This is where this adaptation of Stephen King’s book and the book itself deviate quite a bit. Up until now, viewers have been shown a lot of the “good” people of Boulder, Colorado who follow Mother Abigail. Now viewers are shown what’s going on in Las Vegas under the guidance of the Dark Man himself, Randall Flagg.
There were three spies sent by the Committee in Boulder to find out what was going on in Las Vegas and report back to them. Dayna is working on the power station at the Hoover Dam when Lloyd Henried and Julie Lawry, now a couple, come and take her to Las Vegas with them.
In the book, Vegas is depicted as somewhere rather subdued, where everything is akin to how it used to be with everything up and running and some societal order due to the heavy-handedness of Flagg. Everyone has a job and does it. Here, it’s a place of debauchery. I can’t imagine the attraction here unless you’re one of those who have earned Flagg’s favor.
The made up hotel, the Inferno, is the location of Flagg’s seat of power. Inside it looks like the last days of the Roman Empire with sex, drugs, gladiators, and more.
Tom Cullen is there and rather than being embraced by the people with some affection, here he’s treated rather callously. He’s on body detail for the “gladiators” where they fight in the empty pool to the death.
Back in Boulder, Harold is assembling his final message to the residents of the town. He has just seen Weizak, the closest friend he had in town die at the hands of Nadine. They made it look like a suicide, which Larry doubts. It also seems he is having doubts about Harold. He confirms this when Fran asks Larry to search his house while she and Stu have him over for dinner. What neither of them know is that Harold has cameras monitoring not only his home, but someone else’s. It’s a good update from the book using more modern technology that’s available now that wasn’t in the 1970’s.
There’s a good sequence here that’s not in the book where Harold shows how deeply rooted his anger is in the past. He recounts a memory to Fran that she pretend to have with him. He talks bitterly about how much fun she and his sister, Amy, always had together and how they didn’t even bother to take him along.
Larry, meanwhile, goes through Harold’s house and doesn’t find anything alarming. He does spot evidence that Nadine has been there, and notices that even within the locked house Harold keeps the basement locked.
And Mother Abigail begins her self-imposed exile….
There’s a lot to digest in this episode, particularly on the Vegas side. Two of the spies the Boulder Committee sent are featured and are somewhat involved in the decadence going on. Dayna hooked up with Lloyd in the book and here Julie Lawry is the one with him. They bring Dayna into their world, but Julie seems to relish being mean, no matter who it’s to. Though Lloyd seems to relish a lot of the life he’s living, there are a few things that seem to make him uneasy. He’s not totally sold on Flagg, but in debt to him for saving his life so he doesn’t question it.
Stu seems to have developed real empathy towards Harold. It’s noticeable when he tells Harold about finding Weizak dead of an apparent suicide and again at dinner. Stu seems to not even consider the worst about a person until it’s shown to him.
Nadine makes one last half-hearted attempt to deny her destiny. Though I don’t like Amber Heard, she’s doing a good job as Nadine. There’s not much to like about her, except her caring for Joe. I wish Larry had the contrast to Lucy that he had in the book, so that when he refuses Nadine’s offer of sex, it’s really driven home that he’s a better person than he used to be in the beginning.
All in all it’s a well-written and acted episode that help builds the series towards its apex. Every character seemed to get a good amount of airtime and development, and the audience had their first look at what was happening in Vegas. The wheels are starting to come off there, just a little bit, but no one realizes it yet.