Note: Great news, “Castle Rock” fans! Deadline reported Tuesday that Hulu renewed the show for a second season.
There are certain images, places and character traits that absolutely scream Stephen King. Rough and tumble dive bars. Dark, mysterious forests. Brutal, vindictive bullies. Spectacular deaths. Scary little children. Supernaturally attuned old men.
Episode six of “Castle Rock” has almost all those things — from the murderous havoc Bill Skarsgard’s still-mysterious character wreaks at the mental institution he’s been placed in, to the decidedly odd duo Henry encounters out in the woods. If episode five was a high point for the series so far, episode six is by far the most King-ian.
The episode starts with Alan Pangborn, who apparently has struck a deal with the mystery kid, who claims he can cure Pangborn’s beloved (Henry’s mother Ruth) of her dementia. As Pangborn leaves to retrieve some sort of object for the kid, Henry’s son, Wendell, arrives in town for a pleasant stay with dad and grandma in the World’s Most Disturbing Town. Henry isn’t a very good dad. Everybody on this show has daddy issues.
Before shipping him off to the hospital, Henry encounters the kid watching some old home movies of Henry and his dad, wandering through the woods. Disturbed by the images in the movies — and by the sounds he hears in the background of the audio — he first asks his mother about the videos. She claims she doesn’t know a thing about them, and Henry can’t remember ever being in the woods with his dad, either.
He then confronts Molly about his confusion and worry, which gives Molly the chance to finally unload her secret on Henry: the fact that she (well, she and Henry, existing together, with him inside her mind or something) pulled the plug on his dad’s ventilator, leading to his death. Henry does not believe her, or rather, he won’t.
Henry’s still in denial about the freaky stuff that happens in Castle Rock. Everybody else — Alan, Molly, Ruth — knows something’s up. Ruth tells her grandson Wendell about her ingenious trick about putting a chess piece in the refrigerator, so she remembers what year it is. Is that in order to cope with her dementia — or is Ruth actually sliding between points in time? In the King universe, both are plausible.
As an aside, Sissy Spacek’s performance in this particular scene is heartbreaking and masterful. If anyone gets an Emmy nod for this show, it should be her.
Henry heads out into the woods to investigate the weird sounds, and see if anything jogs his memory. Nothing does — but he does encounter two characters that literally could have walked out of a Stephen King novel. On IMDB, they are named as Odin (CJ Jones) and an unnamed young man (Rory Culkin), who are first seen sitting in the dark in front of a fire. Odin is some sort of mystic genius, who apparently knew Henry’s father; the young man is the translator for Odin, who is deaf.
Odin tells Henry that the ringing in his ears isn’t tinnitus, isn’t a power plant — it’s the music of the spheres. It’s God talking to him. It’s the sound of eternity. Whatever you want to call it, Odin says Henry’s dad heard it too.
Odin has built a perfectly silent chamber inside an old RV, in which someone can enclose themselves and listen fully to the voice of God. Henry decides he wants nothing to do with it, but Odin quickly shoves him inside the chamber and locks the door. We last see Henry in the episode trapped inside, starting to go crazy.
We then cut to Alan, arriving home to Ruth’s house to find the mysterious kid sitting out front with blood on his hands. Alan reminds the kid of their deal, but the kid reminds Alan that he is complicit in the fact that Warden Lacy left him in a cage for several decades — Alan let Lacy go after a traffic stop, knowing that the kid was in his trunk. We end the episode with Alan running through the ransacked house looking for Ruth.
Oooh! This show is getting good! Don’t you agree?
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