When episodes of Castle Rock started streaming on Hulu, the timing was perfect for me. I had been catching up on the sprawling world of Stephen King audiobooks, and some of the less egregious movies. If an audiobook really impacts me, I’ll usually buy a paperback so I can underline and dogear the good parts. King’s novels are a fun way to spend an afternoon, but it doesn’t bother me if they don’t make it into long term memory.
Castle Rock is a little different. It’s got a complicated mythology, and J.J. Abrams is involved, so the comparisons to Lost are inevitable. Also like Lost, as the season’s 10 episodes pass by, two more questions are opened up for every one that is answered. Early on it is exhilarating, but by the end you can’t help but wonder if they are ever going to be able to tie up all these unresolved plot threads.
I liked Hulu’s method of parsing out one episode a week. Being at work on Wednesdays and anticipating getting home to watch the latest episode with my wife really did make it more enjoyable. We’ve had a lot more conversation about the show than we would have if the whole season was released at once. There’s no way we could have had the self control to resist plowing through the whole thing in a weekend if we had the option.
Overall I think the show is well acted, and has a way with cliffhangers just satisfying enough to keep you from feeling cheated. Great show. Liked it a lot. But I think they should stop now and not make a second season. To get into why I’ll have to get into the plot so fair warning: Spoiler Alert.
They have opened up so many plot rabbit trails now that it feels like the show is at risk of losing any clear direction. Lost kept doing this to the point that it really didn’t matter if there were answers to all the questions or not. I say this as a fan of Lost, who actually didn’t mind the ending. In a bonus scene from the series Ben shows up at a warehouse and has a conversation with two Dharma Initiative employees who serve as stand ins for the audience to ask about all the unresolved questions from the show. I finished watching the scene, shrugged and thought, oh, ok. It made me wonder why they opened all these doors when they didn’t have any bearing on the main story, so much so that they didn’t even need to be addressed in an episode of the show.
Right now Castle Rock has enough unanswered questions that I think a viewer can guess at how it all could tie together. Here’s my best effort. The show has made it clear that Castle Rock is a place where bad things happen, and it seems to be related to “The Kid.” For some reason, when he was hidden away in the bowels of the jail, the evil of the town was kept in check. When he is released things start to hit the fan again. My impression is that the way the kid seems withdrawn/lost in thought means that it is more complicated than he is evil personified (“the devil” as he is referred to by some in the show). To me this is backed up when he says something to the effect that he should be locked back up. Sure he has a creepy stare, and kills people and causes psychotic delusions, but it seems more like he is a guy who is possessed rather than entirely evil.
Meanwhile, I suppose the explanation about the voice of God in the woods is more or less what Odin Branch says- something like a connection point in all possible worlds.
How this ties into “The Kid” and the evil influence on the town, here’s my best guess… It doesn’t seem like the idea of a connection spot between possible worlds should be inherently evil. So maybe some evil spirit/force/whatever is using it as a passageway between these timelines. Somehow this force took possesion of “The Kid.” When he was locked away, the town was no longer under it’s influence.
Also I guess in this world psychic powers are real, because of Henry and Molly’s connection. That’s not a plot point, but just an observation. Maybe Ruth’s movement in time is related to a psychic-type sensitivity that she has living close to the “voice of God.”
I doubt this explains every single unanswered question, but enough of them. I’m not 100% that this is what the show writer’s had in mind, but most of what I’m inferring seems to be a short leap from what’s been revealed.
Regarding the final episode: “The Kid” tells a story of being an alternate-timeline Henry Deaver and tells this whole backstory. At the end he asks the listener/audience if they believe him. It actually is a pretty cool way to end the story, because it is ambiguous. My thought: it is a lie. Please Oh Please J.J. Abrams do not do another stupid “Flash Sideways” plot device like in Lost! This would only exponentially open up loose rabbit trails in the plot that could never be resolved in a satisfying way.
(Here, in a plot twist worthy of Castle Rock, is where I realize that there are actually ten episodes in Season One, not nine. I haven’t seen episode ten yet).
To Be Continued…