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The Stand -- Were The Survivors Just Puppets On A String?

Updated on March 29, 2013
Picture the property of
Picture the property of

I recently re-watched The Stand mini-series, and I started wondering if the survivors of Captain Tripps really had a choice on which team they would be on.

In a weird and vile way it almost seems like God and the Devil picked people for their teams and they were allowed to survive Captain Tripps as if they were playing a giant chess game. Mother Abigail was God’s queen and Randall Flagg was the Devil’s king. Then they went about calling dibs on their playing pieces.

When Nadine arrived at Mother Abigail’s, she practically threw holy water at her to keep her away from her, instead of trying to embrace Nadine and help save her from Randall Flagg. It’s like Nadine was marked as one of the Devil’s chess pieces and she wanted nothing to do with her. Nadine wasn’t this horrible vile evil creature that wasn’t worthy of being saved. She was chosen by Flagg to bear his child and Mother Abigail didn’t even try to reach a hand out to her to help her. Nadine approached Larry wanting him to have sex with her to save her from Flagg, so it wasn’t that Nadine didn’t want to be saved from Flagg. It’s that Mother Abigail never even tried to help her. And Nadine ended up killing herself to stop Flagg’s evil spawn from being brought into the world. So why didn’t Mother Abigail even try to help Nadine? Was it that she wasn’t allowed to because she was marked as one of Flagg’s playing pieces and she couldn’t touch her? I actually thought less of Mother Abigail for not trying to reach out and save her from the inevitable destruction that waited for her at Flagg’s hands.

There were some people that never thought of joining up with Mother Abigail’s group, but some of the others that saw Flagg’s way would lead to their destruction were planning to get away from him. They weren’t that horrible of people. So why didn’t they just stay off by themselves instead of joining up with Flagg? Was it because whoever survived wasn’t allowed to try and survive on their own and had to join up with the team they’d been assigned to?

It does make you wonder if any of the survivors had any real freedom of choice. And even the ones that came to Mother Abigail, not all were treated equally. She had her chosens, and all but Stu and Frannie would be sacrificed one-by-one. Why did Mother Abigail pick Nick to discover the bomb and to be blown to smithereens by it? Why not pick someone who could speak and warn all the others about the bomb. Because she picked Nick, he wasn’t the only one who died in the blast. Then instead of sending all her people to Flagg’s camp to take on all his followers, she sends three men, knowing full well they would be sacrificed to make some kind of Stand. It’s like Mother Abigail knew Trash Can Man would bring his nuclear bomb to Flagg’s and she needed for all of Flagg’s people to be gathered in one spot so they’d all be killed, so she sent her sacrificial lambs to Flagg’s camp as the bait so when Flagg decided to publicly execute them all his people would be gathered in one spot.

Maybe certain of the survivors were marked as only temporary survivors. For instance, Larry was the only one of the main survivors/lead characters told repeatedly that the Dark Man was coming for him, and he was the only one of the lead characters that would be offered as a sacrificial lamb to make the stand against Flagg. Mother Abigail and Nick also seemed to be similarly marked as a temporary survivor who would be taken once they fulfilled the purpose they were allowed to survive for.

In a very real way the end was like a chess game. Mother Abigail sacrificed three pawns to get Flagg into checkmate.

Another thing I started wondering is if the Super Flu was restricted to the United States or if it became a global pandemic. In short, was 99% of the United State’s population knocked out or was it the entire world? If it was limited to the United States, you have to wonder how the rest of the world was reacting to it. Were they too afraid it would be spread to their own countries to try and reach out and help the US? Although I was given the impression while watching that the populations in Boulder and Las Vegas was all that was left of mankind. Yet, you didn’t hear of anyone from outside of the United States trying to make their way to Mother Abigail. Yet, it does seem a little odd to think only a few people in the United States would be spared, while the rest of the world would be decimated, especially when the epidemic was caused by the United States.

Maybe the game that was being played was Risk, instead. If Flagg had won the war with Mother Abigail in the United States, then he’d spread out to other countries until he had global dominance. Maybe other countries, even Mexico and Canada closed their borders off and kept the plague confined to the United States. Otherwise it just seems a little ethnocentric that God supposedly only let a few United States citizens survive while giving the finger to the rest of the world. God is supposed to have created the world, not just the United States. So the fight for humanity in a good vs. evil battle that is only confided to the United States seems a bit hard to swallow when the United States was ground zero to begin with.

Whether or not Captain Tripps became a worldwide pandemic, the characters behaved like the world consisted solely of the United States. That the entire world had been wiped out and all that was left was their small group. There was never any talk of trying to contact the outside world. The poem by T.S. Eliot at the beginning of The Stand says:

This is how the world ends.

This is how the world ends.

This is how the world ends.

So that suggests the entire world’s population was wiped out by Captain Tripps, not just the United States population. It would have been nice if a few of our global neighbors could have been amongst the survivors fighting for the fate of humanity. Of course, how they’d make it to the United States when all forms of transportation were non-existent and you had pretty much make it on foot or drive there might make that impossible.

It seems to go back to the original question of if the survivors of Captain Tripps had any real choice. There never seemed to be any choice for the survivors to just ignore the dreams and start their own little settlement. The only choice they acted like they had was to choose which camp they wanted to be in: Mother Abigail’s or Flaggs. And even then it doesn’t really seem like they had any choice over which camp they’d be in. They had been called to serve and there was no choice but to heed that call and go to the person calling them.


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