In a post-apocalyptic dystopia, you’re only as good as the people you surround yourself with. Say the world has been overrun with zombies: Sure, you could be the greatest zombie fighter alive, but if your squad (maybe it’s your girlfriend, siblings, or some people you picked up on the road) won’t stop attracting the monsters with their loud snoring, you’ll be a goner sooner rather than later. It’s also hard to make it on your own, which brings us to the art of selecting your apocalypse A-team. Besides the obvious qualities of strength and smarts, you want to think about whom you’d want to spend time with in this frightening (and miserable) post-apocalyptic scenario. Who would be scary enough to ward off intruders — but not scary enough that you’d be worried in case they turned on you? Which person could you always count on for a laugh if things got dark? Who has a talent — singing, storytelling — that could add some levity to those dreary nights? Who’d you trust to be absolutely, 100-percent loyal? The key to surviving any apocalyptic scenario (including, but not limited to, zombies, ice ages, plagues, and alien invasions) is putting together your squad, and one wrong inclusion could spell the end.
The characters of the new CBS All Access limited series The Stand know a thing or two about picking a successful A-team. The show, based on Stephen King’s massive novel of the same name, takes place in a post-apocalyptic world decimated by a deadly superflu called Captain Trips. The remaining survivors find themselves torn in an elemental struggle between good and evil, with mankind dividing into two factions: those aligned with the 108-year-old Mother Abagail (Whoopi Goldberg), and those with the extremely charming Randall Flagg (Alexander Skarsgård), also known as the Dark Man and the human embodiment of pure evil. (Yeah, this story gets dark.) As the survivors on the side of the good come together to fight Flagg and his minions, they have to rely on and trust each other. The series features an all-star cast and plenty of memorable characters from King’s novel, so we put together our own dream team, consisting of The Stand characters we’d most like to be teamed up with in case of the apocalypse. (But, uh, let’s hope it doesn’t come to that — 2020 has been hard enough.)
Mother Abagail (Whoopi Goldberg)
An obvious choice, but hey, we had to. Mother Abagail, probably the most well-known character from the novel, is the leader of the forces for good and a prophet who receives visions from God. She appears in the dreams of the survivors of the Captain Trips outbreak, who are then drawn to travel to her home in Nebraska. Eventually, Mother Abagail journeys to Boulder, Colorado, with her group of followers, where they establish a new society known as the Boulder Free Zone. Our reasons for picking her are clear: She’s a leader and has apparent supernatural gifts helping her take on the forces of the Dark Man. Plus, um, she is the literal human embodiment of goodness. What else do you need?
Stu Redman (James Marsden)
Stu is another obvious choice, but there’s a lot going for him. For one, he’s immune to Captain Trips — as the series begins, he’s being rounded up and taken to a government facility to undergo medical tests. An ordinary, working-class factory man, Stu’s charisma and intelligence quickly propel him to a leadership position in Mother Abagail’s group of survivors in Boulder, where he travels after he escapes the government facility. Charismatic and immune? Sounds like a great pick for the A-team to us. (And we’re definitely not complaining about having someone this handsome around, either.)
Larry Underwood (Jovan Adepo)
Larry is a complicated man with many character flaws, which might make him an odd pick for this list. He’s narcissistic and often lets his ego get in the way of doing the right thing, but here we must return to one of the central tenets of choosing a post-apocalyptic squad: including at least one person who has a talent that can bring some merriment to the dark days. Larry is a musician, on the verge of becoming a famous star right before Captain Trips begins to spread. Afterwards, he travels from New York City to Boulder, where he joins the rest of Mother Abagail’s survivors and has to reconcile with the less-desirable parts of his personality. So, he’s trying to become a better person, and he can keep us all entertained with his music. We’ll take it!
Glen Bateman (Greg Kinnear)
We’re adding Glen to our team for one very important reason: his intelligence. Before the Captain Trips outbreak, Glen was a sociology professor grieving the death of his wife. Interested in Mother Abagail and her visions, he then joined up with the group of survivors in Boulder, where his past life in academia proved useful. Glen knows how the other survivors think, and provides useful sociological insights on humanity’s reaction to the crisis that has decimated the world, as well as the implications of setting up a new government and society in Boulder. In the event of apocalypse, you need someone smart around, and Glen’s our guy.
Nick Andros (Henry Zaga)
Nick is kind and compassionate almost to a fault. Deaf and non-verbal, he’s a key member of the group of survivors in Boulder and has a habit of risking his own well-being for the safety of others. This one is a no-brainer, people: You need someone good and noble like this around in your squad to keep morale high, and Nick, intensely loyal and generous, would do anything for his teammates. We already have the smarts, leadership, charisma, and musical talent covered — and Nick will provide that inherent goodness that anyone struggling in the post-apocalypse world needs around them.
We’ll have to wait until the show premieres to see if our thoughts on who would make the best Stand post-apocalyptic team will prove accurate, but we have a good feeling about these picks. We also have a good feeling about the series — with the all-star cast, famous source material, and epic scale, it’s hard to go wrong. Plus, King has written a new coda for the end of the story, so even those who think they know the novel will be surprised. Don’t forget to tune in on December 17 — here’s to surviving the apocalypse (and the rest of 2020) with your squad.
Watch the trailer for The Stand below, and stream the limited series on CBS All Access beginning December 17.
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