Never before has a Shakespeare play aroused an emotion in me until “Hamlet‘ performance in the finale of Station Eleven. On the one hand, that exposes me as a cretin and indicates how strong the ten-episode HBO Max miniseries is. In fact, the adaptation of Emily St. John Mandel’s best-selling novel of the same name unlocked a whole new set of feelings in me, which may now be even more targeted given the overarching theme of the pandemic. Some things hurt, but those who persevere will be rewarded with a unique fantasy journey that leaves you much richer on the inside.
I already wanted to make it clear in my pilot review a few weeks ago that Station Eleven is the first promising candidate for the title of the best series of the year. Actually you should “the last candidate of the previous yearsay, because in the USA the format went on the air in mid-December (unfortunately Starzplay will keep the masterpiece in this country until January 30th back). And, even if possible spoilers can do little to harm such a dense story, it is certainly best to discover the whole thing for yourself. So you’d better save our further discussion for now, unless you’re not convinced yet…
Station Eleven takes place nearly 20 years after a devastating flu epidemic wiped out most of human civilization. A shock scenario that would normally only attract second-rate series makers, but this time it fell into the hands of The Leftovers writer Patrick Somerville and Atlanta director Hiro Murai. Of course, they weren’t the only creative minds who shaped the series. But they are responsible for the style-defining prelude and with their earlier works they give a good picture of what to expect.
Equally important in a show that excels at character development is the cast. Leading the cast is Mackenzie Davis (Halt and Catch Fire), who plays our heroine Kirsten, who, for a change, isn’t composed of moral grays. She’s just a nice Shakespearean actress who takes care of her theater company (and admittedly is pretty good at throwing knives). She grew up as a child – then portrayed by the incredibly expressive youngster Matilda Lawler – in the apocalypse and has little memory of the world before.