The second episode of The Stand debuted on CBS All Access on Thursday and while last week's "The End" introduced viewers to a handful of the story's major characters as well as the terrifying super flu that brings their paths together, this week's "Pocket Savior" introduces viewers to even more significant characters -- including a proper introduction to Randall Flagg. However, while the nine-part limited series is largely a faithful adaptation of Stephen King's epic novel of the same name, this episode also contained some significant differences from the page to the screen and we're breaking down some of the major ones we spotted as the story deepens.
Warning: spoilers ahead for the second episode of The Stand, "Pocket Savior", 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 introduces audiences to Larry Underwood (Jovan Adepo), Nadine Cross (Amber Heard), and Lloyd Henreid (Nat Wolff), three characters who each figure into the overall story of The Stand in a major way. While Larry and Nadine make their way to Mother Abagail's Boulder Free Zone, it's through Lloyd that viewers first truly meet Randall Flagg (Alexander Skarsgard). Lloyd, as fans soon learn, ends up being Flagg's right hand man, a complex character that Wolff recently told ComicBook.com he felt lucky to play.
"I think for me it was playing somebody who was not just an evil henchman, but he was a lost soul whose weakness was capitalized on by Randall Flagg," Wolff said. "And he reminded me of one of those people you see in a documentary about a cult leader who follows the cult leader, who you see them and they seem like this totally normal person or maybe a damaged person but not evil and then they end up doing these atrocious things and you can't believe it. It was my favorite character in the book by far. I felt so lucky to get to play it."
So, how did the series change things up as compared to the book in "Pocket Savior"? 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.
For fans of King's book, one of the biggest changes in "Pocket Savior" may be Larry Underwood's backstory. In the book, Larry has a pretty expansive backstory that paints a clear portrait of a man who is a bit selfish, a bit careless, and a bit shallow. In the book, Larry is a musician who went to California to make his name and has some breakthrough success with a hit single, but he quickly finds himself living the high life spending money he doesn't have on lavish parties and drugs. He returns to New York City to stay with his mother just as Captain Trips begins to sweep through the population. The book largely focuses on Larry as a self-centered man, setting the stage for his personal growth and transformation as the story continues.
In the series, the focus is more on Larry's drug use when we get our first look at his pre-Captain Trips life. He's shown to be a moderately successful up and coming musician preparing for his album release show by doing drugs, drinking, and freaking out since his band is all down with the flu. He's a big verbally abusive, dismissive of his mother who comes to see him play, and its hinted at that he's actually a plagiarist when his drug dealer/former roommate shows up and accuses him of stealing a major component of his hit song.
While the centering of Larry's less positive attributes is a bit different, the portrayal ends up being very accurate to the core of the character, making it one of the finer updates in the series.prevnext
Larry's journey west
Another notable difference is that Larry's journey from New York to Boulder. In the book the journey is more detailed and we see him meet up with Nadine, Joe, and several others in stories that help flesh out not only some of Larry's relationships with those characters and shift Larry's personality, but also begins to flesh out Nadine as well. In the book, the suicide of Larry's first travel partner, Rita Blakemoor (played in the series by Heather Graham) is also a bit more graphic.
In the episode, viewers spend a good amount of time with Larry and Rita as they make their escape from New York City -- and there's a big change in how they get out of the city swapping the tunnel for the sewer -- but not as much time is spent with Nadine and Joe, a move that removes some of the developing tension between the characters. Additionally, Rita's death is handled a bit differently, with her suicide being presented a bit more tragically and elegantly.prevnext
A very visible change in "Pocket Savior" is the physical appearance of Nadine Cross. In the novel, Nadine is described as being very pretty, but also as having very striking black hair with shocks of white through it. The book describes those white streaks as being the result of supernatural encounters with Randall Flagg.
In the episode, with Nadine played by Heard, she simply has long blonde hair.prevnext
Another backstory that is a bit condensed in the episode is that of Lloyd Henreid, Randall Flagg's right hand man. In the novel, readers get not only details about the crime spree that leads Lloyd to be in jail when Captain Trips breaks out, but we get a lot of detail about the legal predicament he is in as well as a bit more insight into his personality. Lloyd begins to get an idea of how dire a situation he is in as Captain Trips disrupts things in the prison prompting him to attempt to hoard food, showing readers that he is at his core someone determined to survive while also setting up for how desperate he is when Flagg finds him.
In "Pocket Savior", the most of Lloyd's backstory we really get is the robbery of the convenience store that sees him arrested as a "cop killer" before things mostly move forward to a point in which Captain Trips has left Lloyd starving in a cell as everyone around him dies. It's at the point where he's so desperate that he's likely tried eating his cellmate that Flagg shows up and releases him in exchange for his loyalty. While the beats of the story are mostly the same, the episode cuts out most of the character development for Lloyd.prevnext
The Boulder Free Zone
This difference is another one that appears to have been made in the name of saving time, but it's noteworthy in that it subtly changes some of the story. In the novel, while various characters have been having dreams of Mother Abagail, it isn't exactly like she has a checklist of who is to serve in what capacity and a set structure for how things are to be in Boulder. Instead, things in the Boulder Free Zone come together more out of necessity as more and more survivors start showing up prompting a need for order. When Larry and his party arrives, they know he's coming only because of radio communications and he isn't immediately trusted.
In the episode, Stu Redman (James Marsden) is waiting for Larry and his party at the "entrance" to Boulder and tells him that Mother Abagail knew he was coming and that he was one of the people she was told would lead, for lack of a better term. It's also worth noting that the series does not have Nadine and Joe meet Mother Abagail in this episode and also shows Mother Abagail living in a much more modest house than what the book chooses for her residence. In the book, much is made of her Boulder home, including it's "trash masher" that she hopes to try out once electricity is restored.
Viewers may also notice one additional noteworthy change in Boulder as well. In the book, Ralph Brentner is a man while in the series, the character is now Ray Brentner, a woman (with the character played by Irene Bedard.
The first two episodes of The Stand is now streaming on CBS All Access. New episodes drop every Thursday.prev