“I don’t want to die because I chose the wrong life,” Arthur screams at Miranda. It’s such a mild sentiment that it’s universal. Who wouldn’t want to spend their time in this world doing the right thing, whatever that entails? When yelled during a fight, though, the words sting. You’re living the wrong life. You’re showing me the bad side of life. You will have squandered my life when I die.
“Hurricane” is the title of the third episode of “Station Eleven“, which is a separate natural disaster from the pandemic that wipes out civilization. Arthur will be mostly alienated from Miranda when he dies. He might even declare he lived the wrong life if he were to comment on his own death. “Hurricane” chronicles the couple’s journey from strangers to lovers, through hot animosity to a poignant moment of reconciliation when Miranda presents Arthur with a copy of her book. Surprisingly, the episode does not call into doubt Arthur’s premise that life might be right or bad. Miranda and Arthur found each other when they shouldn’t have and then abandoned each other.
On “Station Eleven”, we’ve learned not to expect time to move in a linear fashion. Previously, the leaps and reversals served to contextualize the prior scene, such as when Kirsten was locked out of her house and later saw the same house overrun by long grass. That is not the case in this case. The timeline’s chutes and ladders confound rather than clarify; they make it more difficult to grasp why these characters who loved each other couldn’t quit doubting their love. Time passes as if we’re watching a recollection and sifting through the fragments, but I’m still baffled as to why they aren’t together. So, instead of faithfully tracking the episode, I’m rearranging the events into their proper sequence.
Miranda starts working at a shipping company in 2005. During the interview, she states, “I remember everything,” which is one of her best talents. She still has that job in 2020, and she’s terrific at it. She’s intelligent, capable, and self-assured. She takes whatever way is necessary to bring things from their starting point to their destination. When her boss, Leon, inquires about her future plans, she responds that she will either be working for Leon or dead in 20 years. He finds her amusing. It proves to be correct.
She’s been drawing Dr. Eleven since before she met Arthur, which occurs shortly after. “You’ll know your endpoint when you get there,” she narrates from his detached point of view, periodically slipping into the spaceman’s voice throughout the episode. Miranda, on the other hand, does not perceive Arthur as her destination. She ignores him as he approaches. He’s running late for Clark’s birthday party — the man who will phone Miranda to inform her that Arthur has died — and he’d like to purchase Miranda the spaceman she’s been drawing as a present. Miranda dislikes movies, despite the fact that he is a well-known actor. He makes her a $1,000 offer.
Arthur persuades her to join the party because of their easy chemistry. He interprets her efforts on the way to gain her trust. It’s corny, but then again, so is falling in love. “He’s not unhappy because he’s alone.” Adrift and fatigued, but since he wears the suit for protection, his heart is warmer and lighter than they think.” Perhaps he’s describing himself, but Arthur appears open, so he could be guessing at the depths of Miranda’s evasive speaking style. She doesn’t strive too hard to be likable. His self-doubt is always barely beneath the surface of his charm.
Miranda tells Clark as the party winds down that the sign she’s been scribbling on a cocktail napkin — the same symbol tattooed on Kirsten’s hand, the form of the dried reed she finds in the forest — is a depiction of a feeling: “cut and run.” Her father worked as a boat hand, and she spent her childhood in the Caribbean escaping squalls. The next morning, she wakes up on Arthur’s pullout couch and says she has to leave, but she can’t bring herself to cut anchor.
Instead, Arthur and Miranda get to know one another in the warm embrace of a cozy winter house. They joke around about Arthur’s profession — he’s shooting a silly movie about robbing the Pentagon — and talk about their childhoods, which coincided on the Mexican island of Holbox, where the gulf meets the sea. She says she has to leave again, but she doesn’t. Miranda is torn between a strong desire to remain anonymous and a contradictory want to remove her protective suit, at least for Arthur’s sake. She stays the night once more, threatening to leave. She agrees to remain for another ten minutes, and then another ten, and another ten, until it’s 2007 and they’re at a lavish Hollywood premiere together. Miranda contacts Elizabeth (Caitlin FitzGerald), the actress Arthur will marry next, to assure her that nothing is wrong between them, but Miranda doesn’t read newspapers.
Later, at their seaside home, Arthur tells a phone caller that their marriage is just a legal barricade against the paparazzi, but makes sure Miranda isn’t listening in. She spends her time in the pool house, where she works on “Station Eleven”, which she keeps hidden from Arthur. When he’s at home, he feels abandoned, but he abandons her for months at a time by making cheesy movies. They aren’t even together at rest because she doesn’t sleep. Although Miranda is a loner, Arthur is also lonely. They squabble about how to keep their identities hidden within their workplaces. She’s still at Leon’s disposal, rushing to Perth with only a few hours’ notice. “I don’t want to live the wrong life and then die,” Arthur expresses his deepest concern.
It quickly gets from bad to worse. At a suffocating dinner party, Elizabeth refers to him as Art (the fucking nerve of this woman) and confesses (Innocently? Art took her on a pool-house tour, which included Miranda’s unfinished work, slyly? The male either wants to end the marriage or believes it has already ended. Miranda makes a grand exit from the table, delivering an inane monologue from one of Arthur’s flicks and spilling a glass of wine. Clark informs Miranda that this is what Arthur does when he’s afraid of love in a polite but weak attempt at comfort, but Miranda blames the spaceman. “I believe that book was the catalyst for the end of my life.” She stows her belongings in her bag and sets fire to the pool house — yet another flourish.
But, somewhere between that time and the outbreak of the plague, she restarts the narrative. She remembers everything, just like she promised Leon. Dr. Eleven’s remarks became Arthur’s. I don’t want to die after living the incorrect life. After Leon invites her to Malaysia, she brings Arthur his copy. She even includes a copy for his kid, whom he shares with Elizabeth, his ex-wife. She and Arthur make plans for supper when she returns — “I’ll come back,” she says — but he’ll die later that night, and she’ll never return.
The flu is spreading quickly in Malaysia. Her pitch meeting has been canceled, and everyone is dressed in masks. Miranda is arranged to escape aboard a tanker, which is the only route out, by Leon, who will soon be coughing. She’s calm and meticulous on her way to the docks, much like Jason Bourne. She contacts Arthur and informs him that she has made a mistake and is on her way to find him. On her side of the globe, there is still time to have a good life. However, just as she is about to board the shuttle, Clark calls to inform her that Arthur has left. She falls and loses the key to the boat, but would she have used it even if she hadn’t? To spend a year aimlessly sailing the oceans just to return to a coast that no longer holds the promise of a fulfilling life? From this point on, her survival efforts are a shambles. She pulls up Arthur’s name on Instagram and finds a post by Kirsten.
Nobody knows how to act, so they try to act normal. Miranda’s pitch meeting has been delayed, I suppose because people will feel compelled to do things even at the end. She informs a table of individuals who are about to lose loved ones that the man she loved died already. “Instead, I went to work.” Now she’ll die in the middle of the wrong life, the words from her book rattling in her ear, some of which were once Arthur’s. “I’ve found you nine, maybe ten times before, and I’ll find you again.” A knock comes at her door. It’s hardly shocking that she gives it to Dr. Eleven. Miranda’s work, like the show, features a time loop. Years later, she returned to Arthur with her book. She promised she’d return, and perhaps she will, in some way. And I’ll track you down again. “There isn’t going to be a rescue mission.” “We’re fine.” But what are you protecting yourself from? What about the hurricane, not the pandemic?
Arthur is right in the middle of the storm. Kirsten was his protégé, and his heart attack ties her to Jeevan. Kirsten is linked to Miranda and the drifter by the book he gives her. We hear fragments of speech from the book and see short flashes of its pages, but we have no idea what the story is about. In the series debut, Dr. Eleven is floating in space, but here he is on Earth, bringing Miranda peace at the very end. We are unharmed. Perhaps that’s what he gave Kirsten when they were on the road together. I was able to locate my home once more. Perhaps Arthur flipped through the book before going on stage that night, his whole body smiling when Miranda vowed to return. Perhaps he carried Miranda’s words with him and found solace in them. You’ll know when you’ve arrived at your destination.