As we left LAST WEEK‘s episode, things were progressing.
Harold and Nadine sealed their fates, detonating a bomb intended to kill the Boulder Free Zone Committee. Ezra Miller arrived on the scene as Trashcan Man, going about 11 on a 10-point Nic Cage Scale. Narratively, flashbacks were at a minimum.
We pick up this week with Trashcan Man finding a nuclear warhead in the desert. Again, it’s tough to really say if Miller’s portrayal is good or bad, but it’s hard to look away from his choices here.
After a look-in at Trashy, we’re back to Boulder as we see Harold and Nadine right after they detonate the bomb. Harold’s again back on the fence, snapping at Nadine saying what’s done is done, they’re done, and he’s off to Vegas to get his reward from Flagg. Again, here is a small window of regret that doesn’t really track with anything the show’s given to us from Harold to date. Nadine seems taken aback by his cruelty, but off they go to Vegas.
Next on the checklist is down in Boulder, with a look at the survivors of the bomb. Larry and Glen are discussing Nick’s death and if they should tell Mother Abigail. “He was her favorite!” So much of this show is things we’re told and never have been given the chance to see. So many things are yoked to the book, which, fine, but they use that as a shortcut for storytelling time and time again.
Nick and Abigail had maybe 5 minutes of screen time together? How seven hours of show can have issues you would expect out of a 90-minute movie is mind-blowing. This may be Stephen King Sacrilege, but The Dark Tower Movie, compressing 7 books into one HORRIBLE movie, did a better job getting the character beats down than this show has done so far.
Abigail quickly wakes up, having been found in the woods last episode by wayward youth Joe in the woods. Even quicker, Abigail dies after telling the remaining Free Zone Committee that Stu is their leader now and Stu, Larry, Ray, and Glen must go to Vegas to face Flagg.
Here, in a show whose early press was built around giving Frannie more to do, we lose a really good Frannie book scene. In the book, Frannie loses her shit, to put it mildly. Fighting back against Abigail, her God, their role in all this world rebuilding, everything as she realizes Abigail’s plan is a suicide mission and she’d lose Stu. Show-Frannie sits idly by and just deals with it. Empowering!
I’ve tried not to harp TOO much on Book vs TV, as I really don’t think there’s a clear cut champion here; it’s all in the execution. But the next part I actually laughed at as I realized it. The Joe character had a much closer connection to Larry in the book than they ever take the time to develop here. Same with Nadine really. They were his de facto parents.
There’s a book character that didn’t make the jump to tv, Lucy Swann, who Larry ends up with and also takes on a mother role to Joe. By skipping her role, though, Joe now has no one left in Boulder. Nadine’s gone West. Larry’s following, Abigail just died. Larry doesn’t really seem broken up leaving the kid behind. He tells Joe “See you soon!” on what anyone, in show, viewer, book reader, anyone would assume is a suicide mission. They don’t even give the kid a cliched “please don’t go” moment. Wild.
Elsewhere, Nadine decides to live her life a quarter mile at a time and starts racing Harold in the windy mountain pass roads on their way to Vegas. Harold’s obviously not about that furious nor fast life and he’s shown family means nothing to him, so he quickly crashes his bike, impales himself on a tree and off Nadine goes.
Harold gets a mini spark of redemption, realizing he threw it all away, and that he could have had a life in Boulder. Before killing himself, Harold writes all this in his journal and gets a voiceover narration later as Larry climbs down the ravine to pay his respects. To the guy that just killed a bunch of people in Boulder. Doing so only because they had a connection that was basically book only, but was a book plot point so they decided to show it here. Sigh.
Harold’s narration by the way is the first time they start to nail what I thought made Harold a great book character. Book Harold wasn’t ONLY a creepy school-shooter-in-training-vibe guy. Book Harold was much more tragic and you could see many times where one choice here or one choice there and the poor loser kid that never had a friend in the world could have been something else. Something better. So you get 90 seconds in the 7th episode of a 9 episode mini series. Eesh.
Hold your hats but I enjoyed the next segment! We jump to Stu, Larry, Glen, and Ray’s journey to Vegas. Understandably, so much of what was cut from the book was the road trip aspects. Much of the novel was the insane journey criss-crossing a post-apocalyptic hellscape after Captain Tripps ran through it. We get a little of that back here with some montage work giving the episode its title, “The Walk.”
We get a little banter between Glenn and Stu, so lacking in earlier episodes. We start to see the relationships the show could have been building if they weren’t so obsessed with time jumps. This tracks pretty close to the novel. The entourage make it to a roadway washed out by a flood, and have to climb down then back up a steep embankment to get to the other side and continue on with their journey. After a couple near falls, Stu takes a hard fall, breaks his leg, and realizes he can’t go on and the group can’t stay. Stu chooses Larry to lead Ray and Glen the rest of the way. A choice that makes more sense to book readers than show watchers I’m sure.
We then take a look at Flagg and Nadine’s coupling. Flagg uses his powers to make Nadine think she’s in Vegas in Flagg’s suite. As Flagg makes his conquest complete, Nadine starts to have her reality cave in on her. She seemingly realizes they’re really in the desert, that Flagg is not what he appears, and that she may have made a grave mistake.
The show ends with Larry, Ray, and Glen picked up by Flagg’s right hand man, Lloyd. Lloyd points out Flagg knew to the minute when they’d be coming out of the desert, as a flex of Flagg’s power. Our travelers see Vegas in Flagg’s image. Full of statues and jumbotrons showing Flagg everywhere. The decadence and crime still wildly on display, to the point you’d wonder why anyone would want to be there. You’d think end times or not, even evil people would want a place to get away from it all. The cliffhanger is Nadine, now looking years older, sunken and haggard, and very demonically pregnant officially welcoming the Boulder Crew to Vegas.
Two episodes to go. I’m bummed. I tend to be able to find diamonds in the rough and often can resign myself to something not being what it could have been and enjoying it for what it was instead. I might be one of the few to enjoy Game of Thrones season 8. Its final season “A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms” is one of my top Thrones episodes. I’m just not getting that here. For every good Stu and Glenn interaction, or finally a scene that reminds me of Book Harold or some other nugget of goodness, some baffling decision just jumps out at me and reminds me of what should have been and depresses me thinking of the years it will be before a better showrunner can take a swing at this adaptation.
We’ll point the arrow down this week, 4/10.
Project Blue mentions through 7 episodes? 0!