…and at the start of episode six, we finally meet our last Major Player from the book: Trashcan Man (Ezra Miller, who doesn’t look like they’re having ANY FUN AT ALL). Immediately, we can tell he is…outside the norm, as he rigs some abandoned oil tanks and pleasures himself while watching them explode in fiery glory. He is suddenly in the desert facing a robed Randall Flagg, who says he will give Trashy fire as visions of fire, wild dogs, sex acts and words from his past sear the screen. “How will I find you?” he asks, reverently. “West…beyond the mountains,” Replies Flagg. “My life for you,” Trashy whispers, weeping. Flagg, in Vegas, levitating, opens his eyes and leaves the trance.
Back in Boulder, the wee hours of the morning. Nadine starts awake to find Harold at her bedroom door, letting her know Mother Abigail is gone, asking if Flagg is responsible, or if he’s working with any other people in Bouder. She insists it’s just she and Harold, while Harold says the Dark Man may be keeping things from her. “He tells me everything,” she shrugs, “He needs me.” Harold replies they are royally screwed now, however, the Chinese character for “crisis” also includes the character for “opportunity”, and with everyone at a vigil at Mother Abigail’s house that night, they can just go ahead and take everyone out, including the committee. He shows her the rigged explosives, and Nadine knows just where to put them.
The Judge is holed up in a roadside motel just outside New Vegas. She takes some pills and marks off a day on a wall calendar. Hearing the fluttering of a bird’s wings outside her window, she nervously finds her gun and sits on her bed, looking outside the transparent curtains.
Trashcan Man arrives in Vegas. Lloyd escorts him through the constant debauchery up the elevator to see Flagg, who is trying to start his fireplace, and asks Trashy if he knows anything about fire. Does he ever! Trashy gets the fire started. Flagg tells Lloyd they’ve found their man, and mentions the largest “fire” ever made was the Russians testing a nuclear bomb in 1961 – he wants Trashcan Man to search the desert for a military facility to bring back “the fire”. Once again, Trashy whispers “My life for you” as Flagg’s men escort him out. Lloyd is uneasy about this, and Flagg says the bomb is for “the holdouts”. He knows the Judge is biding her time, and Lloyd’s men must capture her alive so he can find out who the third spy is…he can only see the moon when he tries to “see” this 3rd spy.
Tom Cullen is trying to figure out the garbage compactor and also can’t read the note Dayna gave him. He finds the same word on the compactor machinery and when Rat Woman tells him he is needed on cleanup upstairs, he asks her what the word says. “Run,” she laughs, at him and tells him he better run – upstairs, to clean!
It’s early morning at Mother Abigail’s house. Nick is pushing piano keys, feeling their vibrations, while Frannie lights candles. Ray is pissed that they’re resting and not out looking for Mother Abigail, though Nick shows her the note Mother Abigail wrote, not to come looking for her. This angers he further. Glen says Mother Abigail would be the first to tell them Boulder should be able to run without her, putting Ray over the edge, “Fuck you, Glen, you condescending, ivory-tower wasichu motherfucker!” (which made me laugh out loud). She storms out in a huff as Joe and Nadine arrive.
Nadine has cards from her schoolkids for Mother Abigail – she says she’ll place them all over the house so everyone can see when they come for the vigil…she also places a poster carton by the piano, which presumably contains the explosives Harold rigged earlier. Larry offers to watch Joe for the afternoon, then they can all go to the vigil. Nadine objects to Joe being at the vigil (because obviously she doesn’t want him caught up in the explosion), but covers by saying gatherings like that can be traumatic. Frannie overhears and says they hadn’t thought about that possibility. Joe and Larry leave. Harold arrives to get Stu, who’s dozing on Frannie’s lap. It’s time for the next search shift. Stu kisses Fran goodbye. Harold scowls, but then sees Nadine’s placement of the explosives and smiles. Fran says if she’s in it for the long haul, she should go home and get more prenatals. Nick looks at the ceiling.
In the forest, Mother Abigail is wandering, alone, talking to God, asking what he wants her to see, and defending the people of Boulder. Flagg appears. “I know what you fear.” “Not you,” she retorts dismissively. “Yes it is,” he says. “Get thee behind me, Satan,” she replies. He tells her that’s not his name – she knows: he has many names, he is Legion. She tells him he’s afraid people will see him for what he really is: nothing. He insists that God is gone, that what she’s really looking for is death, and he can send her to a place God will never find her, for an ocean of peace. She knows God will find her, her time will come, she’s fine with it. He then creates a storm to “speed things along”. She clings to a tree as the wind dies down, and then a swarm of crows fly at her.
In New Vegas, Tom is cleaning up bodies from the arena, is told to pile them into “the truck” and leave the keys on the driver’s seat. He sees Lloyd and Julie walk by with border patrol, carrying a body bag. He recognizes Julie from the encounter he and Nick had with her, but she doesn’t see him, as they make their way to the elevator to the penthouse. Bobby Terry (Clifton Collins Jr) complains he had to kill the Judge in self-defense. They take him in to see Flagg, who unzips the body bag, disappointed he wasn’t able to question her. Lloyd interrupts, saying he told the border patrol to take her alive, then apologizes for the interruption, wherein Flagg accepts the apology. Bobby Terry apologizes. “What are you sorry for?” Flagg asks, saying self-defense is valid, if this small old lady REALLY bested them. He asks if it could have gone any other way, and if Bobby’s really sorry. Bobby gives him the finger and walks out, chaining the door from the outside, then running for the elevator. Flagg busts through the door and follows him in slo-mo, we see his boots down the hallway. Bobby thinks he’s gotten away as the elevator closes just as Flagg reaches it, but afterwards, finds Flagg in the elevator. Flagg tears bobby apart as the elevator descends, covered from floor to ceiling in blood. On the bottom floor, Bobby’s corpse spills out. A bloody Flagg says “My sincere apologies to the housekeeper” whereupon Rat Woman radios instantly for the cleanup crew, specifically requesting “the M-O-O-N guy”. This catches Flagg’s attention and he turns, wondering “Where can I find Mr. Moon?”
In the basement, Tom leaves keys on the driver’s seat then crawls into the back of the truck and makes sure he’s well-hidden among the bodies. Flagg and Lloyd arrive in the basement, looking for him.
That night in Boulder, Stu and Harold search together for Mother Abigail. When Stu’s back is turned, Harold takes out a pistol and prepares to shoot him. Stu apologizes to Harold if things seem unfair to him, and when he turns around Harold hides the pistol before Stu can see it. Harold says it’s destiny, just as Norris (Nicholas Lea) arrives to tell them Glen wants Stu back to rehearse his speech later. Norris doesn’t hold out much hope for Mother Abigail’s survival.
Frannie breaks into Harold’s house, then uses a crowbar to break into the basement. She goes downstairs, and finds the monitor with the screen showing her/Stu’s bedroom. She is horrified. She finds a door and goes through it, finds Harold’s workshop. His manifesto (“Ledger” in the book) is there, as well as some components from the explosives he made. Harold comes in behind her, and stops her when she tries to walk past him. He says she wasn’t supposed
to see any of it, Captain Trips was supposed to be his “great adventure”. Harold talks about how everyone acted like he didn’t exist, and it was just Harold and Frannie. Then he was the last man on Earth, until Stu came along and Harold was still alone. Harold says that he’s going to fix the whole world, in one blast of violence that’ll kill everyone…except he’s going to leave Frannie alive. Frannie, weeping, says “this isn’t you, I know you, you’re my only connection to the world before!” She insists people care about him. Harold complains about all the rejection letters to his writing, and Frannie tells him it’s their responsibility to keep trying. It seems to be getting to him. He apologizes and they embrace…then he shoves her away and runs out, locking the door behind him so she’s trapped in the basement.
Nadine is already at Larry’s house to get Joe, when the two arrive, and Larry asks her if they can talk. He says empathy isn’t his strong suit. Nadine tells him that she knows Larry cares about Joe’s feelings, and Larry begins to discuss the night before. She says Larry has to be at the vigil, and says he’s a good man. Nadine leaves with Joe, and Joe hugs Larry, whispering “Nadine and Mommy Nadine are two different people”. Larry closes the front door and watches them go. He tries to call the Night Watch and discovers the batteries in his walkie are gone. He runs after Nadine, who drives away. Getting on his motorcycle , Larry tries to start it but discover that it’s been tampered with, and won’t budge.
In Vegas, the custodians drive the truck out, as Tom climbs out from under the dead bodies and sees the full moon overhead.
In Boulder, Nadine drives to the school, tells the other teacher to go to the vigil, and tells Joe to settle in; that she’ll be right back. He reluctantly goes and Nadine watches him leave.
Frannie manages to find and break a basement window and crawls out, screaming for help and running through the rain, presumably towards Mother Abigail’s house and the vigil.
At the school, Joe hears Mother Abigail’s voice and walks into the forest. He finds her lying on the ground and screams piercingly.
Harold meets Nadine at the amphitheater (the amphitheatre, BTW, is atop Flagstaff mountain), and together they look down on Boulder. He tells Nadine Larry broke into his house, didn’t tell her so she’d hold it together. Harold figures Larry doesn’t know about their plan, as he never made it into the basement.
Glen greets the people as they arrive at Mother Abigail’s house. Stu arrives, telling Glen they didn’t find Mother Abigail and hasn’t heard anything from Frannie. Norris comes on the radio and tells Stu that they found Mother Abigail. The other people hear Norris and cheer. Ray goes inside and lets Nick know. She says she’ll see Nick at the infirmary where they’re taking her and leaves. Nick walks through the living room, and we hear Harold’s voice on the radio he left behind, saying he’s doing this of his own free will. Nick seems to get a premonition, hesitates, and goes to the piano, where the explosives are.
Frannie runs up to the house, breathless from running and manages to say “Bomb…BOMB!” when Stu catches her in his arms. Nick opens the top of the piano and sees the bomb inside.Harold holds the radio up to Nadine. She takes it and they push the detonator together. Stu yells at everyone to get back.
The bomb explodes, killing Nick instantly. The blast knocks Stu and Frannie to the street, along with the others.
The show is ramping up really quickly as they must move towards the end, with only 3 episodes left. Trashcan Man is yet another pivotal character who has been given the shaft, as we only NOW are introduced to him. I’m not exactly sure how I pictured Trashy (sorry, he is called this in the book, so I’m borrowing it) on multiple readings of the book, but Ezra Miller seems to be having loads of fun playing him! He’s a pyromaniac to the hilt, fire and explosions seem to make him drunk, and I felt Miller did a lot with very little, in terms of what the script gave the actor. This makes me curious how many actors read the book prior to filming. But I still wonder that they couldn’t have introduced him a little earlier as he made his way across the country, burning things.
I enjoyed the Bobby Terry scene, ripped pretty much straight from the book, and Skarsgård pretty much NAILED what I had in my imagination “You SCREWED IT UP, BOBBY TERRY!” – Yikes! Though he’s not what I initially had in mind for Flagg, I’m loving his portrayal, he also seems to be having a great time with the material. And nice cameo by Collins Jr as a swaggering Bobby Terry.
Owen Teague is killing it as Harold…but again, his appearing to be the main protagonist of this series is a little problematic, especially in that focus on him has detracted from the backstory of others also important to the story, especially Nick and Trashy…and to go back to Frannie’s suicide attempt in the first episode, it really feels that was added for the benefit of Harold’s character, rather than Fran’s, because of course female character development must always be sacrificed for the almighty dude (insert eyeroll here).
The whole scene with Frannie breaking into Harold’s house and finding not only the surveillance monitor, but explosives and Harold’s ledger never happened in the book. While she does break in, she leaves without finding anything, and Harold doesn’t find her in there, or lock her in. This is a pretty huge divergence from the book, but didn’t bother me. In the book, she’s at Mother Abigail’s house and has a premonition there’s a bomb, but I can imagine it’s pretty exhausting in production for people to always be having premonitions, dreams and visions the way they do in the book, so I suppose this is a good way to do something different while still moving the plot along.
I also approve of most of the gender-swapped roles, especially Ray Brentner, who’s COMPLETELY different from Ralph in the book, but I kinda dig her. A little disappointed she didn’t meet Nick and Tom on the road, as in the book, but I love how feisty she is. Also there’s the Judge, who we didn’t really get a lot of anyway (Judge isn’t a huge character in the book, either, but he’s a dude), but nice to see an older actor getting work. And Rat Woman, in Vegas, is Rat Man in the book, also a completely different character, but this is also a different Vegas, so it works.
There. Some lemonade out of the lemons. Because every week I watch, saying, “THAT’s not the way it went down…” and I’m trying to keep on the series for its own merits. I still watch. I still enjoy the performances. But I can’t help but wonder how much more awesome it might’ve been if they’d given it a little longer than 9 episodes. It’s an epic, and deserves to be treated as such!