Do you need a second to catch your breath and immerse yourself in the world of “The stand“After two hours of building a world with two time frames and about 8 new characters? Too bad. In “Blank Page”, the series’ densest episode to date, the audience meets no less than three new characters, receives further information about the pre- / post-pandemic of the established player and understands the central conflict of the series: everything packed into one collection Dizzying places and leaps in time that require full attention.
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Any attempt to follow the beats of this episode in a traditional play-by-play recap would play like Charlie Day’s Pepe Silvia bulletin board. Instead, the focus here will be on character and plot development in no particular order. The driving theme of this episode is that of an emerging threat, and for the purposes of the larger story, as it has been presented up to this point, it does a good job of building on what the previous two episodes have developed. In the “current” timeline, Larry (Jovan Adepo) and Stu (James Marsden) are preparing for their first post-pandemic meeting when one of Flaggs (Alexander Skarsgård) Students who have escaped appear with a message. When mother Abigail (Whoopi Goldberg) speaks to the deserter, the man’s eyes go black and in his best impression of Big Bad Wolf, he announces Flagg’s intention to come to Boulder and “blow your house down!”
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Flagg doesn’t have to speak through deserters like this to get this done, as the audience learns that Nadine (Amber Belongs) has had a connection with the Dark Man since childhood. Her appearances with a planchette (think of Budget Ouija) to communicate with flagg bookends “Blank Page” make her a conflicted agent of evil among the Legion of Good. The revelation at the end of the episode that Flagg wants Nadine to work with Harold, the show’s budding psychopath, turns up the conflict machine for the bigger story and does the important job of developing the necessary stakes for all of this.
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This episode deserves a lot of credit for bringing all of this together as it allows the bigger story to move forward without waiting for more characters and backstories to develop. And boy, hi there, are there more people to introduce? During all these leaps in time and place, the new character Nick Andros (Henry Zaga) goes to a bar before the pandemic, gets a kick in the ass and then wakes up “28 days later”Style after the world has largely disintegrated. Deaf and dumb, Nick has a scene in the hospital that shows his deep humanity. There he is dating an adult with developmental disorder, Tom Cullen (Brad William Henke), which immediately establishes itself as the emotional heartbeat of this episode. Henke’s performance brings with it compassion, nuance and a more nuanced reading of a character who could easily (and before) get into insensitive territory, and the show is better for him.
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And that’s the thing: There are some fun and interesting character moments in “Blank Page” that serve the bigger narrative and (for the characters already introduced) build on the backstory levels in Episodes 1 and 2. And while these episodes are also jumping around in different places and at different time periods, this third party feels like he is off his ADHD medication. Stu’s meeting with vape pen connoisseur Glen Bateman (Greg Kinnear) lies between Nick’s introduction and the whole drama of Flagg’s deserter in Boulder. It offers a ton of world-building information about shared dreams that feel like a different piece from the rest of the episode.
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The pace up to this point has been found to be deliberate and thoughtful. Despite all its interesting moments and important new characters, “Blank Page” feels downright hectic and a bit overcrowded: like a parent who stuffs half of the pantry into his child’s lunch box on the first day of school. Even for fans of the book who already know these characters and where this is all leading, this episode is sometimes disoriented and is likely to test the patience of all viewers who get into this with flashback fatigue.
It is clear that Benjamin Cavell and his writing team use those first three episodes to set the narrative table, and Blank Page does a lot of the necessary work to get the pieces into place. And it’s not just the story that is positioned. The characters also evolve. Aside from Henke, Heard is a notable highlight here, giving definition and purpose to a character who is gaining importance and intrigue in equal measure. Often little more than an exposure box for the bigger story, Glen enjoys a wonderful storytelling tool to explain this by sticking a vape pen in his hand, which not only makes all of his pontifying sensible, but also Is funny.Pineapple Express“-meets-“Dr. Strangelove“Kind of way.
However, if last week’s episode was akin to smuggling vegetables with mashed potatoes to prevent the decline, the overly enthusiastic hug from flashbacks and location hops “Blank Page” has the feel of a cold broccoli platter with a reasonable promise of dessert . Important for digestion? For sure. Good for you? Absolutely. Well worth eating to get to what’s next? No doubt. Does all of this make your descent easier? No not true. [C+]
Stand ”is broadcast weekly on CBS All Access