What to Watch Verdict
'The Stand' turns in its first solid episode of the season!
🌊This week's episode actually feels like it means something.
🌊Incredible performances all around.
🌊Characters who had no autonomy in the novel are given a to on agency in this chapter.
🌊Good boy, Kojak.
🌊If you're trying to decide whether or not to start the series, 1/8 isn't a good enough ratio to recommend.
The Stand hasn’t been the easiest show to keep up with. For a long time—most of the series, really—it’s felt like the showrunners made every possible choice that would make the story they were adapting devoid of any meaning. That’s still true, of course, but I’ll be damned if “The Stand” isn’t the best chapter of the story by a mile.
When things open, it’s all pretty bleak. Larry Underwood (Jovan Adepo), Ray Brentner (Irene Bedard), and Glen Batemen (Greg Kinnear) are on trial for sneaking into New Vegas. It’s all a show, of course, but Lloyd Henreid (Nat Wolff) misses the message. Unfortunately for him, he doesn’t do something about quickly enough. That Glen was always one to run his mouth. He’ll philosophize you until the cows come home, and that’s exactly what he did with his last words. Knowing his life was about to end, he chose to remind the people of New Vegas that Randall Flagg (Alexander Skarsgärd) only has one thing on any of them: fear.
Though Glen takes about eight bullets to the torso, he does exactly what he meant to. By sowing doubt among Flagg’s followers, we immediately see the leader of New Vegas’ powers start to dwindle. But that’s not all he’s going to lose before it’s all said and done. Think what you will of Mother Abigail’s methods—she knew exactly what she was doing. Or He did. You can take your pick, but I’m going to stick with the old witch.
Nadine’s (Amber Heard) situation has not change since we last saw her (mostly because it’s been, like, an hour). She’s a walking skeleton that also happens to be very pregnant, and that walking skeleton wants to speak to Larry Underwood one last time. I’m not encouraging evil creeps to be better at being evil creeps, but that’s probably something Flagg should have ensured never happened. Hubris, man. It’ll getcha!
Nadine Cross was a kind woman. That kindness mattered and I stand by any damnations I’ve thrown in The Stand’s direction over robbing her of that. With that said, it’s real nice to see this new ending for the character. There’s autonomy to her end in ways that were absolutely absent in King’s novel. She might have given into the demon, but she called her own shots until the bitter end. We love a girl who will throw herself out of a window rather than let a man use her body to take over the world.
When Flagg tries to use Nadine’s nearly liquified head to remind Larry that there’s no hope left to be had, he instead helps ensure his own demise. By showing him that he was able to sway Nadine, he only confirms that his followers can be turned. Larry’s last words turn into a frightened chant among some of the crowd: I will fear no evil.
Apparently, he won’t fear a giant cloud floating into a casino and electrocuting everyone around him, either. Known in King’s novel as the “Hand of God,” said cloud starts zapping pretty much everyone it can reach. We do, however, get to see some of our favorite monsters blasted into oblivion before the Nuke that Trashcan Man (Ezra Miller) brought the New Vegas (rather than the air strip it was meant for) goes kaboom.
For the first time, The Stand has felt like it meant something. This episode isn’t just pretty to look at like all those that came before it, it actually has something to say. I’m not here to tell you that one winner out of eight is enough of a reason to start the series, but if you’ve already come this far and are trying to decide whether or not to continue before King’s new ending in the finale, this is an episode worth tuning into.
Amelia is an entertainment Streaming Editor at IGN, which means she spends a lot of time analyzing and editing stories on things like Loki, Peacemaker, and The Witcher. In addition to her features and editorial work, she’s also a member of both the Television Critics Association and Critics Choice. A deep love of film and television has kept her happily in the entertainment industry for 7 years.