‘The Stand’ Episode 1 ‘The End’ Spoilers: Who is Abagail Freemantle and why do survivors dream of a howling child?
Also known as Mother Abagail, Abagail Freemantle claims to be a prophet of God and leads the 'good' survivors of the Captain Trips plague
Spoilers for ‘The Stand’ and Stephen King's 1978 book
“It certainly does look like the end... Humanity blinking with a whimper,” a dialogue in ‘The Stand’ goes. A contagious and deadly disease has spread its venom to wipe out the world's population. Based on Stephen King's 1978 post-apocalyptic dark fantasy novel, the CBS All Access show premieres with a brilliant one-hour episode ‘The End’.
A weaponized strain of influenza (dubbed “Captain Trips”) kills almost the entire world population — leaving a handful of survivors — of which Stu Redman (James Marsden), Frannie Goldsmith (Odessa Young) and Harold Lauder (Owen Teague) all have the same nightmare. Racing through a yellow-green cornfield, they have visions of a maze as they hunt a howling baby. In Frannie's version, she dashes across and is almost about to pick up a ragged doll when the mysterious old lady, Mother Abagail, appears before her.
“My name is Abagail Freemantle. Come see me at Hemingford Home, Colorado...” she tells Frannie. “Can you remember that for me?” A typewriter clanks and a scorpion crawls across a window sill. Frannie's dad is dead and all she's left with is the reclusive kid she used to babysit. After the power goes out, Harold comes to look for Frannie and finds her in a tub surrounded by sleeping pills. After saving her life, he spills his idea to go to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as Black Sabbath's ‘Changes’ plays in the background.
He reminds her of how she was the ray of sunshine in his life when he struggled through his first rejection letter. “I nailed the letter on your wall and told you to never give up...” she recalls. Harold then tells her, “Frannie, we are the only ones remaining in this own. That mean the fatality rate for this virus is 99 per cent. That means we're the future.”
Scurrying towards the finish line, the episode hints at another coincidence. Stu — who is being hounded for being the only one who isn't contagious to the virus — peculiarly has the exact same vision. He run through the same cornfield and hears the sound of the crying child. As he darts his way to see what awaits him, he is met by a wolf. What is the mysterious dream and what is the significance of these visions?
For the ones who aren't versed with King's epic in the spirit of ‘The Lord of the Rings’ that was set in contemporary America, here's her role in the series.
Also known as Mother Abagail, Abagail Freemantle claims to be a prophet of God and leads the “good” survivors of the Captain Trips plague. Having lived a long life of 108 years, she resides in a farmhouse near Hemingford Home, Nebraska. The spiritual leader of the Boulder Free Zone, she was born to freed slaves from South Carolina and outlived three husbands and her seven children.
Why do the survivors have dreams of her telling them to come see her in Nebraska? As the series moves forward, we will find out she is one of the 0.6 per cent of the population immune to the Captain Trips virus. Like Randall Flagg aka The Dark Man (Alexander Skarsgård) draws the evil towards him, she gathers the survivors together to preach them with visions from God.
Later, in the series, she loses her foresight and goes into exile in the wilderness. Without revealing the spoilers from the book, we can tell you that her part in the fantasy series is not over. She does share one final vision on her deathbed and that might be the key to survival. Does she die at the end? If you haven't read the book, you'll have to wait and watch. Did you know Mother Abagail was portrayed by Ruby Dee in the 1994 miniseries? Although Whoopi Goldberg was met by much criticism when the cast was first announced, she does spill splendor on the small screen in the few minutes she is seen. Only time will tell if she can live up to the fan expectations in the forthcoming episodes.
‘The Stand’ premieres on December 17, 2020 with the first episode titled ‘The End’ and subsequent episodes in the nine-episode limited-event series will follow every Thursday on CBS All Access.