This Castle Rock review contains spoilers.
Castle Rock Season 2 Episode 7
Castle Rock delivers another stunning twist in “The Word,” an episode that not only connects the dots between past and present but also between seasons. Along the way, we get a surprising Bill Skarsgard return in the final scene of the episode as well as an excellent performance from Mathilde Dehaye (The Pretenders), who is revealed to be the mysterious Amity Lambert, the crux of the plot against Castle Rock and Jerusalem’s Lot this season.
“The Word” takes a deep dive into Jerusalem’s Lot and Castle Rock’s past. We meet the French colonists of New Jerusalem, the misfortunate, starving villagers living on cursed soil that will bear no fruit. That is, until Amity, an exiled young woman accused of being a witch, encounters the Angel who will reshape her life and that of the town’s history. When Amity returns to her people with food — and plenty of it — the town welcomes her back as their savior, forsaking their former masters, who end up burning at the stake when the Angel, who speaks through Amity, wills it.
What a great case “The Word” makes for a period piece set in this haunted part of Maine. Everything from the set design to the costumes shine, an age of great superstition giving way to fire and brimstone, as New Jerusalem transforms from humble village to damned lair of Satanists. Dehaye is absolutely hypnotic as Amity, who embraces her newfound power almost immediately, not only to execute the fat cat father who banished her but to recruit the rest of the villagers into her new cult. The result is sins of the flesh, bloody executions, and ritual suicide — and the episode relishes every last minute of supersititous insanity. This is basically a much better American Horror Story.
We learn that the Satanists didn’t simply vanish from the town before it became Jerusalem’s Lot but went into a…prolonged hibernation. The ritual suicide, which involves swallowing a scarab before having your throat cut open, is grisly, especially when the camera focuses in on the scared children about to go before their executioner. But Amity, who questions the Angel’s command at first, is ultimately so sure of her master’s wishes, as she swipes her blade across every new throat. 400 years later, Amity’s faith is rewarded.
I love how confidently Castle Rock has stepped into ‘Salem’s Lot territory. Whether it’s because the rules of what Stephen King material could be adopted were more rigid last year or the showrunners were a bit timid on their first go, the first season never quite dove in so bravely, instead taking little bits and pieces from several stories but rarely any of the big ones (even the one Shining connection added little to the show). But season 2 is really going for it with its remix of Misery and ‘Salem’s Lot. Showrunners Dustin Thomason and Sam Shaw have already given us an all-time great Annie Wilkes origin story and now they go all-in on their take on King’s vampire novel.
Except the the creature that takes over Castle Rock and Jerusalem’s Lot isn’t a vampire at all. It’s the Angel. Or at least a statue that looks a lot like Bill Skarsgard’s enigmatic character from season 1. When Ace, the undead vessel of Amity’s lover Pere Augustin, unveils the Angel to the people gathered for the 400-year anniversary parade, they’re immediately hypnotized and taken under the statue’s sway. All except for Pop, who knows something really bad is up and gets out of town.
Earlier in the episode, Castle Rock finally sends Tim Robbins back to Shawshank Penitentiary in “The Word.” (I mean, how could the show resist?) Pop is there to make peace with his brother-in-law John, Ace and Chris’ shitty dad, when he learns that there’s something afoot at the prison. That’s when Castle Rock‘s ultimate plan begins to come into view. When Pop pays a visit to the Kid’s grotesque cage from season 1, he finds it empty. But how could that be? After all, Henry Deaver locked him back in his cell at the end of the first season…
The mystery is solved in the final scene when we learn that the Kid and the Angel are one and the same, a force for evil who recruits acolytes to do his bidding. The final shot sees Amity and the Angel in the present day, standing at the edge of Castle Lake, the haunted place where reality seems to be thinnest in the town. It’s here where the Angel finally decides to remove his hood for Amity and the audience.
So, what does the Kid’s return mean? The episode seems to give closure to the mystery that was never truly solved at the end of the first season (the Kid’s actually an evil supernatural being) while introducing a brand new one. Does this new mystery lead back to Henry or perhaps to Jackie Torrance, whose storyline was left on a cliffhanger last season?
All we know for sure is that the Angel’s plot definitely leads back to Annie, who Pere Augustin plans to use as the new vessel for Amity’s soul. Getting to her won’t be so easy though, as she’s in custody after confessing to Rita’s murder. But if there’s one thing we know about these Satanists, it’s that they’ll get what they want eventually.