The Boulder Free Zone governing body just got into position, and they're already sending a vivacious young woman, an older woman, and a feeble but loyal man into the trenches.
Once again, The Stand Season 1 Episode 4 was all over the map time-wise, introducing characters and situations applicable to the present through a series of flashbacks.
We've not even met everyone yet, but some of those we have are already heading straight into Flagg's territory based on a few dreams and the word of a crucified man who fled.
It's almost impossible to connect with the characters under these circumstances.
Caring for people we barely know is difficult enough, but there hasn't even been enough information in this iteration of The Stand to understand why three people would put their lives on the line for the Boulder Free Zone.
Linearly, the Free Zone governing body was on the road simultaneously and often not far from one another. Harold and Frannie ran into Dayna and her friend by running straight into a man who was destined to be at Flagg's side.
Isn't it sad to think that when finding someone else alive at the end of the world, there would still be people alive whose first thought is to harm others? It's aggravating.
Yet, there are also people like Dayna left alive. Dayna only needed an opportunity to turn her situation around to her favor, and she got that when Frannie and Harold came along.
If not for Dayna, they might all be dead, Stu and Glen included. A loose cannon with a gun can do a lot of damage. Harold sure wasn't worth a lot, not that I would have expected anything different.
It's funny how people like Harold talk a big game and need to be in the limelight, but they cower and beg for mercy instead when it comes to taking action.
You'd think it couldn't have gotten any more emasculating for Harold, but then Stu showed up to wrap Frannie safely in his arms.
That was the last straw for Harold. He solidified his need for vengeance with Stu's arrival. But if not for Nadine, it's unlikely Harold would have ever gotten up the gumption to do anything to Stu of his own volition.
Everyone following the dreams to get to Flagg is misbegotten and cowardly. They crave things from him that they cannot get on their own. Flagg's superficial belief in them compels them into action.
I have to wonder -- was Nadine really a schoolteacher in a former life? Now and then, she has a little bit of compassion in her for Joe, but she's so focused on Flagg and riding him to her happily ever after that it's hard to imagine her in the education field.
Unless that was something that Flagg wanted for her. He has been her driving force since childhood. Using education to mold young minds to a specific train of thought isn't a new concept.
But taking her virgin self to Harold to share Flagg's plan for them was cringeworthy. She even put on makeup for the occasion. Hell, she could have shown up covered in mud, and Harold would have gotten just as much enjoyment out of their fleeting moment together.
But Harold used his new friend to benefit Flagg. He stood up and got the crowd to approve those who Flagg wants dead elected as the Boulder Free Zone governing body.
Speaking of Harold and his dead friend Teddy (RIP, Teddy, we never knew you), I cannot remember if the novel had the new safety patrol discovering a bunch of ski patrol coats with pamphlets about their duties, but that doesn't wash.
There isn't skiing anywhere near Boulder. There are no Boulder ski patrols. There is no need for avalanche explosives at the ready. Writing about someplace that you are unfamiliar with requires an extra level of research.
Having worked in Boulder for years, I can assure you that you're not going to run into any of that activity there. Oh well. It got the job done, I guess. Harold has explosives to take out the group he got elected.
And he no longer has a friend in Teddy. One in, one out. That poor bastard even tried protecting Harold with his last breath.
After Boulder celebrated with Larry playing a rousing rendition of the Star-Spangled Banner Jimi Hendrix style, the new leaders got together to try to figure out how to keep the public from learning the truth.
There is so much about that ringing true in 2021 that it's frightening, but hey, at least Stephen King knew the government lied to its people under the guise of safety. How very prescient of him.
But isn't it strange that they've already decided that they're the only brains in all of the Boulder Free Zone? Sure, the place was built by many following an old woman in a cornfield, but they did, as well.
They know relatively nothing about Flagg and what he has prepared for them. The crucified man said Flagg is coming. But to ask three people to infiltrate the unknown based on a hunch might be too much.
Glen began as the voice of reason, but it didn't take long for him to shove that aside to stand with the others.
I recently read about a study showing how people will follow a group rather than stand on their own, even succumbing to the idea they have been misinformed and cannot possibly be right in light of so many others who believe the opposite.
The thing about this group is that they were all reluctant to pull the trigger for various reasons. The discussion wasn't deep enough to persuade me that they were doing the right thing. It was too superficial.
Viewers have a better idea of what will be awaiting the three travelers in Las Vegas.
Nick and Tom didn't randomly stumble upon Julie on their way to Hemingford Home.
No doubt, Julie heard Flagg's call, which means there is at least one person in Vegas already who knows one of the Boulder spies, and M O O N, that spells disaster.
I can't remember how much of the dialogue Katherine McNamara delivered comes directly from the book. Since the term "feeb" has been (thankfully) lost over the decades, it seems likely a lot of it was directly from the novel.
Were you as uncomfortable in her presence as I was? She doesn't offer much to the story other than arranging for someone to be in Boulder to recognize Tom. But dang, she was vile.
One fun thing came from that altercation, though. The Stephen King sighting!! Did you catch King seated at the table for the Hemingform Home ad?
He's known for his cameos in productions of his work, so I'm glad we weren't disappointed. Well, unless you figure he's one dead Hemingford Home resident!
So, where do you stand on this production of King's masterpiece?
Is it easier to get into by this episode, or are you still struggling to connect? Drop me a comment down below.
Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and a staff writer and critic for TV Fanatic. She's a member of the Critic's Choice Association, enjoys mentoring writers, cats, and passionately discussing the nuances of television and film. Follow her on Twitter and email her here at TV Fanatic.