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The One Big Thing Missing From The Stand Trailer

CBS is gearing up for the release of the latest in a line of Stephen King reboots: its upcoming miniseries The Standthe trailer for which dropped on October 9, 2020.

Debuting as part of the CBS All Access series' virtual New York Comic-Con panel, the trailer gives fans an extended look at the classic tale of good versus evil based on King's 800-plus-page 1978 bestseller. With a cast lead by Whoopi Goldberg, Alexander Skarsgård, James Marsden, Amber Heard, Greg Kinnear, Heather Graham, and more, the nine-episode series will follow two groups in an ultimate battle of morality: survivors-turned-heroes led by a 108-year-old named Mother Abagail (Goldberg), and those who follow Randall Flagg (Skarsgård), an equally charismatic but villainous super-powered entity also known as the Dark Man. 

The trailer for The Stand features both leaders and their growing cast of acolytes as they convene at ground zero of their apocalyptic fight, including several scenes that fans of both King's novel and the 1994 ABC Stand miniseries might find familiar. Viewers get their first full looks at characters like socialite and addict Rita Blakemoor (Graham), sociopathic traitor Harold Lauder (Owen Teague), chosen virgin Nadine Cross (Heard), the formerly incarcerated Lloyd Henreid (Nat Wolff), pregnant college student Fran Goldsmith (Odessa Young), and 20-something deaf drifter Nick Andros (Henry Zaga). Clips also take viewers cross-country via New York City's abandoned streets, Nebraska's towering cornfields, and the blinding lights of Las Vegas. 

Speckled between are the light and dark dreams Abigail and Randall impose on the "survivors" and plenty of first meetings, such as that of Marsden's quiet Texan widower Stu and Jovan Adepo's formerly rising musician Larry Underwood in Boulder. The trailer even offers up a sequence in which Stu can be seen standing over a body in a white lab coat, which readers may recognize as part of the Boulder leader's break out from a lab. 

Yet somehow, in the trailer for CBS' The Stand, there's something huge missing: what starts it all. There's no mention of what led Stu and the rest of the survivors to Boulder to face off against a man that starkly resembles the Devil — the story's major inciting incident dubbed "Captain Trips."

The Stand is kicked off by a government-developed bio-weapon that becomes a global pandemic

When director Josh Boone took on CBS' modern spin on King's dark horror-drama, he and the network certainly couldn't have anticipated how relevant the post-apocalyptic narrative would become. After all, in The Stand, the fight for the world and the soul of humanity are ignited by a deadly viral pandemic. 

A highly contagious superflu with an estimated 99.4 percent fatality rate is developed in secret as a biological weapon in a U.S. Department of Defense lab. Nicknamed "Captain Trips," the lethal influenza strain is spread after a security guard manages to escape the breached lab before the facility is locked down. Taking his family out of the state, the guard is discovered days later by emergency responders after his car crashes into a gas station in Arnette, Texas. Along with the bodies of his dead wife and child, the dying man passes the extremely contagious viral agent on to those who come in contact with them. 

The government then swiftly moves to curtail the spread by quarantining the town and killing anyone who attempts to flee, but despite these efforts, the virus manages to get out and soon blankets the entire country. As part of a cover-up, the U.S. government has agents release the virus within the boarders of opposing world powers like Russia and China, eventually resulting in a global pandemic that nearly kills the entire human population. With the near-extinction of humanity, mostly those who are immune survive the collapse of society. Eventually, they attempt to find each other, guided in part by Abigail and Flagg. 

It's unclear why the Stand trailer didn't more prominently feature the virus' origins

King is quite aware of how timely CBS' modern adaptation of his book is, telling NPR in a recent interview, "I keep having people say, 'Gee, it's like we're living in a Stephen King story. And my only response to that is, 'I'm sorry.'" He's also been open about how much he doesn't want his fictional virus directly likened to the current pandemic. "No, coronavirus is NOT like [the virus in] THE STAND. It's not anywhere near as serious. It's eminently survivable. Keep calm and take all reasonable precautions.," he told his followers on Twitter.

While the differences between both pandemics are pretty obvious — including the fact that one is actually a genuine public health issue — the aforementioned origins of the Captain Trips superflu as explained in the 1,000-plus-page Complete and Uncut Edition of The Stand are quite necessary to understand how the story brings its key cast together. Given that the forthcoming Stand series has nine hour-long episodes planned, as opposed to the 1994 adaptation's four 90-minute episodes, there is time for it to get into the nitty-gritty of the pandemic's backstory. 

The pandemic is also featured directly in the series' log lines, so it's not entirely clear why the trailer didn't touch on it. While drawing inaccurate parallels isn't ideal, the pandemic subject matter probably makes the reboot particularly more appealing to a larger audience right now. (People did flock to watch Contagion in the early days of quarantine, after all.)

For now, it looks like the reason for keeping the virus' origins out of the trailer for The Stand will just have to become clearer with the release of another trailer — or when CBS finally releases Boone's take on King's novel on December 17.