic, he thought it pointed towards all of this ending up in a timeloop. After seeing the finale, and so many characters reaching a satisfying, full-circle resolution, I think my brother was more right than me.

Put me down as another vote for "please no second season." I'll read the book if I decide I need more, but trying to continue this story would only collapse it. I love it just how it is. However, between how she played all the knife throwing and two blade fighting in the Red Bandanna amush scene, and her performance in Terminator: Dark Fate, I'd love to see MacKenzie Davis do a bunch more action movies.
posted by EatTheWeek at 5:59 AM on January 16, 2022

"please no second season."

I guess I'd just love to see Kirsten meet Jeevan's family the following year. That would make me so happy. And to find the airport colony thriving and maybe a little more democratic. But I guess that's not a popular opinion so maybe I'll just go write some fan fic for myself about it.
posted by Stanczyk at 10:00 AM on January 16, 2022 [1 favorite]

I guess I'd just love to see Kirsten meet Jeevan's family the following year. That would make me so happy.

Don't get me wrong, I choose to believe this happens a year or so after that final frame, but the way I'd want for it to happen would be 100% trauma and drama free, with zero conflict or tension whatsoever. I love Jeevan and Kirsten and I'd like them both safe from the demands of the camera's gaze for the rest of their lives.
posted by EatTheWeek at 5:41 PM on January 16, 2022 [11 favorites]

I've read the book four or five times, and as I enthused in an earlier thread, I found this adaptation well-nigh perfect. I haven't wept like this over a work on art for a long time. My own intermingled trauma of being a person living through a pandemic and an actor sidelined from my beloved profession for the better part of two years was shown to me in the cracked, imperfect-yet-perfect mirror of art, and I was in a small way healed.

Anyway - and spoilers below for those who haven't read the book - I would love to talk about some of the little easter eggs and inside references and jokes that I noticed these last two episodes. I'm sure there are more, so please chime in with what you picked up on?
- In the book, Miranda dies on the beach in Malaysia. Here, her fantasy takes her to the shore of the undersea, her toes in the sand. And that last shot of her and her colleague dead in the hotel room is underscored by the sound of surf.
- In episode 9, Young Kirsten said "I hate the road." Cormac McCarthy shade, I imagine.
- In episode 10, the symphony sings Midnight Train to Georgia. In the book, the flu is nicknamed "the Georgian flu" for the Russian republic where is supposedly originated.
posted by minervous at 7:26 PM on January 16, 2022 [7 favorites]

I just read the book and it kind of annoys me that this was originally set in Toronto and then they moved it and then they ended up shooting so much of it in Toronto anyways… because of, lol, a global pandemic.

The show has more things on fire and blowing up, more jump scares, but also way sharper characters and more affecting scene work.
posted by sixswitch at 12:14 AM on January 17, 2022 [2 favorites]

When the show started, the IMDB reviews were so savage I chose to skip this. But I've just watched the first episode and it doesn't strike me as bad at all. Though whatever that space station was at the end looked pretty impractical to me. I'll watch this and see how it goes.
posted by Catblack at 8:10 AM on January 17, 2022

“Chef’s Kiss”

Not much more I can say, one of the best things I have ever seen!
posted by rozcakj at 9:56 AM on January 17, 2022 [2 favorites]

Every single detail of the series looked bad to me on paper (well, on screen), and reading the synopsis of the novel didn't help (there's literally no genre I like less than post-apocalyptic sci-fi), but I tuned in out of laziness one night expecting to have a cozy little hatewatch while aimlessly browsing on my tablet.

My expectations were wrong. I loved almost every moment of this series, right to the ending. Whenever it seemed to be setting up a cliché, it turned the other way, and whenever it appeared poised to smack down our species for all the usual reasons, it turned the other cheek.

It was sublime.

Oddly, in retrospect, the novel, at least in synopsis, seems less kind, so I may give it a wide-ish berth, but the miniseries? Just exactly right. I hope they don't try to continue the story in another "season"—it's small, perfectly formed, and complete.
posted by sonascope at 12:50 PM on January 17, 2022 [15 favorites]

I came into this without any foreknowledge at all, about the book, or the show, or anything. Didn't even know it existed.

This has to be the best, most beautful, amazing thing I've seen in... I dunno. It's just beautiful. Perfect. Gorgeous. Sad. Happy.
I don't know that I'll some up with anything more cohesive than that. I just... Haven't seen anything like it before, haven't been completely captivated like this, or just awed by something.
It's just amazing.
posted by rp at 10:14 AM on January 18, 2022 [6 favorites]

I just got through episode 4, and what a depressing ending to that one. I enjoyed the character study in episode 3, and I'm a fan of Hiro Murai (the director) from his work on Atlanta.

I'm not a fan of the whole "obscure graphic novel inspires it's fans" thing at all. I keep being reminded of the british Utopia series. (Which is good, with some great music, great cast, and a horrible anti-vax message. And in mentioning that, also avoid the single season american remake at all costs; it's the biggest regret of anything I've watched the past two years. Same plot, terribly recast, more violence and amps up the anti-vax message a thousandfold.)

I'm going to try to get through Station 11 this week, but could have used a children wearing land mines warning. So depressing.

And I was looking forward to David Cross and Lori Petty butting heads the rest of the season.
posted by Catblack at 9:12 AM on January 19, 2022

I took a few days off after Episode 4 because I wasn't sure how I felt about it after the land mine scene. I went back because I found it compelling and I was curious about the hopefulness it was supposed to have. I'm so glad I did. It's a wonderful, cohesive whole, even though the episodes are so different and some are difficult. I haven't stopped thinking about it for days.
posted by Mavri at 10:50 PM on January 20, 2022

I stayed up late for the last episode. Jeevan must have seen their Hamlet production, but Kirsten probably didn't even glance at the audience. I get the feeling the final episode was cut down to the bone with maybe 10 minutes shaved off. Still, it works and works well. It's now on the list to show my wife, though probably not for a couple of weeks.
posted by Catblack at 5:59 PM on January 23, 2022 [2 favorites]

Good series, but the show's treatment of Tyler was so disappointing. He stole all those children, turned them into suicide bomber and just walks away in the end. That's a no for me. They could have cut him out entirely and the show would have been perfect.
posted by longdaysjourney at 6:52 AM on January 27, 2022 [2 favorites]

I think that the suicide bombing was done while The Prophet was recovering from the stab wound and the kids were acting on their own.
posted by octothorpe at 7:40 AM on January 27, 2022 [2 favorites]

While the bombing was done while the Prophet was recovering, he did still take all of the children and at the end we don't see the children returned. (Maybe I missed something?) I wasn't quite sure what to make of that.
posted by miss-lapin at 10:48 AM on January 28, 2022 [1 favorite]

That ending did kind of bother me too but I think that they think that the children aren't coming back and that they're better off with him guiding them than not.
posted by octothorpe at 12:57 PM on January 28, 2022

Just finished this, it really was lovely and lyrical. My only regret is my Shakespeare is a bit rusty and I'm imagining there was a lot more nuance in the scenes being quotes, particularly the Hamlet staging in the final episode.

The show reminded me a lot of the movie Cloud Atlas. Both stylistically and thematically. Specifically the emphasis on "old souls reconnecting through time", also the fractured-timeline narrative style.
posted by Nelson at 3:46 PM on January 28, 2022 [2 favorites]

From that Alan Sepinwell interview we learn that Station Eleven was commissioned from Maria Nguyen. You can see most of the book that she created here:
posted by pjenks at 6:43 PM on January 28, 2022 [1 favorite]

Just finished watching this, and I loved it completely. I read the novel a few years ago, a couple years before COVID, and my notes say something like, "This was beautifully written--the parts about the pandemic were kind of uncomfortably plausible though." Yeah no kidding, little did I know!

Anyway, the series diverges quite a lot from the novel in several ways, and I LOVED IT. In some ways I prefer the story told in the show--for one thing, connecting Jeevan and Kirsten is just perfect. Himesh Patel is so amazing, able to convey ambivalence and vulnerability, love and care and exasperation...just such a fantastic actor. And Matilda Lawler, wow what an actor for someone so young. She just blew me away and I hope she gets many more roles that are deserving of her.

I remember recommending the novel to a friend and saying, it's a novel set in a pandemic but it's not depressing. I know that sounds weird but it's hopeful. And I think the show is that way too, hopeful.

There were a couple of parts in the first episode (which was incredible) that were a little too close to home, pandemic-wise. But even so, I wanted to keep watching. The whole thing is just so, so good. Not a weak moment.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 2:02 AM on January 30, 2022

Frankly I thought that the series works better in some ways than the book. This isn't "books Included" so I don't want to go into details but I felt like they solved some narrative issues that the book had.
posted by octothorpe at 5:11 AM on January 30, 2022

I just finished watching this last night. I'm sad to leave Kiersten and Jeevan. They did such a beautiful job.
posted by apricot at 7:57 AM on February 1, 2022 [3 favorites]

Hell, I was sad to leave Clark. He was a pompous idiot but I still loved his character.
posted by octothorpe at 11:49 AM on February 1, 2022 [3 favorites]

I just finished episode 7 on my second watch. This is a show that strongly rewards a second viewing.
posted by roolya_boolya at 1:33 PM on February 1, 2022 [3 favorites]

Jeevan was probably the character I emotionally connected to the most.

I'm still having trouble with the Prophet. If he was caring for children who had been abandoned or abused, I could understand it. But we know at least once he abducted children from a loving community. I just feel for those communities whose children vanished, and they have no idea what happened to them.
posted by miss-lapin at 4:04 PM on February 1, 2022 [4 favorites]

Miss-Lapin, I agree. I think a lot of loose threads around the children abductions is one of the few grievances I had with this series, tbh.

That said, I think maybe the point is that it's better for everyone -- more freeing, anyway -- if we're able to forgive bad actors/tyrants for their misdeeds and try to move forward instead of fuelling them (or copycats) with an endless cycle of hate. But ignoring/forgiving acts of terrorism hasn't made them go away in real life, and it feels facile to assume those kids that wandered off into the fields are going to ever be okay.

I appreciate having access to the "book" artwork linked upthread. For some reason, as a writer, I can't stop wishing I could read Kirsten's illustrated copy of Station Eleven myself. And I wonder whether it would've inspired me as a child, or I would have found the story itself somehow wanting.

There aren't a lot of stories where the meta-narrative is driven by another story that we, the audience/readers, cannot fully access. That in and of itself made me utterly fascinated with Station Eleven as a narrative device, and worth exploring in its original book form. I bought it and downloaded onto my Kindle last night -- can't wait!
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 8:17 AM on February 4, 2022 [1 favorite]

Not quite the same, but in the novel Mort(e) there is a "prophecy" driving the plot that turns out not to be a prophecy, but something else. (Not giving away what).

What I found interesting was how the show also gives us the history of the physical copies of Station Eleven for example the blood stain on Kirsten's copy. The history of objects is something I find really fascinating in storytelling. There is an episode of High Maintenance that tells multiple stories by focusing on the history of a lighter. That objects all around us have their "lives." Those types of stories fascinate me, and I loved how those two copies of Station Eleven were as much a part of the story as the human characters.
posted by miss-lapin at 12:23 PM on February 4, 2022 [3 favorites]

I just finished watching this and loved it so much. I had to take the last episode in small doses at a time because I was so afraid of where it might go - was this "Season One" so it would end in a cliffhanger, or with a burst of violence that the music and direction kept hinting was coming - or just called that because that's the standard numbering system? So much media nowadays revels in surprise bursts of violence and killing off of characters you love, and I just couldn't handle any of the places I thought they were leading. And instead I'm so glad with every choice they made.

I can't remember the last time I watched a movie / TV version of a book where they changed so much and I liked it -- and in this case, I think I love it more. I think reading the book after watching this would actually be disappointing. The character arcs and backstories are so much richer, and the overlapping of timelines works so well to help show how each of them arrive where they are. And all of the performances are so good.

I hope they don't do more episodes - as much as I'd love to know more about the characters' futures, this was such a perfect, satisfying ending. While I also was amazed to see how many gathered / stolen children there were at the end (though it had been hinted that there was an army of them), I still left feeling hopeful about it. Tyler had been a lost boy leading children. And he left as someone who regained his mother, with another mature young woman as a leader by his side. Caroline knows what it feels like to lose your child. And Alexandra knows what it feels like to stand up to authority and choose your family. Between the three of them, I think a lot of those children are going to be returned home.
posted by Mchelly at 11:05 AM on February 8, 2022 [3 favorites]

>I'm still having trouble with the Prophet. If he was caring for children who had been abandoned or abused, I could understand it.

I'm on a rewatch right now. We just got through episode 5, and I think the important scene, which just glides right by, is the one with Tyler in the tower with the kids talking to them about how Santa can talk to dead people as his way of helping the kids deal with grief. His mom and the other women are listening in. Then Clark comes up and dismisses the kids and Tyler says briefly 'I was helping them' (or something like that) and then Clark makes Tyler talk about his dad. Tyler's mom later says "he's always been confused about ghosts." And then Tyler's experience with the graphic novel is from having it as the only thing to read for an entire month. And though the show doesn't go into detail, the graphic novel features these rebels in the undersea who are all traumatized children. (Or that's what I'm piecing together.) So Tyler comes to think of himself as the leader of the Undersea rebels, but it's a role he was doing before he read Station 11.

It's amazing how Miranda's art dealing with the loss of her family comes to be passed onto another generation of children affected by trauma. Though I don't think Tyler gets a visitation from the spaceman, like Kirsten does (reflected at the end of episode 4?) In Episode 3 he's out of focus on the bus behind Miranda because he's on her mind. She's being asked to get on a small boat, then spend a year at sea, and that reminds her of her family. Which is something that's not quite evident from hearing her story at the start of the episode. It's not that she loses the keys to the boat, she wasn't going to get on it the moment on the bus she sees the photo of it and is reminded of her family dying.

(Also perhaps the Spaceman is a she, Miranda herself, from the 'I don't think I've ever seen your feet before' panel?)

I did notice the girl with the landmine from the last episode is in the 2nd next to Tyler and the other boy. Of course in episode 4, too, but no one watching the 90's play sees them, showing us just how fixated everyone is when a play is presented 20 years after the world ends...

I think the moment in the rewatch I'm most looking forward to -- and that the plot hinges on -- is the one in episode 7 when Tyler explains away the landmines strapped to the children as being the other kid's idea, and Kirsten believing him. I really want to reexamine that again. It could devolve into some (frankly terrible) Walking Dead sort of tribal argument, but it doesn't. (And the show mostly avoids that sort of thing until the Symphony is in quarantine.) Like, your group sent those landmines, my group will destroy yours, etc. But also she saw Gil get blown up with two small children so how does she get past that? Does her near-death experience (ep 6) wash that away somehow?

Also, I don't think year two Kirsten in episode 2 is explained. She's wounded or has blood on her when she meets Lori Petty (who is forever Tank Girl to me) but we don't know why. If there's some danger she's fresh from, why is the composer just sitting there with a keytar?

This has been the best rewatch so far. Every small detail that glides by is used again from a different perspective later. It's honestly quite dazzling. Clark seems like a minor character but then we get episode 5 and it's stunning the role he takes. (Same with Tyler's mom, sorry character names elude me right now.)
posted by Catblack at 10:07 AM on February 12, 2022 [5 favorites]

(Also perhaps the Spaceman is a she, Miranda herself, from the 'I don't think I've ever seen your feet before' panel?)
At some point Kirsten explains to Tyler that the person in the spacesuit is the leader of the rebel undersea (a young girl I think) in a time loop.
posted by roolya_boolya at 12:16 PM on February 12, 2022

>is the one in episode 7 when Tyler explains away the landmines strapped to the children as being the other kid's idea

My bad, this is episode 6. We watched it tonight and I think I just blew through it on my first watch. I felt that Tyler is lying about the attack on Pingtree, but Kirsten is emotionally disarmed by the children and wanting to get back to her friends. Tyler preys on her fears and makes her distrust the museum so easily. I was surprised so few children appear compared to the ending. (Also no infrastructure, the children aren't wearing packs, etc. ) I can only assume Tyler's got many more kids and a larger camp closer to the museum, and that he followed the bicycling invite guy to the symphony.
posted by Catblack at 7:34 PM on February 12, 2022

This was a fantastic show. I don't even really know why it bit so deep.
posted by From Bklyn at 12:02 PM on February 27, 2022

I remember recommending the novel to a friend and saying, it's a novel set in a pandemic but it's not depressing. I know that sounds weird but it's hopeful. And I think the show is that way too, hopeful.

Its interesting how, to make a show which was not depressing, so much of the dark traumatic events - which must have happened - take place off screen. People cough a little bit - and that is our indicator that they are not long for the world - but we are never shown the hospitals where everybody dies, the desperate fights for food, the consequence of work and money suddenly becoming meaningless, or Jeevan getting his foot chomped off by a wolf. Leaving all that out, makes space to cover things like post pandemic childbirth, the sorts of places where community could become re-established, the value (and distrust) of artefacts from the old times, etc.

I always think it is interesting to consider that humanity really was reduced from the "before times" to as few as 40 breeding pairs after the Toba supervolcano - and that recovery then took a few thousand years.
posted by rongorongo at 5:54 AM on March 7, 2023

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