The Stand: “The Walk” Review

With only two episode left in the miniseries, “The Walk” both literally and figuratively advances the plot at a faster pace than we’ve seen thus far.  It simultaneously deals with the aftermath of Nadine and Harold’s betrayal, while setting up the ultimate conflict and final titular “stand”, for which the story is named.

(Spoilers Ahead – You’ve Been Warned)

Just Desert
The episode opens with Ezra Miller’s deranged Trashcan Man breaking into a nuclear silo and making off with the warhead that Randall Flagg asked for.  There had been some speculation on whether or not the character was intended to be portrayed as developmentally disabled (which he’s not in the novel), however he clearly knows how to properly remove a warhead from a missile.  So either he’s a secret genius, or perhaps just a savant for things that explode.

It’s something that’s often overlooked in post-apocalyptic fiction, but anything nuclear would still need to be maintained, or there would be Chernobyls everywhere.

Following the explosion, which sadly only killed Nick, Nadine and Harold make their way across the desert towards Vegas.  True to her nature (and the original plan we can assume), Nadine betrays Harold and causes him to crash, leaving him for dead with the vultures.

In his final moments of agony before putting himself out of his misery via gunshot, he writes out an apology and confession.  And while it’s nowhere near as passionate or fervent as his disturbing manifestos were, it’s a passable redemption for a character that was never truly evil, just angry and bitter at the perception that the world didn’t want him.

The desert winds up playing a pivotal role as Mother Abigail instructs her council (minus Frannie, plus Ray) to journey to New Vegas on foot.  In her own final moments, she bequeaths them with this quest, informing them that one will fall.  Frannie is understandably upset at this, knowing that she may never see Stu again.

Deep down, they both know they will probably never see each other again…

Stephen King has always described “The Stand” (which remains his longest novel) as his own “Lord of the Rings”.  Both stories feature an epic adventure with an ensemble of characters, and an ultimate clash between good and evil.  True to its title “The Walk” feels quite reminiscent of “Lord of the Rings” as Stu, Glen, Larry, and Ray journey across the desert.

All the while, there’s a really interesting and compelling about faith and belief.  Mother Abigail told them they had to travel by foot with no food, water, or supplies.  And once they arrive in Vegas, they don’t really have a plan, just the faith that this is what God wants.  Even a lifelong atheist like Glen goes along with this, stating that he’s on this train to the end of the line.

The Fellowship of the Stand

Throughout many of his writings King has been called anti-Christian, however that seems like an unfair label.  He’s featured many villainous characters were who religious (usually Christian) extremists, who took their zeal into dangerous, fire and brimstone territory.  But King himself admits that he believes in God, and “The Stand” is evidence that he does value faith.  It’s safe to say that his issue isn’t with religion itself, just religious zealots who use it to oppress others.

The Final Stand
Tragically, we discover that Stu was the one meant to fall, as he breaks his leg crossing a small ravine.  Reluctantly leaving him behind, the remaining three are met by Lloyd in a limousine in the middle of the desert.  Lloyd tells them that Flagg knew the exact second they’d be coming and that he’s been waiting for them.

Finally getting a rest from walking for weeks, they are driven into the center of New Vegas where Nadine (now pregnant with Flagg’s demon baby) greets them.  To say that this was an awkward moment would be an understatement, given the role Nadine played in killing Nick.

And thus the stage is set for the final two episodes and the climax of this epic tale.  The 1994 miniseries famously (or infamously) ended on an incredibly cheesy note that now seems quite dated.  Given the rocky start this adaptation got off to, it’s incredibly important that it be done right here.

So while the pressure is on, the series has been better in these latter episodes.  Hopefully the trend continues.  Much like “Lord of the Rings”, “The Stand” was long thought to be un-filmable.  The next two weeks will either prove or disprove that once and for all!

The Stand is streaming exclusively on CBS All Access

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