A pandemic of global proportions has wiped out most of humanity. The survivors are gathering into two different camps. Some are led Boulder, Colorado through dreams they have of the matronly Mother Abagail Freemantle. The rest are recruited, either through visions or in person, by Randall Flagg to where they gather in Las Vegas, where it becomes the ultimate Sin City. A line has been drawn between the forces of Good and Evil, and it is in Las Vegas that the forces of good make their stand.
After having watched the first three episodes of this CBS All Access series I found myself quite curious as to how the remainder of this horror story would play out. I already knew the ending from having watched the 1994 miniseries, and as suspenseful as it was when it started I found myself somewhat cheated by the cheezy way the final battle was won. Given how much I enjoyed the first three episodes of this series I very much wanted to see if it would go down the same path as before. I am quite happy to say that it did not.
TV and cinema have tried to depict the ultimate battle between the spiritual forces of Good vs Evil and trying to visualize something of that nature has usually resulted in something that can make a person’s teeth rot from becoming sickeningly sweet. The showrunners instead gave us images that were both specific and vague at the same time, leaving plenty of room for interpretation. This also left the door open to create some horrifying imagery as we see the final battle take place. We are also given an interesting setup to this battle as we see two of our heroes, just as they are about to face a very grim ending, defy the power and presumed authority of Flagg. The tension this brings only heightened the effect when the “power of God” comes in for the final reckoning. Also, there is a final installment that was newly-penned by author Stephen King that left a couple of questions about the future of some of our characters but also left us with a wonderful message that some might find applicable for today. It is a warning, but it is also a message of hope.
The cast for this series was incredible from beginning to end, especially that of our traveling heroes Larry Underwood (Jovan Adepo), Ray Brentner (Irene Bedard), and Glen Bateman (Greg Kinnear). Even though community leader Stu Redman (James Marsden) is initially part of the group, he becomes sidelined due to an injury and it’s up to Underwood, Brentner, and Bateman to determine what precisely Flagg has planned. The scenes with these three were amazing as they used both logic and faith to undermine Flagg’s authority and power. These three actors did an admirable job at showing how their characters fought their fear and found their convictions. However, the real star throughout all of this was Alexander Skarsgård as Flagg. He gave Flagg a menacing and terrifying charm that continually sold who he was and the power and influence he could yield.
I have seldom found Stephen King adaptations for the screen to be truly horrifying. I was pleasantly surprised to find this one not only rise to the challenge but also manage to succeed in areas where previous attempts have fallen short.