If you’d like to read the recap of last week’s episode before “The Stand,” you can do so here.
“The Stand” opens on an aerial shot of New Vegas, where a gladiator-type event seems to be in progress. An announcer welcomes the denizens of New Vegas to “freedom,” before immediately cutting to Glen Bateman (Greg Kinnear), Ray Brentner (Irene Bedard), and Larry Underwood (Jovan Adepo) in a cage. “Weasel Eyes Are Watching,” says some graffiti scrawled on the walls.
Bateman sums up New Vegas as a “bunch of lost, scared people” who are simply “following someone who makes them feel a little less lost.” The trio heads into the type of morality discussion you might expect from Stephen King characters in a such a scenario.
Brentner cites the crucified bodies along the Strip as evidence that Flagg is evil, but Bateman points out it means that he can’t necessary rely on the citizens of New Vegas to fall in line, and instead must keep them in line with such displays of brutality.
On a snarky comment by Bateman about Stu Redman (James Mardsen), we cut to the chasm between Boulder and New Vegas where the ex-soldier from East Texas is suffering with his injury. Fortunately, he still has the company of Kojak the golden retriever, and the pills left by Bateman – which he could use to intentionally overdose, a possibility he considers. However, Kojak’s presence convinces him to abstain as we head into the title card.
Back in New Vegas, the Rat Woman (Fiona Dourif) is presiding over a courtroom packed with the city’s garishly dressed citizens. Naturally, our heroes are the one on “trial.” Lloyd Henreid (Nat Wolff) reads the charges as Julie Lawry (Katherine McNamara) goads him on (there is a gong involved).
Henreid says that the heroes should renounce Mother Abagail and swear fealty to Flagg if they hope to survive, adding some mockery to the mix for good measure (and earning the roaring laughter of the crowd in response). Bateman demands to know under whose authority the court is being convened, and the Rat Woman replies that it’s under the authority of Mr. Randall Flagg, pointing to the room’s closed circuit cameras.
Bateman replies by calling Flagg “the mother of dragons,” which is honestly really funny. But unbeknownst to those in the courtroom, Flagg (Alexander Skarsgård) is hovering above the floor in his Penthouse as he watches the proceedings.
Bateman wants to know why everyone’s so afraid of Flagg. If he’s so all-powerful, why doesn’t he just come down and handle it himself, rather than go through this kangaroo court? Bateman addresses the camera and tells Flagg to come down, but Henreid slaps him, breaking his glasses. Bateman observes that they’re terrified of Flagg, and the Rat Woman orders Henreid to shoot him.
Bateman’s playing with fire, but he stands firm. He tells Henreid that he doesn’t have be afraid of Flagg, and that Flagg only has his fear. But Henreid shoots him anyway… and when Bateman subsequently forgives him and says he didn’t know any better, Henreid shoots him several more times.
Several members of the audience appear to be taken aback by the events… Henreid tries to play like he’s in control, but it’s clear that he’s being eaten away as he stumbles out of the courtroom. And in the Penthouse, Flagg’s feet sink down to the floor.
Brentner and Underwood are mourning Bateman as they’re handcuffed to the appliances in the kitchen. Brentner laments that she can’t see the point if they came all this way just to be unceremoniously killed.
Everything that rises must converge
Then Nadine Cross (Amber Heard) arrives, still looking all bleached, spooky, and pregnant. Brentner is removed and Cross tells Underwood she never thought she’d see him again. Underwood confirms that Cross and the late Harold Lauder were behind the bomb that was detonated at the vigil.
Cross says that this is who she’s always been, but when Underwood forces her to confront her reflection, she realizes how spookified she’s become, causing her to be wracked with pain… which apparently induces her delivery.
Henreid and a lackey use a wheelchair to bring Cross to Flagg’s Penthouse, where her belly is looking kind of Xenomorph-y. As Flagg sips a glass of milk and looks on, Cross realizes that she isn’t meant to survive the birthing process. In a final act of Flagg defiance, she uses his sigil necklace to shatter the glass and hurl herself out the window, arms extended crucifixion-style. She falls through the glass above the Inferno promenade, hits the bottom of the empty pool at the center of the Inferno and, you know. Splatters.
Flagg, distraught, tells Henreid to cancel the nursery.
Back in the ditch, Redman and Kojak are passing the night when a wolf appears. The two have an off-screen fight, but Kojak emerges victorious.
Later in New Vegas, Flagg is in the Penthouse with the parts of Cross’s body that they could scrape off the floor. In the hallway outside, the Rat Woman tells Henreid that they were supposed to put together a show trial in the courtroom, not a snuff film, and Henried begins to sob. Flagg appears and Henried begins mumbling about Bateman, but Flagg is indifferent.
In the next scene, the Rat Woman is dressed like a bellhop, and delivers some “room service” to Underwood: Cross’s decapitated, smashed-in skull. When Henried and a lackey arrive, they expect Underwood to be a mess, but he points out that it’s actually an indication that things in New Vegas are falling apart. Cross was, after all, meant to be Flagg’s queen…
What happens in Vegas…
Brentner and Underwood are hooded and brought into the center of the Inferno, which is filled with people chanting, “Make them pay.” Lawry appears and interviews Henried about the “traitors” he just brought in. Henried seems uncertain about himself, but seems to gain confidence as he introduces Flagg.
The majority of the crowd chants for Flagg (although one of the New Vegas citizens we saw looking uncertain at the trail earlier still seems to have misgivings).
Flagg addresses the crowd, telling a story about freedom of the new world, and saying that the prisoners want to shackle them using their morality. Flagg says that nature contains winners and losers, and declares that they are the predators and “they” are the prey.
Henried turns on the water and the pool where Underwood and Brentner are shackled begins to fill. “Heaven” by U 96 begins to play, and as Flagg dances around, the Rat Woman has the video feed shift to the crowd, so they “can see themselves.” Flagg says they’ll drown the rats and then burn the witch, which is when they cut to the Vegas airport, where a plane is being prepped to fly a bomb to Boulder. Underwood notes that Flagg is unaware that Mother Abagail has died.
The camera feed cuts to footage of the Trashcan Man’s (Ezra Miller) bomb buggy heading up the Strip, and then we get a reaction shot of the same man who seemed uncertain at the trial, not quite joining in the crowd’s “burn them down” chant.
Henreid enters the arena and begins beating Underwood and Brentner with a nightstick, but Underwood continues to repeat that he will “fear no evil.” A woman in the crowd echoes his word and discord begins to be sown. Flagg orders Henried to shoot the woman in the crowd, but Henried declines. Flagg accuses him of being a weak little lamb.
More people in the crowd begin to repeat that they will fear no evil, including the doubtful man from the trail. While others in the crowd turn on him, the atmosphere of bloodlust has been shattered. Outside, thunder and lightening begin gather around the Inferno.
The Trashcan Man arrives with the warhead, and he’s looking pretty, uh, irradiated. Flagg says he was supposed to go to the airport, not the hotel, but all Trashcan has to say for himself is, “My life for you.”
Now leaving New Vegas
The weird storm around the hotel continues to grow, and the clouds begin to enter the Inferno through the hole made by Cross’s plunging body. Electricity makes the hair on Flagg’s knuckles stand up. Lightening begins appearing inside the building, setting the banners with Flagg’s sigul on fire and sending people fleeing in panic. Lawry attempts to flee and is killed by a bolt.
The crowds surge against the closed doors of the Inferno like Republicans at a capital building, eventually pushing their way through by shattered the glass and trampling some of their associates in the process. The carnage is still being broadcast over the televisions all over the Strip, thanks to the AV efforts of the Rat Woman (although she herself is also dispatched by a Biblical bolt).
Meanwhile, Brentner and Underwood are forgotten in the fracas. Underwood urges Brentner to look up.
Henried narrowly dodges death by a swinging light fixture… only to be caught and decapitated by it on the back swing. Story of his life, huh?
Flagg, agog, watches the destruction culminate in a spectacular display of ball lightening. Flagg sings a little bit to the ball lightening, but it responds by giving him several blasts, which make him look more and more mutilated before he vanishes all together.
Then, the lightening strikes the warhead. Under the water of the pool, Brentner and Underwood hold each others’ hands as the detonation occurs, and a nuclear explosion engulfs New Vegas.
From his position at the bottom of the ditch, Redman sees the sky turn red before the shockwave arrives, bringing dirt and debris with it. Tom Cullen (Brad William Henke) appears in the aftermath and begins to follow the sound of Kojak’s barking.
Back in Boulder, Frannie Goldsmith (Odessa Young) and Joe (Gordon Cormier) are walking when Joe freezes, sensing what had happened. He turns and Goldsmith follows his gaze to see the strange lights in the sky. Joe tells Goldsmith that the Dark Man is gone… But before he can answer her inquiry about what happened to Redman, she goes into labor.
The final episode of The Stand on CBS All Access will be available for streaming Thursday next, on February 11th, 2021.