When CBS All Access decided to push forward with debuting The Stand reboot (a limited series) on December 17, I’ll admit to feeling skeptical. At that point, the U.S. will have endured a worsening pandemic for over nine months, and it seemed like a not-timely idea to expect people to watch Captain Trips take out 99% of the population, as carved out in Stephen King’s sprawling post-apocalyptic masterpiece. Even with Alexander Skarsgard as Randall Flag, James Marsden as Stu Redman, Amber Heard as Nadine Cross, Whoopi Goldberg as Mother Abagail, and so many more onboard, yeah, this project needed to land in an optimal fashion to score.
As it turns out, the most optimal structure will be to go non-linear. So, the pandemic happens in flashbacks later during the runtime. In doing so, the reboot detours away from the layout of Stephen King’s book, which spent several hundred pages on people dying by the thousands and immune people traveling across the country to Boulder, Colorado before heading to Vegas. As showrunner Benjamin Cavell has revealed to CBR, it felt important (and it’s damn wise) to not subject viewers to the same moves as pandemic movies that came out long after The Stand‘s original 1978 publication date:
“Having a nonlinear narrative differentiates us from the original miniseries, which has the same kind of linear narrative as the book, but we when first were sitting down to lay all this out, it certainly felt to me that everyone has seen Contagion and Outbreak — and I love those movies — did we want people to sit through three episodes of the world dying before we got to the meat of our story?”
Cavill continued while stressing that “The Stand isn’t really a story about a pandemic — of course part of it is and it has a pandemic in it — but really, the pandemic is the mechanism in which the world gets emptied out so that our heroes can walk to Mordor across a dead world.” Fair enough, so it sounds like this limited series will boil down the struggle to match up those leaders who felt drawn to Mother Abagail’s light and those who fell under the influences of Randall Flagg’s darkness. On a similarly spooky note, director Josh Boone has clarified that Marilyn Manson did record a cover of The Doors’ “The End,” which released on streaming services before it was yanked for being “too expensive” for the show, and that caused a little spiral where Manson’s planned role got cut from the script (it wasn’t Trashcan Man, who will be portrayed by Ezra Miller).
In addition, Entertainment Weekly has interviews with some of the cast, including a mention of Alexander Skarsgard portraying Flagg like “sort of sexy Trump,” according to Fiona Dourif, who plays Rat Woman. Aaand I’ll try to forget about that mental picture before watching the first episodes of The Stand, which will debut on December 17.