With last week’s premiere episode of The Stand on CBS All Access, we learned something important about how the new miniseries is breaking up its story. Rather than specifically following the book or following a linear narrative, the show is using a flashback heavy formula and using its early chapters to center on specific characters. “The End” had the task of introducing Odessa Young’s Fran Goldsmith, Owen Teague’s Harold Lauder, and James Marsden’s Stu Redman, and now “Pocket Savior” has put the spotlight on Jovan Adepo’s Larry Underwood and Nat Wolff’s Lloyd Henreid.
There is a lot in the sophomore episode that is taken directly from Stephen King’s novel, including Larry’s tryst with Rita Blakemoor (Heather Graham), and Lloyd getting caught in the midst of his crime spree with his partner Poke Freeman – but there are also a number of things that are altered, omitted, or straight up changed. It’s those elements that we’re here to explore, and we’ll start with one from the first flashback:
Larry Is Still Performing When Captain Trips Hits
By the time Captain Trips starts spreading around the world in the Stephen King book, Larry Underwood has taken a step back from his rock and roll lifestyle. With “Baby Can You Dig Your Man” rocketing up the charts, he begins to get overwhelmed with all the money and drugs, and makes the decision to get away from it all by going to New York. The timeline seems to be a bit different for him in the new Stand miniseries, however, as the earliest point we meet him in the story doesn’t feature him quite at rock bottom yet. Instead, he’s still playing concerts even when his entire band is calling in sick with the virus. It’s both a change from the source material, and what we can now look at from personal experience amidst the spread of COVID-19 as really bad mid-pandemic behavior.
Did Larry Steal “Baby Can You Dig Your Man” From Wayne Stuckey?
When we meet Wayne Stuckey in Stephen King’s novel, he’s actually a character with a positive influence on Larry Underwood. He’s introduced as a friend of the musician’s and someone looking out for his best interest when he starts becoming a party monster (it’s because of Wayne’s suggestion that Larry returns to New York). In the new adaptation, however, the relationship is totally flipped. Not only are Larry and Wayne ex-friends, but the one not living the rock star lifestyle is convinced that his former roommate stole the hook and chorus of “Baby Can You Dig Your Man” from him. Did that actually happen? This episode doesn’t provide any specific closure, but perhaps we’ll get some later down the line.
The Boulder Free Zone Committee Shrinks A Bit
When Larry Underwood first arrives in Boulder, Colorado with his caravan, he is surprised to discover that Stu Redman both knows his name and has been waiting for him. As we learn from a conversation that the two characters have, he is one of five people selected by Mother Abigail specifically to be a part of the group that will govern the new society (eventually known as the Boulder Free Zone Committee). If you’re a Constant Reader and that particular number struck your ear funny, there’s a good reason. In Stephen King’s tome the size of the committee is seven members – with Larry, Stu, Fran Goldsmith, Nick Andros, and Glen Bateman joined by Ralph Brentner (changed to Ray Brentner in the show) and Susan Stern. One can imagine that the adaptation chose to go this way if not only to try and simplify things and not overwhelm audiences with an excess of characters.
Larry’s Big Bag Of Drugs
Not only is the connection with Wayne Stuckey changed in the show, but so too is the end of his relationship with the “Baby Can You Dig Your Man” singer. After taking his mother out of the hospital, Larry arrives at her place, and he is confronted once again by Wayne – who is very clearly dying from Captain Trips. Larry only pays him any mind after his mom has died, and even then it has nothing to do with their personal history together. Instead, the troubled musician is exclusively interested in the big duffel bag of drugs that Wayne has in his car – which he still has with him when his time with Rita Blakemoor is at an end (more on that in a minute). The bag of drugs isn’t something featured in Stephen King’s book, so we’ll have to wait see what happens with it as the show progresses.
The Monster Shouter Doesn’t Get The Spotlight
The Monster Shouter is far from a major character in Stephen King’s The Stand, but the novel certainly features a hell of a lot more of him than the adaptation does. In the CBS All Access show he doesn’t actually physically appear, and is instead merely a topic of conversation between Larry Underwood and Rita Blakemoor (as in the book, it’s Larry who gives him the “Monster Shouter” moniker). But his fate is much more notable in King’s version. Before they get out of New York, Larry and Rita come upon his mutilated corpse, which is riddled with stab wounds and chewed on by rats. He was played by NBA legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in the 1994 miniseries, and it’s too bad that there wasn’t a stunt-casting tradition maintained with this new version.
A Trip Through The Sewers Instead Of The Lincoln Tunnel
One of the most disturbing sequences in the first act of Stephen King’s The Stand plays out when Larry Underwood is trying to leave New York City and finds his only way to do so is via the pitch black and traffic/body congested Lincoln Tunnel. It’s a haunting, nightmarish part of the book that stays with the reader long after it’s over. But the CBS All Access version decided to go a different direction with it. Instead of the tunnel, the new adaptation instead finds Larry and Rita Blakemoor going on a different kind of underground adventure, specifically by heading into the sewers after being pursued by a group of rapists. One thing that the parallel scenes do share in common is Rita freaking out and then showing up again at a later point, but other than that they are markedly dissimilar.
We Don’t See Larry Discover Rita’s Body
Of all the characters in The Stand stuck in the middle of the battle between good and evil, Larry Underwood is arguably tugged both ways the hardest. He wants to be a decent person, but he’s also selfish and frequently gives into his worst impulses. His relationship with Rita Blakemoor in the book is a testament to his efforts to change, as he tries to be courteous to her in the face on constant complaining, and the way their journey together ends winds up having a lasting impact on him. But it’s a bit different in the adaptation. In the new miniseries, we simply see Rita take enough pills to guarantee an overdose – but what we don’t see is the aftermath, which is Larry waking up next to her and discovering that she is dead, which is detailed horrifically in the text. It’s possible that we will get to see this depressing scene later in the season, but for now it feels like it’s missing.
That covers all the changes from Stephen King’s book in “Pocket Savior,” but we’ll be back next week doing a deep dive into the events that play out in The Stand episode three, titled “Blank Page.” Stay tuned for that here on CinemaBlend, as well as other features, interviews, news, and more!
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Eric Eisenberg is the Assistant Managing Editor at CinemaBlend. After graduating Boston University and earning a bachelor’s degree in journalism, he took a part-time job as a staff writer for CinemaBlend, and after six months was offered the opportunity to move to Los Angeles and take on a newly created West Coast Editor position. Over a decade later, he's continuing to advance his interests and expertise. In addition to conducting filmmaker interviews and contributing to the news and feature content of the site, Eric also oversees the Movie Reviews section, writes the the weekend box office report (published Sundays), and is the site's resident Stephen King expert. He has two King-related columns.