King has already written two endings for his masterpiece and now hes found a third coda for the TV adaptation. As a fan, Im wary
Stephen King fans, gather ye here: our lord and master has written a new ending to The Stand, his story of a post-apocalyptic world decimated by a superflu that he has called a long tale of dark Christianity.
King wrote the new coda that wont be found in the book for the forthcoming TV adaptation starring James Marsden and Amber Heard; CBSs Julie McNamara told Deadline that for fans of the book who have wondered what became of the survivors of The Stand, this episode will contain a story that takes us beyond the book to answer those questions.
King himself has tweeted that his script for the final episode is already written, and that it has been in my mind for 30 years.
But The Stand, in which the scant American survivors of the superflu are drawn towards the saintly Mother Abagail if theyre good, and towards the evil Randall Flagg if theyre bad, already has two endings. The first appeared in the original, 800-page version published in 1978. Set in the 1980s, that version ends as two survivors, Stu and Fran, contemplate the future of humanity.
Do you think do you think people ever learn anything? She opened her mouth to speak, hesitated, fell silent. The kerosene lamp flickered. Her eyes seemed very blue. I dont know, she said at last. She seemed unpleased with her answer; she struggled to say something more; to illuminate her first response; and could only say it again: I dont know.
It is bleak, but honest. King says in On Writing: I searched my mind and heart for something else Stu could say, some clarifying statement. I wanted to find it because at that moment, if at no other, Stu was speaking for me. In the end, however, Stu simply repeats what he has already said: I dont know. It was the best I could do. Sometimes the book gives you answers, but not always, and I didnt want to leave the readers who had followed me through hundreds of pages with nothing but some empty platitude I didnt believe myself.
But that version of the novel was missing 400-odd pages, cut because Kings publisher at the time couldnt physically print such a large manuscript. By 1991, King was with another publisher who could, so an uncut, 1,200-page version set in the 1990s was released, with a new and more ominous coda. This time, Flagg has survived the hand of God/nuclear explosion, and been transported to an island peopled by a primitive; simple; unlettered people. He starts again.
Ill be honest Im wary of whatever happens here. I watched but didnt love the 1994 mini-series of The Stand, and while I still count King as one of my favourite writers, I havent genuinely loved anything hes written since 2008s Duma Key. And I wonder how much will change in the journey from book to television. Five years ago, a draft script reportedly had Stu and Flagg engage in a magical, Akira-like battle on the Las Vegas Strip. Please Mother Abagail, no.
In his introduction to the 1991 version of The Stand, King wrote that its perhaps best for Stu, Larry, Glen, Frannie, Ralph, Tom Cullen, Lloyd and that dark fellow to belong to the reader, who will visualise them through the lens of imagination in a vivid and constantly changing way no camera can duplicate. Films, even the best of them, freeze fiction. That is not necessarily bad but it is limiting.
For this third new ending, perhaps King has now found the answers he was looking for 30 years ago when wondering what Stu might say. Or maybe CBS will simply spool out the stories of Stu and Fran into the future, revealing whether humanity has one after all Id watch that for sure, particularly if Mr M-O-O-N makes an appearance.
In the meantime, a reread of The Stand is definitely in order, before this novel a masterpiece, in my opinion is frozen, in Kings words, by its adaptation. Whos with me?