The Stand S1E9: The Circle Closes

by thethreepennyguignol

When this episode, the last in The Stand miniseries, opened with a voiceover via Frannie (Odessa Young), telling us that stories usually never end, they just go on in different ways – it downright felt like a threat. Please, please, let this story be over. I’m begging you. I need this.

I am glad this show is done with. Because it’s been shit, undeniably, totally, near wall-to-wall shit, peppered with some good casting and these fleeting moments of actual solid adaptation. But, for the most part, The Stand (the show) has been a thunderingly boring and ill-formed middle finger to The Stand (the book). Good riddance to this mess, I say, and I suppose I’m going to have to work my way into the TV industry over the course of the next twenty years so that I can helm my own version of this and fix everything that went wrong here. CBS: my contact details are in the tab above. Waiting on your call.

Anyway. Before I can peace out entirely, there’s one last episode left here, The Circle Closes, and, arguably, it’s the best of the season. Maybe that’s, in part, because it’s not actually adapting a whole lot of the book; most of this is new stuff, and it feels like a welcome breath of fresh air after the stilted attempts to capture the magic of the novel. In fact, watching this cast an even brighter obviousness on how much this show has been dragged down by my love for the book. Nobody who loves this novel is ever going to love this show, and God, do I love this book, you know?

And maybe it’s because this is the first and only episode written by Monsignor Stephen King himself. For all that I might enjoy a little snark on his work here and there, I am, at the end of the day, a die-hard fan of King and his work, and this feels like a quintessentially King piece; small-scale, focused, human, Americana, folk on the soundtrack, drifting through the strange backroads of the USA and winding up back in Maine (where else?). The dialogue is old-fashioned and charming; James Marsden and Odessa Young feel like a perfect fit for this piece of micro-fanfic of his own novel, and it’s a joy to indulge in some of his work, even in this tiny little small scale.

But really, I think what I really like about this final episode is how it seems to capture what I really think The Stand is about: choice. Frannie ends up stuck down a well (yes, really), and is faced with the pull between Randy Flagg and Mother Abigail once more. Offered the chance to free herself and return to her baby and Stu, at the cost of acting as an agent for Flagg, it’s a microcosm of what the show should have been about from the start. She’s offered the decision between the right thing and the wrong thing, and Frannie is boiled down to her bare parts as she tries to come to the answer that she truly wants to give. Simple? Yes. But it feels like a perfect epilogue to the version of The Stand that we should have had – the morally grey one that blurs the lines between good and bad in people and in action, that doesn’t condemn anyone to heroics or otherwise with a wave of the hand, but rather based on the choices they make.

It’s almost strange, really, to see Stephen King come swinging in at the last minute to right the ship and tilt the helm in a direction that actually makes sense, but I’m glad that it’s here. And I’m glad that Odessa Young got the chance to shine, even if just for an episode, because Christ, has this been an unrewarding role for such a brilliant actress. Honestly, this feels like an epilogue to the book, not the TV show, and that’s about the best compliment I can give this episode: that, after sitting through eight episodes before it, I’m glad it bears next to no resemblance to the show that it’s actually in. The circle is finally closed, out on an unlikely high note, and, frankly, I’m ready to move the fuck on.

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 PopBuzz)