The connection between Nadine Cross and Randall Flagg is unquestionably one of the most fraught in all of Stephen King’s The Stand. While Nadine is pulled to the side of “good” in some respects, such as the fact that she was a school teacher in the pre-Captain Trips world, she also committed herself to Flagg at a young age, and has been under his thrall for the majority of her life. This mystical/horrible connection is put front-and-center in the latest episode of the CBS All Access adaptation, as “The Walk” features the Alexander Skarsgard and Amber Heard characters advancing their relationship by having sex for the first time – but those who have read the book may have registered that the chapter of the show changed some things up a bit about the consummation, alongside some other aspects of the source material.
I’ve been tracking these various deviations from Stephen King’s epic novel week-to-week here on CinemaBlend, and with “The Walk” now streaming on CBS All Access it’s time to dig into what is the seventh episode. There are some notable choices made involving characters like The Trashcan Man, Lloyd Henreid, and Mother Abigail, but we’ll start with the devilish lovers:
Sex With Randall Flagg Is What Turns Nadine’s Hair White, She Doesn’t Go Catatonic
Thanks to the sexual congress between Nadine Cross and Randall Flagg, The Stand now has one of its most disturbing moments taken straight from the book (the revelation of Flagg’s true face), but as faithful as that bit is there are a couple aspects of the moment that have changed. In Stephen King’s novel, the former school teacher’s hair actually turns white prior to intercourse with her seducer, specifically due to a psychic connection with Flagg after she plants Harold’s bomb. What’s far more significant, however, is that Nadine is conscious and still under The Walkin Dude’s thrall after they have sex. In the book, the encounter leaves her catatonic.
Trashcan Man’s Mission For The Nuke Is Condensed
In last week’s feature about “The Vigil” I pointed out how Trashcan Man’s crazy journey to Vegas was massively condensed and changed for the CBS All Access show, resulting in the character getting only about six minutes of screen time, and things don’t really improve much in “The Walk.” The character does return, following up on the mission given to him by Randall Flagg, but still the whole thing is abridged when compared to Stephen King’s book. We already knew that the show was skipping over the whole finding redemption arc for the character, with Trashy not sabotaging Vegas’ military equipment and Flagg specifically sending him to find a warhead – but still things play out much quicker in the adaptation. Watching the episode, you miss the experience watching him break into the Air Force Base and his animal-like tracking of the “big fire.”
Nadine Ostensibly Murders Harold
In Stephen King’s book, there is no doubt that there are sinister forces at play in the death of Harold Lauder. Riding his motorcycle to Vegas with Nadine Cross, something strange happens that causes him to lose control (he internally questions if it was some kind of oil slick) and the end result is him crashing and being fatally injured. Most of this sequence is maintained in the adaptation, including Harold firing a few shots at Nadine as she leaves him, but the context is vastly changed. In this version, Nadine has an active role in killing Harold, and she first gets him to speed up and then distracts him as they approach a sharp turn on the highway. Whether or not she does it because she is instructed by Randall Flagg, or just because of his harsh words following the explosion is unclear, but what remains true is that Harold wasn’t going to stay alive in Vegas for very long anyway.
Mother Abigail Dies Immediately After Delivering Her Message
The message that Mother Abigail Freemantle delivers to the members of the Boulder Free Zone Committee on her death bed in this new episode of The Stand is actually remarkably close to what she says in the book, right down to the bit about one member of the group not making the full journey to Vegas, but one notable difference in the adaptation is what happens immediately after. In Stephen King’s original version, Mother Abigail holds on for at least a little while after delivering her “commandments,” surviving until the next morning, but her candle quite literally snuffs out as soon as she’s done talking in this new take. While the show has downplayed some of the fantastical elements of the story in previous episodes (such as Tom not being hypnotized), this is actually a nice extra touch, as it suggests that Mother A was holding on just long enough to provide her message from God.
Lloyd Personally Picks Up Larry, Glen And Ray In A Limousine
This is a minor change in the grand scheme, but in its own way a smart one. In both the book and the show, Larry Underwood, Glen Bateman and Ray (nee Ralph) Brentner don’t actually make it all the way to Vegas on foot, as their path is impeded by men sent by Randall Flagg (who knew they were coming). The difference here is that it’s Lloyd Henreid doing the impeding in the adaptation, while in the source material its “a little man who looks like a CPA” named Paul Burlson. Again, it doesn’t make a ton of difference on the story, but it is an example of The Stand miniseries being a bit more economical with its characters than Stephen King. You might question why Flagg’s right hand man would be sent for such a mission instead of a flunky, but when you think about how things went wrong in the last episode with Bobby Terry and Judge Farris, it makes sense that a high ranking member of the organization would be sent for the job.
Nadine Is Still Alive To Meet Larry, Glen And Ray In Vegas
The big climactic cliffhanger that The Stand leaves audiences with this week is the sight of a very sickly and pregnant Nadine Cross greeting Larry Underwood, Glen Bateman, and Ray Brentner in New Vegas – and part of the reason why it’s such a striking moment is because it’s a wholly original interaction. Without getting into too much detail (I have to save some material for next week), Nadine doesn’t live long enough in Stephen King’s novel to welcome the trio, as she dies a full six chapters before their arrival. How will this wind up changing how things play out in the ending of the story? It’s now easily one of the most interesting things that the miniseries has going for it.
Where’s Tom Cullen?
I’m surely jumping ahead here, as there is no doubt that we will get to catch up with Tom Cullen in at least one of the two remaining episodes of The Stand, but it still caught me by surprise that the character wasn’t featured in “The Walk” at all. When we last saw him (in “The Vigil”), he was in the midst of successfully escaping from New Vegas in a truck full of bodies, and going by the book that’s followed by him on an arduous journey east on foot while Stu, Larry, Glen and Ray are on their journey west. Presumably they’ll have him eventually meet up with Stu, but if we don’t actually see any of his trip does that mean we may not get to see any of his dreams talking with Nick Andros? I expected that would be something featured in “The Walk” as a means of emotionally reckoning with Nick’s death, but it’s not there, hence the inclusion of this section.
The next episode of The Stand is a huge one – as while it may technically only be the penultimate episode, the fact that episode nine has been described as a “coda” makes the next chapter a kind of de facto finale. Appropriately titled “The Stand,” it will be going live on CBS All Access at midnight PST/3am EST, and you can count on me writing another book-to-show comparison to pair with it!