The Stand: “The Vigil” Review

Making up for lost time in the first few episodes, the sixth episode of The Stand, “The Vigil” gets a long done with its hour runtime.  There’s a lot to unpack in this episode and we’re definitely getting into spoilers, so consider this your warning!

Making Use of Two Cities
Part of what plagued the earlier episodes was the fact that their A and B plots were jumbled between timelines.  But at this point, we now both Boulder and Vegas thriving (albeit with very different tones) and they’re able to provide concurrent storylines that advance the plot and tension.

The citizens of Boulder are still reeling from the sudden disappearance of Mother Abigail.  Using the upcoming vigil as a deadly opportunity, Harold and Nadine move forward with an assassination plot.

It finally catches Frannie up to where the audience has been for weeks.

By this point, the switch seems to be fully complete as its Harold who zealously wants to carry out his “justified mission” and Nadine who seems to be having second thoughts.  It’s the most conflicted we’ve seen her up until this point, and it definitely humanizes her.

Despite discovering the plan, Frannie is trapped long enough that she can’t warn everyone.  Ultimately, it’s the discovery of Mother Abigail that draws everyone away from the house, except (quite tragically) for Nick, who dies in the explosion.

Meanwhile in Vegas, Flagg is obsessed with discovering who the third spy is.  And even Tom starts to realize that things are closing in around him.  After getting someone to read the “run” note, he smuggles himself out of the city among a truck full of the dead.

We’re also introduced at the episode’s opening to a rather bizarre pyromaniac character played by an almost unrecognizable Ezra Miller.  He’s clearly not all “with it” and almost feels like an evil doppelganger to Tom Cullen.

He’s not the episode that much, but he steals every scene he’s in.

He only gets a few minutes of screen time, as Flagg sends him on a mission to retrieve a nuclear warhead.  But we’ll most certainly be seeing him again in a later episode.

Exploding Tensions
Both cities also featured someone coming close to and eventually reaching their boiling points.  In Boulder, Harold finally unveils his intentions and tells Frannie how he really feels.  Upon discovering his workshop and manifesto, he fully unloads everything that he’s been feeling.

In moment of brilliant acting by Owen Teague, Harold bares his soul and we kind of understand where his frustration was coming from (not that his actions are at all justified).  All his life, he was unpopular, looked down upon, and ultimately ignored by Frannie whom he adored.

If they submit Owen Teague for Emmy nomination, it should be for this episode!

And when the two of them were the last people alive in their town, he fantasized that they would be together.  Until of course they met Stu Redman and joined the Boulder community.  It wasn’t just Frannie’s rejection of him for Stu, but the fact that even in this new society, he’s not one of the “chosen” by Mother Abigail and again remains in a lowly position.

He never dreamed he would have everything he wanted, and then he came very close to getting it, just to lose it all.  To be fair, his constant self-pity isn’t a very attractive trait, but it’s easy to see his frustration.

And even Frannie realizes that while she obviously didn’t owe him a relationship, perhaps she could have at least treated him like he existed.  The same could be said for the “council” of 5, who definitely have a sense of self-importance and believe themselves above everyone else (even if only subconsciously).

If the Boulder plot belonged to Harold, then Flagg definitely stole the spotlight in Vegas.  As previously mentioned, he’s still trying to find that third spy, and becoming increasingly frustrated that he can’t.

Up to now, we’ve only ever seen him as cool and collected, as he recruited naïve people to his side, but here the true narcissistic psychopath emerges.

Especially following one of Lloyd’s men who kills one of the spies, instead of bringing her in alive as ordered.  His dose of “justice” results in an elevator covered in blood.  The scene itself is oddly shot, and honestly could have been scarier or more brutal.  But it’s the most unhinged we’ve seen him up until now.

This is but a glimpse of the immense evil and destruction Flagg is capable of.

Alexander Skarsgård plays Flagg with no redeeming qualities, but he’s an interesting villain because he’s not all powerful or truly omniscient.  Sure, he was able to immediately sense two of the three spies, but given the fact that Tom is always thinking “M-O-O-N”, all he can see is the moon when he attempts to feel it out.

His determination is leading to desperation, which will hopefully make for a very interesting next few episodes.

The Fight to Come
Honestly, next week’s episode is probably the most eagerly anticipated, given the way this one ended.  Harold (and Nadine) will surely be the subject of a city-wide manhunt.  And following Tom’s escape and Flagg’s anger at Boulder sending spies, a conflict is inevitable.

This episode gave us the very first direct interaction between Mother Abigail and Randall Flagg.  It’s a brief and quiet scene, but it did a great job of setting the stage for later, and served as a fun visual representation of both sides coming to a precipice.

What did you think of this week’s episode?  What do you hope to see next week?  Let us know in the comments!

The Stand is streaming exclusively on CBS All Access

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