The Stand: “The House of the Dead” Review

After an admittedly weak opening, CBS All Access’ The Stand is finally starting to find its place and gets its narrative going.  The fourth episode, titled “The House of the Dead” started to build some tension.  And while it didn’t quite use the nonlinear narrative effectively, it wasn’t as clunky as it has been in the first three episodes.  Is this false hope, or is the series actually getting better?  Let’s find out!

(Spoilers Ahead – You’ve Been Warned)

The Betrayal
Seemingly done with character introductions, the episodes begins with the unofficial “Council of Five” trying to keep and maintain order in Boulder.  While they bring the community together with promises to restore the power grid and get electricity back, Nadine commences her mission as ordered by Randall Flagg.

Manipulating Harold’s insecurities, she comes to him and appeals to his sexual frustration with Frannie by seducing him.  We’ve seen Harold go from innocent loner to entitled creep over the course of the apocalypse, and then still getting rejected by Frannie, even when they’re among the last people left.

Amber Heard playing a seductress with ulterior sinister motives isn’t that much a stretch…

In a series filled with questionable decisions, credit is certainly due to actor Owen Teague for portraying a character that we sympathize with at the beginning, and tragically watch him decline.  His mindset comes close to what is currently known as “incel culture”, but it’s easy to see why Nadine’s advances are more than enough to convince him to commit evil.

As for Nadine, we don’t get much a vibe from her.  Because of the way this series jumps around so much, it’s difficult to flesh out a character arc for her.  She seems to just be going along with Flagg but she’s not zealous enough to seem like she’s a true follower, and not hesitant enough to seem like a reluctant one.  She’s just sort of there and does things.  If anything, Harold seems more fervent about their plan.

The Brave Trio
Following the impending threats from Vegas, the Five decide (without Mother Abigail’s knowledge) to send a trio of spies to gather information about the other group of survivors.  Again, the weakness of this timeline is on display here as, aside from Tom Cullen whom we met briefly before, these characters were only just introduced in this episode, and we don’t know that much about them.

The next episode will hopefully feature these three in main roles.

As for Cullen himself, his friendship with Nick remains a wholesome component of the story, as it did in the previous adaptation and the novel.  That said, he does come off as cartoonish and not very realistic to people with intellectually disabled.  Granted, it’s accurate to the source material, but King didn’t exactly write the character with much realism back when the book was published in the late 70’s.

At the very least, the plot seems to be moving forward, and “The House of the Dead” is arguably the best of the season so far.  Although that’s not saying much only four episodes in.  Hopefully this trend continues and the miniseries ends on a higher note than it started on.

At least, the episode did give us our brief Stephen King cameo!

What did you think of this week’s episode of The Stand?  Let us know in the comments!

The Stand is streaming exclusively on CBS All Access

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