Castle Rock took its time in the first three episodes, giving the characters and Stephen King’s haunted town some depth. Longtime fans of Stephen King expected the horror series on Hulu to be a slow-burn tale, but some casual fans felt that the first three episodes of Castle Rock took its time a bit too much. The terror that unfolds by the end of Episode 4, “The Box,” assures Hulu viewers that the story is picking up.
The show opens with Henry Deaver (Andre Holland) lying in his bed and having a disturbing dream and flashback. We hear Henry’s father calling out his name in search for his son, and we see Henry as a kid locked in a cage in some type of shed. We see the young boy play with a toy car in the cage, then the shed’s door opens, and a mysterious figure is holding a flashlight. This is a clue that the 11-year-old boy was kidnapped that fateful, wintry night when he disappeared for 11 days. The cage in this scene is similar to the one that The Kid was found in during the first episode.
As Deaver awakens from his dream, a shadowy figure is looming over him. He turns around in a panic, the figure is gone, but his bedroom door is open. Was it his imagination or something else more sinister? Given that this is a Stephen King series, most likely the latter.
We then see disgruntled prison guard Dennis Zalewski (Noel Fisher) arrive to work at Shawshank Prison to the tune of Tom Waits’ “Clap Hands.” As he enters the guard booth, a colleague of his asks him if it would kill him to smile. The Kid (Bill Skarsgard) is in his cell, and Reeves (Josh Cooke) starts questioning and threatening him for information. Eerily, The Kid recites parts of Revelation 19: “He has a name written on Him, which no one knows except Himself. He is clothed with a robe dipped in blood. And his name is called The Word of God.”
The scripture before The Kid’s quote reveals that the “Him” is a rider on a horse named Faithful and True, and his job is to judge and wage war. This makes The Kid’s recitation even creepier. Apparently, Reeves felt the same way, as the character quickly backed out of the cell in a panic and called for help. No one came to help Reeves, and The Kid slowly shut the cell door, as if to say, “I’m choosing to stay here.”
Henry ventures with Alan Pangborn (Scott Glenn) to mark his father’s grave, so that his father can be moved from the landfill to his former church. The two discuss Ruth, and Henry wants his mother to return with him to Texas, so that she can be put in an elder care facility outside of Houston. Alan hates this idea, and he says that he will marry Ruth if he must in order to keep her in Castle Rock. Deaver suspects that the two have had a romantic relationship for a while, and that his mother had an affair with Alan while she was still married to his dad.
Later on, Henry discusses his case with Molly Strand (Melanie Lynskey), and he describes The Kid as being kidnapped in Shawshank Prison. Dennis then interrupts to discuss the upcoming trial with Henry. Dennis describes himself as a prisoner, too, of Shawshank, and he desperately wants everyone to know the abuse that the prisoners receive daily. He then gives a powerful quote about the creepy town of Castle Rock, as documented by Birth Movies Death.
“You know how they always say that Castle Rock has some kind of luck? It’s not really luck though, is it? Bad sh*t happens here because bad people know they’re safe.”
Dennis then asks the question, how many times can one town look the other way? It’s a fair question to ask, considering the amount of murders that have taken place in Stephen King’s town. This also reveals just how fed up Zalewski is with the happenings of Shawshank. Dennis is shown walking back into the prison, and he passes an inmate who is mercilessly being beaten by a guard.
Dennis visits The Kid in his cell, and he tells the mysterious character that he’s going to testify and get him out of the prison soon. He then fist-bumps The Kid, well, after showing him what a fist-bump is. In the first episode of Castle Rock, Dennis had a hallucination of a mass murder at the prison when The Kid arrived. In the second episode, The Kid was locked in a cage with a very large Neo-Nazi. He warned the Nazi that he shouldn’t touch him, and the next day, the Nazi is found dead with his entire body covered in tumors.
As soon as the two fist-bump, Dennis starts to act differently, and he seems a bit bothered by the physical interaction. Back at the guard box, Dennis looks at the various monitors that often show guards beating the inmates. With a Sharpie, Zalewski draws a smiley face on each of the monitors.
Later on, Henry arrives at the Desjardins brothers’ house and place of business, a barber shop. No one is home, and Deaver finds a large wooden box in the backyard. He busts the padlock of the wooden box open, and an old bowl of food is on the floor with a spoon in it. Josef Desjardin returns home, and Henry quickly leaves the box to meet him. During their conversation, Josef recognizes him as the young Deaver boy, and he tells Henry that he never touched him.
Warning: The preview below contains some strong language and material.
Perhaps exhausted of having flashbacks of his childhood and learning more about his past, Henry Deaver decides he’s not going to wait for the trial and will leave Castle Rock as soon as possible. As he reveals to Molly, he’s beginning to think that maybe he did kill his own father. Molly assures him that whatever happened, it wasn’t his fault.
Henry calls Zalewski and leaves him a voicemail letting him know that he won’t have to testify, and that he’s taking the settlement offer for The Kid to be released. Dennis, now distraught that The Kid’s story will never be told and that the abuse at Shawshank will continue, heads to his guard booth. This time, however, he draws an “X” over the monitors. To the tune of Roy Orbison’s “Crying,” we watch the monitors reveal Dennis shooting and murdering several security guards.
The bodies fall one by one as Zalewski makes his way around the prison taking aim at his former co-workers. Though it appears he simply has snapped, this mass murder was likely caused by The Kid’s touch, and it appears that Dennis’ hallucination from Season 1 became a reality. Henry makes his way to the Warden’s office unknowing of the macabre that’s been unfolding, and Zalewski arrives there with gun in hand. He looks at Henry and tells him that he wants to testify, and then Zalewski is shot dead by a prison guard, and the credits roll.
Warning: The preview below contains some strong material.
New episodes of Castle Rock airs on Hulu every Wednesday.