CBS All Access
Season 1 Episode 4
The House of the Dead
The politics of the Free Zone takes center stage in the new episode as the committee has to not only deal with a growing group of citizens who have questions about when the power will be back on, but also what happened to the man they brought into town who died. The scene cuts between the group trying to allay the concerns of the crowd while also trying to keep secrets. There is some interesting personal drama in the scene with Stu (James Marsden) wrestling with his conscious as questions mount about the man and what his presence means for the community.
Harold’s (Owen Teague) arc continues as he deals with his feelings of anger towards the committee, especially Stu. This is the perfect opportunity for Flagg to send Nadine Cross (Amber Heard) to seduce him. It’s awkward and uncomfortable to watch, but not in the ways intended. Heard is so emotionally detached in the scene that I never bought it. While Owen Teague’s Harold capably portrays the confusion and innocence the scene requires, Heard is wooden.
The episode also expands on the circumstances that brought Stu and Fran together. In one of the only truly intense scenes in the series so far, Harold and Fran find themselves stuck and menaced by a psycho who believes that he is destined to be the alpha of his own pack and has two kidnapped women with him and intentions on making Fran the third. The scene culminates in Harold being viciously beaten by the man in front of Fran before Stu and Glen arrive. It’s a good scene that showcases the danger they face traveling in this new world, but it does go on about two minutes too long.
Teague does a really good job as Harold throughout the episode. His simmering rage is well kept beneath the surface and the moments when he looks like he’s about to lose it are amplified in his eyes. The plot them begins to move forward quickly as the committee (with little to no context) decides to recruit spies to travel to Vegas and report back. One of the spies in question prompts Nick to remember his time on the road with Tom Cullen and his run in with Julie Lowry (Katherine McNamara). Another good scene that could have been made better with any emotional build up or character development.
With the power committee getting the electricity back on, Harold and Nadine get going with the next part of their plan. A plan that starts with tragedy.
Four episodes in, The Stand starts to get into the meat of the story. While there are some good scenes to be had in this episode, nothing feels earned yet. Many of the scenes feel like plot points to be checked off and the only really engaging performance in the episode goes to Owen Teague’s Harold Lauder. No one else gives any kind of dynamic performance, especially Whoopi Goldberg, who seems relegated to set dressing. I’ve been waiting for something to happen in this series since the first episode and I find myself still waiting.