Part 3: “The Betrayal” means we are now halfway through The Stand Miniseries. With only three hours left, there is still a LOT of ground left to cover. If this is your first time reading about this series, make sure you check out parts one and two first.
“The Betrayal” begins with Stu and Frannie’s group failing to resuscitate a deceased minor male character, illustrating how even those who once seemed immune to Captain Trips are not. Once they bury the man, they take a rest before heading out to their final place in Colorado with Abagail. Harold, playing with his knife by himself, wonders aloud, “Where the hell is everybody?”
His question gets answered soon enough. Stu and Frannie are by the river and find out they are, wait for it: going to be parents! Because, again, the apocalypse makes everybody mad horny. Harold seemingly will never stop feeling entitled to Frannie and is pissed about this news. His patience with her is running thin, as is mine with this useless “unrequited love” subplot.
Even more frustrating is how, as Frannie and Stu’s relationship grows, Frannie slowly loses her agency. Her character begins to exist only for Stu, all while Stu’s personhood remains unquestioned, unchallenged. It’s not fun to see.
Free Zone Committee
Finally Frannie, Stu, Harold and the rest of group make it to Colorado and meet Mother Abagail. Larry Underwood and a hundred other survivors arrive soon after. They hold a meeting where they elect members of the Free Zone Committee, a group of leaders that includes Stu, Frannie, Larry and Glen Bateman. The committee learns about Randall Flagg and the danger he poses to humanity. They have to come up with a plan for what to do about him, but aren’t too worried now. More than anything, they’re grateful to be alive.
It is only when things start pulling together and looking up that Mother Abagail goes missing.
Meanwhile in Vegas…
Randall Flagg makes his crew clean up the bodies on the streets, and this is where I have to stop for a moment because I cannot stand Jamey Sheridan’s casting for this character. Nothing about the miniseries’ Randall Flagg is terrifying or otherworldly. I don’t want to put all the blame on Sheridan, because the creators don’t seem to be doing him any favors either. Flagg is creepy and that’s about it. They seem to have cut out a lot of necessary characterization, making it all tell and no show. Sheridan’s Flagg is nothing like the supernatural, shapeshifting being, the villain of the entire Dark Tower series and several other books.
I’m disappointed. But I digress.
Trashcan Man is having some really interesting visions (or nightmares, depending on your personal feelings for graphic design). And Nadine is still getting nightmares about Randall Flagg cosplaying as Fabio. She wants to be free of him, thinking having sex with Larry will free her. But when that plan doesn’t work, she remains Flagg’s pawn and ends up seducing Harold to the Dark Side. Although, if we’re being honest, Harold was pretty much already there.
We get a couple random Stephen King cameos in this episode. He plays a truck driver who cleans up dead bodies in a church.
Although “The Betrayal” has scenes set in Vegas, Colorado is the prime location of events. I had a harder time getting into this episode than the priors. The story is slow until the last 30 minutes, when we get zombies, dead bodies, explosions and a mesh of exquisite gradients. Harold has a monumental character growth and something major happens to Mother Abagail and Nick Andros.
What else this series has been lacking is a suspenseful buildup to the final stand with Flagg. Mother Abagail’s group does not know a whole lot about him, but it’s enough for Stu, Larry, Glen and Ralph Bretner (Peter van Norden) to head to Vegas and come face-to-face with the Dark Man once and for all. Because of how large the story is, and because of how much is cut out from the book, an extra episode in between “The Betrayal” and “The Stand” might have helped with the suspense. Of course, sometimes film studios can only do so much in that regard. This isn’t my favorite King adaptation, but it is still exciting to see how they wrap it all up. Next stop: “The Stand.”(3 / 5)