CBS’s The Stand
Ep. 2: “Pocket Savior”
Directed by Tucker Gates
Written by Josh Boone & Benjamin Cavell
* For a recap & review of “The End,” click here.
* For a recap & review of “Blank Page,” click here.
We meet more survivors in this episode, such as Nadine Cross (Amber Heard)—she’s got a necklace with that glistening stone we saw in one of the visions in Episode 1—and Larry Underwood (Jovan Adepo). Nice use of Timber Timbre’s “Demon Host” as Nadine, Larry, and others travel to the Boulder Free Zone where they meet Stu Redman and others outside waiting.
First, we get a look at Larry’s life 5 months ago in NYC. He was playing music, but his band had gotten ill and they weren’t showing up for the latest gig. He was about to head out of there when he ran into his mother. She was starting to come down with the virus too, it seems, though Larry never noticed, going out to perform for the crowd anyway by himself. He talked about “real New Yorkers” not letting a small flu stop them from coming out to a show. Bit familiar rhetoric in 2021, no? A guy named Wayne Stuckey (Darren Dolynski) dropped by, a former roommate, calling Larry out for shitty behaviour over the years. He jumped onstage to fist fight with Larry over having his song stolen. Good show!
Over in Phoenix, Arizona, Lloyd Henreid (Nat Wolff) was being ushered into a cell in prison where even the guards were coughing. He got put in a cell with Gorgeous George—no, not the wrestler. We see he was picked up due to a store robbery with his pal Poke. During the robbery, a woman got killed brutally, and then Poke wanted to force Lloyd to murder the attendant behind the counter. Before that could happen a cop made it through the back, shooting Poke in the neck and starting a gunfight while Weezer’s “Island in the Sun” played in the background. After that Lloyd was arrested.
Back to the present. Stu’s filling Larry in on everything at Boulder, specifically Mother Abagail. She made a list of “five names” including Stu and Larry, who Abagail wanted to run the Free Zone. It’s all a bit strange, of course. Larry hasn’t gotten used to everything quite yet, he’s just arrived. Then there’s Stu—he’s been there a while and he’s gotten the hang of the place. He explains what he can, and he’ll leave the rest to Mother Abagail. Larry asks about Frannie and Harold, having seen their messages along the way. Nadine and little Joe (Gordon Cormier) are getting their own tour of the neighbourhood from Frannie, too. Everybody’s been having the same dreams about Abagail. Or, at least that’s what everyone says… And then there are darker visions visiting them all, as well.
More flashbacks of Larry, waking up next to a woman he probably didn’t know and snorting coke off his phone rather than answering calls from his mother, who may very well be really ill. The woman he woke up with wasn’t feeling well either, waking up with a face and pillow full of snot; may be cocaine, may be Captain Trips, who knows. When Larry slipped out of the apartment he got a call from a hospital about his mother. When he got to the hospital it was overrun with sick people, and body bags were being lined along the floors. He found his mother in horrific physical condition, her neck bloated and her breathing slow. He was getting his mother home and Stuckey came by again with a gun, but the guy was too sick to do anything. This left Lloyd with a drug stash of his own.
The Free Zone has been relatively cleared out. Houses marked with Xs are the ones that have been cleared of the dead, giving people space to live their lives in this new America. Larry meets Ray Brentner (Irene Bedard), a woman helping to keep Mother Abagail safe from any potential threats. He’s then brought in to meet the woman herself. First, he meets Nick Andros (Henry Zaga). After that he’s beckoned by Mother Abagail. As he heads in to see her he remembers a vision of Randall Flagg in the desert.
MORE GODDAMN FLASHBACKS! I’m getting a bit impatient with the series already in Episode 2 because there’s SO MUCH unnecessary back-and-forth between timelines, and with so many characters this just makes everything feel dragged out. Anyway, Larry was on a park bench waking up, taking some drugs from his stash. He saw an old man in a hospital gown wandering eating a bag of chips. The man wanted to go jerk off in the baseball stadium, telling Larry: “We‘ve been freed from society‘s constraints.” And in the background there was intermittent gunfire. Larry soon came upon another survivor, Rita Blakemoor (Heather Graham). She was sitting on a park bench—no, not like Uriah Heep—with her umbrella. She invited Larry to sit with her out of the rain. She had a gun with her, showing off some shooting skills, and they joked a bit together. This led to them going back to her apartment, for food, and for a bit of sexy dessert.
“It’s wonderful that you’re not crazy”
Larry and Rita were getting on the move the next day when they ran into another survivor, offering a million dollars in a suitcase if he could have Rita for fifteen minutes. Yikes! He had more people with him, and things got more serious once he was refused. The men started chasing Larry and Rita after the former fires off a shot to give them time to run. Rita and Larry hid behind a car, hoping to sneak away from their pursuers. The only option left to them was go into the sewers through an open manhole. Larry gave Rita advice to pretend they’re “Ninja Turtles” to get past the disgusting journey ahead of them. They start fraying a bit with Larry snorting coke and Rita wanting to get out of there, only for her to get attacked by rats. She wanted to go back up to the street while Larry gave her the gun and refused to go with her. Larry would keep going only to see a vision of his dead mother’s corpse with rats coming out of it. When Larry finally climbed out of the sewer he ran into none other than Rita. More grim scenes elsewhere in Arizona show Lloyd in jail after most everyone else died, attempting to grab a rat for food and not succeeding. That is true hunger right there. Then Lloyd’s dead cellmate was sitting right there calling out to him. Oh, lord.
At the Free Zone, Larry goes to see Harold and introduces himself, as well as Joe. He mentions following those signs across the country: “What would Harold do?” He brought presents for Harold to thank him, though things were slightly awkward when he asked about Frannie, bringing up sore memories; Larry understands because of how things went with him and Rita on the road. That night, Nadine feels something calling to her from the shelf. She goes to the planchette box and takes it down.
Skip back to Lloyd in his cell when Randall Flagg came to see him. He’d already resorted to cannibalism, taking a chomp out of his dead cellmate. Flagg was curious; I think he liked it, asking how it tasted. Lloyd rambled on a moment, and Flagg started to sing, revealing a big key. He wanted out of that prison, and his visitor was offering a way to do just that, if only Lloyd will follow Flagg and do as he says. Love the use of “Brand New Key” by Melanie at the end.
This episode was much the same as the first. Needs to start picking up! Too many flashbacks.
Let’s hope The Stand quickly starts to tighten up, right now it’s kind of a mess.