The Stand: “Fear and Loathing in New Vegas” Review

Now that the miniseries is halfway over, The Stand is finally ramping up for what hopes to be a much better second half.

The aptly titled “Fear and Loathing in New Vegas” deals with dual sets of spies in their prospective cities and the challenges that come with that.  It thankfully trades the messed up timeline for actual suspense and tension.

Dayna and Tom
The episode opens with Dayna in New Vegas, working in a factory.  However, she’s noticed by Julie Lawry (whom we last saw chasing Nick and Tom with a shotgun) and meets Lloyd (whom we last saw being freed by Flagg in his prison cell).

Dayna steals this episode!

With Lloyd as his right hand man, Flagg has built a city of excess and debauchery with fights to the death for entertainment, and people “mating” out in full public view (so it’s a slightly exaggerated form of actual Vegas).

Poor Tom is relegated to cleaning up the bodies of the ill-fated competitors in the fighting pit, while Dayna experiences a life of luxury, but never falters from her mission.

Tom is too good and innocent for this harsh world.

She eventually gets a face to face meeting with Flagg, and it’s legitimately one of the most suspenseful scenes we’ve seen in the series thus far.

Nadine and Harold
Immediately we see a contrast between these two and Harold seems incredibly eager to fulfill his mission, while Nadine seems to be having second thoughts.

In some ways, she feels like she never really had a choice, and after a poignant conversation with Mother Abigail, she seems to be pondering her fate and whether she has to follow Flagg’s orders.

Harold on the other hand continues down his path of domestic terrorist, frighteningly reminiscent of real life mass shooters.  Frannie invites him over for dinner to give Larry a chance to search his house.

He’s very bad at not looking weird or creepy…

What follows is an incredibly awkward dinner scene, where Harold points out just how much Frannie ignored him, even as a kid.  While she does feel a bit guilty for it now, it doesn’t change that fact that Harold’s being really creepy about it.

Best Episode Thus Far
Without a doubt, “Fear and Loathing in New Vegas” is the best episode of this series up to this point, and that’s not something said lightly.  Not only does it mark the first time we’re seeing New Vegas itself, but its use of the city as a juxtaposition to Boulder is kind of brilliant.

It could almost be described as a post-apocalyptic tale of two cities, both with very different vibes and souls.  And it pulls this off for the most part by showing, rather than telling.

It’s also the first time that we see just how threatening Randall Flagg can be, as well as the first time Mother Abigail comes off as relatable rather than prophetic.

Randall Flagg remains one of King’s most iconic villains and we’re finally getting a portrayal of him worthy of his reputation.

It’s a strong episode that hopefully sets the tone and trend for the final few to come.  We’re now at the point in the series where the narrative will start building to its climax that proved downright un-filmable in 1994 and many are curious to see how they do it now!

What did you think of “Fear and Loathing in New Vegas”?  Let us know in the comments!

The Stand is streaming exclusively on CBS All Access

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