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The Stand: The Vigil

“There are still things worth losing it over.”

I imagine that if I were to interview showrunners Josh Boone and Benjamin Cavell, it would go something like this:

Josie [disingenuously]: So, tell me about the character of Nick Andros.

JB & BC: He’s deaf.

Josie: Okay! What else?

JB & BC: He’s been “dealt a shit hand." That's a direct quote, straight from Randall Flagg himself. Our dialogue is very edgy.

Josie: A shit hand? How so?

JB & BC: He’s deaf.

Josie: Okay, so what else?

JB & BC: He has a great death scene. Great! Y’know how he’s deaf? Well, in the sixth episode he’s going to look longingly at a postcard that has the word “Silencio” written on it...

Josie: In Spanish?

JB & BC: Didn’t we mention? He’s not just deaf. He’s also Salvadoran. We try to avoid one-dimensionality, and we thought it was really important to include diversity in our show.

Josie: Of course. Please continue.

JB & BC: So, he looks longingly at this postcard—“silencio” means “silence” in Spanish, FYI—and then he looks even more longingly at a piano...

Josie: Why a piano? He’s deaf. Why would he focus on a piano?

JB & BC: Because he’s deaf! Obviously, he would therefore long to hear piano music. It’s probably been his dream since childhood, to hear music. From a piano.

Josie: Of course. Please continue.

 JB & BC: So, he’s filled with longing. Because he’s deaf, see? And then it turns out there’s a bomb in the piano, and it goes off.

Josie: In the book, Nick does die in the explosion, but his deafness has nothing to do with it. He dies saving others. It is tragic and noble and ironic and fits with how he and Harold are character foils and it is all completely in character.

JB & BC: Yeah, King really doesn’t understand deaf people.

[end imaginary scene]

There is a distinction between “deaf” (unable to hear) and “Deaf” (a participant in Deaf culture who uses sign language). I mention this here not to preach my gospel of inclusivity and the social model of disability, but rather to point out that I am certain the showrunners are not aware of the distinction, since they seem to be unaware of the fact that deaf people can have anything else going on in their lives besides a hearing impairment.

In my previous review, I briefly explored some examples of nuance in King’s villains: they’re not embodiments of evil, I claimed. They’re evil people.

I’d like to flip that idea on its head this week and say that Josh Boone and Benjamin Cavell haven’t created characters who are people. They’ve created characters who are embodiments of various stereotypes or basic qualities. Stu is a redneck. Frannie is pregnant. Mother Abagail is holy. Lloyd is sleazy. And Nick is—Nick was—deaf.

We’ve had precious little opportunity to get to know Nick in this show, because there is no Nick to know. In the book, his name (“Andros” means “Man” in Greek) is an indication that Nick is something of a Jesus analogue, although not a perfect one. (Or perhaps a very perfect one, since Nick is just flawed enough to be human.)

In this show, however, Nick isn’t even a martyr. He’s...what? A fridging? A necessary death to prompt later action? I have no idea. Truly.

What I do know is this: Harold and Nadine’s plan to blow up the vigil was silly to begin with. Why put the bomb just inside the front door if they expected the vigil to take place outside? (And who put the bomb into the piano after Nadine left the poster case next to it?)

You know what? I don’t care. Asking this show to make plot-sense is like asking it to make character-sense: a fool’s game.

Like, for example: Trash Can Man. A fan favorite—in both the books and the 1990s miniseries—Trash Can Man is here reduced to a bundle of twitchy, mewling “acting” from Ezra Miller, who is apparently famous for playing The Flash in all those DC movies I haven’t watched. What was he wearing? Do I care?

Not really.

It’s worth pointing out that Lloyd was a bit freaked out by him, but Flagg wants Trash to get him the “big fire.” He knows Trash is up for it because Trash was able to work the fireplace in the Vegas hotel room, and that’s a sure sign that someone is a pyro-savant.

Why can’t Flagg just get the bomb himself? He’s able to travel, in some fashion, to the woods outside Boulder in order to mess with Mother Abagail. He’s able to levitate, as we’ve seen quite often. He’s able to sense Judge Farris and send goons to kill her. He can shift through closed elevator doors...Oh, who am I kidding? Do I care? Not really.

Let’s wrap this up with a quick recap of what we’re left with: Nick is dead, Frannie might be going into labor after her vigorous jog, Mother A has returned from the quickest forty-days-in-the-desert ever, Tom Cullen is on his way back home (where he will receive some bad news), Nadine had second thoughts and did something about it, and Harold had second thoughts but got over them.

If I cared about this show—which I do not—I would like to rewatch all the existing episodes and compare the number of lines and number of on-screen minutes Harold gets to what Nick gets. Then I would like to scream in rage and frustration while a camera slow-pans above me in a cliched tweak on “Khaaaaan!”

But since I don't care, I will just end with this:

Zero out of four pianos.

Josie Kafka is a full-time cat servant and part-time rogue demon hunter. (What's a rogue demon?)


  1. Josie, this is so sad and infuriating. I loved Nick in the book, too. I'm also sad that Skarsgard, my favorite actor in True Blood, signed on to play what could have been a great part but has turned out like this.

    I was so looking forward to this adaptation. I follow Stephen King on Twitter and I've noticed that he is saying nothing about it. That's telling.

    Many points for the Star Trek reference, since I know you don't watch Star Trek. :)

  2. Josie,thank you for taking this bullet for the rest of us.

  3. Your gratitude is very much appreciated.


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