CBS All Access's adaptation of Stephen King's The Stand concluded this week with "The Circle Closes", a "coda" of sorts to the story written by King himself. It's an ending that is familiar in some ways for fans of the novel, and new in others as it gives audiences a sense of "what's next" for some of the story's most central characters. Now, series executive producer Benjamen Cavell is breaking down the new ending.
Warning: Warning: spoilers ahead for the series finale of The Stand, "The Circle Closes". If you haven't seen the episode or are unfamiliar with King's novel, now would be a good time to turn back.
The episode sees Fran (Odessa Young) and Stu (James Marsden) leave Boulder to head back east, partly out of homesickness and partly out of unease at just how much "back to normal" things are becoming in Boulder. While this where The Stand generally ends in the book, the episode takes things a bit further by giving Fran a confrontation with Randall Flagg (Alexander Skarsgard after falling into a well in Nebraska. The episode also sees Fran, having stood up to Flagg, briefly reunited with the spirit of Mother Abagail (Whoopi Goldberg) -- and ultimately saved by a mysterious young woman who Cavell said is "some manifestation" of Abagail as well.
"She's clearly real in the same sense, I suppose, that Flagg is real," Cavell told Vanity Fair. "[After his defeat,] Flagg comes back in this slightly altered form where he doesn't quite remember everything that he's been through, but he still clearly has power. And he still clearly has ambition, and he's going to continue to be the opportunist that we've seen him be. [King] has always regarded Mother Abagail and Flagg as two sides of a coin. It had nagged at him that he was able to have Flagg come back in a slightly altered form, but not so Mother Abagail. He found what I think is a really cool, interesting, different way to do it. I think the idea that these forces continue in the world, that there was no such thing as an ending, it's the wheel turning and coming back around."
Cavell also told Den of Geek that the finale was entirely King's creation.
"We didn't break it," Cavell said. "[King] had mentioned that there was this ending that he had been playing with and turning over for 30 years, this thing that had always been nagging him about the ending of the book, which was that Frannie never got her stand...that had always been eating at King. He really wanted to give her a satisfying conclusion to her arc in the book."