Review / Repeat Episode 1 ‘The Stand’: “The End”

An end-to-world pandemic and a sad demographic rise? In this economy? Yes, The Stand, Stephen King ‘s best and brightest book, hits differently in 2020. Appropriately enough, so he has the new CBS All Access variant. Despite the length of gargantuan and the sprawling character of characters (we are talking Game of Thrones, practically), in King ‘s book, previously edited by ABC in 1994, there is a very simple plot. A government-infected virus escapes from a military base and destroys 99% of the world’s population, after which the survivors are trapped in a war for their lives and souls. between a kind centenary called Mother Abigail (Whoopi Goldberg) and a grim demon into a human form known as the Dark One, Randall Flagg (Aleksander Skarsgård).

The title “stand” refers to those who survived Flagg and his minions, and it is on this part of the King’s story, not the slow spread of the apocalyptic pandemic, which exhibitors and critics Benjamin Cavell and Josh Boone (directing) have chosen to focus on. Lots of other details change as well, but the decision to start the story in res media and fill the gaps with adjustments back, well, everything.


The first character we meet – and I can already hear the eyes of book cleaners blowing their heads about that – is Harold Lauder (Owen Teague), a nerdy teenager who nurtures love pressure love and a Boulder-sized slice on his shoulder. It’s just that we don’t know when we first see it: At that point, it’s just another work firm helping to cleanse the dead bodies rotting where they lie, an action so full that for him to keep his breakfast down. But the other members of this post-apocalyptic cleaning team light up the child, offer words of encouragement when he barfs, share their dreams of opening a driving movie cinema when those who survived the plague that is destroying the world will regain power, even calling it the “Hawk.” This is the kind of thing that one might get used to, as Harold himself writes in his magazine.

But in the Before Times, Harold is just a dork, a geek, a victim of bullying, and a peeping tom, maybe not in that order. Judging from the decoration of his bedroom – posters for King Crimson and Eraserhead, a copy of Lon lon—Holdold has a really good taste, not that this manifests itself in his fussy slicked-back hairdo, his formal mannerisms, or his habit of sneaking at his ex-nurse Frannie Goldsmith (Odessa Young), to whom he took the photograph. in a way that can only say “embittered.” You look at that stack of rejection letters posted on the wall of this hopeful writer, you look at the child himself, and you think “Yes, I will.” It is this evil side of Harold – the side that explores a picture of Tom Cruise to learn how to smile – to which the Dark Man appeals, characterizing him in the form of a wolf with the neon-lit promise of sexual women… and revenge.


Who’s against? Against Frannie, to begin with. The second main character we get a glimpse of, she comes across as a college child who is completely normal, friendly to her sick father – gosh, there is definitely an evil beast going around! —But the worst thing happens and it is up to her to prepare a man for burial and bury him in the ground, because there is no one else left alive to do it. No one but Harold, that is; she ignites him as embarrassment when he appears to offer his sympathy (a strange thing that must be, when billions of people have just died in a week), but then it comes around when he saves her suicide and devises a plan to travel to the CDC headquarters in Atlanta in search of other “vaccines” and the scientists who are certainly still working to beat the virus. There is a beautiful scene between the two of them after he has had her take the pills she took, in which they chew together, listening to “Black Sabbath’s Fathers.” And changes abound, because when we see Frannie in Boulder however several months or weeks later, she is about to become pregnant and in a relationship with someone who is not particularly Harold.

With whom, then? The main character of number three, Stu Redman (James Marsden). Stu, who hails from Texas, first appears in an Army medical center, where a kind doctor (played by Hamish Linklater) explains to him that the entire city has been quarantined, to that everyone who was taken to the medical center with him has died, and that has continued survival and struggle against infection make it important to any hope of cure or vaccination. Turu out Stu was present at the gas station where one Charles Campion (Curtiss Cook Jr.), a soldier at a secret bioweapons facility, hit his family station vehicle, carrying his wife and child dead and a full wagon de germs killer. At the end of the section we see that Campion (and the virus inside) had a helping hand, or shoe, from the Dark Man, who kept the door open so that Campion could magically escape and be wounded. riding in the back seat while he himself sped away from the locked bottom. Awesome!


But Stu doesn’t know that, of course. He relies heavily on getting out of his situation alive, a prospect that becomes more isolated when he is abruptly transferred to a CDC facility in Stovington, Vermont, with A malicious “doctor” by the name of Cobb (Daniel Sunjata) suddenly inserts himself into a normal Stu. Eventually the nice doctor gets sick, Cobb becomes just as sick to kill Stu and successfully kills the nice doctor before Stu overcomes and escapes. Stu is then taken to the facility’s command center by a four-star general named Starkey, played by previously unnamed JK Simmons. Starkey apologizes to Stu for all he’s been through, reading excerpts from WB Yeats’ “The Second Coming” (strangely omitting “the hold a center for some reason), then kill himself, letting Stu escape.

Then, of course, we have our fourth main character, the Dark Man himself. He has a limited presence, a figure on the edge of the characters’ nightmare, a shoe in the doorway, a roadside hitchhiker, a man in worn boots walking down the road to the tune of “The Stranger” by Billy Joel. When you finally get a good look at his face, as he sits in Campion’s back chair playing with his baby who is about to die, he has a smile that could be a milk curd. Aleksander Skarsgård, man – that’s a good throw.


So that is The Stand It’s 2020. I can tell you what which is not, though: Not like Stephen King. I mean, all the characters are there, for sure, and the story goes too, though it’s moved; what I am talking about is paraphrasing Barton Fink here) That Stephen King feel. King, as he himself has written about extensively in his treatise on horror Danse Macabre, almost always establishes a normal-status status quo, then including some end-of-the-world tragedies or a soul-eating demon thing that goes past an entire Apollonian apple cart. You have to see little George Denbrough make his toy boat, bless his big brother, and go out into the water in his yellow slice before you can meet Pennywise the Dancing Clown, no. you know? The greatest thing King feels in all his work is: You set up the card house, and then you demolish it.

In the book version of The Stand, the house of cards was entirely in human society – especially the American sub-region of it – and was demolished by Captain Trips. And boy, was it ever! For my money there is no more impressive section in every King book that I have read than the opening quarters or so The Stand, where we meet our main characters as civilization collapses, crumbles, and falls around them completely. Hell, they don’t even have to be the main characters at all: There’s a chapter that just follows the virus across the country from one random person to the next, establishing the virus as the deadliest chain letter in history, that’s just it gleefully dark and frightening. It’s as good as a King can get.

And The Standit seems that there will be no change to TV 2020 at all. To put it mildly, it is a bold choice. And you know what? I love bold choices where Stephen King’s change is troubling! The slowest pastimes of his work are the thinnest; even in a case like the recent Hulu series Castle Rock, that it was not a direct change at all but an attempt to make for the work of the King than Noah Hawley Fargo in the case of Coen Brothers filmography, the attempt to cut all these little King – isms came at the expense of doing nothing memorable, let alone scary. (I’m old school because I think horror TV shows are going to be scary. Go figure!) Compare and contrast with Stanley Kubrick’s shows The glow: It really is The Shining by Stanley Kubrick, not Stephen King, and it just happens to be one of the greatest films ever made; King, of course, despises him.

So no, lack of loyalty is not going to get on my nerves per se. It never will! So I’m not interested in comparing a chapter and a verse, describing what the “right” and “wrong” series got about the details or even the broad strokes. In the end, it’s all to death. And this early at least, the execution is interesting enough to keep me watching. The relaxation between times and places, the free-form combination of “now” and “then,” gives the impression of a dream, or nightmare (some punctuating the action, after everything). The light, traditional score (John Carpenter beats here) by Nathaniel Walcott and Mike Mogis adds beautifully to that dreamlike feel. Will it last? Or, without the superflu pest harrowing elevation, will the flashback / flashforward device greet it before the actual action begins? These are open-ended questions, but compared to “Why the hell am I looking at this? ”, They are questions I do not ask at all.

Sean T. Collins (@theseantcollins) write about TV for Rolling Stone, Vulture, The New York Times, and wherever he has, indeed. He and his family live on the Long Island.

Look The Stand Episode 1 (“The End”) on CBS All Access