Television Reviews

CBS All-Access The Stand – Episode 2: Pocket Savior (Spoilers Included)

Pictured (l-r): Jovan Adepo as Larry Underwood and Heather Graham as Rita Blakemoor of the the CBS All Access series THE STAND. Photo Cr: Best Possible Screengrab/CBS ©2020 CBS Interactive, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Being the world’s biggest fan of the book meant I was *really* looking forward to this limited series. The 1994 mini-series was okay, but there were a few mis-steps with that, especially in some of the casting, that made me always feel like it could have been better.

Of course it being 2020 and we’re in the middle of a pandemic gives the series a different feel. I do wonder if there were some cuts made to the series due to the current climate as well. However, the mini-series would be rated R under theatrical guidelines, not made-for-television Expect it to be more gruesome and disturbing than the 1994 adaptation of Stephen King’s book.

This episode, Pocket Savior, is dedicated to the characters of Larry and Lloyd, who will end up on two opposing sides. We also meet some peripheral characters, such as Nadine and Joe. Ralph Brentner of the novel has turned into female Native American, Ray Brentner as well. We get our first glimpse of Nick Andros (I’m hoping we get his story next week, along with Trashcan Man).

Jovan Adepo as Larry Underwood

The changes in Larry from the book are both big and small. Here he’s an African-American musician living in Manhattan. Captain Trips is already raging as he’s struggling to perform with no band. Wayne Stukey, a minor character in the novel, is not the calm voice of reason he was there. Here he supplies Larry with drugs and accuses Larry of stealing the hit song from him. Even Larry’s mother paints Wayne as a n’er-do-well.

In a nearly deserted NYC, he meets the characters that are familiar to readers of the book; the guy who wants to jerk off on home plate at Yankee Stadium, the monster-shouter, and Rita Blakemoor. Unfortunately, we don’t get treated to the walk through the Lincoln Tunnel described in the books. He and Rita are on their way to the GWB when they enter the sewers to get away from men looking to gang-rape her. The GWB was actually the more logical choice, but the phone GPS would not work in the sewers. It needs a clear line to the satellites. Mine quits working when I’m in a parking garage. It’s an update to modern times from the novel, but unfortunately that’s a glaring mistake.

Gordon Cormier as Joe and Amber Heard as Nadine

His story also involved Nadine. She’s not a crazy loon like in the 1994 production, but here so far is closer to the book version. Not much is given out about her yet, but she’s clearly uncomfortable in Boulder. Readers of the book know what her destiny is, but it’s not clear here to people who don’t already know the story.

Larry’s dreams or visions show him being tempted by the dark side or Flagg. He’s picturing himself among the neon signs recognizable as Vegas. The story really makes the point that Larry could have gone either way at this point.

Nat Wolff as Lloyd Henreid

Lloyd’s transgressions that lead to his imprisonment sticks very closely to the events described in the book, though he’s younger than I pictured He’s imprisoned for the shooting of a police officer during an armed robbery, even though he wasn’t the one that pulled the trigger. The story doesn’t dwell on him much as he’s in prison and the guards (and food) stop coming so he does what he has to in terms of survival. In the end, Flagg shows up and he pledges devotion to him.

Alexander Skarsgard as Randall Flagg

From both Larry’s dreams and Lloyd’s encounter with him at the prison, we get a clearer picture of what Flagg looks like; the charming every-man who wouldn’t stand out in a crowd of people.

The flashbacks from Boulder have a bit better feel this time than in the first episode. Larry admits to Stu early on that he was more following Harold than the dreams. Truth is, Larry envisioned Harold to be much different than real life, not to mention the situation. It’s a common thing these days with the internet to get a false impression of people that doesn’t measure up to reality, and that’s the case here. It also emphasizes the fact that Harold has a chance to redeem himself in Boulder.

This second episode is good. The story is well-done and brings in some things from the novel that were missing in the 1994 mini-series as well as giving us a multi-cultural palette of survivors. All in all, this is a really great adaptation so far, with a few errors.

Previous episode in the series (link):  The Stand – Episode One: The End

Next episode in the series (link): The Stand – Episode 3: Blank Page

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