This Castle Rock review contains spoilers.
Castle Rock Episode 10
There was never any doubt that Castle Rock would leave some burning questions unanswered. It’s unfortunate that “Romans” takes a while to actually get going, choosing to retread old information like the refrain to a twisted song, biding its time before getting to the interesting bits. But for the most part, the episode is an efficient season finale once it gets down to business. It solves the right mysteries while leaving others open to interpretation. Is the Kid truly the devil? If so, where was he trying to go and why did he need Henry to get him there?
I like the way the episode, and the season as a whole, went back and forth with the Kid’s innocence. By the time we finally get a look at whatever is inside of him, trying to get home and making that awful sound — the same one many dead men mistook for the voice of God — we’re left wondering whether the Kid was evil all along or was transformed during his time in the cage.
We don’t get a simple answer to that question. While the show leaves no doubt that there’s something more grotesque hiding inside the Kid — the effects, as the Kid’s true, wrinkled face is revealed, aren’t great — and that he’s a villain by the end, the story still doesn’t line up completely. If the Kid is actually a Henry Deaver from an alternate universe where he was relatively well-adjusted and had a good life — “Romans” never really refutes his story — did his powers only manifest once he’d gone through the spooky portal? Did he become the devil in the cage Warden Lacy wanted him to be?
As for the Kid’s “real” face, I’m still not sure if that was supposed to be a monster or a sign of his real age. After all, he’s gone 27 years in a cage without aging; not that he’d look THAT old in that amount of time but maybe the cavernous wrinkles are meant to represent his decay on the inside. Whatever the case, that sudden lapse is enough to convince Henry to put the Kid back in his cage, ending the story exactly where it began.
Is that the same face Lacy saw when he found the Kid wandering Castle Rock? What compelled Reverend Deaver to cage Henry all those years ago? It all keeps coming back to the voice of God that spoke to these troubled men in the first place. I think we can all agree that it’s not God speaking to Wendell as the crows come crashing through his bus’ windshield or when the reverend decides that he must kill Ruth for her sins. Of course, there is another omniscient being in the Stephen King universe who loves to whisper in the ears of the weak…
It was the Kid who first teased “He” who has “a robe dipped in blood, and His name is The Word of God” — lines from the Book of Revelation that could signify the arrival of the Crimson King to Castle Rock. This is a tinfoil theory at best but it makes sense that King’s demonic villain would choose to act through all four of these men, all of whom have spent their lives searching for something (Lacy and the reverend want to serve God, the Kid and Henry are trying to escape their real and metaphorical cages). Is it so surprising that the Crimson King would seize the opportunity and answer them?
In the Kid’s case, he might have been a good man when he went through the portal but slowly gave into the demon’s call in his attempts to escape. (By the time he compels the Shawshank prisoners to go on a rampage through the police department, it’s clear that the Kid is too far gone.) The truth, it seems, will remain sealed in that vault forever.
As for Henry, we do learn the truth behind the death of his father. While it was young Molly who pulled the plug, it was Henry who provided the first push. Buried deep in the dark caverns of Henry’s memory, which is finally unlocked during his fight with the Kid, is his attempt to save his mother from a bad man. We learn that the reverend intended to kill Ruth for cheating on him with Alan. That he confides in his son is traumatic enough for poor Henry, but its the fact that son is forced to kill father in order to save his mother that makes our protagonist’s story all the more painful to watch.
The first season of Castle Rock was at its very best when exploring Henry’s trauma (and Molly’s and Ruth’s), and “Romans” gives him the catharsis he’s been searching for. His relationship with his own son is renewed, and he also gets the chance to help Molly, pushing her to start over in a place where she can be at peace. Most importantly, Henry gets to be there for his mother before the end. But this all comes with a catch: he’s now responsible for the devil in the cage. God, it seems, has given him a new purpose.
I have to quickly address that stunning credits sequence. Jackie Torrance sits at the Mellow Tiger Bar typing away at a horror story heavily inspired by the gruesome events at the Lacy house. (In case you don’t remember, Jackie comes to Henry’s rescue by murdering Gordon with an ax in “Past Perfect.”) Not only is this scene notable for the 100.3 WKIT “Stephen King’s Rock Station” (a real station in Maine) sticker on the back of Jackie’s laptop, but it might also be a big clue as to where the show is headed to next.
As you probably know, Castle Rock is an anthology series, meaning that season 2, which is definitely on the way, will tell a whole new, King-inspired story. But that doesn’t mean that season 2 has to take place strictly in the town of Castle Rock. The fact that Jackie (real name Diane) is planning to visit the Overlook Hotel, the place where her uncle once tried to chop up his family, could mean that the show is headed to one of the most infamous places in King’s cruel universe. I, for one, would love to see what she finds in those abandoned hallways and echoing ballrooms…
That she’s decided to become a writer doesn’t inspire much hope for Jackie, either. Will she finish her book where it all began or succumb to the ghosts still patronizing the hotel? Either way, it would be an improvement on Jackie’s story, which was virtually non-existent this season — an injustice to any character named “Torrance.”
If this short, juicy scene is indeed a tease for Castle Rock season 2 and a new story inside the Overlook, well, the months until next season might just become maddening…