This Castle Rock review contains spoilers.
Castle Rock Season 2 Episode 8
Things have reached a breaking point in the towns of Castle Rock and Jerusalem’s Lot, and Annie and Nadia’s earthly problems suddenly seem minuscule in the face of this Satanic takeover. While “Dirty” is an entertaining episode, it lacks a bit of the substance of the first seven episodes, settling into familiar horror tropes instead. This is perhaps the horror-focused episode you’ve been waiting for, but its hard for it to stand next to the brilliant chapters that have come before.
If you love blood and guts, “Dirty” is certainly the episode for you. From throats being cut to people’s heads being bashed open with a sledgehammer, the episode lets Annie lose herself in some bloody murder, as she tries to save Joy from Ace’s cult. But the fight is in vain — how can Annie contend against Castle Rock’s very own Angel, the evil that now controls the town? The final shot of an expressionless, possessed Joy joining the parade of Angel worshippers is certainly haunting.
Annie and Joy settling in the Marsten House didn’t make much sense in the first place, especially after all of Annie and Ace’s history. It almost seems in the opening minutes that Annie isn’t even bothered by the fact that Ace has risen from the dead after she very definitively killed him with an ice cream scooper. Or that he now has a bunch of followers cleaning up the weird dirty bird house she escaped from in the second episode. For a minute there, it even seems like Annie and Joy is happy to stay in Marsten House, as if the situation weren’t completely batshit. We even get a scene of her making coffee and having a “friendly” conversation with Ace about Joy. It takes a pile of bodies in the basement to make Annie wake up and smell the murder cult, which felt like a big stretch in logic. Annie has never been this unsuspecting before.
While those scenes don’t really land, the hauntings Annie suffers throughout are spectacularly chilling. A rotting Robin Weigert returns after her suicidal plunge into a lake in “The Laughing Place.” Here, she’s back to give Annie some twisted “motherly advice,” and I loved the scene where Annie is almost compelled by mom to kill Joy before the Satanists can get her. Weigert’s creepy delivery is so much fun, as she calls to her daughter to finish the job she couldn’t: to get away clean.
Meanwhile, Nadia fights to survive inside the hospital, with a possessed Chris strapped to a gurney. Yusra Warsama and Matthew Alan are great in their scenes, as Chris tries to fight back the evil Frenchman trying to take over this body. While the show never took the time to really develop their romance, it does a fine job of making us feel for them in their final moments together, especially for Chris, the best of the Merrill clan, who dies defending Nadia from Ace’s goons. With Chris’ death, Nadia loses the last person she felt she could trust. And now, she finds herself as one of the few sane people left in Castle Rock. Perhaps it’s time to settle her differences with Pop and save the town?