(My quick review of Castle Rock episode 10: Romans and Season 1 is HERE.)
That was an
enlightening exciting disappointing season finale.
Later in this post I’ll give my favorite explanation of events, which tries to incorporate everything that happened and didn’t happen, because I can never resist a little pseudo-fan fiction writing of my own. I could tell you at least half a dozen others that I’ve made up since the episode was released. Every viewer has their own versions, just like we all had theories through out the season. It’s part of the fun of a mystery.
But I didn’t watch this show as a choose your own adventure/write your own ending show. I resent writers who try to pass off lazy writing and an unfinished story as an artistic choice. And make no mistake, that’s what creators Sam Shaw and Dustin Thomason have done. They thought it would be cool to leave the ending up to the viewer, and didn’t even decide on an ending between themselves.
This show was set up as a mystery, and the payoff at the end of a mystery is discovering answers to the bulk of the questions the series has posed. That way, viewers who are matching wits with the characters and writers have closure and satisfaction. This would have been an acceptable, but still disappointing, season finale for the first season of a 3-5 season mystery series that was going to explore a complex science fiction/supernatural mystery, like Orphan Black or 12 Monkeys.
Since season 1 was advertised as a self-contained story, I call BS. They can leave questions about the nature of their universe open, but this season’s mysteries needed to be solved. They could have left us with an amazingly ambiguous but thought-provoking ending, like the best anthology series often do. But this wasn’t thought provoking. It was just flat. We’re left going in the same circles we’ve been running in all season, not contemplating some deeper philosophical truth.
For the showrunners, this isn’t a show that’s about something. This is a show that wants to stump the viewer with unsolvable, unpredictable mysteries and dazzle them with cool ideas. I think of it as the Legion syndrome. You could just as easily call it the Lost syndrome. The creators were so busy showing off how talented they are and what huge Stephen King fans they are, that they forgot to tell a coherent, compelling season long story with a consistent through line, an earned conclusion for each character and a satisfying ending. You can’t solve the mystery because the clues purposely don’t add up.