With its sixth episode, The Stand has delivered its most climactic episode yet – a roaring boil following the simmer that was everything building up to it. We finally got our introduction to Ezra Miller as The Trashcan Man, Mother Abigail goes on her pilgrimage, the Boulder Free Zone spy plan completely falls apart, and it all ends with a big bang. “The Vigil” is the most exciting chapter that’s aired thus far – and while most of the action is taken directly from the pages of Stephen King’s book, there are some notable and interesting changes that have been made to change-up the adaptation.

Continuing my weekly habit of doing so, I’ve watched the latest episode of The Stand keeping in mind how the CBS All Access miniseries lines up with its source material, and have catalogued all of the most significant changes, alterations, and deviations. To start, let’s dig into the big introduction mentioned above…

Trashcan Man’s Story Gets Seriously Compressed; Flagg Sends Him For The Nuke

In Stephen King’s The Stand, Donald Merwin Elbert a.k.a. The Trashcan Man, is as big a character as any of the main protagonists. Full chapters are dedicated to his pyromaniac tour in a post-Captain Trips world, and his journey to Vegas is as horrifying as any of the characters’ experiences going to the Boulder Free Zone. The miniseries could have dedicated an entire episode to him alone – but instead it’s opted to shrink his arc down considerably. We do get to see him blowing up some oil tankers, and his mystical communication with Randall Flagg, but beyond that it skips over his whole journey with The Kid, and even seems to skip over the bit where Trashy sabotages New Vegas’ armaments. There is also an indication that The Dark Man is sending to specifically to retrieve a nuclear device, while in the book Trashy winds up getting the warhead as a misguided apology for the aforementioned sabotage.

Harold’s Bomb Has A Very Different Design

Stocked up with explosives taken from the controlled avalanche supplies found in the mountains, Harold Lauder gets creative with the design of his bomb in the new miniseries, making it long and narrow so that it can be hidden within the piano in Mother Abigail’s house. This is far more advanced than what we saw from Harold and Nadine Cross’ planning in the book. While the device in the adaptation’s case is transported around by the sinister duo in a poster tube, the novel’s fits within a shoebox, and that shoebox is put in a closet.

The Target Of The Attack Is A Vigil For Mother Abigail

As noted in last week’s feature, one thing that has been changed up in this version of The Stand is the timing of Mother Abigail Freemantle’s disappearance – as in the book she has disappeared even before the spies can be sent from Boulder to Vegas. By the time Harold Lauder and Nadine Cross get around to finishing their plans, Mother Abigail has been gone for quite some time, and the fact that that’s changed in this adaptation has resulted in another significant change. Because of the spiritual leader’s disappearance, Harold and Nadine make a plan to detonate their explosive during a vigil, giving the episode its name – but in the book the target is simply a normal committee meeting. They end up basically concluding the same way, but we’ll get into that more in a bit.

Mother Abigail And Randall Flagg Face Off In The Woods

In Stephen King’s original version of The Stand, Mother Abigail Freemantle’s journey through the wilderness is mostly kept a mystery. The audience is informed that her intention away from the Boulder Free Zone is to reopen communication with God, but exactly what happens to her during her time away is mostly left to the reader’s imagination. This new adaptation takes a different approach, and in doing so delivers a scene that is not found in the book: a face-to-face conversation between Mother Abigail and Randall Flagg. The end of their confrontation seems to leave the former with the upper hand, but the conclusion of the episode suggests that that may not be true (again, more on that in a bit).

Tom Escapes Vegas In A Truck Full Of Bodies

When Tom Cullen sees the full moon over Las Vegas in Stephen King’s The Stand, he registers that it means that it is time for him to return to the Boulder Free Zone – and his escape is mostly uneventful. Moving quietly, he takes a bike and makes his way out of town, and while there is a brief moment when he can feel Randall Flagg’s consciousness, it quickly fades. The CBS All Access miniseries, however, takes as much more dramatic approach. With Episode 4 sending Tom to Vegas without being hypnotized, and Episode 5 featuring Dayna passing him a note that says, “Run,” the character is given a lot more agency to make his own escape in Episode 6, and the way he does so is most definitely gruesome and gross, but ultimately effective.

Fran Finds The Bomb In Harold’s Basement

The Stand miniseries has been peppered with all varieties of references to The Shining (you may have noticed that Harold Lauder’s typewriter had a $217 price tag, and recognized a particular carpet pattern in Randall Flagg’s Vegas hotel), but “The Vigil” features the most significant Easter egg we’ve seen thus far: Fran Goldsmith looking through Harold’s manifesto a la Wendy Torrance finding the full ream of paper repeating the phrase “All Work And No Play Makes Jack A Dull Boy.” What’s kind of funny is that just as that scene in Stanley Kubrick’s movie was an invention not featured in Stephen King’s book, so is Fran’s discovery. While Fran does break into Harold’s house in the original text, she doesn’t actually find anything substantial. What we see in the new version is a smart, dramatic add.

Joe Finds Mother Abigail

Getting back to the end of the episode and the fate of Mother Abigail, the last big alteration we’ll point to is the sequence with Joe instinctively knowing where to go to find Mother Abigail Freemantle after hearing her voice in his head. One thing that has remained consistent about the show in adapting the book is Joe’s close relationship with the Boulder Free Zone founder, but that’s entirely invention for this new version. As far as the end of the episode goes, the only thing that really 100% lines up is that people hearing the news about Mother Abigail and celebrating draws them away from the bomb – reducing the total number of casualties.

Tensions are going to be as high as ever in the post-apocalyptic world of The Stand going into next week’s episode, which is titled “The Walk,” and you can be sure that I’ll be back once again comparing how events play out compared to the Stephen King’ novel. Episode 7 will drop on CBS All Access January 28 at midnight PST, and my latest feature will be available at the same time here on CinemaBlend!

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