If anyone is going to bother to criticize The Stand at this point, and plenty of people will, then they might need to read the book and watch the 1990 miniseries and take notes since the current version is sticking fairly close to the story even with some of the changes that have been made. During the last few minutes of the last episode we saw the end of Nick Andros, who was barely a presence in the story up to that point, but, as readers know, still has a part to play. Mother Abigail had gone missing, only to confront Randall Flagg deep within the woods before she was found by Joe, and Harold and Nadine made their escape as the citizens of the Boulder Free Zone were left to pick up the pieces left by Harold’s parting gift. But, and there are spoilers ahead, a lot of us already know the story, and were likely only waiting to see how it would play out in this new, updated version. There are throwback moments to the book and original series to be seen that are kind of nice, and even the deviations aren’t bad since Nadine tricking Harold into his accidental collision and subsequent, but well-earned, fall was better than having Flagg manipulate things so obviously. But Nadine and Flagg’s romp in the desert, that might have been a little better had he retained the horned demon look rather than the sickly appearance that was revealed during the sex scene they shared.
A great deal of this episode dealt with the sadness of knowing that Nick was gone, the town had been betrayed, and Mother Abigail, after giving the decree of who would travel to Vegas and that not all of them would make the trip, passed on. It’s likely that Whoopi Goldberg’s part in this isn’t done yet, but for now, her guiding hand has fallen still as Stu, Glen, Larry, and Ray have taken off on their cross-country trip to Las Vegas. The fact that Stu fell, breaking his leg while trying to climb out of the washout that split the road in front of them, was no surprise, nor was it a surprise that Glen’s dog Kojak stayed with him. In the original series, Glen realized that Kojak was staying behind though, while in this version Glen is still worried about the dog running off, but that concern is cut short when Lloyd Henreid and his entourage find them and take the three remaining leaders into the belly of the beast. What’s really eerie about this however isn’t the fact that Larry, Glen, and Ray see Flagg’s face on the statue outside of Caesar’s Palace, or that people have been crucified on nearly every power pole, or that there are people being beaten in the streets. No, what’s even creepier is that the streets are clear, clean and that Vegas looks almost dead, which is something that is hard to picture, even during the pandemic.
Let’s not forget Trashcan Man, who has also had kind of a mute presence in this series, but perhaps for a good reason. Ezra Miller’s depiction of the character has definitely been a bit nuts, especially since he feels so over the top with how he’s played the role. But it’s difficult to deny, so I won’t, that he’s getting the job done and creating a much edgier and more dangerous version of the character than Matt Frewer did, as the restrictions that were possibly placed on the original miniseries don’t appear to apply as much this time around. Watching him sever the top of a missile with a torch though is a bit cringe-worthy, as is the idea that he’s going to be hauling that warhead all the way back to Vegas, likely rotting as he goes. So far everything is on track, even the appearance of Nadine, who apparently is under the illusion that she still appears beautiful and radiant, but is in fact withering quickly as the thing growing in her womb is no doubt siphoning off her life force. But is anyone really feeling sorry for Nadine? It’s true that she didn’t have much of a choice since Flagg picked her out when she was still young, but the supposed illusion of choice has still been something that one can’t deny is a little more solid than people think. Taking the step towards the right path, however, is something that many people apparently can’t bring themselves to do on a regular basis. One has to wonder though if King had had Nadine stay in Boulder, would he have sent Flagg surging forward to claim his bride?
The only other death that was definitely on point but just as lacking in sympathy when it comes to many people is Harold’s, as he writes out a final apology that is still fairly condescending and not really sincere, but is still the final word in his sorry, sordid chapter. In a way, it is kind of sad, since Harold entered the story as a whimpering, weak character, and went out in a way that could only be described as bitter and broken, much like the man himself.