Disclaimer : Spoilers ahead for the sixth episode of Stand, Vigil, below. If you haven’t seen the episode or if you don’t know King’s novel, now’s the time to make up for it.
This week’s episode of Boulder’s Free Zone tried to find Abagail’s (Whoopi Goldberg) mother after she disappeared on last week’s Fear and Loathing show in New Vegas, and also saw Franny (Young Odessa)’s (Owen Teague) suspicions of Harold (Owen Teague) pushing her into action. Meanwhile, in Vegas, Randall Flagg (Alexander Skarsgard) has discovered who the third spy in Boulder is, and sends Trashman (Miller) in search of the latest fire – in this case, a nuclear bomb. Of course, it was in Boulder that things became explosive when Harold and Nadine (Amber Word) executed their plan that radically changed everything for everyone involved.
How has the series changed from Vigil’s book? Read the biggest changes we noticed, but keep in mind that this adaptation of The Stand is based on the full and integral edition of the book, so that’s the basis we’re using for our comparison.
The biggest change in this episode may be controversial for fans of King’s novel: the portrayal of Donald Mervyn Elbert, better known as Trashman. While much has been said about Miller’s iconic role, the actual performance is far from how the book captures the character.
The story of the Trashman is well developed in several chapters of the book, and he is a very believable character. The mentally ill arsonist has had a very difficult and traumatic childhood, and when he is left alone after the captain’s journey, he is able to satisfy his most ardent desires. Randall Flagg is easily drawn to Vegas, but his journey is just as full of pitfalls and horrors as the other characters. At one point, he meets and travels with a character named The Kid, who sexually abuses him. Once in Vegas, Trashman was given a mission, but ended up destroying New Vegas weapons and the pilots Flagg planned to use in an airstrike on Boulder. In the book, he gets the nuke to apologize to Flagg for sabotaging him.
In this episode, we usually start in the same place where we meet Trashi in the book, but this is different. Miller’s version is barely verbal, downright silly, and gives the impression of a poorly conceived caricature of the character. While Trashy is still being summoned to Vegas by Flagg, his entire trip is cut short without anyone knowing who he is. His story is largely left to Miller’s sudden screams and grunts, and when he arrives in Vegas, Flagg basically tells him to find the nuke, which is a pretty big change in the story.
Mother Abagail in the woods
Abagail’s mother’s stay in the desert is another important change. In the book, the details of how Mother Abagail tried to hear the voice of God again are largely hidden from readers. We only learn that it was his will to send the band to Vegas, and that their return was not promised.
In this episode, Abagalle’s mother’s time in the desert includes an encounter with Randall Flagg, who mocks Abagalle’s mother, and an old woman who remains strong in her faith and beliefs. The argument ends with Abagail’s mother looking like a winner – if you can really call her that – but all changing later in the episode thanks to Harold and Nadine.
Franny, Harold and the Bomb.
In the book, Franny never really confronts Harold. She breaks into Harold’s house as her suspicions grow, but finds nothing that could be used as an explosive. However, Franny finds Harold’s manifesto in the series, as well as a bomb, which itself has a different view from that of the book. She also gets into a confrontation with Harold, who finds her in his house. He eventually locks her in his basement and goes to carry out his plan, but Franny manages to escape and runs off to try and stop him.
It should also be noted that the purpose of the bomb is different. In the book, it’s a committee meeting. In this episode, the target is a wake at Abagail’s mother’s house. However, the end result is the same. When the bomb explodes, Nick Andros (Henry Zaga) is killed, but many lives are saved when Joe (Gordon Cormier) finds Abagail’s mother. Joe’s discovery of Mother A is also an invention of the series, but it works exactly like the return of Mother A in the book.
Vegas Tom Escape
Another change in the story of this episode is the way Tom Cullen, the last surviving spy, leaves Vegas. In the book, Tom just sees a full moon in the Vegas sky and, knowing that this is his cue to leave town and return home, he calmly packs his backpack, gets on his bike and leaves town. There is a tense moment that Tom Flagg smells, but for the most part his escape is without drama.
There’s a note from Dayna in this episode stating that last week’s race makes Tom realize he needs to leave, but it’s not an easy and controlled exit. Instead of cycling out of town under the cover of darkness, Tom hides in a truck full of corpses just as Flagg’s men are pursuing him.
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