The Stand (2020) Episode 2 Review

CBS All Access

When I approached the new version of The Stand, I was hopeful. My hopes were quickly dashed in the first episode, which I’ve reviewed here. The second episode, titled “Pocket Savior”, did very little to restore my hope for the series. By choosing to continue the flashback narrative structure, the series keeps killing its forward momentum in the same way that Captain Trips kills the majority of the human population.

Spoilers ahead, so don’t read if you haven’t watched the second episode of The Stand (2020).

Much like the first episode, “The End”, episode two focuses on two characters from the opposite side of the growing conflict. The episode begins with Larry Underwood (played by Jovan Adepo) leading a caravan of people into the Boulder Free Zone, where he is greeted by Stu Redman. Stu takes Larry to see Mother Abigail but we don’t actually get to see their conversation (because… reasons, I guess). Instead, we jump back in time to see Larry before the end of the world. Adepo plays up the rock star version of Larry as a terminally irresponsible man. With most of his audience and bandmates down with the superflu, Larry has to go out to perform on his own for his album’s launch party. We soon see that aside from his drug habit, he supposedly stole the song “Baby, Can You Dig Your Man?” from his old roommate and drug supplier.

Seeing New York fall apart from Larry’s point of view is rather harrowing, especially when we watch his mother die from Captain Trips soon after the outbreak consumes the city. Adepo handles this loss with all the grace you would imagine a rock star with a cocaine habit would (in other words, not well). There’s an interesting scene where Larry meets a man recently escaped from a hospital. The man, dressed only in a hospital gown, is intent on pleasuring himself over home plate at Yankee Stadium. It’s a macabrely funny scene, given the state of the city. Shortly thereafter, Larry encounters Rita Blakemoor (played by Heather Graham). It’s clear the two of them are shell-shocked by the fall of the city, which makes their ending up in bed together a foregone conclusion.

Larry and Rita’s escape from New York should feel like a tense set of scenes, particularly when they encounter a trio of men who have nasty things in mind for Rita. One of the most terrifying scenes from the original novel is when Larry and Rita have to escape through the Lincoln Tunnel. The claustrophobic atmosphere of the chapter is palpable. In the miniseries, this scene is replaced with the pair having to travel through the New York sewers. While not as visually stimulating, it is one of the better scenes in the series up to this point. Larry begins hallucinating (possibly due to his drug habit or perhaps due to supernatural influence) and Adepo portrays this sanity slippage realistically. Unfortunately, not long after Rita and Larry make it out of New York, Rita decides she would rather commit suicide than live in this dystopian hellscape. I can’t say that I really blame Rita for her decision, though. Given what we see as the series progresses, she may have made the right call.

The other character in focus in the episode is Lloyd Henreid (played by Nat Wolff). This is another instance of poor casting on the part of the series. In the original miniseries, Lloyd was played by the late Miguel Ferrer, who owned the role despite not having a large amount of screentime. No disrespect is meant to Nat Wolff as an actor but the material they gave Lloyd makes me question why Randall Flagg would make this moronic character his second-in-command. Lloyd is introduced as he’s being walked to his prison cell. We find out quickly that he is a cop killer. It turns out that Lloyd’s partner was the real cop killer, gunning down a state trooper who tried to bust up their robbery. But with Lloyd’s partner dead in the gunfight, Henreid takes the blame for the trooper’s death.

I will give credit to the writing staff for making Lloyd’s predicament feel completely hopeless. Locked in a jail cell while both the guards and the other prisoners contract Captain Trips is terrifying. The terror of the scenario deepens as Lloyd is one of only two people left alive in his cellblock. With no food arriving and the guards either dead or having abandoned the jail, Lloyd is forced to resort to snacking on his cellmate’s leg to survive.

It’s at this point Randall Flagg makes his presence known. Alexander Skarsgard has all the swagger that one should expect from a demonic servant. He never raises his voice as he speaks to Lloyd. There’s an unsettling yet comfortable ease with which he calmly discusses getting Lloyd out of the cell. Desperate for salvation, Lloyd agrees to show Flagg his unconditional loyalty, setting up a partnership which we don’t really get to see much of as the series continues.

While there are things I enjoyed about this episode, such as Adepo’s portrayal of Larry and many of the New York sequences, I can’t bring myself to enjoy the episode as a whole. What little we get to see of Boulder and the characters after the fall of civilization is undercut by the flashbacks. It would be one thing if the flashbacks were for a quick scene to provide greater context but there are large chunks of the episode devoted to them. If the showrunners had adjusted the structure to begin with the outbreak and the subsequent catastrophe, I think the story would mesh a whole lot better.

My book series The Atalante Chronicles is now live on Amazon for Kindle, Paperback, and Hardcover Print-On-Demand. Your support is greatly appreciated.
Find me on the web:

Success! You're on the list.

Make a one-time donation

Make a monthly donation

Make a yearly donation

Choose an amount


Or enter a custom amount

Your contribution helps with covering the cost for this site. Give what you can and thank you.

Your contribution is appreciated.

Your contribution is appreciated.

DonateDonate monthlyDonate yearly

Leave a Reply