This Castle Rock review contains spoilers.
Castle Rock Episode 8
It’s difficult following up a series-defining episode like last week’s Sissy Spacek-centric “The Queen,” and “Past Perfect” doesn’t quite accomplish it. Where Ruth Deaver’s gut-wrenching hour of terror was mesmerizing and heartbreaking, this episode is back to more methodical storytelling. “Past Perfect” asks a lot of questions and even sets up the big reveal regarding the Kid’s identity, but it also goes a little too slow at times, especially when it comes to revisiting Ruth Deaver’s story, which is basically non-existent this week.
The episode does excel in its opening minutes, though. Castle Rock‘s blood-soaked “Historic Bed and Breakfast” is a delightful new addition to the town, a macabre and campy little nod at the audience that fits right in with the story without ever seeming like a distraction. I actually welcomed the detour to learn more about the couple who bought Warden Lacy’s cursed murder house. (The show’s complete disregard of the great Frances Conroy is the real crime. Castle Rock wins the award for worse use of Conroy in a drama for sure.)
The show played a neat trick a few weeks ago when Gordon (Mark Harelik) and his wife Lilith (Lauren Bowles) met with Molly to look at the Lacy house. Gordon looked disturbed when he found the former warden’s ashes in the fridge, which sent Molly into a panicked (and hilarious) explanation that the at least Lacy hadn’t died in the house. But this week we learn that the quiet couple looking for a change of pace — for reasons we soon find out involve infidelity — is actually very interested in Castle Rock’s dead, specifically those who died in the most gruesome ways. The bloody cadaver in the overflowing bathtub, the man with the axe (not the right kind of axe, according to Jackie Torrance, whose namesake knows all about them) sticking out of his head — these are the big attractions of this true crime bed and breakfast. You could almost imagine Stephen King himself reveling in a place like this.
I love the scenes of Gordon gently putting the limbless mannequins together, painting the blood onto their faces with such tender care, Lilith watching in the background as he falls deeper into his obsession, made worse by Lacy’s paintings of the Kid. Again, the Kid pushes someone to kill and this time without even showing up in person. At the very least, Gordon doesn’t seem to be in complete control of himself.
“I’m not a murderer,” Gordon tells Lilith as he bags up the chopped of limbs of their very first guests. He’s supplicating his wife to believe him. A few hours later, she’s the one turning the knife on Henry.
Thank goodness for Jackie, who comes in with the last minute save. I have to admit that I’ve been pretty annoyed about the way the show has handled the one Torrance character in town. Surely, a series as good as Castle Rock could find something more interesting to do with a Torrance than simply have her show up at random? I think this is the first time the show’s even mentioned that she’s a taxi driver? Either way, it’s uninspiring.
As far as the main mystery goes, we get a few more hints about the Kid’s identity, although the stranger’s final words to Molly are as confusing as that schisma that sent Henry into a manic flashback. What does the Kid mean when he says Molly died in the woods? And while it’s been obvious for a while that the Kid first met Henry years ago in those same woods, we still don’t know what went on there or what his connection is to the Deavers.
I know there are plenty of theories about the Kid all over the internet if you’re looking, but at the moment, I’m pretty stumped. The latest clues don’t really offer much more than a deeper tumble down the rabbit hole. With only two episodes left in the season, will we finally get the answers we’re looking for? Whatever we do get, I doubt it’ll be what we expect.