Following a premiere episode that was okay at best, The Stand really picked things up in the second episode “Pocket Savior”. The nonlinear timeline still seems like an odd choice, but it’s put to much better use here. It also helps that the series has already introduced the Captain Trips virus, so this episode is free to focus more on character, and that’s definitely what it does.
Already on the Run
Similar to Lost, The Stand seems to be taking the approach of using episodes to highlight a specific character(s), while using the flashbacks to help flesh out their backstory. Here, it’s done with Larry Underwood and Lloyd Henreid.
Following a robbery gone wrong, Lloyd ends up in prison, having been convicted for the at least three deaths that resulted. Clearly he’s in over his head, and once the plague begins, we get a very chilling and relevant look at how it ravages through the prison system, and there’s not much done for the people inside.
When the guards (and rest of the world) seems to turn their backs on Lloyd, leaving him starving in his cell for days, his only ally is ultimate Stephen King villain Randall Flagg. Despite this being a series of supernatural proportions, it’s a sobering reminder that when people are treated like garbage (no matter how deserved we think it is), the only place left to turn is toxic people who tell them what they want to hear and make them worse.
Trying to be Found
The episode opens with the introductions of Larry, Nadine, and a little boy they found, whom they call Joe. They arrive and Boulder and are greeted by Stu and Larry has his audience with Mother Abigail.
This is where the nonlinear function comes into play, as these characters are mysterious to the audience at this point, and we slowly learn about them. Larry’s story was already a bit tragic as he struggled with both a budding music career, addiction, and a friendship that was turning violent (due to drugs and alleged plagiarism).
For Larry, it almost feels as if the world ending gave him a second chance, now with all the rules and norms of society gone. He meets a beautiful upper class woman named Rita (Heather Graham) and they enjoy the illusion of normality, even if it’s only very brief.
Their fling sheds a light on the different ideologies about existing in a post-apocalyptic world. For some, the instinct for survival kicks in, and for others, it’s hard to find a reason to even go on. The latter group will then sometimes question whether or not it would have been better had they died as well.
Direction of the Miniseries
Some of the admitted concerns from the first episode have somewhat been quelled. It’s likely that the next few episodes will highlight one or two characters that way this one did. The only potential issue is this format won’t work forever, once the good vs. evil plot begins to fully take off. As of now, it’s just taking its time, setting up the society in Boulder, and eventually Flagg’s settlement in Las Vegas (for those who know).
But, in the spirit of giving credit where credit’s due, “Pocket Savior” was a huge improvement over “The End”. Its focus was where it needed to be, and it asked some very big and relevant questions that would come with the stressful and horrible world that the series exists in. So here’s to hoping this positive trend continues!
What did you think of “Pocket Savior”? What do you hope to see in the rest of the miniseries? Let us know in the comments!
The Stand is streaming exclusively on CBS All Access