As we’re nearing the home stretch of The Stand, I’m getting a little maudlin.
While The Stand Season 1 Episode 7 had some production issues we’ll discuss, story-wise, it shows how much better the series would have been if told linearly.
Without trying to force the past into the present, it’s easier to connect with the characters, and now we’re getting a fuller picture of what could have been.
It started with The Stand Season 1 Episode 6, really. Instead of using flashbacks to explain why characters were behaving in any given way, the actors were allowed to do their job.
Still, it worked far better on that episode with the less savory characters, giving Harold and Nadine unexpected arcs questioning whether following Flagg’s lead was the wise decision.
With “The Walk,” the cast is more focused, and the group who had been tasked with leading the Boulder Free Zone finally seemed like they were up for it. Their friendships were solidified, too, even as they faced the real possibility of losing each other.
If the series had been longer than ten episodes, perhaps a three-season limited approach, we could have really gotten to know the characters and their motivations. The more you know, the more impactful the story.
People still must be questioning why on earth Ezra Miller took the role of Trashcan Man. He’s not being challenged to do anything but squeal and look unappealing. There is less than zero development for him.
Similarly, Mother Abigail is already dead (did we really have to see her literal candle get snuffed out to get the concept of death?), but we never really knew her. None of it made sense.
Her deathbed speech was the most revealing aspect of her, which was a little, uh, predictable.
I don’t know about you, but I have no idea why Frannie and Stu are together in this adaptation. It’s not like they were the last two people on earth. What do they have in common? Why is Stu raising Frannie’s baby with her? I see nothing between them.
Now that we’ve seen what the writing and the cast CAN do, it’s depressing to see consider the alternative, an adaptation that matched up to Stephen King’s writing.
Something that could have gone to the same depths as we’re seeing with Neil Gaiman’s American Gods on Starz.
Wow. What a difference. Yet, the books are equal in scope. Someone is getting ripped off here. Both King and the fans, I’d say.
But here we are, and I guess better late than never, right?
For the first time, I bought it all.
The long walk allowed the leaders to show what they’re made of, and it’s too bad that Mother Abigail didn’t see Stu’s potential a little earlier. He was always the wisest of them all, with both intelligence and emotional depth.
Nick was driven by emotions and Glen by his intellect. Larry has the heart down pat. Honestly, I’m not sure what Frannie brings to the table. But when you view them all separately, it’s Stu who has a little bit of everything, making him a natural leader.
So, of course, he was sidelined on the great walk because that means the others have a wider reach to accomplish their task. They have to work together to make up for what they lack.
Still, Harold got the best denouement to his story. Both he and Nadine felt the weight of what they’d done by detonating that bomb, but it was Harold who might get another chance in the afterlife.
Even after everything he’d suffered in life, getting one over on someone didn’t feel good like he expected. He still made a beeline to Flagg, but he wasn’t as eager to get there.
It became more about getting one over on Nadine because she was just another in a long list of people who took him for granted and didn’t consider how he felt about anything.
She called the shots and manipulated him. So when he tried to humiliate her, it was kind of fun.
He’s going to give me a woman who makes you look like a potato sack. And you? You get him. Happy days, right? If I were wearing your Hush Puppies, I’d be shaking in them plenty.
His timing couldn’t have been worse, though. When he needed her the most, she wasn’t there. She was never there, but he rubbed salt into the wound, and there was no way she was going to help him see the other side of that tree branch.
Larry’s heart gave weight to Harold’s last words. He couldn’t let Harold go without an acknowledgment of some kind. He might have been a jerk, but that jerk got many of them to Boulder. That had to account for something.
There was a game we played when we were children on a sand pit on one of the back roads. Well, a lot of the other kids played, but I just watched. I was too afraid. They jumped from the top of the pit and rolled over and over, laughing their heads off. I never could get my legs to do it, though. To jump. Everyone kept calling me a pansy, and I kept going back to prove myself, but I never did it. I wonder if just once, I could could have convinced myself to do it, that I wouldn’t have ended up here. Well, fuck all those bullying assholes, and fuck me for letting myself turn into something even worse. I apologize for the destructive things I’ve done, but I do not deny that I did them of my own free will. The Dark Man is real. I let myself be misled. I sign this, my final word, by a name given to me in Boulder. I couldn’t accept it then, but I take it now freely. Hawk.
His last words would have had a greater impact if we’d had a chance to know more about Harold’s friendship with Teddy. But, we’ll take Harold’s acceptance of his nickname for what it meant to him.
And geez. Nadine got the crap end of her stick.
She looks like Sally Finkelstein from The Nightmare Before Christmas now, gaunt, white, and swollen with demon spawn. For a hot minute, she resembled Rose McGowan in her glory days, but that was short-lived.
What comes next for the Free Zone group in New Vegas? Stu hasn’t died yet, and someone is going to meet their maker.
I know who it is supposed to be, but I’m willing to accept whatever King does for the end of his story. It’s going to change in some way, so we’re just getting to the fun part.
What do you think?
Do you feel how the quality of the show has improved as the flashbacks stopped?
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Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and a staff writer and critic for TV Fanatic. She’s a member of the Critic’s Choice Association, enjoys mentoring writers, cats, and passionately discussing the nuances of television and film. Follow her on Twitter and email her here at TV Fanatic.