Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Can The Stand reach new heights before its end?

Jovan Adepo, Irene Bedard, James Marsden, Greg Kinnear
Jovan Adepo, Irene Bedard, James Marsden, Greg Kinnear
Photo: Robert Falconer/CBS All Access

Here’s what’s happening in the world of television for Thursday, January 28. All times are Eastern. 

Top pick

The Stand (CBS All Access, 3:01 a.m.): The Stand draws ever nearer its end—and its new epilogue, courtesy of Stephen King himself. In the book (you can’t see us, but we’re pushing up our glasses), the events of last week’s episode are deeply affecting, but the show’s priorities seem to have nerfed that emotional potency somewhat. Here’s Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya in her recap of “The Vigil”:

With only a few more episodes until the finale, there’s only so much that The Stand can really do to fix some of its fundamental narrative problems. “The Vigil” is technically a strong episode of the wildly inconsistent series, but the bar’s also pretty low after last week’s mess of an episode. And the problems, frankly, persist. A very major character death happens in the episode, and yet it feels almost like nothing. When not enough character work is done to flesh out these people and their motivations, the big dramatic moments just simply aren’t going to land. The Stand has set itself up for failure by over-relying on flashbacks that do too little to really feel necessary and by over-relying on a built-in audience. It increasingly feels like the gaps in character work are meant to be filled in by familiarity with the book. And yet, even for someone who has read the book like myself, there’s far too much left to be desired by these distilled screen renderings of these characters. Everyone knows that much of the magic of Stephen King’s The Stand comes down to the characters. Without fully realized players, the game just doesn’t work.


The game continues, however, and we maintain some hope that “The Walk” will make up some lost ground. Look for Kayla’s recap this morning.

Regular coverage

Walker (The CW, 8 p.m.)
Mr. Mayor (NBC, 8 p.m.)
Search Party (HBO Max, 3:01 a.m., episodes 7-10): season-four finale

Wild card

The Queen Of Black Magic (Shudder, 3:01 a.m.): Our own Katie Rife describes this Indonesian horror film as “the opposite of an “elevated” horror movie, and a nice palate cleanser if you’ve been immersed in “arthouse takes on the genre,” adding:

This film is all about creepy-crawly blood and gore, which it delivers with pummeling intensity and sadistic glee. (Think extreme child peril and vomiting bugs.) This remake of the 1981 Indonesian folk-horror classic is scripted by Joko Anwar, whose Satan’s Slaves offers up similar roller-coster thrills; Queen Of Black Magic takes a while to get going, but the back half will leave even jaded viewers’ jaws on the floor.

Contributor, The A.V. Club and The Takeout. Allison loves TV, bourbon, and overanalyzing social interactions. Please buy her book, How TV Can Make You Smarter (Chronicle, 2020). It’s short!

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