The fourth episode of the CBS All-Access limited series based on the book by Stephen King starts delivering more of the core story of the battle between good and evil. The superflu has pretty much burned itself out by now, and those that have survived it have gathered in two factions in the United States.
This episode starts by showing Stu, Fran Nick, Larry, and Glenn preparing for the “Big Meeting,” but really this is another Harold episode. There’s a lot more about him in this episode than anyone else, really.
In the book, Stu held his own as the chairman of the big meeting. In this adaptation, the rest of the committee puts Stu up to it, but he’s not up to the task. Larry’s personality of a rock star working the audience comes through and he sets up the audience to be more receptive to Stu.
Harold does stand up and nominate the committee as he does in the book. However, he’s not out in public with Nadine. It’s after this meeting that she comes to him. It’s one of those points where he, once again, could have found his place with the community, but falters.
A flashback to their time on the road to Boulder shows Fran’s rejection of Harold when he comes to her, before Stu and Glenn join up with them. The next day, Harold and Fran run into a truck jackknifed across the road. Turns out it’s not really a jackknifed trailer, but a trap. Harold is humiliated in front of Fran before Stu and Glenn come on the scene.
I’m missing the development of Stu & Fran’s relationship. She sits with Stu outside the bus they sleep in that night when the two of them can’t sleep and she opens up to him, but it doesn’t necessarily feel romantic at that point. She’s been with Harold all the way and felt like she was having to be strong with him; that she couldn’t let her guard down and confess that she was pregnant and how scared she was. We go from the two of them being on the road with the caravan to being together in Boulder.
With his duty on the body crew done, Harold joins up with the City Watch with his buddy Weizak. Unfortunately, this is what gives him the lead in what he needs for him and Nadine to complete their “task” before they can depart to the West. And it also will mean the end of his connection to a friend in Boulder.
Glenn, Larry, Stu, Nick, and Fran send the spies the same as in the book. The character of Tom Cullen isn’t as developed in the series as it was in the book, although it’s apparent they all have a deep affection for him. There is a flashback scene of him with Nick that shows them meeting Julie Lawry, another character I thought was going to disappear from the canvas. His interaction with anyone else, though, isn’t shown.
One other thing I don’t like is that Ray Brentner (Irene Bedard) is really not involved in the committee and all of the decisions, despite being there in the book (as Ralph Brentner). The changes to the Boulder Committee from a bunch of white men, with the exception of Fran, to a multi-cultural melting pot is a good one. I liked that they made Fran able to understand sign language, since her brother was deaf, so she is able to communicate with Nick and translate for the rest, rather than having him continually writing on paper and read aloud.
There’s also no character of Lucy who helps temper Larry and see him change from the “not a nice guy” to a good human being. It’s a few characters like these that are missing that could have been a good addition. Were they cut for time? I don’t know,
Other than those few minor complaints adapting the book for this series, I have really been enjoying this. I find it to be much better fleshed out than the 1994 mini-series adaptation. I like all of the characters so far as well as the actors who portray them. Owen Teague is leading the way right now as Harold, but I think it’s because the writers of the screenplay saw a lot of this as his story to tell. Odessa Young is terrific so far as Fran. She was a character dear to me in the book and Molly Ringwald just didn’t cut it in 1994. She also didn’t have a lot of chemistry with Gary Sinise as Stu, and tended to grate on me. Odessa Young and James Marsden are good together except for the lack of depth to their storyline. I’m hoping that more might come later in a flashback.
If you’re this far invested, I’d highly recommend continuing. If you’re a fan of the book and have been resisting watching the current adaptation, give it a try.
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