What if everything that we knew about Castle Rock thus far was wrong? The town isn’t in decline. Shawshank isn’t a terrible place? The awful things of the past never happened. The Kid IS ACTUALLY HENRY MATTHEW DEAVER?!?
Welp that’s what this past episode of Hulu’s Castle Rock, “Henry Deaver”, proposes in an alternate reality version of the events. Bill Skarsgård and Andre Holland’s characters seem to have switched roles (though it is actually the younger version of Holland, Caleel Harris). I try to keep track of who is who in the recap below, so my apologies if there is confusion, but this episode tops the disjointed story telling of previous episodes.
It starts with birds eye over Castle Rock Reverend Deaver talking about horrific events in the town, blaming the location. We are then taken to a disturbing flashback to when his mother attempted to murder him in his crib, but his death didn’t take. That incident (I guess his mother told him about it when he was older because there’s no way that he could remember being an infant) gave his life purpose in the service of God seeking to hear his divine voice.
This is all pretty familiar for us so far. The doomsday preacher talking about the end of the world aligning with all of the terrible events of the town. Then the episode pivots and we see The Kid out for a jog in Boston. Instead of the nameless “boy” found in a hole in the prison, he is an intelligent fully functioning member of society. He gives a presentation on his Alzheimer’s research. During which he highlights the diseases symptom of “confusion of time and space” and claims to have the cure to what “jumbles your story”. While on a walk with his significant other, he receives a call from Alan Pangborn about his mother…Ruth.
He returns to Castle Rock, a now thriving town, meets Molly, now highly functioning, popular and well liked by other locals. She knows him as Henry Deaver, the boy who lived down the street from her. There is intentional mirroring going on in both story and filmmaking by having this version of Henry match what we have previously seen, with both minor and major differences. The clutter of the house is Matthew Deaver’s because he didn’t die nearly three decades previously, but recently when he shot himself by the lake. His son’s return is to take care of the house because Ruth is in Florida with Alan, the two living there since she left Matthew many years ago. Though she still has a mental condition, her Alzheimer’s inspired her son to do his chosen research.
Just like the plot we were familiar with, Ruth’s crazy husband also brought this version of her son out to the woods in the middle of the night in search of God’s voice. Instead of video tapes, Henry now finds cassettes of his father’s recordings that bring him into the woods in search of answers. He finds a burnt structure with what looks like soundproof interior similar to the filter.
When a fuse goes out Henry is forced to go down to the basement to fix the issue. There he finds a cage with a young boy inside. The very much alive Officer Zalewiski informs Henry 2.0 (Skarsgård) that the only thing that boy (Harris) has said is “Henry Deaver”. From a recording we learn he was found by Matthew in the woods when the father lost his son. Since the son’s appearance changed the father was skeptical of the legitimacy of the claim so he tested the boy and he proved to know exactly what his son would. This lead Matthew to conclude that the return of his son was not an act from above but from the devil. Especially since over the years the boy stayed a boy. That was why he was kept in a cage, to keep the town safe. Sound familiar? Confused? Same.
Molly and Henry (Skarsgård) go to track down the boy (Harris), also now called The Kid. They visit a hospital (the name of which is hard to see) where a fire killed seven people, with the found kid as the main suspect. They find the boy at the police station where Molly talks her way into questioning him. He gives the same response of only his name “Henry Matthew Deaver”, but owns up to starting the fire blaming his roommate for being to close then points to his chest. His story is interrupted by a sharp ringing sound. As he is clearly in distress, Molly grabs his hand to comfort when she is able to see into his world-the story we are familiar with. He tells them that they need to go out to the woods and Molly is able to not only get custody of the boy, but ditch the police tail and go on the quest for answers towards the sound.
In the woods the young version of Henry (Harris) has a vision and seems to be in the day, even though in the real world it is night when he sees a young girl in old fashioned dress holding a bloody knife. Molly puts her hand on Henry’s shoulder which gives her access to this alternative world. Henry starts to chase the girl with Molly in toe followed by the older Henry (Skarsgård) and Officer Zalewiski (who was able to catch up). Our familiar cop fires a warning shot supposedly in the air but it hits Molly center mass. While she is bleeding out on the forest floor, older Henry touches her then transporting him to the time portal. Suddenly he is in a different snow covered woods and looks out over the frozen lake to a young boy (Harris)-where we started the series.
We zoom and fade out as the tranquil composition ends, we fade in to the scene of The Kid (Skarsgård) in Molly’s old bedroom, where we left off last episode where we found out she died in the woods. At least this last part makes sense in that it was an alternate reality and she’s not some sort of specter. The Kid/Henry goes on to explain that he wandered the woods for days until Lacy found him and put him in the cage in Shawshank after hearing a call claiming he was the devil. “You believe me don’t you” is The Kid’s final plea before we end the episode.
With how complicated this episode was to follow, I was not as keen eyed with the Easter Eggs but did spot Claiborne Creamery in operation in the town as well as the beloved Mellow Tiger.
Since this recap is a bit behind, the season finale will be available for viewing, along with the entire series on Hulu. Will it have a conclusion or will this season end on a cliff hanger? We probably know the answer to that, the real question is how much of a head-scratcher will the ending be?
Featured image from Castle Rock on Hulu Facebook page (@CastleRockHulu). Gifs from Tumblr.