“Fear and Loathing in New Vegas” wastes a long runtime on very little plot, as the breadth of Flagg’s depraved kingdom of sin isn’t really put across effectively.
This recap of The Stand season 1, episode 5, “Fear and Loathing in New Vegas”, contains spoilers.
Perhaps the nicest thing I can say about The Stand episode 5, “Fear and Loathing in New Vegas”, is that I liked it more than last week’s episode. But it still retains a lot of the same problems, filling an obviously overlong runtime with a lot of pointless filler and mostly failing to get across the true breadth of Flagg’s influence in his little kingdom of sin and depravity in New Vegas. You could summarize almost everything that happened in a single sentence.
I won’t, obviously, since I have a word count to meet, but it’s a shame both how thin the episode was on a plot level and how cheaply it tries to depict the excesses of the community Flagg rules. Most of the legwork is done by showing obviously awful characters very much in their element, specifically Lloyd Henreid, last seen in the second episode, and Julie Lawry, who we met in last week’s. Both are awful in a broad, cartoonish way, even to each other, but they don’t represent any true danger to me, at least not from Dayna’s perspective, and that’s the one we get for much of the episode.
She is, of course, one of the three spies that the Boulder High Council despatched to New Vegas to see what was up, but the better choice for the POV character would, I think, have been Tom, who only shows up briefly to first blag a job and then be seen doing it (he cleans up the mess after gladiatorial arena fights.) “Fear and Loathing in New Vegas” would have been much more effective if it had introduced the depravity of the setting through Tom’s eyes as he’s gradually introduced to his new role, with Lloyd and Julie and Dayna having the brief cameo appearances.
Of course, Dayna was necessary for the late scene that takes place in Flagg’s penthouse, and during which he reveals that he has, of course, figured out who she is and why she’s there, and also the identity of one other spy. But not Tom. And Dana, after getting a message to Tom simply reading “Run”, takes her own life rather than surrender his identity to Flagg. This is all good stuff, but it takes a while to get to it.
A lot of that time is spent in Boulder, with Harry, who is getting more screen time than his narrow shoulders can really handle, and Nadine, whose internal conflict leads her directly into the arms of Larry, who is too busy investigating the obviously-suspicious Harold at the urging of Frannie to much care. Chinning off Amber Heard is no small feat for the average warm-blooded male, of course, current headlines notwithstanding, but she’s acting so wacky and out-of-character when she turns up at his door that he has no trouble warning her away. They have Joe to think about, after all.
But it’s no wonder Nadine is acting weird given that she has to cozy up to Harold otherwise, and The Stand season 1, episode 5 goes to great lengths to reiterate how scheming and psychotic he is, first during an extended dinner sequence with Stu and Frannie during which he has a glass of wine and acts like a complete maniac, and then when we learn that he is spying on Frannie and Stu with a planted camera and has footage of Larry snooping through his house. I’m so sick of this guy, honestly. If Mother Abagail’s last-minute disappearance at the end of “Fear and Loathing in New Vegas” is anything to do by, maybe she was too.