‘Castle Rock’ recap: Breaking down the first 3 episodes

Castle Rock recap: Season 1, Episodes 1 “Severance”, 2 “Habeas Corpus”, and 3 “Local Color”

“‘Never again let him see the light of day.’ That’s what God told me. […] What he didn’t tell me was how full of doubt I would be about what we did, or where I’d wind up in the end.”

Last Wednesday, Hulu released the first three episodes of Castle Rock, the most recent show based on Stephen King’s literary universe. While it’s clearly influenced by King’s material and style, as well as other classic horror, the show is venturing into new territory. The creators are crafting a completely original story set in the well-known town of Castle Rock, which already has its own extensive mythology. The first few episodes spend a lot of time introducing all of the characters and slowly connecting them to each other. But with an amazing cast and plenty of shocking moments already, Castle Rock impresses. 

The story begins with a flashback, setting 1991. It’s an extremely cold and snowy day, and a notice on the radio declares a search for Henry Deaver, an eleven year old boy, called off. A man, the young Sheriff Pangborn, turns off the radio as he ventures out into the cold to look for the boy himself. While resting by a frozen lake, a strange sound reverberates around him, and when he looks back across the lake, someone stands there. Henry Deaver, the missing boy.

Castle Rock recap
Photo by: Patrick Harbron/Hulu

When we finally see present day Castle Rock, the warden of Shawshank State Penitentiary, Dale Lacy (played by the wonderful Terry O’Quinn), says goodbye to his wife in the morning. But instead of going to work, Lacy drives into the woods, right near where young Henry Deaver was found, and commits suicide, tying a rope around his neck before driving into the lake. He succeeds in completely removing his head, and the police can’t seem to find where it went. It’s brutal, and I’m pretty sure no one expected to see Lacy dead so soon. Castle Rock’s certainly wasting no time.

Soon after at Shawshank, a new warden comes in (Ann Cusack). In order to find more space for prisoners, she orders the prison guards to explore and clean out Cell Block F, a section of the prison that has been closed for thirty years after a fire. Though they find the expected grime and debris, there’s also a surprise discovery. Prison guard Zalewski (played by Noel Fisher from Shameless) finds a strange young man in a cage. Someone’s clearly been down there with him, but there’s no record of the Kid anywhere. When he finally speaks to them, all he says is “Henry Michael Deaver.” Bill Skarsgård, who plays Pennywise in It, is double dipping into Stephen King adaptations here. It’s amazing to see him play two vastly different characters to perfection.

In present time, Henry Deaver (André Holland of Moonlight) is a lawyer who tries to save people on death row, and he no longer lives in Castle Rock. When Henry was a kid and he went missing, it was eleven days before Pangborn found him. Because of this, most people believe that he ran away. And to top it all off, his adopted father, Reverend Deaver, was found much earlier in the search, almost right after he went missing. He was at the bottom of a cliff with a broken back. They brought him home for recovery, but he died soon after. The whole town of Castle Rock blames Henry for his father’s death, and they don’t hide their disdain for him.

castle rock recap
Image: Hulu

While the prison wants to get rid of Kid to avoid any backlash, Zalewski’s morality drives him to call Henry himself and ask for help. Deaver makes the trip home, but when he visits Shawshank, he meets resistance from the warden. As he leaves, he realizes that Zalewski is the one who called him, and so he goes to the local bar to try to talk. While there, Henry meets Jackie Torrance (Jane Levy), who can’t stop herself from asking him all about his dark past. She doesn’t seem to really care about boundaries. Jackie might possibly have a connection to the Torrances of The Shining, but it’s unclear what that might be.

Zalewski gives Henry as much information as he can, though the situation is making him increasingly anxious. And as he works at Shawshank, he’s seeing some weird things happen surrounding the Kid. One night, Zalewski hallucinates seeing him murder all the guards on the security cameras. After calling for an emergency lockdown, he almost shoots one of the other guards. And when the prison puts the Kid in a cell with an extreme Neo-Nazi to try to get rid of him, his cellmate ends up dead, body riddled with cancer. This was right after the Kid told him, “You don’t want to touch me.”

As Henry gets more information about the Kid from Zalewski, he begins to investigate on his own. He goes to Lacy’s house and searches his office, finding article clippings of all the odd things that have happened in town. But while Henry keeps looking, we see flashbacks and hear voiceover from Lacy explaining more about his actions. He found and imprisoned the Kid in Shawshank. Lacy says that God told him he had to do it to protect the town from evil, which he told Pangborn in a letter before he died. He thought he was doing the right thing, but then the doubt crept in. It seems like that might’ve been part of why he committed suicide.

Melanie Lynskey plays Molly Strand, another peculiar town member. She is a real estate agent, and she’s very odd, even for the town of Castle Rock. She takes drugs that she buys from a local teenager. And although her sister doesn’t seem to believe her, it turns out that she can hear voices in her head. More specifically, the thoughts of the people around her, and she takes the drugs to try to drown that all out.

Molly clearly has a past connection with Henry Deaver. After she spots him in town, we see her in her own basement looking at an old missing poster of Henry from when they were younger. Not really a memento a normal person would keep. As the episodes go on, the show reveals (through many flashbacks) that Molly and Henry used to live across the street from each other. Molly had a little obsession with him. She would look out her windows through binoculars and watch the Deavers. But because of her abilities, Molly felt a more intense connection with Henry, and she could always feel what he was feeling. It also seems like Henry’s return to town is intensifying Molly’s abilities.

Of course their history directly relates to Henry’s lost memories and when he went missing. While the show hasn’t yet shown what happened the night Henry went missing, it revealed something even bigger. After Henry’s dad was rescued, he stayed in his house as he recovered. And one night, as his wife slept nearby, Molly snuck over to the Deavers’ house. She stood over Mr. Deaver, and pulled out the tube that allowed him to breathe. Then she just stared at him as he died.

Castle Rock recap

Now, Molly is having hallucinations and feeling guilty for her past. After she has multiple break-ins at her home, she goes upstairs with a knife, intending to defend herself. But what she sees is much worse. A man, with a face covered in bandages stands behind her. She freaks out, but when she looks again, no one’s there. Was it all just a hallucination, or is the psychic Molly actually seeing something else?

Henry reconnects with quite a few key people from his past when he comes back. His mother, Ruth Deaver, played by the one and only Sissy Spacek from Carrie, has memory issues, and Alan Pangborn (Scott Glenn) is now in a relationship with her and helps take care of her in Henry’s absence. Sheriff Pangborn is also one of the only characters who is not original. He is the protagonist of King’s book Needful Things, and is mentioned in a few others. Pangborn seems to have had an intense history with Dale Lacy as well. 

Much like the kids in It, Henry Deaver is a character called back to his hometown that triggers old memories long repressed. He doesn’t remember anything from before his rescue. But with his interactions with Molly Strand, and everything else happening, it’s only a matter of time before it comes back to him. As for what we’ve seen so far, we should also be wary, because who knows if what we are seeing actually happened or not?

Favorite Moments

-When Henry comes upon Pangborn digging up the dead body of an old dog in a suitcase because Ruth’s memory is so bad. She keeps leaving out food for a dog she thinks roams the neighborhood, but she doesn’t remember that he died a while ago. Pangborn takes a photo on his phone as proof. Is it symbolic of Henry? Does Pangborn want Ruth to forget him?

-The creepy kid court that Molly experiences when she’s trying to find drugs. Seriously, so eerie I might have nightmares about it…

-There have already been a lot of good references. CujoThe Body, and others, and I love how Terry O’Quinn’s Lacy was the one trying to piece it all together. It feels a bit like his character from Lost. 

Questions I’m Left With

-Is the Kid really the devil Lacy is talking about? Or could it be someone else, and that’s why Lacy planned for him to get out?

-Did Molly really kill Henry’s father? Was she also involved in how he initially got injured? And what really happened?

-Who is the “defender even in the dead of night” that Lacy talks about? Is anything he said actually true?

-Does Pangborn know more?

New episodes of Castle Rock air Wednesdays on Hulu

(Featured Image: Hulu)


Devon Forward

Devon is an artist, writer, and current student of film/television development. She loves anything science fiction or fantasy, and her favorite show is Charmed, which kick-started her obsession with powerful yet imperfect female characters. You can usually find her somewhere analyzing a tv show or reading a good book. On Twitter @dev4wrd

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