The Stand S1E7: The Walk

by thethreepennyguignol

You know, when Kenneth Branagh ruined my other favourite book, at least he had the decency to get it over and done with in two hours.

(small side note: my next book is available for pre-order right now! Please consider grabbing a copy at a pre-release discount right here!)

But this? This Stand adaptation? This is the same idea – shitting all over great literature which means a lot to me personally – spread out over the course of eight miserable weeks. Every problem is stretched so thin that we have no choice but to examine them all in excruciating close-up, every strange choice dragged out for so long that it’s impossible to overlook, every outdated choice held over from a near forty-year-old book lingered over in crushingly unflattering microscopic value.

As we draw mercifully close to the end (no, not the first episode again), I’m honestly looking forward to this mess being over and out of my head for the forseeable future. And it’s been harder and harder not to just find myself wondering if the small slivers of good I saw here were actually misplaced in the first place.

Harold, for example. I said in my earlier reviews that I liked Owen Teague’s performance a lot, and that the show seemed to understand Harold’s vulnerability to invasion by an evil force like Flagg, that it seemed to get that he was an unknown entity who could be pulled one way or another. But this week, I found myself wondering – is Owen Teague good, or does he just speak with his spit right at the front of his mouth while having a bad haircut? Did the show get him, or did it just parrot enough of the book to make it feel that way? Given that his arc ends with his apparent death at the hands of Nadine – instead of his suicide, as in the book – while he yells a cartoon villain monologue and sniffles out a bloody snot-bubble, I’m inclined to believe it’s the latter. Harold’s suicide is, for me, an integral part of his character in the book; his arc has been driven by his own personal choices, and this is the ultimate climax of those choices pushing him into being someone he can’t live with being. Having Nadine apparently responsible for his demise (which she essentially is – while he eventually shoots himself, it’s only after she debilitates him in an accident that keeps him from travelling to Flagg with her) strips him of that, leaves him as an ill-formed, pretentious bad guy instead of the layered, nuanced, and compelling character he could be.

Elsewhere, the show is gearing up for the titular Stand, as the Boulder Boring Good Guy Brigade gets together to go down to Vegas. This just shines a light on Frannie and Stu, who just do not have the chemistry to sell me on this love story; it’s more fraternal than it is carnal, especially with Odessa Young’s Fran remaining such an underdeveloped stand-in for a character. I had such high hopes for Frannie when I found out who was playing her, because dammit, Odessa Young can act, but this is not it. She’s dreadful.

Irene Bedard, on the other hand, as the gender-swapped Ray, is actually really good; some of the scant good moments this episode come from her interactions with the rest of the Good Guy Brigade as they set out to Vegas, with her easy charisma really shining in a smaller cast. But it begs the question – why not more of this? Why cast such a great actress, and make such a big change to this character, if you’re not really going to spend much time investigating her? I would have loved to see more of Bedard, especially in less functional performances episode-by-episode, and this is just a reminder that it’s all too little, too late. There’s not enough time to give her the story or development that she deserved, and it begs the question – why switch up her gender at all? What does it add to change that part of Ray, other than to back-pat yourselves about diversity? It’s a waste of a great actress, and I wish that it hadn’t been.

Speaking of actresses (great or otherwise) – Amber Heard as Nadine gets centre-stage here, as Flagg finally gives her the Evil!Dick and gets her pregnant. The Stand’s attitude towards sex and sexuality has just been so consistently awful that it doesn’t surprise me to see Nadine finally having sex (on-screen, unlike Frannie, who has pretty much been chaste on camera and rewarded for it with a generous depiction) equated to her literally being implanted with evil. She’s a physical wreck by the end of the episode, and it’s just such a gnarly, nasty reminder of what happens to women who enjoy and pursue sex; they’re evil, and, eventually, everyone will see it written all over their slutty, slutty bodies.

I’m just tired, my dudes. I’m tired of how bad this is, I’m tired of how dull this is, I’m tired of how predictably prudish and old-fashioned it is. I’m tired, through and through, and I am more than ready for this to be over. We’ve still got a couple of episodes left, though at least we’ll be spending them in the cautionary-tale-for-good-Christian-kids New Vegas for the fun of it – and at least Ezradiated Miller is going to blow this whole thing to hell soon enough.

If you enjoyed this article, please feel free to check out some of my other recapping projects as well – the Fifty Shades of Grey book seriesStephen King’s Carrie, the first Harry Potter book, LostGame of ThronesThe Mandalorian, and American Horror Story, to name a few – and support me on Patreon if you’d like to see more of my work!

(header image via Comic Book)