Castle Rock recap: Season 1, Episode 7, “The Queen”, Aired Aug. 22, 2018
“Where’d you go, Ruth?”
Man, what an episode. Castle Rock just keeps getting better. This week, the show delves further into one of its most interesting aspects, Ruth’s dementia. And Sissy Spacek is so good it’s clear that if she needed to, she could carry the whole show on her own. Episode seven paints a vivid picture about how dementia feels. Ruth journeys through her own memories, going over things we’ve already seen, but from her perspective. While also venturing into parts of her life we haven’t seen yet. The episode doesn’t really move us forward much in the present story. But what it does do is fill in Ruth’s story, focusing on her relationships with Matthew Deaver, Henry, Sheriff Pangborn, and even what happened in last episode with the Kid.
For Greg Yaitanes, as the director, his challenge was to visually show us weaving through her memories as quickly and fluidly as her mind does. And he succeeds. The visual cues and transitions are amazing. Earlier in the episode, she walks down a hallway, and the show repeats a shot three times, like a skipping record. It ties back to the literal skipping record in the living room at the end of the previous episode. In a later scene, as Ruth descends the stairs to see Henry and Pangborn talking, the slight shift in lighting hints at the change in time. Multiple times, a door represents the shift in memory, which is a bit obvious. But it’s done so smoothly that it works. Ruth is being rushed from one memory to the next, reliving all these different moments of her life. She is trying to grasp onto anything that might keep her centered. As she talked about with Wendell, she uses the old chess set to pull herself out of the past and anchor herself in the present.
Before this episode, we knew very little about Matthew Deaver and his relationship with Ruth. We knew he took Henry into the woods to listen for the sound, and it made Ruth nervous. She couldn’t bring herself to admit this to her son. But Matthew was abusive to her as well. We see a sermon young Matthew gave at the church. Pangborn sits in a pew nearby, looking over at Ruth lovingly. But Ruth is afraid of her husband seeing her, and she hides it. Another of the memories is also from when Henry was a kid. Ruth, Matthew, and Henry are all out for a picnic in the woods. Obviously, given what we know, it’s probably not a good idea. After sitting down, Matthew pulls his gun out of the picnic basket, and tells them about the time he tried to kill himself with it. The only thing that stopped him was the schisma, or what he believes to be “the voice of God.”
Ruth’s fear of Matthew runs deep, and it’s easy to see why she got so defensive when Henry asked her about his father. Ruth didn’t do enough to protect him then, and she is in denial about it. But she clearly was happy when he died. We see that in the present, Molly came looking for Henry after their conversation last episode, telling Ruth that something bad is going to happen. Ruth seems aware of this. But she also tells her that she was awake the night young Molly came into their bedroom and killed Matthew. Molly tries to apologize, but Ruth doesn’t accept it, saying “You did right.”
As for what happened right at the end of “Filter,” we are given a few small but important updates. This episode shows what happened after the Kid came into the house to find Ruth. After he arrives at the house, the Kid attempts to dote on Ruth, trying to get her to take her sedatives, and drawing her a bath. He seems to know everything about Ruth, Matthew, and their relationship with one another. Ruth sees him as Matthew, as if he’s risen from the dead. Wendell comes downstairs and Ruth sends him out of the house to get him away. She tricks the Kid into thinking she took her pill, then grabs a knife and hides in the bath. When the Kid comes to check on her, she stabs him in the side and runs. And while all this is happening, Ruth also seems to be reliving all of her bad memories with Matthew, especially when she tried to leave him to help Henry, and didn’t.
She then goes to her closet to get the gun Matthew had, and tries to remember where the bullets are. After searching through her memories, she recalls that she packed them when she thought she was leaving many years ago. And they’re still in the suitcase, the one that Pangborn buried the stray dog in. She digs that up and loads the gun, hiding in the shed. And here is where we overtake what happened last week. While she’s hiding, Pangborn is searching everywhere for Ruth. So when she shoots at the door as it opens, we are pretty sure it’s Pangborn and not the Kid. And it is.
Ruth holds a dying Pangborn in her arms until morning. When she leaves the shed, she goes inside and cleans off. When she goes downstairs, it feels like a new day, as if the death didn’t even happen. And standing at the door is Pangborn. It’s like the day he came back to Castle Rock and went to investigate gunshots at the Deaver house so long ago. Ruth seems happy to see him, and just like they told the story earlier, Ruth pulls him close, and says desperately, “Don’t leave.”
(Featured Image: Hulu)