Episode six of CBS All Access's adaptation of Stephen King's The Stand is a turning point for the series. With only three episodes remaining, the story is ever closer to an ultimate confrontation between Mother Abagail's Boulder Free Zone and the forces of Randall Flagg. Last week, Mother Abagail (Whoopi Goldberg) left on a spiritual quest while Flagg (Alexander Skarsgard) tried to figure out who the third Boulder spy is. Simmering in the background, however, is Frannie's (Odessa Young) suspicions about Harold (Owen Teague) and that comes to a head in "The Vigil" in a way that is very different from the book but is something showrunner Benjamin Cavell felt was critical for the series.
Warning: spoilers for the sixth episode of The Stand, "The Vigil", below.
In the episode, Frannie breaks into Harold's house and discovers not only his manifesto but that he's been building a bomb in his basement. Before she can leave and warn people, however, Harold returns and the two have a confrontation in which the two have to truly face one another. It's a tense and dramatic scene that ends with Harold locking Frannie in the basement before he heads off to carry out his plans, but it's a scene Cavell said was very important.
"It was hugely important," Cavell told Den of Geek. "It felt, in some way, like that's what we've been building to in that relationship. We've seen Harold hiding his real face from her from the very first episode. He's at such great pains to put on a show for her at various times. I mean, both in Ogunquit (Maine) and then later in Boulder, he rehearses before going to see her. So it felt like we needed to get to the moment where all of that is pulled away. There's no subterfuge, they're just sort of naked in front of each other."
Cavell also addressed the differences in the story as compared to Stephen King's book. The book does not feature a face-to-face confrontation but we do get diaries from both characters. The series' change is something Cavell felt made a bit more sense.
"Some of that stuff about the diaries in the book also feels a little flimsy to me if you start to really go through it," he said. I mean, I've never understood why they find Harold's diary, and then they don't confront him about it. That just seems to me to be almost insane. He's talking about these terrible things that he is going to do to people in Boulder, and not only is there no follow-up with it, they don't even really seem to keep an eye on him."
He continued, "So yeah, the dueling diaries just didn't seem like something that would lend itself to the screen," Cavell adds. "I mean, we did a little bit in the show of each of them writing a diary, but it felt like that was going to be a stand-in for a real confrontation scene between them, and I'm so happy we did one."
The first six episodes of The Stand are now streaming on CBS All Access. New episodes arrive every Thursday.