Stephen King as Teddy in The Stand

In a certain light, Stephen King’s The Stand exists as a living document. The post-apocalyptic novel was originally published in 1978, but the author has taken multiple opportunities to change the text. In 1990 an unabridged version of the book was published, adding about 400 pages to the story as it was originally published, and a few years after that he personally took on the task of adapting the material as a six-hour miniseries.

More than a quarter century has passed since that last update, but now King has made further revisions in the form of a new coda that will air as the final episode of the new miniseries on CBS All Access. It’s an exciting development for all Constant Readers, and now making it only more anticipated is the revelation that the character at the center of the new “chapter” will be Fran Goldsmith – played by Odessa Young in the new adaptation.

We’re still about two months away from seeing the finale of The Stand arrive on CBS All Access, but co-creator Benjamin Cavell teased the episode during the show’s TCA Panel earlier this month, and in doing so revealed a key bit of information regarding its plot and focus. According to the filmmaker, Stephen King has spent years nagged by the fact that Fran is reduced to a passive role in the third act of the story, and one of the goals of what’s been called the “coda” is to remedy that situation. Said Cavell,

I really don’t want to say much about that because it’s going to be completely new to the entire audience. But I guess the thing that I think I can say, and will say about it is that the big reason that [Stephen King] wanted to do the coda, and you know we’re so honored that he trusted us with it, but the thing that he had been thinking about for 30 years is that, look, Frannie doesn’t go on The Stand in the book.

In Stephen King’s novel, the reader literally meets Fran Goldsmith right as she is discovering that she is pregnant with her boyfriend’s baby. She spends the entire book carrying the child, and is about ready to go into labor by the time the big third act showdown plays out. As a result, she is not exactly a character equipped to play an active role in the battle against Randall Flagg – especially because the first leg of that journey involves hiking on foot from Boulder, Colorado to Las Vegas, Nevada.

The source material leaves the titular Stand to four male characters – Stu Redman, Larry Underwood, Glen Bateman, and Ralph Brentner – and it’s worth noting that it already looks like the miniseries is updating the demographics of the showdown, as Ralph Brentner has been gender swapped as Ray Brentner (portrayed by Irene Bedard). Stephen King’s new ending will apparently go the extra mile, however, and provide Fran with a more active part.

Acknowledging both what was and what will be, Benjamin Cavell continued,

She’s just a number of months pregnant. I mean, she’s sort of seven, eight months pregnant by that point. She can’t walk across the mountains to confront The Dark Man. But it always ate at [King] that she wasn’t there as one of the heroes of the book; she was never given her stand. So what I will say about the coda is that it is his planned attempt of the last 30 years to give her her Stand.

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Speaking with Odessa Young later that same day in a virtual roundtable interview with a small group of other reporters, I asked her what it meant to her that the new version of The Stand was getting updated with a coda written by Stephen King, and she expressed that it means a lot to her personally. She expressed sincere love for the fact that King is still updating [his story] to this day, more than 40 years after the book was originally published, and personally being a fan it does a solid job blowing her mind that she gets to play a part in what immediately becomes a noteworthy part of pop culture. Said the actor,

He's been doing this for 40 years. He's been writing this for 40 years if you count the coda that he's written. So it is really exciting to be a part of that, and to just be a part of King history. The more kind of distance that I've gotten from filming the show, because it's so important, and it's such a cool project that if I ever thought about how cool it was while we were shooting I'd freak out.

Now, however, Odessa Young has had time to step back from the experience and can appreciate it all as a fan instead of just as a performer. She continued,

But now with enough distance, I get to really love it! I get to be so excited about it and say, I played Frannie Goldsmith in 2020s version of The Stand and that's fucking cool, excuse my language. That's something that I'm really excited about, is bringing to life a new little aspect of this story that hasn't been seen before from the King himself.

The first episode of The Stand is now available to stream exclusively on CBS All Access, and those of you keeping track you’ll be able to see the Stephen King-written finale/coda on February 11, 2021. We’ll be providing a whole lot of coverage for the show between now and then, so stay tuned here on CinemaBlend for more interviews, features, news updates, and more.

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