The Stand: 7 Differences Between The Book And The Show After Episode 3

Alexander Skarsgard as Randall Flagg in The Stand

We’ve met Stu Redman; we’ve met Fran Goldsmith; we’ve met Harold Lauder; we’ve met Larry Underwood; and we’ve met Lloyd Henreid. And yet The Stand on CBS All Access is only still just starting its epic battle between good and evil on its pandemic-ravaged, post-apocalyptic stage. Structured non-linearly, the early episodes have slowly been introducing audiences to the many characters in the Stephen King adaptation’s massive ensemble, and now that we’ve hit the third chapter, titled “Blank Page,” viewers are being familiarized with the likes of Nadine Cross (Amber Heard), Nick Andros (Henry Zaga), Tom Cullen (Brad William Henke), and Glen Bateman (Greg Kinnear).

These are all key characters that are very familiar to fans of the original novel, but just like the previous episodes, there are some notable things in the new miniseries that have been changed, altered, or omitted from the original text. It’s via this weekly column that we’re examining these alternations individually, and just as we did for “The End” and “Pocket Savior,” we’ll start by recognizing how “Blank Page” quickly starts the episode with material new to even Constant Readers…

The Young Nadine Dream/Flashback

There are passages in The Stand (specifically in Chapter 49) when Stephen King tells us a bit about Nadine Cross’ backstory, namely that she was orphaned at the age of six, and lived with her aunt and uncle for ten years before running away when she was 16. It was at this time that she began her “relationship” with Randall Flagg – but the miniseries changes some of those details. For starters, this version of Nadine grew up in an orphanage instead of with relatives, but more importantly The Walking Dude starts whispering in her ear at a much younger age. We don’t specifically know how old she is when she is shown with a group of girls using a planchette, but it’s very clearly Flagg’s first outreach, as he makes her write, “Nadine will be my queen, we are in the house of the dead.”

The Crucified Man Arrives

Readers of The Stand are most definitely familiar with Randall Flagg’s penchant for literally crucifying those who try and rebel against him, and that’s a harsh detail brought to life in the miniseries’ third episode – albeit in a way that isn’t featured in the source material. The whole subplot involving the messenger sent from Las Vegas to the Boulder Free Zone is an invention of the adaptation, albeit one that borrows elements straight from the book. Without more context, it seems the primary function of the addition is to give audiences a brief glimpse into what is going on under The Dark Man’s rule in the west until we get a full dose of the action in a later episode.

There Is A Doctor In The Boulder Free Zone

One of the prime sources of drama as society is reconfiguring itself in The Stand is the fact that not a lot of doctors have survived the Captain Trips outbreak – which is something that is particularly of concern to Fran Goldsmith given her whole pregnancy situation. One of the most distressing stories that comes out of the journey to Hemingford Home in the book is the attempt at an amateur appendectomy that ends with a dead patient. We still might see that scene brought to life later down the line in the miniseries, but one interesting new element introduced in the adaptation is that the Boulder Free Zone does have a doctor (albeit not an OB-GYN) and also a veterinary technician. In the latest episode it allows Fran to get an ultrasound that provides her first look at her unborn baby, and also broach the question of whether or not the child will be immune to the respiratory virus like its mother.

Stu, Fran, And Harold Don’t Stay Together After First Meeting

When Stu meets Harold and Fran in The Stand miniseries, the dynamics are definitely adapted straight from the book. Being the jealous weasel that he is, Harold is immediately suspicious of Stu as a potential romantic rival for his crush, and tensions are high as a result. Where things deviate from the text is in where things conclude. In Stephen King’s book, Stu convinces the incel from Ongunquette, Maine that he is no threat to their relationship, and the three of them wind up traveling together on the road to Hemingford Home, as opposed to going their separate ways like they do in the CBS All Access show. It seems that this choice was made because Stu now doesn’t meet Glen until after his encounter with Fran and Harold, presumably setting up their reunion on the road in a later episode.

The Start Of Nick’s Story Get Simplified

Like in the book, Nick Andros’ story “starts” when he is assaulted at a bar in Shoyo, Arkansas, but beyond that the miniseries seriously reduces the first leg of his journey. In Stephen King’s version, there is a whole arc that finds Nick given hospitality by the local sheriff following the violence and experiencing his own personal morality play as he weighs whether or not to help the men who attacked him when they are in jail dying from the outbreak. It’s because Nick decides to do the Good Guy thing that he winds up losing his eye – and that’s obviously handled very differently on the adaptation of The Stand. Rather than have Nick witness Captain Trips slowly decimate the town of Shoyo, all of that material is cut down and partially transplanted into a hospital setting.

Nick Meets Tom In The Hospital

Staying on the subject of that hospital setting, the fact that Nick meets Tom Cullen there is another way that his narrative has been condensed. In Stephen King’s The Stand, Nick first encounters the simple-but-friendly loner when he is already on the road, discovering him laying down on the street in May, Oklahoma, but this new version seemingly makes it so that Tom is a native of Shoyo, which brings them together faster. Based on the trailers we’ll still get to see their experience with the psychotic Julie Lawry play out in a future episode, but it’s not included as part of their initial meeting in “Blank Page.”

Glen Is Actually A Talented Painter

One of the funny quirks that makes Glen Bateman instantly likable when he is introduced in Stephen King’s novel is the fact that he enjoys painting – but is in actuality a terrible painter. Taking the optimistic point of view, he reasons that he may suck, but he is also very possibly the most talented artist left on the planet. In the miniseries, Glen’s painting is approached a bit differently, namely as a tool to move the story forward. It’s because of the sociology professor’s impressive collection of oil-on-canvas that Stu Redman discovers that they have both been having the same dream about Mother Abigail, and it also informs the traveler from East Texas about Fran Goldsmith being pregnant.

“Blank Page” most definitely packed in a lot of action for a 51 minute episode, and the epic will continue next week with the launch of the fourth episode, titled “The House Of The Dead.” You can be sure that we’ll be back with another edition of our book-to-show comparison, so stay tuned for that coverage of The Stand here on CinemaBlend, as well as much more!

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Eric Eisenberg
Assistant Managing Editor

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.