Underdogs, if you have not seen the series, “Castle Rock,” on Hulu, then you may not want to read any more of this blog post. This will contain spoilers for the entire series! I highly suggest that you check this show out and watch before reading anything about this show. Okay, on with the real fun I have been OBSESSED with Castle Rock! I have devoured the entire series and it has left me wanting more! It’s not perfect, but there are moments of perfection. If you have no knowledge about Steven King, or his universe, then I believe you will still enjoy the story. However, it does help if you have a basic knowledge of his stories. Besides, it is always fun to see and hear the Easter Eggs hidden in the show for the fans. I see something new with each viewing. I have watched the entire series, saved for the final show, through twice at this point and it won’t be the last. It is important to remember that even though this cast includes many people who have acted in other Steve King movies, it does not mean that they are the same character. This adds an amazing layer to this story, but that does need clarification.
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Castle Rock is the fictional town in the state of Maine where many of Steven King’s books take place. This is truly one of my favorite things about Steven King. How he connects his universe, and the people within that world is genius. There are nods to other stories in most of his books. I am a huge fan of this type of writing and I seek out authors who do this in their stories. Steven King is producing this along with J. J. Abrams. Many people question this choice, but I’m also a huge J. J. Abrams fan, and believe he is doing this series a huge justice. He is a master at character building, and mystery, so there isn’t anyone better to do this job. If you have only been exposed to Steven King’s book that are horror themed, then you are doing you are missing out. He has some amazing thrillers and very human nature stories which pull at all the heart-strings. May I recommend my favorite, “Hearts in Atlantis?”
Castle Rock begins with a young Sheriff Alan Pangborn (Needful Things) searching in the woods for an 12 year old missing boy named Henry Deaver. It’s very cold, and dangerous, and you can tell that the search is getting desperate. Henry has been missing for 11 days. All of a sudden, you hear a strange sound, and there is Henry in the middle of a frozen lake! He is unharmed, confused, and has no memory of what happened to him. We then come back to present day and see a soon to be retired Warden Dale Lacy, who quickly kills himself in a very violent way. After his death, Lacy is replaced with Warden Theresa Porter, who asks the guards to seek out why they are only using a percentage of their cells. A fire broke out in the 1980’s and their job was to see if they were usable. They found more than what they ever imagined, because in a hole, they find a living young man all alone in the dark. They have no record of this young man, and he is not in the system anywhere.
We then meet Henry as an adult who now is a lawyer for those on death row. The guard, Dennis, who found the young man, calls Henry since the only words he spoke was Henry’s name. From here on out, this young man will be known as The Kid. It is obvious that Henry does not want to go back to Castle Rock, and his arrival is not a warm welcome when he reluctantly comes back. He gets called names and is not offered a ride by anyone. In fact, a young women who sees him, slinks down in her seat so Henry can’t see her and quickly drives away. Henry walks to his childhood home and finds his Mom, Ruth, outside in winter wear during the heat. It is obvious that Ruth has a memory issue such as dementia. She doesn’t recognize her own adoptive son at first. This could be due to her mind, or due to the fact that he didn’t visit much, or another very strange reason. This may not be the way Ruth’s son Henry, always looks like when he comes to her. He also finds that Alan, the same man who saved him as a child at the lake, is now retired and living with his Mom. This makes Henry angry, but we find Alan loves Ruth and has been taking care of her in the absence of her son.
The story gets very complicated from here, but Henry eventually runs into his childhood friend, Molly, who was the same women who hide from him earlier. She is plagued by a physic gift, and takes drugs to dull the effects. Molly and Henry are very connected. So much that Molly can feel what Henry feels at any given moment. The story of their childhood is briefly told and you find out that Henry’s Dad, who was the pastor of the church, was taking Henry out at all odd hours, scaring Molly because she feared for Henry. There is talk of an accident that happened to Pastor Deaver during the time when Henry was gone. People blamed Henry for doing something to him out in the woods because he was found half frozen, with a broken back. He told Alan that Henry did it. Pastor Deaver passed away at his home after it seemed he was recovering. The truth was that Molly, as a child, and in a trance, cut off Pastor Deaver’s air, killing him. While she was doing this, it was like Henry was with her, or even making her do this act.
Henry takes on The Kid as his client, but he is still not talking. The Kid eventually gets placed in a cell even though they can’t figure out why he is there, or even if he should be there. Strange events begin to happen around The Kid such as his violent cell mate dying of cancer, and Dennis going on a killing spree. The Kid eventually gets out, even though Alan went to the new Warden and warned her to never let him out of any cell. It turns out Alan pulled over Lacy 27 years ago with The Kid stuck in his trunk. Lacy showed Alan The Kid, and Alan let Lacy keep him and lock him up. We also eventually find out that The Kid hasn’t aged in 27 years. Henry doesn’t want to take care of The Kid, but he has no money, no ID, no name, and no place to go. He gets bounced around to a few people, but he leaves a body count. The Kid never does anything, it is hard to tell if The Kid is bringing out violence and darkness around people, or he is just an observer.
We see The Kid becoming more comfortable and seems to remember some of his life once he stays with Henry out in shed out back. The Kid talks more, walks around town more, and even interacts with Ruth. Ruth is suffering, and has jumped off the bride in a moment of either clarity or confusion. The Kid manipulates Alan to go on a wild goose chase so he can be alone with Ruth. He knows Ruth, very well. He seems to care for her too. Henry is deep in the woods at the same time trying to figure out what happened to him. His Father used to talk about hearing the voice of God. He believed that Henry could hear it too. Henry could hear a high pitched sound that he even sought out medical treatment. No one could explain the sound, but other people hear it too, including Henry’s son Wendell. This sound had people not only chasing to hear it, but committing murder and inflicting self-harm because of it. The sound makes people crazy, or clear, depending on which side of sanity you are standing on.
We find after The Kid’s interaction with Ruth, that she is very much a time walker. For a person suffering with memory issues, this is episode does a masterful job of explaining to others what it might actually be like for the person. Ruth knows that she is walking through time, and leaves herself bread crumbs to get back to the present. The only problem is, which present? The Kid tells Molly that he came from another universe, or alternative time line, and is the son of Ruth and the Pastor. They never adopted a child, and he is a doctor working on dementia. Henry was adopted after his parents had a still born child, and never tried to have another child again. The Kid is trying to get home, and believes he needs Henry to help him because he can hear the noise, and The Kid can not.
The Kid lets Molly know that in his world, Castle Rock is prosperous. He lived with his Mom and Alan after she left her crazy and abusive husband. He hadn’t been back in years, until his Father died. He found in his childhood basement, a child being kept by the Pastor, in a cage. That child was the same young Henry we meet at the start of the story being rescued in the middle of the lake by Alan. The child had been in that cage for 27 years and hadn’t aged. He refused to tell anyone his name, and hardly spoke. They take him to a hospital, but trouble follows this young Henry and the places catches on fire. Young Henry runs into the forest because he hears the noise, with The Kid and other Molly following. Molly and The Kid were childhood friends in this world, who reunited when he came back for his Father’s funeral. Molly, The Kid and a police officer follow young Henry into the woods. They see several different things going on around them. It seems this sound is a place where the veil is thin between worlds. For Steven King fans it’s called the Thining.
The Thining shows us several people who are either walking through these time lines, are stuck there watching in fear, or hurting themselves because of it. Young Henry runs, and The Kid follows him. Young Henry ends up in the iced over lake, being rescued by Alan, and The Kid stands there in fear and disbelief. Lacy then finds him and cages him in Shawshank, the prison he works at, for the next 27 years. The Kid asks Henry to take him to the woods so he can get home, but as Henry observes, death follows The Kid. The Kid eventually gets Henry out there at gun point and he can hear the noise. Henry and The Kid scuffle and for a brief moment, The Kid turns into a monster, then back again. Henry then puts The Kid right back in the hole where he was found, and the dance begins again.
There is a lot more with the story, and I will do more of a breakdown of themes and Easter Eggs on another post. Many people were upset and angry about the ending, because it’s not solved. Nothing is solved. However, this is very much a Steven King story. He is famous for building an amazing universe, and leave the reader without a definitive answer or ending. It shows that nothing is tied up in a bow, and that life keeps going. There are no easy answers. In fact, there may not be any answers at all. The guessing, discussion, and breakdown is the important part of the story. This world is very well done, and I can understand why some felt left down. I wasn’t because it had such a pulse, and the story was so well done. I don’t want answers handed to me on a plate, I want to work for it. The good thing about this series is you can pretty much think whatever theory that you want, and be correct. This show begs for discussion, for theories, and for speculation. As a series as a whole, I give it a 4.5 out 5 Stars. There are a few reasons that I didn’t give it a perfect score. However, I think that episode 7, “The Queen,” is the best written and shot show that I’ve ever seen, and someone needs to give Sissy Spacek all of the awards. All of them! Bravo!
What do you think, dear Underdogs?