We come to the end of The Stand limited series that picks up after the nuclear explosion that destroyed New Vegas.
In Boulder, after going into labour at the end of episode 8, Frannie has now given birth to her child. Naming the child Abagail, after their spiritual leader, Frannie is mortified when the child comes down with Captain Tripps. Struggling with the notion of ending the baby’s life before the virus does we see Frannie lying in bed beside her child. In a shocking turn, Frannie gets out of bed to see that her child has recovered from the virus. This marks the first time that someone has recovered from Captain Tripps and injects the survivors in Boulder with new hope that their world will move forward.
Soon after the recovery of her baby Frannie, along with the other survivors in Boulder, are at a memorial for all of the fallen when she turns to see Stu and Tom Cullen standing behind her. Their journey back to Boulder is not told but the relief from Frannie and others is clear. It is also in this scene that Stu gets to meet his daughter. It is an emotionally charged scene that is expertly acted by all involved. There were some tears in the house when watching this scene.
Following the emotional reunion, months go by and we are at the Boulder Fourth of July celebration. During a slow dance, Frannie expresses her want to travel back to Maine because of course, a Stephen King story will have Maine as a setting at some point. Agreeing to this trip Stu, Frannie, and baby Abagail load up a truck and strike out on the road. Before they go they say goodbye to the remaining main characters, including Tom Cullen.
Brad Henke, as Tom, was fantastic throughout the series. Playing a mentally challenged man Henke brought strength to the character that some may not have been able to. Cullen was one of the true heroes of the story and this was played to perfection by Henke.
On their road trip to the east coast, Frannie and Stu decide to make a stop at a farmhouse in Nebraska. When they first arrive the mood changes and we can feel that there is something ominous on the horizon. This continues while Stu is in the local city grabbing supplies leaving Frannie, and their child, at the house. While trying to use the water pump out back Frannie is surprised by Flagg appearing behind her, sending her tumbling into the well, breaking several bones. The surprise appearance by Flagg was foreshadowed earlier on in the episode when we see his trademark smiley face button wink at the camera.
When she is lying at the bottom of the well we see Frannie wake up in a jungle environment. She quickly learns that Flagg is there and he is trying to tempt her, saying that she can be ok again and live a happy life as long as he gets a kiss. Knowing that he is not telling her everything Frannie bites the lip of Flagg and runs off into the jungle. By resisting Flagg Frannie makes her stand against evil and is rewarded by coming back to the real world. There she is saved by a returning Stu and a little girl who had appeared earlier in the episode but whose origins were unknown. After healing Frannie’s injuries we are lead to believe that this little girl is a younger version of Mother Abagail.
We then meet up with Stu and Frannie as they have arrived on the east coast and discuss their family and their future lives together.
The limited series ends with a naked Dark Man walking up to a lost tribe in the jungle and demanding that they worship him. He raises himself into the air, using their fear to fuel his power and the show fades to black on a smiling Randall Flagg.
There have been many adaptations of Stephen Kings’ work over the years but this limited series has to be near the top of the list.
The acting during the series was fantastic. Each actor had an understanding of their character that helped to make a connection with the audience. We felt for each survivor in Boulder and the struggle that they went through in the new world.
Also, the actors who played the evil characters, Flagg, Nadine, and Harold specifically, created despicable characters. The fact that we wanted to see these characters die/get their comeuppance so bad was a testament to the job that each did.
Acting aside the sound design and music choice for the series was perfect. Using classic rock songs was a creative idea that works. Each song related to the theme of every episode and this was a great way to cap off each climax.
The cinematography was also beautiful throughout the series. Having a backdrop of the United States gave the creators plenty of scenery to work with and they explored every angle. Showing the vastness of the U.S gave us a grander feeling during the story and helped to further compound the hero’s journey.
As a Stephen King fan, I was excited to see that a limited series was being done on The Stand. It was one of his most epic stories and has never really been given the justice it deserves. Let’s hope that the success of this series will spawn some great Stephen King adaptations in the future.