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The Stand holds high esteem as one of prolific author Stephen King’s best novels. It’s especially relevant during the COVID-19 pandemic since the story’s premise is based on a deadly pandemic that devastates the world’s population. The Stand episode 2, Pocket Savior, continues laying the groundwork the first episode began. Similar to the first episode, Pocket Savior uses a non-linear timeline of events.
The Stand Episode 2 Recap (SPOILERS AHEAD!)
The Stand episode 2 is available to watch on Paramount +. As with the first episode, this episode also jumps back and forth between the present and the past. Perhaps you’re here because you find that method of storytelling confusing. I get it – and I’m glad you’re here. Allow me to break down this episode.
This episode introduces viewers to Larry Underwood (Jovan Adepo), Nadine Cross (Amber Heard), Lloyd Henreid (Nat Wolff). We also briefly meet Rita Blakemoor (Heather Graham), Wayne Stuckey (Darren Dolynski), Andrew ‘Poke’ Freeman (Jeremy Jones), (Nick Andros (Henry Zaga), Ray Brentner (Irene Bedard), Joe (Gordon Cormier), and Judge Harris (Gabrielle Rose).
The episode begins in an abandoned department store, where Larry Underwood’s group of followers temporarily camp. They soon leave the store to continue their journey across the country, following Harold Lauder’s spray-painted path to The Boulder Freezone in Colorado.
As they near one of the entrances to The Boulder Freezone, Stu Redman and a few others are there to greet Larry and his group.
Welcome, to The Boulder Freezone. Now, which one of you is Larry Underwood?Stu Redman, to Larry Underwood as Larry’s group approaches
Right after that scene, the intro plays. Then we’re brought back to the time of the pandemic’s start. Larry is an up-and-coming musician who is drinking alcohol and snorting coke while yelling at his manager that he doesn’t want to go on stage without his band. You see, the rest of his band is sick with the new flu.
Larry’s mother is sick, too. She is waiting for him backstage to let him know she was there to see his performance. She greets him harshly by scolding him about his drinking habit, as a good mother should. From there, Larry gets on stage to a nearly empty club and goes to perform his hit song, “Baby Can You Dig Your Man,” but gets interrupted by a very sick Wayne Stuckey, a drug dealer.
Wayne used to be Larry’s roommate and claims Larry not only stole his record collection but also portions of lyrics to “Baby Can You Dig Your Man.” A small fight breaks out between Wayne and Larry when Wayne charges the stage, but the scene is quickly broken up and transitions to the next scene.
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Next, we’re transported to a prison, presumably around the same date as we were just in at Larry’s small concert. Notorious outlaw Lloyd Henry is being escorted to his cell for the first time by two prison guards, who he taunts along the way. After the guards secure Lloyd in his cell, one begins coughing as they walk away.
Lloyd is a younger man, possibly in his early to mid-twenties. He is in prison convicted as a cop killer, however, he never actually shot anyone. His partner in crime did, however. The episode then flashes back even further in time where we see Andrew “Poke” Freeman and Lloyd sticking up a convenience store.
Poke puts his huge pistol to a woman’s head as they hold up the store. He suddenly sneezes and accidentally pulls the trigger of his pistol, basically blowing the woman’s head off into the clerk’s face. Poke laughs as he just “pokerized her” but Lloyd gets freaked out.
Moments later, with Poke pointing his pistol at Lloyd, ordering Lloyd to kill the clerk, Poke gets shot in the face. There was a police officer hiding in the store that just came out of the bathroom. Right after the officer shoots Poke, Poke fires back and kills the officer. Seconds later, the store erupts in gunfire from other police officers outside.
Lloyd ducks down into a prone position on the floor and gives up, while Poke bleeds out from his face and dies.
The scene ends and we’re transported back to present-day, with Stu and Larry on their way to see Mother Abigail. Meanwhile, Fran escorts Nadine Cross and Joe to their home in the Freezone.
Fran asks Nadine if she’s having the dreams about Mother Abigail, as it’s a prerequisite to staying in Boulder. Nadine, clearly lying, says she has them. Fran then asks Nadine if she’ll be Joe’s mother, even if only temporarily. Joe (which isn’t his actual name) is a young boy that suffered an unknown trauma before Nadine found him wandering somewhere in Pennsylvania months ago and doesn’t speak.
Joe holds onto an acoustic guitar (likely Larry’s) like it’s his security blanket. Nadine calls the boy Joe because she doesn’t know his actual name and when she was a school teacher, that’s the name she’d use when she couldn’t remember a student’s name.
After that scene ends, it’s Larry’s turn to get tempted to the evil side by Randall Flagg. In his dark dream, Larry is surrounded by Las Vegas billboards showcasing his name, but that scene is quickly replaced by another.
In the new scene, we’re back to the day after Larry’s performance at the club. He wakes up beside the waitress from the club and gets skeeved out when he sees a ton of snot on the woman’s face. As he gets dressed and leaves, she throws a plant at him, which hits the wall and shatters.
I thought you were a nice guy. You’re not a nice guy!Club waitress yelling at Larry Underwood
Immediately after Larry closes the apartment door and stands in the hallway, his phone rings. It’s the hospital calling him to let him know that his mother is there and is very ill. Captain Trips is starting to take a massive amount of lives in NYC.
When Larry arrives at the hospital and asks a nurse where his mother is, the nurse replies, “good luck with that,” and walks away. The hospital is crowded, with patients taking up every room and hallway.
After a quick search, Larry finds his mother Alice, who is clearly terminally ill. Her glands under her neck are swollen and she has mucous all over her face. She’s delearious and tells Miles to get his father out of the bar. Larry feels her forehead and realizes she’s got a terrible fever.
Larry decides to take his mother home. As he tugs the wheelchair his mother is sitting in up the stairs to the apartment building, Wayne Stuckey pulls up. Wayne is almost as sick as Alice, except he’s pointing a gun at Larry and wants to kill him. Larry tells Wayne to give him a few minutes to get his mother in bed and that he’d come right back down.
A while later, Larry’s mother dies peacefully in her bed with Larry by her side. Larry leaves the apartment to confront Wayne. However, he waits a while just outside of the apartment building door for the effects of Captain Trips to take hold of Wayne, incapacitating him. Knowing it’s safe to come out, Larry confronts Wayne and steals the drug dealer’s duffle bag full of drugs.
Next, we see Larry and Stu in the present time, nearing Mother Abigail’s house. There, Stu introduces Larry to Ray Bretner, a sort-of bodyguard to Mother A. Inside, Larry meets Nick Andros, a deaf-mute blind in one eye. Nick is Mother A’s voice, ironically. Mother A calls Larry into her room, and as Larry crosses the threshold, we’re sent back into Larry’s dark dream.
Rats scurry and the Dark Man appears, and immediately we’re sent to a past memory of Larry’s experiences a while after the pandemic killed nearly everyone.
Larry wanders somewhat aimlessly in a park. An old man in a hospital johnny walks up to Larry and explains that he’s heading to Yankee stadium to run around the bases and plans to masterbate on home plate.
This clearly disgusts Larry and the two part ways to gunshots in the distance. A little later, Larry meets Rita Blakemoor, a middle-aged woman that clearly had vast wealth prior to the pandemic.
The two hit it off immediately which eventually leads to a romantic relationship as they decide to leave NYC for New England. It’s a warm moment to see Larry and Rita form a relationship, albeit a short-lived one. More on that later.
Now we go back to the prison where Lloyd is serving his sentence. The guards are busy transporting the dead inmates from their cells and haven’t provided Lloyd (and presumably any other inmates) food or water in almost two days.
When Lloyd begs for help from one of the guards, the guard calls him a cop killer, tells him to drink his toilet water, and throws mucus from the dead inmate he’s transporting into Lloyd’s face and mouth. Lloyd freaks out and runs to the toilet to wash it off of his face.
In the next scene, we see flame balls falling down like snow in New England, falling from the second level of the prison down in front of Lloyd’s cell, where Lloyd sits, seemingly giving up hope for freedom.
Then we’re brought back to the Larry and Rita timeline. Of course, nothing goes smoothly (it’d be boring if it did). As Larry and Rita attempt to leave NYC, they’re approached by a man offering $1 million USD for time with Rita. Disgusted, Larry shows his pistol to the man, which leads to the man’s two friends to show up with an assault rifle and shotgun. A chase ensues, forcing Larry and Rita to go underground into the sewer.
Rita is petrified of the rats in the sewer and Larry is petrified of the gun-toting men above ground, so they split up after a brief argument.
Meanwhile, back to Lloyd’s predicament. He unsuccessfully attempts to lure and kill a rat with a rolled up magazine, as he’s desperately hungry at this point. After narrowly missing the rat, he glances over at his now dead cellmate’s leg, almost salivating over it.
Finally, we get back to present time. Larry is showing Nadine and Joe their home in The Boulder Freezone. Nadine seems uncomfortable, longingly looking out of her new bedroom window. She asks Larry what Mother Abigail told him when they met, and he reminds her that he can’t tell anyone.
Nadine asks Larry to take Joe with him when he visits Harold so she has time to set the rooms up.
The next scene takes us back to Larry in NYC, in the sewer tunnels.
The Dark Man messes with Larry’s mind and makes him think his mother is in the water, floating in the sewer, asking Larry for help. Rats start coming out of her mouth and swarming Larry. He narrowly escapes the flooded sewer by climbing up to a manhole cover, screaming the entire time as he’s now swarmed by crows (or ravens?).
Oddly enough, when he surfaces on the road, Rita is there to help him. She calms him down and the duo put their argument behind them and continue their journey.
We’re then sped through Larry’s and Rita’s journey, at a pivotal moment. The duo are camping, having escaped NYC, and it’s dark. Rita, looking dejected, talks to Larry.
This is stupid. Being alive. When everyone else is dead. It’s like being the last people to leave a party. It’s stupid. It’s not worth it.Rita, talking to Larry
Larry doesn’t pick up on what Rita means and heads into the tent, tired after a long day. He kisses Rita good night and turns in.
Next, we’re brought back to present day which shows Larry and Joe arriving at Harold’s house. Larry introduces himself and thanks Harold for helping him out on the road. He also gives Harold a gift of his favorite candy bars and a bottle of wine.
Harold acts normal until Larry asks about Fran, not realizing Fran is with Stu now. The entire time, Joe looks petrified to be near Harold, as he refuses to make eye contact and backs away. Larry and Joe leave Harold soon after.
Back to Rita…
Rita grabs a bottle of alcohol which she drinks straight from the bottle. She walks off from the campsite and holds a bottle of pills. She pours a handful of pills and downs them with a big swig of alcohol. Then she does it again. You can guess what happens to her.
After that, we head back to present-day with Nadine looking out into the dark woods at night. She’s on her porch but hears a noise indoors, even though she’s home alone. She hears the noise again and directs her attention to a Ouija board game called Planchette.
Then we scoot back over to Lloyd in prison. He’s not looking so hot and is in dire need of food and water. Fortunately, Randall Flagg pays him a visit. I consider this the best scene of the episode, showcasing Alexander Skarsgård and Nat Wolff’s acting chemistry. The duo steal the show in every scene they are in together.
Flagg offers to rescue Lloyd if Lloyd swears his undying loyalty to Flagg. Lloyd is given a black stone with a red glow coming from it in the form of a prison cell key. Lloyd swears loyalty to Flagg and gets freed. Flagg makes his new servant his right-hand-man, “like St. Peter at the pearly gates.”
This scene sets the precedent that Flagg, aka The Dark Man, finds the lowlifes of the country to make them his followers. It also explains why Flagg’s attempts to recruit Mother Abigail’s followers failed.
That’s it. Fade to black and play a great song – Brand New Key by Melanie. So ironic yet catchy. From beginning to end, this episode is fantastic.
Differences Between the Book and Episode
Buy a copy of Stephen King’s The Stand on Amazon here!
As I mentioned previously, Stephen King’s novel The Stand takes place in a linear format, allowing the story and characters to develop sequentially. The series, however, takes an entirely different approach.
Male Judge Farris vs Female Judge Harris
In the book, Judge Farris is a retired male judge in his 70s, however, in the new Paramount+ series, the character is a retired female judge seemingly in her 60s, renamed Harris instead of Farris.
Male Ralph Brentner vs Female Ray Brentner
Not only is this character female in the show, but she also plays a lesser role. In the book, Ralph is a member of the council and is sort of a handyman. In the show, Ray is essentially Mother Abigail’s bodyguard figure.
Escape from New York
In the book, Larry Underwood and and Rita Blakemoor escape from New York via the Lincoln Tunnel, in a harrowing ordeal which mars them psychologically afterwards. Whereas the book stuck with a dark, scary tunnel, the series has the duo first head into the sewers after getting chased by gunmen. After rats scare Rita, she decides to exit the tunnel and take her chances up top, evading the men.
Larry continues on in the sewer, where the Dark Man taunts him by making Larry’s mother float up to the surface. Larry freaks out and escapes the sewer, at the exact location where Rita Blakemoor is standing, having followed Larry’s advice to walk north.
“You Ain’t no Nice Guy”
The book had a fantastic scene where Larry wakes up next to a cocktail waitress from the club he performed at the night before. The woman has a thick New York/New Jersey accent and rages on Larry much more than what occurred in the series. The scene in the book gave Larry’s character more depth while the scene in the series didn’t do much.
One of the biggest changes in the series is with Wayne Stuckey. In the series, Wayne was Larry’s former roommate that stole the hook and chorus of Baby Can You Dig Your Man?, Larry’s hit song. He also interrupts Larry’s premier for Pocket Savior, his new album. Finally, Wayne attempts to kill Larry.
However, in the book, Wayne Stuckey is merely a drug dealer that Larry owes money to. He actually flees Los Angeles to get away from Wayne until Larry can get the money to pay Wayne back for all the drugs he and his so-called friends did the week prior. It’s the whole reason Larry ends up in New York, which advances the plot of the book.
Lloyd and Poke
The book goes into a deeper background of how Lloyd and Poke became notorious outlaws, where in the series it just starts where Lloyd and Poke’s adventures come to an end.
Easter Eggs Aplenty
Keep an eye out for some fun easter eggs in this series. Here are a few that I discovered:
1. Tazud Lemke
The cover of the Ouija-type board (with the planchette) said “Taduz.” Taduz Lemke was the name of the old gypsy in Thinner.
The first four numbers of Lloyd’s inmate number equal 19. 19 is a mystical number that appears regularly throughout the works of Stephen King, particularly the Dark Tower series.
3. I’ve Got a Brand New Pair of Roller Skates…
The song playing at the end of the episode, Brand New Key by Melanie, alludes to two things. The first is to the brand new key Flagg gave Lloyd when he helped the convict get out of his prison cell.
However, not many fans may have caught the second reference. Rita Blakemoor actress Heather Graham’s breakout role was in 1997’s Boogie Nights, which she played Roller Girl. The song Brand New Key appeared in the movie and on the movie’s soundtrack.
I enjoyed this episode as much as the first one. The characters introduced in this episode had depth and purpose. I appreciate the episode’s non-linear flow, but I understand that most people don’t. It also helped that I read The Stand and understood the transitions back and forth in time. Most of the negative reviews I’ve read cite the episode structure, which is unfortunate.
Let me know what you think about The Stand episode 2 in the comments below!