Habeas Corpus – a writ requiring a person under arrest to be brought before a judge or into court, especially to secure the person’s release unless lawful grounds are shown for their detention. Or, as Henry later describes it as the tried and true way of saying “go f— yourself.” He agrees it sounds better in Latin.
Simply put, the title of the second episode of Hulu’s Castle Rock reminds us of the right to trial before imprisonment, we are innocent until proven otherwise. Those of us living in the real world know that often this preservation of rights has its shortfalls. There is no guaranteed protection against the bad while ensuring everyone’s freedom. That’s the tricky part about evil, as fiction and non have shown us, often the devil is sometimes closer than we think; family member, friend, or neighbor. We can do our best to keep an eye out for the wolf in sheep’s clothing, but what if it is your whole town that you have to be wary of? Do you learn to live with it? Do the disasters and horrific events just become apart of the everyday?
“Habeas Corpus” explores the town of Castle Rock filling in the more gruesome details of its sordid past. The viewer learns that this town is a key character to the story. Through flashbacks, we are a witness firsthand in addition to the snippets of information found in the dialogue to piece together the events that have previously unfolded to cause Castle Rock to be in its current state of deterioration.
If you need a refresher on episode one “Severance” you can find that here.
Now for the recap, next stop, spoilers.
Following the credit scene (that we did not get in episode 1, but I will go into more details of the credits in another article very soon), we are treated to a voice-over by the former warden Dale Lacy (Terry O’Quinn). Paired with aerial shots of the town, he explains that the dead-ness of Castle Rock was a plan, but “not God’s,” clearing insinuating it was the work of something darker. He gives a cliffnotes history of the tragic events “remember the dog, the strangler…that boy’s body out by the train tracks”. He then goes into the “others that didn’t make headlines” and we see the horrors closer to Lacy; the night of his football game in 1961, when his younger brother, the school mascot, purposely stepped off the high school roof while the game and spectators were below. His haunted horrors of the past take him to his own house where he believes that the whole town is “stained with someone’s sin.” A moment is spent outside of a bathroom, blood splatter on the door and a lifeless leg sticks out of the bubble bath. We follow a trail of dark blood down the stairs (unsure if a change in time has occurred) to the living room where another body sits in an EZ chair along with a dead bird in a cage. A hose under the door with the unquestionable hiss of gas is heard. This leads us to the garage where a stone faced woman is running a car. The time period dissolves into somewhere around the present day (perhaps a few weeks or months prior to the current timeline) as Lacy walks into the garage. Through voiceover, we ascertain that it was through a conversation with God that caused him to build to cage within the prison.
In current time, Henry (André Holland) visits the Lacy house and is allowed in by the blind Mrs. Lacy (Francis Conroy). She is soon distracted by a phone call. Henry finds the warden’s study and after a collection of saint cards, he discovers a file of newspaper articles:
- “shopkeeper missing after oddity store fire – Leland gaunt”
- “anonymous tip led to boy’s body”
- “rabid dog tears through town”
In addition to the clippings, was a drawer filled with quote-a-day calendars all stopping at various dates with the same bible quote on them: At that hour of the night the jailer took them and washed their wounds; then immediately he and all his household were baptized -Acts 16:33. Mrs. Lacy’s phone call ends and having learned Henry’s identity she kicks him out of her house, after some not so subtle racism (“Are you black?”). The entire state has already been called lily-white, so this method of identification could just be standard. On his way out Henry notices a padlock on the door to the basement. He asks about it but is shut down with the threat of the police being called. That padlock might have well be a flashing light for us remember there is probably something super creepy down there.
Henry then visits the town church where the new pastor is taking volunteers for prayer pals for prisoners. We meet Jackie Torrance (Jane Levy – who’s character is described as Ed Gein meets Tracie Fleck) who raises her hand to help the worst offender on the list. Henry actually meets Jackie later at the local watering hole (and only drink in 37 miles after Nan’s Luncheonette closed down): the Mellow Tiger Bar. Jackie divulges the info that Castle Rock unincorporated years ago and that’s why it is no longer on the map. After some awkward conversation about Henry’s past, that night of the wicked snowstorm, and current legacy/legend in the town, sees un-uniformed Officer Zalewski (Noel Fisher) and slips him a note.
The two meet up later, after Henry witnesses Pangborn (Scott Glen) digging up a dog to make sure it was still dead. Without a name or a face to the mysterious prisoner, he can’t help him. Zalewski refuses to stick his neck out any further as he can’t risk losing his only opportunity at employment. He does however give Henry an idea, telling him it would take an act of God to get him in the prison.
Back inside Shawshank, the mysterious prisoner (Bill Skarsgård) is now known as ‘The Kid’, though neither his size nor demeanor is childlike. Rewinding back to episode one, ‘The Kid’ watched a mouse scurry along a wall outside of his cell. The rodent thinks he is in for a treat, as he can surely smell the cheese, we know it leads to a trap and quickly the poor creature meets his end. At both the end of the last episode and the beginning of this one, Officer Zalewski sees the prisoner break out of the cell and leave a slew of lifeless guards in his wake. Zalewski jumps into action sounding the alarm and drawing his firearm. He nearly shoots a fellow CO before discovering it was a false alarm, blaming it on the “sympathetic pregnancy” symptoms that are causing him to behave oddly. Despite what he believes he saw, currently everything in the prison is ok, and ‘The Kid’ is calmly sitting in the corner of the cell, with no evidence that he has moved.
Suspicion around ‘The Kid” has not settled down, with him not speaking or eating. After a spontaneous meeting with Pangborn, the new warden Porter (Ann Cusack) just wants him to go away after the former sheriff tells her explicitly “don’t let that f—ing kid out.” Warden Porter’s number 2 man, has a plan and locks him up with a violent skinhead in the hopes that the walking billboard for Aryan Brotherhood kills the problem. Instead, the neo-nazi dies. The coroner reports that he had so much cancer, that he wouldn’t be able to walk. Despite being unable to link ‘The Kid’ as the culprit (how can a person cause cancer?), but knowing that there is something unsettling about him, the warden continues to keep him locked up.
Using his newly found congregation Henry finds his way into the prison under the prayer partners program. With some highly fortunate timing, he is able to spot ‘The Kid’ across the yard and snap a few pics of him on his phone, cementing evidence of his existence. What Henry’s next move is, is still a mystery as he has no information on this person and whether they should be allow out or not.
True to the genre, the episode ends with the audience having more questions. The final scene is Pangborn burning a letter in one of the least practical places, his car while parked outside of Shawshank.
Lucky for us, we don’t even have to wait to watch the next episode. “Local Color” is also available for streaming on Hulu right now. Additional episodes will be available Wednesdays on Hulu.
Feature Image Credit: Hulu – Castle Rock