CBS All Access
Season 1 Episode 9
The Circle Closes
One of the draws of this new adaptation of Stephen King’s bestselling novel is that the author himself has written a new coda for the story. A new conclusion to his epic story. While the rest of the miniseries has not lived up to King’s material or his characters, I was curious to see how the writer chose to end this saga.
The central focus of the story is on Fran Goldsmith, who has been relegated to a glorified background character throughout this series. The only member of the Free Zone Committee left in Boulder, Fran can see that things are slowly changing around her in ways that make her question whether humanity has learned anything from its brush with extinction. Things get more dramatic when she has her baby.
There is solemn somberness to this episode that reveals what could have been emotionally in this series. The next scene also has the level of tension the series has lacked as well with the revelation that everything might not be as over as they think. The journey elements that the story needed to convey the vastness of the country are present as well and you get a sense of adventure as Stu and Fran leave Boulder and decide to head back to Maine.
As they enter Nebraska, the couple decide to stop for the night and there is a strange presence in the cornfield outside the house they decide to hold up in. A presence that hides a young girl in the rows with strange gifts. When Stu goes into town for supplies, Fran decides to see if the old water pump in the back of the house still works. There is a level of tension throughout this moment that is palpable, especially when Stu is detained and Fran runs into trouble. Trouble that finds her face to face with Randall Flagg.
Flagg shows Fran a vision and gives her a choice. A choice that will save her life, but also give Flagg what he needs in return. The themes of faith and temptation are woven throughout their encounter and continue on as Stu returns and finds the mysterious young girl watching over the baby. More drama ensues and culminates in a moment of revelation for both Stu and Fran. A moment that encompasses what their real struggle was about the whole time and how the struggle continues.
Stephen King’s new coda for The Stand isn’t perfect, but it manages to do in 48 minutes what the entire miniseries failed to do, make me care about the characters in this world and what happens to them. By focusing on the characters, their struggles both external and internal, this episode conveys tension, terror, heart, emotion and humanity. The themes of a continuous struggle are perfectly laid out and manage to convey hope rather than sadness. It’s a shame the rest of the series lacked what this episode was able to convey.