If you’d like to catch up on the recap from last week’s episode before watching “The Vigil,” click here.
The sixth episode of the CBS All Access adaptation of Stephen King’s The Stand opens on the Trashcan Man (Ezra Miller), mostly naked (and covered in what appear to be scars from burns) setting charges around two enormous gas tanks before activating the detonator. As he has a sort of religious experience watching the explosion, he’s visited by a cloaked figure in the very familiar desert dreamscape.
The figure is, of course, Randall Flagg (Alexander Skarsgård), and he delivers a vision of the destructive promises he’s willing to make to the Trashcan Man before we head to the title card.
The Stand: “The Vigil”
Meanwhile, the citizens of the Boulder Free Zone are searching for the missing Mother Abagail (Whoppi Goldberg). Harold Lauder (Owen Teague) arrives at the home of Nadine Cross (Amber Heard) and informs her, and they both wonder if Flagg is responsible for the disappearance.
Lauder seems suspicious of Cross, jealously wondering if Flagg has been communicating more with her than with him, planting seeds of doubt in her mind as to her importance. But he soon has put forward a sinister plan: to bomb the entire population of the Boulder Free Zone as they’re attending a vigil for Mother Abagail.
Elsewhere, Harris (Gabrielle Rose), the third spy sent by the Boulder Free Zone to infiltrate Flagg’s territory in Las Vegas, is sheltering in a hotel – although we know from Flagg’s dialogue last week that he’s aware of her presence. She seems to sense someone, drawing a revolver…
Back at The Inferno in Las Vegas, the Trashcan Man has arrived, wandering around amid the debauchery with Lloyd Henreid (Nat Wolff) before heading to the elevator and bringing him to Flagg’s penthouse. After bonding with the Trashcan Man over combustion, Flagg asks him what the most powerful human-made fire ever was, and they agree that it was Tsar Bomba, a Soviet hydrogen bomb test that took place in 1961.
Flagg tells the Trashcan Man that he’s sending him on a errand to a military facility to retrieve “the fire,” and the Trashcan Man begins shrieking “My life for you.” As the Trashcan Man is removed, Flagg confirms with Henreid that the airfield will be ready by the time he is returned.
Henreid is clearly uncomfortable with the presence of the Trashcan Man, and even goes so far as to attempt to get rid of him, telling Flagg that anything the Trashcan Man can do, he can do better – but Flagg dismisses him, then instructs him to retrieve Harris from her hiding place at the edge of the desert and bring her to the Inferno – alive. He wants her so he can discover the identity of the third spy, who he still can’t see.
Meanwhile, Tom Cullen (Brad William Henke), the third spy, asks the Rat Woman, whose on a smoke break, to read the note given to him by the late Dayna Jurgens last week: “run.”
M-O-O-N that spells RUN
When “The Vigil” continues, we’re back in Boulder, where the citizens are gathering for the vigil for Mother Abagail. As Frannie Goldsmith (Odessa Young) arranges candles around the house, Nick Andros (Henry Zaga) plays the piano, while Glen Bateman (Greg Kinnear) and Larry Underwood (Jovan Adepo) sit nearby.
Andros is briefly interrupted by a vision of a wolf before Stu Redman (James Mardsen) and Ray Brentner (Irene Bedard) arrive. Brentner laments the fact that Andros won’t join in on the hunt, but Andros just shows her the note left by Mother Abagail instructing them not to search for her – and after Mother Abagail lectured him about disobeying her orders by sending spies to Vegas, he’s especially motivated to comply with her decree.
However, Brentner is incensed, delivering a tongue-lashing to the committee members – which is when Cross and Joe (Gordon Cormier) arrive at the door — ostensibly to deliver cards made by the kids for the vigil, but actually so that she can place the disguised pipe bomb. Underwood suggests that Joe will be present at the vigil, leading Cross to jump down his throat about how children “shouldn’t attend vigils” because they had been traumatized by those held for Captain Trips. Goldstein jumps to Underwood’s defense, but Cross is motivated by a desire to keep Joe away from the explosive.
That’s when Lauder arrives and asks Redman to join him on the next search shift. Lauder’s his usual creepy Tom Cruise-smiling self, dispensing platitudes and outwardly beaming while sulking over Goldsmith’s relationship with Redman.
Elsewhere, Mother Abagail is walking through the forest and talking at god. Soon, she encounters Flagg, who says that he is legion. Soon, he summons a wind storm, which is followed by a swarm of ravens which attack Mother Abagail.
Back at the Inferno, Cullen is helping clean up the corpses left over from the latest gladiator games. He’s given the keys to a vehicle and told to load the bodies. He sees Henried and Julie Lawry (Katherine McNamara), recognizing the latter from an encounter he and Andros had with her back in episode four…
Then, to Black Betty by Ram Jam, Henried and Lawry follow Bobby-Terry (Clifton Collins Jr.) through the Inferno debauchery to Flagg’s penthouse. Bobby-Terry recounts his encounter with Harris, which ended with her off-screen execution.
Flagg is displeased with Bobby-Terry for executing Harris. Flagg extracts an excruciating apology from the man, wondering why Bobby-Terry couldn’t “handle” an old woman. Flagg again demands an apology, but Bobby-Terry flips him the bird and then flees the room, chaining the door to the penthouse on his way out. He heads to the elevator, but despite pressing the button repeatedly, the elevator door doesn’t open.
Back at the room, Flagg bursts out of the door, and in a very cool SFX shot, the smiling face on his button grows more sinister. The elevator doors finally open for Bobby-Terry and as they close behind him, he thinks he’s escaped Flagg – but Flagg is already in the elevator, and as it descends, he eviscerates Bobby-Terry.
When he arrives at the bottom, the shocked denizens of the Inferno look on in horror. One of them summons the leaning crew, including “Mr. Moon – M-O-O-N,” which Flagg overhears, and he instantly realizes this is the third spy. Cullen is hiding himself among the pile of corpses in the truck when Flagg’s men come looking for him…
Before the Vigil
In the forest outside Boulder, the search for Mother Abagail continues. Lauder and Redman are talking about Captain Trips, with Lauder typically being creepy and sullen, even going so far as to point a handgun at the back of an unsuspecting Redman’s head. But they’re soon interrupted by Norris (Nicholas Lea), one of the other crewmen, who tells the two of them that their efforts are probably not needed on the search – it would be a miracle if the 108-year-old Mother Abagail had survived the weather of the previous night.
Elsewhere in Boulder, Goldsmith seizes upon the opportunity to infiltrate Lauder’s house as he’s occupied with the search, using a crowbar to break into the locked basement door which Underwood was unable to enter in last week’s episode. She discovers his surveillance equipment, including the video monitor showing on her bedroom. She opens another door and finds his basement, along with the evidence that he’s been constructing explosives and his creepy manifesto.
That’s when Lauder arrives and discovers Goldsmith in his room. He says that everything is wrong, and that the Captain Trips pandemic was supposed to be “his great adventure.” Lauder monologues about his crush on Goldsmith and his plan to murder everyone else in Boulder. Goldsmith pleads with Lauder, trying to convince him to renounce his ways, and for a moment, it seems like he might – but then he locks Goldsmith in the basement room and declares that he’s off to detonate the bomb.
At Underwood’s house, Cross arrives to pick up Joe. Underwood says to Cross that empathy has never been his strong suit, but Cross tells him that he’s a good man. However, as Cross is leaving, Joe whispers to Underwood: “Nadine and Mommy Nadine are two different people.” As she leaves, Underwood attempts to use his radio to hail someone on the North side, but someone has removed the batteries. He attempts to follow Cross on his motorcycle, but someone has cut the battery to that, too.
A quick shot shows us that Cullen is still hidden under the corpses in the pick-up truck, as two men drive the vehicle into the desert.
Cross brings Joe to the school, where other children are watching Time Bandits, presumably to keep them occupied during the vigil. At Lauder’s house, Goldsmith uses her jacket to protect her arm as she punches out a window and escape the basement.
Meanwhile, Joe hears Mother Abagail’s voice, and has a vision of her lying in the woods, which leads him to scream.
Lauder and Cross meet at the amphitheater, where Lauder reveals to Cross that Underwood infiltrated his basement (but never discovered the bomb). At Mother Abagail’s house, Redman and Bateman are wondering where Goldsmith and Underwood are when they get a call from Norris, who says that they’ve found Mother A.
Those gathered at Mother Abagail’s home for the vigil are instructed to head to the infirmary on the North side, where they’ll be bringing her. Brentner takes a moment to tell Andros, who is in Mother Abagail’s room, the news. As Andros gets up to leave the house, Lauder says over the radio that he “does this of his own free will.”
In spite of the fact that he couldn’t have heard it, Andros pauses inside the house, lifting the piano lid and discovering the bomb just as Lauder and Cross detonate it. Outside, Goldsmith and Redman are thrown through the air by the blast…
New episodes of The Stand are available for streaming Thursdays on CBS All Access.
Something is rotten in the state of the Boulder Free Zone.
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