This is a disturbing episode that leaves the audience with a lot to think about. We lose some characters, gain some characters, and begin to learn who some of the others really are. We also learn some things we wish we didn’t know.
It’s hard to say which box is meant to be the titular box in this episode full of sinister and confining boxes. There’s the box containing Henry’s police file, which Pangborn tried to conveniently lose many years before as part of a deliberate cover up. There’s Matthew Deaver’s coffin, which makes a grand entrance through town on the back of a truck, straight past his widow, who definitely didn’t want to see him back in town.
There’s the many boxes that make up the prison, from the cells to the surveillance room to the camera monitors to the watchtowers. There’s the boxes that Zalewski and the other guards will be buried in. And the wooden box that Josef Desjardins has in his backyard with a cereal bowl and spoon locked inside that could have held Henry, Kid, or both at some point.
Then there are all of the mental and metaphorical boxes that the characters put themselves and each other in. Zalewski asked how one town can look the other way so much. The answer is partially that they all live in boxes with high walls and no windows. They avoid climbing up high enough to look over the top to check on anyone else.
Episode 3 of Castle Rock follows Molly Strand as she reconnects with Henry and attempts to make her big presentation on the local TV show Living Color. The biggest thing in Molly’s life, though, is her “undiagnosed psychic affliction”, as her unnamed sister put it. Like anyone with an unpredictable health condition, Molly does her best to cope with whatever life throws at her and the symptoms that brings on. Since science doesn’t have an answer for her (just as it doesn’t for so many of us), she turns to alternative treatments.
In addition to following the Psychic Adventures of Molly Strand, we also follow her psydekick and sometimes adversary trigger, Henry Deaver, as he continues to stir up trouble in the Castle Rock vicinity. He finally meets the Kid face to face and officially becomes Kid’s attorney.
The jury’s still out on whether we should be rooting for Kid to go back into the cage or be freed into the wild. I’m currently thinking that the trinity of Henry, Molly and Kid together, with hands joined, will bring on the end of life as we know it. What we need to know now is, is Henry a good witch, or a bad witch, and what would the post-apocalypse new world look like?
In episode 2, Henry investigates Lacy’s suicide, hoping it will lead him to his missing client. He stops by the church again and connects with Jackie Torrance, a local history buff who helps with the local church program to minister to the prisoners. Henry also connects with Zalewski, who helps him get his first look at the Kid. The Kid is having adventures in the regular prison population, as the Warden agrees to put him into solitary, doubled up with a roommate. Pangborn is playing his own complicated game using inside information.
More of what the town put Henry through when he was a child begins to come clear. It’s obvious that he was convicted in the townspeople’s minds as soon as his father’s injured body was found, while Henry himself was still missing. Being black and adopted was enough for the town to use their imaginations to come up with a story that they found believable. The truth was irrelevant, and still is.
I was undecided about whether to recap Castle Rock because I was afraid it might be too scary for me, but we had a request, so here we are. Be prepared to hold my hand, dear readers!
The show takes place in the Stephen King universe, using some of the locations and characters from his books and some actors from Stephen King’s other filmed properties, but it tells an original story. Castle Rock itself is a small rural town in northern Maine, home to several King books, including Cujo, The Dead Zone and The Dark Half. Shawshank State Penitentiary, from the novella Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption, lies outside of town and is one of the town’s main employers.
Hulu released the first 3 episodes this week, but I’ve only watched the first, so no spoilers for the other 2 here. I’m also not going to spend much time looking for Stephen King Easter Eggs or referencing the stories that are the foundation of this one. I’ve read some of Stephen King’s works and seen some of the films/TV series, but I’m not the kind of fanatic who’s tried to keep up with everything he’s ever done.
King also has a tendency to either forget to include female characters or be misogynist toward the ones that are there, so by about the 1990’s I’d had enough of that and haven’t read/seen much that’s new since then. Castle Rock should be able to stand on its own in the modern world if its going to survive, not depend on nostalgia for old works, and it shouldn’t stay stuck in King’s past mistakes.
Jordan Peele has written and directed a powerful, thought-provoking movie with layers of statements to make. He’s also made a taut psychological thriller that combines the racially motivated social awkwardness of “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?” with the justified paranoia of “The Stepford Wives”and the slowly revealed evil of “Rosemary’s Baby”. Get Out reveals the truth about its premise incrementally, at just the right pace, so that the viewer, like lead character Chris Washington (Daniel Kaluuya), ends up similar to a frog in slowly boiling water. When he, and we, finally become sure that things have gone bad, it’s already too late, and it’s unlikely any of us will forget what we’ve already seen. As with any horror movie, there’s no escape left, so the best way out is through.
Along with Chris, Get Out follows the story of Rose Armitage (Alison Williams), a white woman who’s been dating Chris, an African-American photographer, for 4-5 months. Rose has decided that it’s time to bring Chris home to meet her upper class parents, Missy (Catherine Keener) and Dean (Bradley Whitford) who live in the exurbs of New York City, where the nearest neighbor is so far away that they can’t hear you scream. Chris asks his best friend, Rod, a TSA agent (LilRel Howery), to take care of his dog while he’s gone. They check in with each other several times during the weekend.
This episode catches us up with what happened to El after she destroyed the Demogorgon and disappeared from the classroom.
El pops awake in the Upside Down version of the classroom where she fought the Demogorgon. It’s moments after she vanquished the monster and season 1 ended. She’s terrified, and wanders the school halls calling for Mike. No one hears her, and no one is looking for her. She’s completely alone.
She finds a small gate to our world and listens to what’s on the other side for a moment. When she decides it’s clear, she tries sticking her hand through the sticky, slimy membrane to find out if the other side seems safe. She agrees with the rest of us that the membrane is gross, then uses her powers to knock down part of the wall and enlarge the opening.
Hopefully there aren’t any other dangerous creatures in the Upside Down who are about to follow her through. She tumbles through the gate, into the school hall in our world.
This episode’s title, The Upside Down, is an accurate description of the episode. We do spend more time in the Upside Down, and learn more about it, but some of our assumptions are also turned upside down. Characters do things we don’t expect, and outcomes aren’t necessarily what they seem. And El has a few issues she’d like to discuss with The Duffers.
After the required pan down from the starry night sky that starts every episode, we join Joyce and Brenner in the lab’s interrogation room. He tries to get her to reveal what she knows by using logic and sympathy, the way he did with Karen and Ted, but she’s just buried a fake body provided by Hawkins National Lab. She’s not going to buy into his BS so easily. She tells him right where he can go.
Agent Frazier and the Hawkins Head of Security don’t bother with the nice approach with Hopper, they go straight to mild torture using tasers. He keeps his cool and lets them know that he’s gotten very deep into their wrong doings with his investigation, and has left the information with a reporter. They threaten to kill him, but he suggests a blackmail deal instead. He and Joyce and the others will keep their mouths shut about the lab’s wrong doings, and he’ll tell them where to find El, if they will let him and Joyce go through the portal to find Will and if they’ll leave the other kids alone.