The Stand Ending Explained: Decoding Stephen King’s New Coda


The title of the final episode of The Stand was was “The Circle Closes,” which may help explain why Stephen King brought his end-of-the-world saga to a conclusion that was more akin to the Book of Genesis than Revelations.

Before assuming the Biblical references are overwrought, King himself said that religious scripture influenced the story. “I wanted to write about bravery,” he told Vanity Fair last spring. “And I wanted to write about Christian mythology. At some point, people do have to make a stand. But I wanted to do it in a way that was not preachy.”

In the new coda to the show, Frannie Goldsmith (Odessa Young), the first woman to give birth after almost all of the population of earth died in a plague, ventures out into the world with Stu Redmond (James Marsden), Adam to her Eve. While resting during their cross-country journey, Frannie is mortally wounded and finds herself tempted not by an apple, but by a healing promise from the devil (Alexander Skarsgård), who hopes to collect at least one victory after being vanquished by his own hubris in the penultimate episode. That mushroom-cloud climax was straight out of King’s 1979 novel, but this new finale is an original concept that the author has been mulling for a while. 

“Had it for years. Had it for years,” King told me. “I always wanted to find out what happened to Stu and Frannie when they went back. So that’s it.”

The arrival of this new TV adaptation seemed like a good way to offer this extended part of the story to his Constant Readers. Now that it has aired, the spoilers are out, and it’s time to analyze with showrunner Benjamin Cavell.

“The Circle Closes” — Ep#109 —Pictured: James Marsden as Stu Redman and Odessa Young as Frannie Goldsmith of the CBS All Access series THE STAND. Photo Cr: Robert Falconer/CBS ©2020 CBS Interactive, Inc. All Rights Reserved.Robert Falconer

Vanity Fair: How did this concept of a new coda for the story came together? Were you part of those discussions with King? Did he volunteer, or did you ask him to write a new ending?

Benjamin Cavell: There weren’t exactly “discussions.” We knew that there was a coda that he had been turning over in his head for 30 years. And we knew it was based around the idea that Frannie didn’t get her stand [in the book.]  She couldn’t go, obviously, to Vegas to confront the dark man, because she was eight months pregnant. [With the new ending,] this character that he so loves gets to participate in the climactic action. We knew that it was something that he had been kicking around, but we didn’t know for certain whether he was going to actually write it and trust us to make it.

Did he do it entirely on his own, or were you engaged in helping shape this new finale?

When people ask, “Well, did you give Stephen King notes?” I say, “Yes, I did. I gave him a note that said ‘Thank you for writing this for us.’” As soon as he said he wanted to do it, it was just, “Yeah. Well, let’s tell the continuation that he wants to tell.”

You also merge it with the new ending he wrote for The Stand’s special edition in 1991, with the demonic Randall Flagg appearing before a tribe that has had no contact with the so-called civilized world.



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