The sixth episode of The Stand debuted on CBS All Access on Thursday with "The Vigil" not only dealing a heavy blow to Mother Abagail's followers in the Boulder Free Zone but also introduced viewers to one of the most-eagerly anticipated characters in the nine-part limited series, Trashcan Man, played by Justice League star Ezra Miller. While every episode of The Stand thus far has seen some changes from page to screen, "The Vigil" may be the most different from Stephen King's novel yet with quite a few shifts and updates to the story as well as to some of the characters as well. As the series heads into some of its most action-packed plot points yet, we're breaking down those major differences.
Warning: spoilers ahead for the sixth episode of The Stand, "The Vigil", below. If you haven't seen the episode or unfamiliar with King's novel, now would be a good time to turn back.
This week's episode saw the Boulder Free Zone trying to find Mother Abagail (Whoopi Goldberg) after she disappeared in last week's "Fear and Loathing in New Vegas", as well as saw Frannie's (Odessa Young) suspicions about Harold (Owen Teague) prompt her to take action. Meanwhile, in Vegas, Randall Flagg (Alexander Skarsgard) realized who the third spy from Boulder is while also sending Trashcan Man (Miller) on a quest to obtain the ultimate fire -- in this case, a nuclear bomb. Of course, it's Boulder where things got explosive as Harold and Nadine (Amber Heard) carried out their plan, dramatically changing everything for all involved.
So, how did the series change things up as compared to the book in "The Vigil"? 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.
The biggest shift in this episode is one that may be controversial for fans of King's novel: the portrayal of Donald Merwin Elbert, better known as The Trashcan Man. While much was made of Miller's casting in the iconic role, now that it's here, the actual portrayal is far from how the book establishes the character.
In the book, Trashcan Man's story is well-developed over several chapters and he is a very sympathetic character. The mentally ill pyromaniac had a very difficult and traumatic childhood and, when left alone in the wake of Captain Trips, is free to indulge in his deepest fire-starting desires. He's easily lured to vegas by Randall Flagg, but his journey along the way is as fraught with difficulty and horror as any of the other characters -- at one point he encounters and travels with a character named The Kid who brutalizes him sexually. Once he gets to Vegas, Trashy is given a job but ends up destroying New Vegas' weapons and the pilots Flagg intended to use to carry out an air raid on Boulder. In the book, he obtains the nuclear device as a way to apologize to Flagg for his sabotage.
In the episode, while we generally start in the same place we meet Trashy in the book, everything is different. Miller's version of the character is barely verbal, openly deranged, and comes across as an ill-considered caricature of the character. While Trashy is still summoned to Vegas by Flagg, his entire journey is cut from the story, giving us no understanding of who he is. His story is largely left to Miller's off-the-wall screeching and grunting and, upon arriving in Vegas, Flagg essentially tells him to go find the nuke, something that is a pretty big shift in the story.prevnext
Mother Abagail in the woods
Mother Abagail's time in the wilderness is another major change. In the book, the details of Mother Abagail's time trying to get back to hearing God's voice are mostly kept from readers. All we learn is that it is his will to send a group to Vegas and that their return was not promised.
In the episode, Mother Abagail's time in the wilderness includes a face-off with Randall Flagg with Flagg taunting Mother Abagail and the old woman continuing to remain strong in her conviction and faith. The face-off ends with Mother Abagail seemingly the "victor" -- if you can really call it that -- but that all changes later in the episode thanks to Harold and Nadine.prevnext
Frannie, Harold, and the bomb
In the book, Frannie never really confronts Harold. She does break into Harold's house as her suspicion of him grows, but she doesn't really find anything in terms of explosives. In the series, however, Frannie full-on finds Harold's manifesto as well as the bomb -- which itself is of a different design in the series as compared to the book. She also ends up having a confrontation with Harold who finds her in his home. He ends up locking her in his basement and takes off to carry out his plan, though Frannie manages to escape and races to try to stop things.
It's also worth noting that the target of the bomb is different. In the book, it's a committee meeting. In the episode, the target is a vigil at Mother Abagail's house. The end result, however, is the same. When the bomb detonates, Nick Andros (Henry Zaga) is killed, though many lives are saved when Joe (Gordon Cormier) finds Mother Abagail. Joe's discovery of Mother A is also an invention of the series, but it functions the same way as Mother A's return does in the book.prevnext
Tom's Vegas Escape
Another change in the story this episode is how Tom Cullen, the last surviving spy, leaves Vegas. In the book, Tom simply sees the full moon in the sky over Vegas and, remembering that that is his sign to leave and head home, quietly takes his backpack, gets on his bike, and leaves town. There's a tense moment where Tom senses Flagg, but for the most part, his escape is without drama.
In the episode, Dayna's note that says "run" last week ends up being what prompts Tom to realize he has to go, but it's not a simple, controlled departure. Instead of riding his bike out of the city with the cover of darkness, Tom hides in a truck full of corpses, just as Flagg's men come to get him.prev