The Stand season 1, episode 6 recap – “The Vigil”

January 28, 2021
Jonathon Wilson 0
Weekly TV
3.5

Summary

Flagg and Mother Abagail finally come face to face in “The Vigil”, a chapter with some welcome forward momentum that also marks the debut of the Trashcan Man.

View allNext Episode
3.5

Summary

Flagg and Mother Abagail finally come face to face in “The Vigil”, a chapter with some welcome forward momentum that also marks the debut of the Trashcan Man.

This recap of The Stand season 1, episode 6, “The Vigil”, contains spoilers.


I think on some level The Stand episode 6 is almost what I imagined a big-budget CBS All Access adaptation of Stephen King’s epic novel might look like. That isn’t to say it’s even in the same stratosphere as the original text, quality-wise, since I reckon that ship has already sailed, but “The Vigil” is at least pleasantly free of gimmicks, unnecessary structural flourishes, and obvious time-wasting. If it’s a fair assumption that what fans want from this show is some more forward momentum in the direction of the good stuff and more time with Randall Flagg, then this hour delivers on both counts. It’s about time.

It comes with its own share of problems, though, including whatever Ezra Miller is doing. He debuts in “The Vigil” as the Trashcan Man, a pyromaniac with whom Flagg is particularly fascinated and a mode of speech that I had to rewind a couple of times just to catch. That was annoying, obviously, and I certainly could have done without it, even if the portrayal is striking for its sheer lunacy if nothing else.

That Trash has a connection to Flagg shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, since the exact workings of his plans have been left deliberately inscrutable, based on events that he has foreseen through otherworldly precognition that’d be too much work to explain – luckily nobody bothers. He just knows what he’s doing, and both his acolytes and the audience are to accept it, which is fine since that’s mostly how he works in all the books he appears in too. Regardless, despite the frustrations of, say, Lloyd Henreid with Trash, and Harold with Nadine, specifically in regards to being kept out of the loop, we at least learn here that Flagg’s plan to detonate Mother Abagail’s inner council is to blow up the vigil where the community of Boulder is praying for her safe return.

This is, by design, a standout installment for Flagg. He finally gets the chance to be a sneering, all-knowing villain, tasking Trash with retrieving a colossal fire while finally coming face to face with Mother Abagail in an eerie woodland dreamscape for a bit of toing and froing. It’s broad, uncomplicated moral debate, sure, but that’s how you want your heroes and villains to get down in stories like this. It’s good versus evil, simple as that. And now we’ve finally seen Flagg be evil, tearing a man apart with his bare hands, it means much more that, by the end, he has finally figured out who the third spy is.

A downside of Flagg proving both that he knows what he’s doing and that he’s capable of doing it is that Harold only looks more pathetic and useless, especially once Frannie breaks into his basement lair and they have to have a bit of a to-do about his psychopathy. The problem with Owen Teague’s Harold, at least as I see it, is that the dangerous incel loner archetype was played so broad in the beginning that it’s hard to buy any nuance in the portrayal here in The Stand episode 6. The scene’s well-written enough that you can just about buy into Harold’s logic and believe for a fleeting second that Frannie might be able to talk him down, so to speak, but I never really got a sense of a genuinely terrified, maligned individual who was boiling with anger at the world. He just seems petulant.

Either way, though, he locks Frannie in his basement and goes out to do the deed. And the deed does indeed go ahead, despite this complication and others, including the last-minute discovery of Mother Abagail and Joe almost giving the game away to Larry when he finally finds his voice for long enough to tip him off about Nadine’s Jekyll and Hyde personality. But it’s too little too late. The kids are safe, and the report that Frannie is missing limits some of the potential damage, but the bomb goes off regardless as Nadine and Harold watch on from a mountainside. The extent of the damage is left as a cliffhanger to close out The Stand season 1, episode 6.

View allNext Episode