The fifth episode of The Stand debuted on CBS All Access on Thursday with "Fear and Loathing in New Vegas" taking viewers into Randall Flagg's (Alexander Skarsgard) stronghold for the first time. At the same time, things continued to develop for those in Mother Abagail's (Whoopi Goldberg) Boulder Free Zone after spies were sent off at the end of "The House of the Dead" last week. As has been the case with previous episodes of The Stand, there are some significant differences between Stephen King's book and the series and we're breaking down some of the major ones we spotted as the story begins to move even closer to the showdown between good and evil.
Warning: spoilers ahead for the fifth episode of The Stand, "Fear and Loathing in New Vegas", below. If you haven't seen the episode or are unfamiliar with King's novel, now would be a good time to turn back.
This week's episode follows one of the Boulder Free Zone spies, Dayna Jurgens (Natalie Martinez), as she carries out her work trying to find out details about Flagg's operation there. While that goes on in Vegas, Harold Lauder (Owen Teague) and Nadine Cross (Amber Heard) continue their plans to kills the Committee and Mother Abagail, though Nadine appears to begin to have second thoughts about it as well as her allegiance to Flagg. In many ways, "Fear and Loathing in New Vegas" is a pivotal episode of the series as we get to see just how terrifying Flagg can be, something that Heard has previously said that no one but Skarsgard could do.
"I'm convinced no one else could play this role because -- what this character is meant to do is serve as a surrogate for the devil within us, the one that acts on lower impulses, the one that acts not out of charity but out of selfishness, with less empathy and more cut-throatedness, right? And that's supposed to be a character that we all can relate to or at least identify within ourselves," Heard told Mashable India. "The whole book is a battle between the worst parts of ourselves and the best. Leaning into the latter, he wouldn't be able to build that role and take that place if it wasn't somehow enticing. If he was a monster and it was clear that he was a monster and it will all end terribly if you were to follow him or give in to him then it wouldn't really be interesting, it would be boring, no one will watch it or care because that's not how life works. It's always that thing that's maybe possible to justify."
So, how did the series change things up as compared to the book in "Fear and Loathing in New Vegas"? Read on for the biggest changes we spotted but keep in mind that this adaptation of The Stand is based upon The Complete and Uncut Edition of the book so that's the baseline we're using for our comparison.
Mother Abagail's disappearance
The end of "Fear and Loathing in New Vegas" sees Mother Abagail disappearing from the Boulder Free Zone, with Ray Brentner (Irene Bedard) finding that she's left at the very end of the episode. Mother Abagail's disappearance is an important element of Stephen King's novel, but how it happens is different, timing-wise. In the series, Mother Abagail leaves after the spies are sent to Vegas -- something she's not pleased with. However, the book has Mother Abagail leave before the spies are selected.prevnext
Dayna Jurgens' mission to New Vegas
This might be the most significant shift from page to screen in this episode.
In the book, Dayna's Vegas story is very different. She's also a much more developed character in the book than she is in the series, which makes her ultimate fate more meaningful for the readers. In the book, Dayna is sleeping with Lloyd Henreid (Nat Wolff) and using him as a way to gather information about Vegas and Flagg. It's implied that she's been sleeping with him for a bit of time, allowing her to gather a lot of information, though she's also got a personal backup plan to kill Flagg if the opportunity arises. She ends up brought before Flagg -- who is aware she's a spy -- and kills herself before she can reveal the identity of the third person sent from Boulder.
In the episode, Dayna is working on the infrastructure in Vegas when her questions about Flagg get her noticed by Lloyd and his lady, Julie Lawry (Katherine McNamara). They take her around Flagg's sinful and decadent Vegas before she's delivered to Flagg who attempts to get her to reveal the identity of the third spy. As in the book, Dayna kills herself, though in the episode she uses a broken beer bottle to do so rather than a shard of a broken window.prevnext
Another major change is Julie Lawry. In the book, Julie isn't nearly as flashy or well-connected. In the book, Julie is assigned to manual labor at the Indian Springs airfield -- a task that she absolutely hates. When she sees and recognizes Tom Cullen, she reports him to Lloyd as a possible spy.
The episode elevates Julie significantly, presenting her as Lloyd's girlfriend of sorts while also making it clear how she's manipulating that situation for her own comfort and extravagance. The episode also presents Julie as an even more sinister and morally bankrupt character than she is in the books with her position of "power" likely to come into play in future episodes.prevnext
Nadine and Larry
Nadine and Larry's relationship is another thing that is different in the books. In the book, Nadine and Larry are very much attracted to one another and are, in a sense, co-parenting Joe, though Nadine has openly rejected Larry's advances (thanks to Flagg). This leads Larry to be with a woman from their party named Lucy Swan, though he still has feelings for Nadine. In the book, Nadine makes a final advance on Larry, begging him to take her virginity and be with her in what she believes will save her from Flagg. Larry turns her down in the book because he chooses Lucy instead.
In the episode, Nadine does still plead with Larry to be with her and he does still turn her down, but for a different reason. Nadine approaches Larry right as he's about to go snoop in Harold's house, though he doesn't dismiss Nadine's interest in him. He's simply on a timeline and is taken aback by how sudden and direct things are and appears to want to take a step back and talk about this more rather than simply take advantage of her -- a move that shows great personal growth for Larry as a character.prevnext
This one is pretty straightforward. In the book, Rat Man is, well, a man. Here, Rat Woman is female, played by Fiona Dourif. The change is not a surprise as it's one that has been discussed even before the series' debut, but this episode is the first we see of her in action.prevnext
In the book, while Dayna recognizes Tom, she is never able to warn him. Instead, Tom completes his mission exactly as expected and, when he sees the appointed phase of the moon, quietly leaves Las Vegas to begin the journey back to Boulder.
In the episode, Dayna recognizes Tom almost immediately and even manages to get a message to him telling him to run before she's brought before Flagg.prevnext
New Vegas itself
This one might be a difference that some fans of the book would consider debatable.
While Flagg's Vegas is certainly presented as being counter to everything Mother Abagail is trying to create, he book places an emphasis less on a decadent city of sin and more on a tightly controlled, highly efficient city where everyone has a job, much of it in some sort of public works. Everything is strictly managed here, including personal expression and who is caring for the children in the community. Illicit drugs are specifically noted to be forbidden and use of them is punishable by crucifixion.
The episode shows a Vegas that is pretty much Sin City on steroids and, at one point, we even see Julie do a line of cocaine in the room she shares with Lloyd.prev