If you’d like to can catch up with The Stand on CBS All Access before “The Circle Closes,” you can do so by reading The Beat’s weekly recaps.
The final episode of The Stand on CBS All Access, which was written by Stephen King himself, opens on Frannie Goldsmith (Odessa Young) in voice over, presumably reading from her personal diary, which she’s writing for her child. She wonders whether or not people will choose a different path after the “hard reset” of Captain Trips.
We see that Frannie has already had her baby, who looks happy and healthy. But then the baby begins displaying symptoms of Captain Trips, from which no one on Earth seems to have recovered. However, the baby recovers. Ten weeks later, a second baby is born to two immune parents, and never develops symptoms.
Frannie notes that others have urged her to send spies towards New Vegas, but she declines – although she’s forced to admit to herself that it may simply be that she doesn’t want to know what happened to Stu.
The head of the body crew urges Frannie to join them at the event that night, noting that she’s their only remaining connection to Mother Abagail. “Until they come back,” says Frannie, but he doesn’t seem hopeful.
The event is something of a memorial for those lost, and Frannie includes the picture she took of Larry, Stu, Glen, and Ray before they left for New Vegas. But that’s when the sound of Kojak barking makes her realize that Stu (James Marsten) has returned.
Stu tells her that it’s only because of Tom that he survived, and the couple embraces. Then Frannie introduces Stu to the baby: Abagail.
Then we cut to the wreckage of New Vegas, and Flagg’s whistling tune plays as a tracking shot navigates between the burned-out wreckage before arriving at the yellow-face button, which currently displays X’d-out-eyes. But before our very eyes, the face turns back to a smiley as the title card appears…
The Stand – “The Circle Closes”
Back in Boulder, it’s the Fourth of July – one year after the events of the first episode. Mother Abagail has been commemorated with a mural. The residents of the Boulder Free Zone are having a barbeque, and some of them are line dancing. It looks nice – y’all remember parties?
Then the music slows down, but Frannie seems troubled and leaves the gazebo where they’ve been dancing. Stu follows her and asks what’s wrong. Frannie says that she wants to return to Maine and see the ocean.
Stu notes that since the snow melted in February they’ve had over 500 more residents arrive in Boulder, with three currently incarcerated. While there have only been minor crimes so far, Stu thinks its only a matter of time before more serious transgressions occur.
Frannie says that they wouldn’t have to stay in Maine, and they could come back to see how people in Boulder were making out. For the time being, they agree to think about it, and kiss before beginning to dance again.
Later, but still in Boulder, Stu and Frannie are in bed (presumably after making love) and Stu asks about the journey – when they’re going to “close the circle.” Frannie gets up to respond to the baby crying.
Soon, Stu and Frannie are loading Abagail and Kojak into the car, and the residents of the BFZ are there to see them off. Tom Cullen (Brad William Henke) tearfully says goodbye to them, making them promise they’ll return. Stu makes a point of saying goodbye to Joe (Gordon Cormier), and some neat expositional dialogue makes it clear that while they’re gone, Joe will be cared for by “Lucy-mom” (for more on this character, who was largely omitted from the adaptation, check out The Beat’s book/adaptation comparison for The Stand).
Then we get a montage of road travel, Stu and Frannie working together to clear stalled vehicles and make camp each night. They reach Lorton, Nebraska and decide to stop at a farmhouse for the night. Frannie and Abagail stay in the truck as Kojak take off across the yard and Stu approaches the house. The music is ominous, and Kojak seems concerned with something in the cornfields. He extracts a familair dolly.
However, Stu and Frannie remain oblivious. Stu references that line from It’s a Wonderful Life about lassoing the moon. Stu calls to Kojak but Kojak is reticent at first… however, the dog comes after a moment. Then, an arm reaches out of the corn and pulls the doll back inside…
As Stu, Frannie, Abagail, and Kojak settle into the farmhouse, we see an illuminated tent in the cornfield. A girl is singing hymns beside it, although she pauses to note that from the sound of Abagail’s wails, the baby is teething.
The next morning, Stu straps a gun holster to Frannie’s hip before getting in the truck to head to a pharmacy. Stu arrives and finds the door locked, but with the glass already knocked out. He whistles as he gathers supplies.
Back at the farmhouse, Frannie is nursing Abagail while Kojak sits nearby. Frannie sets Abagail down and then spots the water pump. Ominously, on the way back from the pharmacy, Stu blows a tire on the truck. Stu tries to raise Frannie on the walkie-talkie – channel 19, say true and say thankya – but Frannie has left the walkie inside the house.
Frannie reaches the pump and tries it out, and it works, giving her some cold water… but as she begins to fill a bucket, the water stops. She reaches into the pump to find the obstruction… and Flagg leans over her shoulder and says, “Hello, bitch.” Just then, Frannie is bit by a rat. She reacts to both, falling forward and breaking the wooden cover of the well. Kojak barks as she lies at the bottom.
Elsewhere, Stu is naturally having a more difficult than average time replacing the tire. Frannie’s leg is clearly broken, she’s covered in lacerations, and her shirt is bloodied. She’s dreaming, running through a jungle – and she encounters Flagg (Alexander Skarsgård) sitting beneath a tree.
Flagg says that want to show her something, and nearby, one of the few indigenous tribes that remains isolated from the outside world (and isolated from Captain Trips by extension). Then Flagg leads her back to a well in the jungle. He sits on the edge and looks into it, revealing it’s something of a magic mirror: within the well, Frannie can see herself, curled and injured at the bottom (Flagg tells her she’s punctured a lung).
Flagg shows Frannie her daughter crying, then shows her Stu attempting to replace the tire on the truck. He makes the precarious situation clear: will Stu make it back to the farmhouse in time to protect Abagail?
But Flagg says that he’s in a “forgiving mood,” a “healing mood,” and so in the interest of unity, he’s willing to strike a deal. Flagg suggests that Stu might change the tire with no problem, and perhaps Frannie didn’t suffer too serious an injury – he’s clearly offering something. Frannie asks what the catch might be, and Flagg acts offended—but we know it’s coming, don’t we, Constant Reader?
Flagg tells Frannie he’d like a kiss, and Frannie giggles at the suggestion. But Flagg wants permission to “look through her eyes” from time to time. Flagg leans in to the kiss but Frannie pulls back. Flagg asks if she wants to die, and Frannie says she doesn’t – but she still doesn’t believe the Walking Dude.
Flagg tires to manipulate Frannie emotionally, highlighting the fact that Abagail remains on the porch. They seem to lean in for a kiss… but Frannie bites his lip and tells him not for anything in the world before fleeing into the jungle.
Flagg gives pursuit… and soon Frannie finds herself in the cornfield again. She hears the sound of singing and follows it, finding Mother Abagail (Whoopi Goldberg) sitting on a porch and playing a guitar. Abagail tells Frannie that Flagg simply showed her what he thought would scare her into doing what he wanted… but Frannie resisted that temptation, which will lead to God’s blessing. Abagail takes Frannie into her arms, as Frannie says she can die, but not her baby.
Back in Nebraska, Stu arrives back at the farmhouse, where Kojak is waiting for him.
At Mother Abagail’s cabin, she tell Frannie that while the wheel keeps turning, the command is always the same: stand.
Stu puls into the farmhouse, where he finds the girl from the field holding Baby Abagail and nursing her with a bottle, but after glancing at her, he heads directly to the well. Meanwhile, Mother Abagail tells Frannie that she knows certain things: that Frannie will be the mother of five, which will bring forth 20, and that Frannie will live to see some of the 70 that come from that, concluding that her children will replenish the Earth.
At the farmhouse, Stu brings the truck around and the girl springs into action, instructing Kojak to guard Baby Abagail (which he unquestioningly obeys). Stu attaches the winch to his belt and then uses the pulley on the truck to lower himself down the well. He picks up Frannie and she screams in pain. Then he calls to the girl to pull them up, which she begins doing.
They reach the top of the well and pull Frannie clear. The kid says “give me some space, Stuart” and then passes her hands over Frannie, which heals her injuries. Then, she whispers in her ear just like Flagg did, instructing her to stand, which she does, feeling no pain.
The couple finds the baby doll in the crib with Baby Abagail, but the girl is gone.
Back in Ogunquit
One week later, Frannie, Stu, Baby Abagail, and Kojak are in Ogunquit, Maine, looking over the Atlantic Ocean. Frannie asks Stu how he’d feel about four more kids, and while Stu says he was thinking two, he admits that he’s easily persuaded.
Stu asks Frannie what happened in Nebraska. Frannie says that she found out that there’s two sides of the world: this, and a “deep well of darkness.” Frannie says she saw both when she was dying in the well, leading her to temptation…
She quotes what Mother Abagail told her at the cabin: “The wheel turns, the struggle continues, and the command is always the same… Be true. Stand.”
Then we cut back to the jungle. Flagg is naked except for his boots as he approaches the indigenous tribe, singing “Why Can’t We Be Friends.” One of the people shoots an arrow at him, and he catches it then points at the man’s head, which explodes in blood. Then his boots lift off the ground and the people fall to their knees before him, just as they did in New Vegas.
Flagg introduces himself as Russell Faraday, and then, he demands worship.
You can watch the entirety of The Stand on CBS All Access now.
Coda: Frannie Down the Well.
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