The penultimate episode of the stand is decent enough, but it still falls victim to the series' meaningless narrative.
- 🏍️Owen Teague's performance continues to be one of the most incredible parts of the series.
- 🏍️Lots of Kojak screentime.
- 🏍️If I never hear Ezra Miller make those noises again, it will be too soon.
- 🏍️Frannie Goldsmith deserves better than whatever this husk of her character is.
We’ve reached the part in The Stand where the gas pedal is essentially on the floor. It’s unlikely that we’ll see any down moments before the series wraps up next week. Which is convenient, because it feels like we spend approximately a week on a walking montage in “The Walk.” Episodes should be true to their name, but maybe we don’t have to take it that far. Nick Andros (Henry Zaga) is dead, the Boulder Free Zone is in shambles, and Mother Abagail (Woopi Godberg) has a message for the Council. The prophet tells Stu Redman (James Marsden), Larry Underwood (Jovan Adepo), Ray Bretner (Irene Bedard) and Glen Bateman (Greg Kinnear) that they are to head to New Vegas. They are allowed no food, water, or transport from the town, they must simply hoof it to Vegas. Does that sound insane? That’s because it is. And Frannie Goldsmith (Odessa Young) is supposed to say so. Ardently, in fact! But there’s none of that here. The Council simply agrees to the prophet’s last words and prepare for their venture across the mountains.
While that all unfolds in the Boulder Free Zone, Harold Lauder (Owen Teague) and Nadine Cross (Amber Heard) make their way to Vegas before they’re caught on the mountainside. Harold tells Nadine he’s done, that he doesn’t want her anymore, and that Flagg (Alexander Skarsgärd) will grant him a woman who makes her look like a troll. In response, Nadine helps Harold off the side of a cliff. That’s reductive, of course, she’s really trying to do him a favor, but he was a gnat and he had it coming.
Owen Teague’s performance as Harold Lauder remains the diamond in the rough of The Stand. Honestly, there’s not a bad performance in the bunch, but Teague brings a little something extra to his performance of the deplorable Harold. When he’s hurled from his bike, he takes a large branch through the chest and breaks his leg. He lays in the desert for an undetermined amount of time, but it’s long enough for him to reflect on the monster he allowed other people to turn him into. His final manifesto is one of apology, acceptance, and a reiteration of the fact that all of his choices were just that: his. He wasn’t forced or coerced. He allowed the world to turn him, he made his decisions, and he paid the price for it.
Harold eats a bullet as soon as he finishes his last pages.
With that, the Council heads on their walkabout. Frannie plays dutiful wife, takes a picture of the group, and takes in young Joe (Gordon Cormier) while Larry heads to Vegas with the others. What comes next is a walking sequence that feels much longer than it actually is, but if it looks boring and it sounds boring it’s probably, well, freaking boring. Things do ramp up after some time. Or, rather, they ramp very down.
Before she passed, Mother Abagail warned that one of the four would fall. While they took that to mean death, what it really meant was that Stu was going to fall off a cliff and shatter the hell out of his leg. Unable to go on, he sends the rest of the wanderers on without him with Larry now in charge. Touching moments are had between both he and the musician, and with his begrudging best friend Glen. The latter leaves his painkillers behind to help ease things for Stu, also noting that if he takes more than three at once he won’t wake up. It’s said with as much of a wink as expected, but what really matters here is that the Vicodin isn’t all that Glen leaves behind.
Kojak (Very Good Boy) separates from the group and heads back to guard Stu while he remains stuck in the trench. Stu tries to be a big man and send the pup away, but Kojak’s not having it. No dead friends on his watch!
Glen does notice his loyal good boy is missing, but he, Ray and Larry find themselves picked up by Lloyd Henreid (Nat Wolff) and his cronies before they’re able to find the dog. Awful nice of Randall Flagg to send a limo to pick up the visitors from the Boulder Free Zone. Though, he may just be in a good mood because Nadine’s carrying his spawn before the episode’s over.
While we’re seeing more and more happen as we near the finale (next week), there’s simply no emotional connection in this show. Harold was emotional on his own, but no one doing anything seems to have any weight. Frannie just lets Stu leave, Glen and Larry hardly have a response to the mayhem around them, there’s no response to Nick’s death, no concern about the spies they sent to die… this list could go on and on. Every change that his been made to this miniseries feels like it was intentionally made to rip anything meaningful from the story. The Stand is over eleven hundred pages. There is plenty of content to be removed! And yet, everything that’s been pulled are the beats that give this story any kind of impact.
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