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Traveling Stories: Station Eleven Book Talk

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17 hours ago, aghst said:

But Siya tells Jeevan that the flu came from Europe.  Most of the episode is one night.  Yet by the time we see Siya, the hospital is inundated so tons of people are getting infected like instantly?  It has to have a crazy R0 but it also seems highly lethal.  If this virus kills hosts at a very high rate, it wouldn’t spread that far.

The book had provided more detail of that. I read it last summer (A+ timing of course) and it was eerily similar to how COVID hit. It is called the Georgia Flu as that is where it started. I guess I'll spoiler hide just in case though no spoilers for future, just differences - 

Spoiler

 It was spreading across the globe (I don't know if they'll show this part in the show but one storyline was in Hong Kong I believe when it was hitting there). The night before the play, a plane that had infected people landed in Toronto (as that is where the book starts) and it spread from there as people went home and infected their families.  If my memory serves right, they said it was 24-48 hours between showing symptoms and dying. 

So yes, the show did speed up the spread a bit but I also don't think it's that insane to think if 250 people were on a plane together and got infected throughout a 10 hour flight, then all immediately went home to households/took taxis or public transport that it wouldnt spread that fast. We've seen COVID spread like wildfire in cities like NYC. 

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a plane that had infected people landed in Toronto (as that is where the book starts) 

It's been a few years since I read the book, so I had forgotten the Toronto setting (Emily St. John Mandel is Canadian, so that makes sense).  Interesting that it was changed to Chicago with actual filming here.

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5 hours ago, Inquisitionist said:

Interesting that it was changed to Chicago with actual filming here.

It's always infuriating when they change a storyline to fit an American audience, especially when the story takes place in the Great Lakes so they'd end up in America eventually anyway. 

I did read that they started off filming in Chicago but due to COVID, moved to Canada/GTA area.

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3 hours ago, weightyghost said:

It's always infuriating when they change a storyline to fit an American audience

Yes!!! I noticed that with multiple literary adaptations lately. It's insulting that studios/show runners seem to think that American audiences aren't interested in stories that happen outside of the US.

I've only seen the first two episodes so far, and I like it overall, but I don't understand why the show made the change to have Kirsten stay with Jeevan and Frank after the outbreak. In the book they only crossed paths in the theater; they had a brief conversation after Arthur's heart attack, then went their separate ways. Kirsten had an older brother, who survived the pandemic with her and they left Toronto together. The book mentions repeatedly that Kirsten doesn't remember her first year "on the road" with her brother, presumably because of trauma. The book hints, but doesn't explicitly state, that she was raped during that time. Then some years later, Kirsten's brother died of an infection, and Kirsten was on her own until she met the Traveling Symphony at age fifteen. The way the show changed it, it's confusing what happened between Jeevan and Kirsten leaving Chicago together, and Kirsten being on her own when she meets Sarah. I guess that's intentional so that people keep watching to find out.

Other changes I noticed:

  • In the book, Jeevan was a trainee EMT (after several career changes) so it made sense for him to jump on the stage when Arthur collapsed. He performed CPR until a doctor arrived. On the show, it didn't make much sense for him to jump up there but then not know what to do other than yell for a doctor.
  • Arthur was in his 50s in the book, so the heart attack was somewhat plausible. Gael Garcia Bernal is in his early 40s. Also, Arthur was Canadian; he grew up on a tiny island in British Columbia. His first wife, Miranda (the creator of the Station Eleven books), also grew up there. Gael Garcia Bernal's Arthur is obviously not Canadian.
  • In the book, Jeevan didn't have a sister, only his brother, Frank. The person who called to warn him about the pandemic was a childhood friend.
  • In the book, Jeevan was very composed at the start of the pandemic, he didn't have panic attacks like Jeevan on the show did. He only started spiraling after Frank committed suicide (Frank was wheelchair-bound in the book) and Jeevan had to leave Toronto on his own.
Edited by chocolatine
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I like the change to put Kirsten and Javern together, you get to know both characters better.  In the book, you don’t hear much about Javern after he left Frank’s  apartment.  I am curious as to what happened to Javern with Kirsten on her own after just 2 years.  Maybe Javern become’s the stand in for the brother and his story stops.

 

agreed that it seemed weird to change Javeen not being an EMT trainee.  Why change that?

 

 

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59 minutes ago, Hanahope said:

I like the change to put Kirsten and Javern together, you get to know both characters better.  In the book, you don’t hear much about Javern after he left Frank’s  apartment.  I am curious as to what happened to Javern with Kirsten on her own after just 2 years.  Maybe Javern become’s the stand in for the brother and his story stops.

I like it, too.  Also, in the book, there's nothing about Kirsten between the theater and then 20 years in the future, save for saying she doesn't remember the first year, she was with her brother, he died, she met the Traveling Symphony--so this seems to be giving us a lot more filling in that time.  I hope they do the same for Jeevan (I don't know why they omitted his EMT background, either).

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I can't remember exactly what the line was but something in the first episode made me think that they are going to have him have trained but maybe dropped out? Perhaps another reason to move the panic attacks up - maybe the storyline will be that he was in training but started to have panic attacks and had to quit. Then again - still weird that he got up on stage and did absolutely nothing. Figured he'd at least try CPR or something. 

Having Jeevan and Kristen together is a weird change but I do get it from a story perspective. I did think it was weird in the book how he had just disappeared for most of it and given how these characters are all interconnected along the way, it makes sense for them to make that connection a bit stronger 

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On 12/18/2021 at 7:24 PM, weightyghost said:

I can't remember exactly what the line was but something in the first episode made me think that they are going to have him have trained but maybe dropped out? Perhaps another reason to move the panic attacks up - maybe the storyline will be that he was in training but started to have panic attacks and had to quit. Then again - still weird that he got up on stage and did absolutely nothing. Figured he'd at least try CPR or something. 

No, in the book Jeevan felt really happy after the incident, even though Arthur died, because he (Jeevan) had finally found his purpose after several other failed careers. Like I said, he had no panic attacks at all in the book. He was composed the entire time until Frank committed suicide and Jeevan had to leave Toronto on his own, at which point he started feeling despair (but still no panic attacks).

E3 was very close to Miranda's story in the book, so I was hoping the show would stick with that, but E4 was a complete departure. The book was dark, but not child suicide bombers kind of dark.

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I thought that scene with the kid bombers was new, I didn't recall that from the book. 

And I noticed they made it clear creepy Tyler becomes creepy David real clear, which iirc in the book, was more of a surprise (or at least wasn't confirmed) until the later part of the book.  the corrupt charisma, especially with kids.

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adding to my comment, i wonder why they changed it to having tyler pretend to kill himself, rather than he and his mom just deciding to leave.  at least they gave Elizabeth a little bit more personality, in the book she was extremely distant and never socialized with the rest of the airport group.

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On 12/18/2021 at 6:05 PM, chocolatine said:

 

  • Arthur was in his 50s in the book, so the heart attack was somewhat plausible. Gael Garcia Bernal is in his early 40s. Also, Arthur was Canadian; he grew up on a tiny island in British Columbia. His first wife, Miranda (the creator of the Station Eleven books), also grew up there. Gael Garcia Bernal's Arthur is obviously not Canadian.

I find the casting of GGB peculiar.  Nothing against the actor or his abilities, but Arthur Leander is such an Anglo-sounding name. 

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21 hours ago, Inquisitionist said:

I find the casting of GGB peculiar.  Nothing against the actor or his abilities, but Arthur Leander is such an Anglo-sounding name. 

Yeah, that one is a head scratcher. Maybe his real name is Arturo Leandro Something Something and he is going by the anglicized version of his first and middle name, like the singer Marc Anthony (whose real name is Marco Antonio Muñiz Rivera).

I do like GGB, I think he's talented and charismatic, but not the right fit for this role.

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I cannot believe the mess they are making of this book!  I read it 5.5 years ago and to be honest, I don't remember many details of the story.  But I do remember being entranced by it (unusual for me, as I don't care for dystopian novels) and feeling an underlying sense of hope for humanity.  I feel none of that with this adaptation, which is nearly impossible to follow, hasn't given me anyone to root for, and (on a shallow note) has cast some of the most visually unappealing actors I can remember seeing in one place.  So disappointing. 

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Is it just me or is the show nothing like the book?  I too read it many years ago but I don't remember it being like the show at all.  Tyler's followers weren't all children, were they?  He was evil and manipulative but relied on adults to wreak havoc among the communities.  The Museum was a place of hope and wonder, and the inhabitants didn't lure vulnerable people there for nefarious purposes, right?  Maybe I'm misremembering.  

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I find the changes they are making from the book are very...stereotypical of a show such as this, and it's disappointing. I am bad at remembering the book too but a few scenes stay with me - Miranda sitting on the beach, looking at the container ships offshore, slowly dying, and the prospect of making the choice to leave your disabled friend behind in order to survive. Instead, they make him a heroin addict with a bum hip who gets stabbed and dies... they made the show way more violent than I remember the book being (at least in the 'beginning' times). 

Prophet isn't creepy enough in the book? Make his followers children. Because children are creepy. 

And yes Haleth, in the book I feel like the Museum was just a spot for the symphony to meet up after getting separated. Instead, they made they choices of the group strange as to why they would go there. Like, why is Kristen bothering with the Prophet? Why did they suddenly decide to follow Keith Mars after all this time of his weird harassment? 

There are bits of the show I love but other parts just aren't making sense and it's frustrating because they want to add more mystery than there has to be. 

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1 hour ago, weightyghost said:

Why did they suddenly decide to follow Keith Mars after all this time of his weird harassment? 

I'm pretty sure Keith Mars and his friend were armed this time, and they went with him because they had no choice. 

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9 hours ago, Haleth said:

Is it just me or is the show nothing like the book?  I too read it many years ago but I don't remember it being like the show at all.

I had forgotten a lot of the book's details, so I re-read it just before the show started streaming. The show retained the general plot lines, but changed most of the details, and not for the better, IMO. I don't watch a lot of HBO shows, but I guess it's their thing to "put their own touch" on adapted material? I wish they hadn't done it so much for this show, since the book was already very well written and had a cohesive plot. The show is all over the place, especially with the adult Kirsten/Traveling Symphony plot, and I find it difficult to follow.

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I don't mind much of the changes, but Frank's story was annoying, and why Javeen was mad at Kirsten (way to blame a kid for your negligence).  but i guess they have to come up with a reason why Kirsten ends up alone (if they intend on bringing Javeen back to the story at the end) and became a skeptical person who doesn't shy away from killing.  

and i don't mind filling in some of the "off camera" events that happen in the book, but were just suggested or referenced in passing.

 

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On 12/17/2021 at 4:06 PM, weightyghost said:

The book had provided more detail of that. I read it last summer (A+ timing of course) and it was eerily similar to how COVID hit. It is called the Georgia Flu as that is where it started. I guess I'll spoiler hide just in case though no spoilers for future, just differences - 

  Hide contents

 It was spreading across the globe (I don't know if they'll show this part in the show but one storyline was in Hong Kong I believe when it was hitting there). The night before the play, a plane that had infected people landed in Toronto (as that is where the book starts) and it spread from there as people went home and infected their families.  If my memory serves right, they said it was 24-48 hours between showing symptoms and dying. 

So yes, the show did speed up the spread a bit but I also don't think it's that insane to think if 250 people were on a plane together and got infected throughout a 10 hour flight, then all immediately went home to households/took taxis or public transport that it wouldnt spread that fast. We've seen COVID spread like wildfire in cities like NYC. 

 

I think if it killed off the hosts that quickly, it wouldn't be as effective at spreading.  It's because each person can infect multiple persons that covid has spread so quickly, much quicker than the flu or the common cold.  If they die so quickly and probably are in no condition to circulate among the population even hours before they meet their demise, they're not going to have as much of a chance to shed the virus for other people to get infected.

Covid can also spread before symptoms.  

They managed to stop the original SARS because it was so lethal (much more than covid) and because it only spread when symptomatic.  Ebola is in the same category.

But we all learned a bit of epidemiology in real life so maybe some of the details in the book don't hold up.  The show (i didn't read the book) seems more about how certain characters deal with this apocalyptic scenario, not the particulars of how they found themselves among the few survivors of the species.

 

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On 12/31/2021 at 4:53 PM, weightyghost said:

There are bits of the show I love but other parts just aren't making sense and it's frustrating because they want to add more mystery than there has to be. 

Yes, thank you! I am generally not a book purist, and as someone who LOVED this book I have been so excited to see it brought to screen. I don't mind many of the changes (Jeevan and Kristin hanging out for a year, ok, sure. Miranda's story tweaks (though I don't like how they made her more emotionally stuck to Arthur, I didn't really get that sense in the book,), Elizabeth apparently staying, etc). But the making the Museum of Civilization this menacing thing, making Tyler/David a creepy child-brainwashing pied piper (how would he keep a big group of kids alive?), completely unneccessary and insulting to the audience. Clearly HBO thinks that we wouldn't watch it if they didn't make it more action packed, which takes away from the spirit of the book.  

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BTW, this is a Max original not an HBO original, if I'm not mistaken.

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11 hours ago, HappyHanna said:

making the Museum of Civilization this menacing thing

This one I REALLY don't get.  In the book it was a sanctuary and Clark was its loving caretaker.  Now they're luring people there and it's all so shady--why, why, why??

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Just now, Cheyanne11 said:

This one I REALLY don't get.  In the book it was a sanctuary and Clark was its loving caretaker.  Now they're luring people there and it's all so shady--why, why, why??

And Clark doesn't even seem to be there anymore (or at least he wasn't when the TS arrived).

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Patrick Somerville said after the Severn Airport episode that Clark may be a "mad king."

So he may be doing a big divergence of that character if he wasn't power-hungry in the book.

Seems like he seized the opportunity to lead.

 

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5 hours ago, aghst said:

So he may be doing a big divergence of that character if he wasn't power-hungry in the book.

He wasn't. 

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On 12/31/2021 at 10:53 AM, weightyghost said:

Why did they suddenly decide to follow Keith Mars after all this time of his weird harassment? 

I haven't gotten to this part of the series yet. I just love hearing you call him Keith Mars. 

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On 12/30/2021 at 11:06 AM, Inquisitionist said:

I feel none of that with this adaptation, which is nearly impossible to follow, hasn't given me anyone to root for, and (on a shallow note) has cast some of the most visually unappealing actors I can remember seeing in one place. 

I've only seen the first two episodes, but I agree that in the "20 years later" scenes, I don't connect strongly with any of the characters. Kirsten is still the main character, but I think I liked her better as a little girl. Maybe it's that the actress playing adult Kirsten hasn't made me feel anything for her, good, bad, or otherwise. Maybe that'll change with later episodes. And maybe I'm being too harsh. Perhaps Kirsten is supposed to be stoic and unemotional because she's had to numb her emotions in order to survive, mentally and physically. Eh, I don't remember liking her much in the novel either.

And of course trauma and loss will affect people negatively (even their looks). I'd think you'd find that, with a few exceptions, most actors who haven't spent hours in a hair and makeup chair look just like regular people. "People" and "Us" magazines have taught me that. 

 

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they've definitely made tyler/david more creepy than in the book, with his using children for his evil reasons.  in the book, i got the impression that he ordered the attack on the MoC simply to expand his power/control over the area, not because of any revenge.  course, in the book, both he and his mother left the MoC for unknown reasons (well, it seemed to be suggested religious reasons)

 

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Then I'm sure a religious movement would have emerged with the goal to repopulate the earth, most likely with some gross men telling women of childbearing age that it was their duty to god and humanity to become a baby factory

so that is actually the plot line, or very similar, to the actual book plot.  Tyler, becomes David, who is a typical cult leader "marrying" and impregnating a lot of young women.

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1 hour ago, Hanahope said:

so that is actually the plot line, or very similar, to the actual book plot.  Tyler, becomes David, who is a typical cult leader "marrying" and impregnating a lot of young women.

Right, but that happens several years after the outbreak. My point is that it's unlikely something like that would happen 2-3 months later. People were still traumatized and trying to figure out how to survive long-term.

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In the actual pandemic, birth rate went down, even though the first few months of the pandemic, people were staying home.

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Now that the finale is aired I can definitely say, I really did not like what they did with the 20 years after plotline.  Yes, the book was more straightforward with Tyler=evil and to me, that is fine. The virus was no longer the enemy, but there was still terror. Things don't have to be so convoluted. 

In the show, they still made him evil but tried to make him sympathetic and gave him a happy ending? Wandering off with all his stolen children, at least the ones who survived because the others he blew up with land mines? 

They gave Miranda a hero's ending with calling the plane but I still wish we got the shot of her sitting on the beach, looking out to the ships. It was a scene that was so vivid in my head after I finished the book.

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1 hour ago, weightyghost said:

In the show, they still made him evil but tried to make him sympathetic and gave him a happy ending? Wandering off with all his stolen children, at least the ones who survived because the others he blew up with land mines? 

Yeah, that was just ridiculous. It mostly spoiled the finale for me. 

I read the book several years ago, and only remember it dimly, but did remember that the MoC was a haven at the end of the book, a wonderful place. Reading here, I'm happy to see I didn't totally misremember the book. 

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4 hours ago, weightyghost said:

They gave Miranda a hero's ending with calling the plane but I still wish we got the shot of her sitting on the beach, looking out to the ships. It was a scene that was so vivid in my head after I finished the book.

I hated that the show had her die in that stuffy, dark hotel room with her already dead colleague's body next to her. The reason her death scene in the book was so moving is that there was a sense of peace and beauty mixed in with the sadness. The show completely ruined that, which makes me wonder whether TPTB didn't catch that subtlety, or whether they thought the audience wouldn't.

2 hours ago, Melina22 said:

I read the book several years ago, and only remember it dimly, but did remember that the MoC was a haven at the end of the book, a wonderful place. Reading here, I'm happy to see I didn't totally misremember the book. 

Yes, it was, and Kirsten even struck up a friendship with Clark. In the book, adult Kirsten's memories from "before" were a big part of her characterization, so she was very moved to find that Clark had so meticulously preserved things from "before."

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10 hours ago, weightyghost said:

Now that the finale is aired I can definitely say, I really did not like what they did with the 20 years after plotline. 

I stopped watching after episode 5.  Sounds like the right call.

6 hours ago, chocolatine said:

The show completely ruined that, which makes me wonder whether TPTB didn't catch that subtlety, or whether they thought the audience wouldn't.

I wondered this about a lot of the choices.  I'm going to reread the book and pretend this mess of an adaptation doesn't exist.

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On 1/14/2022 at 11:51 PM, chocolatine said:

I hated that the show had her die in that stuffy, dark hotel room with her already dead colleague's body next to her. The reason her death scene in the book was so moving is that there was a sense of peace and beauty mixed in with the sadness. The show completely ruined that, which makes me wonder whether TPTB didn't catch that subtlety, or whether they thought the audience wouldn't.

I think her hallucinations as she was dying addressed that somewhat.  I was very moved by Miranda's death.  Her last moments were in the service of selflessness. 

I do wish we had gotten the book's ending.  Seeing the twinkling lights on the horizon from the town where electricity had been restored was such a hopeful moment.

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17 minutes ago, txhorns79 said:

I do wish we had gotten the book's ending.  Seeing the twinkling lights on the horizon from the town where electricity had been restored was such a hopeful moment.

That would be a big deal, not just to those who survived the pandemic but even to those born after the Flu.

On the show, they chose to concentrate on relationships and character development but some of these details on restoring things or securing food supplies have a direct bearing on their daily lives and thus the relationships.

Survival or securing basic needs becomes a daily preoccupation and something that forms a larger part of their consciousness than reading comic books or putting on Shakespeare plays.

Do the comic book and Shakespeare plays play as prominent a role in the book?  Are they the things which drive or preoccupy characters?

 

Only the Sevryn Airport episode really touched on things like getting power.  They didn't talk about food other than they had existing supplies but eventually they find a way to farm.

Electricity would be a comfort to those at the airport.  If they couldn't keep the lights on those survivors would probably be more anxiety-ridden.  OTOH, those lights might attract other people, potentially hostile.  But as it was described, the airport has one access road so it was possible to secure against intruders.

In general, restoring electricity and growing food would be positive milestones, things people would look forward to and things people could work towards.

In contrast, it's hard to see how performing plays year after year in some traveling caravan would give people a sense of progress or some reasons to hope life would improve.  Sure they could reconnect with old friends or people with whom they bonded in surviving the ordeal of most of the human race dying and civilization ending.

Maybe those human bonds can sustain them but indefinitely?  Is there some hope that the 23rd performance of Hamlet will yield some truth or inspiration which improves their mood or increases optimism of a better life ahead for them and their children?

Or will it be some sense of progress, some restoration of a life other than nomadic, aimless peregrinations which make them more hopeful and brightens their mood?

 

 

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