Let’s Talk About Hulu’s Castle Rock

by: cathy foreman

If you haven’t seen this show: SPOILER ALERT:

Now, let’s talk about Castle Rock. But I first want to say this is a SUPER late post. I wrote this over a month ago now and am just publishing it. I know I’m lame, but work with me here. When the show was first announced, I couldn’t wait to see it and for someone who was not a user of HULU, what I didn’t know is that it would act as a series like the average tv show. Now I’m in a few group chats, but no one was talking about this show except my team here at N&N. As I’m reading the text messages, I decide to wait until the season was over before I would dive in.

So, let’s get to it. Right off the bat….I was confused!! Yup, confused as I could be. Generally, shows that have me confused from the beginning don’t fair very well with me and I end up tossing them. But for this one, I stuck it out. Maybe it was catching glimpses of what my cohorts were discussing and wanting to tie it all in or maybe it was that I’m a fan of Andre Holland who plays the lead character, Henry Deaver. Whichever it was, I settled in and watched 5 episodes straight through and guess what … I was still so utterly confused, but I was picking up on some breadcrumbs that the incredible Stephen King always manages to leave us.

About these crumbs…

1.      The Shining reference with “Jackie Torrance” an aspiring novelist, who is the niece of Jack and Diane Torrance. Remember Jack took a winter job at the Overlook Hotel with his family to have some uninterrupted time in order to write and finish a book. As the story goes, being secluded in an establishment that had its own share of murderous/macabre history takes a turn for the worst when he gets cabin fever and is taken a hold by haunting spirits of the hotel. Jackie or Diane … she changed her name to Jackie in tribute to her twisted enamoring (fascination) with the macabre that she almost seems to wish she had something … anything to do with the craziness mechanisms that have taken place in Castle Rock.

2.      Molly – Molly has the power of an em-path. She feels and hears other people’s thoughts. So much so she’s self-medicating to try to escape those sometimes-overwhelming thoughts. Molly takes me back to another King great “Rose Red”. Rose Red is a tale about Ellen Rimbauer who inherited her fair share of disasters as she embarked on this endless reinvention of an estate her husband bought for her. In the movie, Molly was Rachel “Sister” Wheaton and had no powers. She instead was the elder sister and protector of younger sister Annie, a telekinetic. King is known for weaving pieces from his other stories into other existing ones, so we’re made to wonder who Molly really is. Is she “Sister”, who has come into her own or is she a descendant of Rachel and Annie. He brings it all home in one of the last scenes, of the final Episodes, when Molly is sitting beside an older woman whom she refers to as grandma.

3.      The house on the hill, on what looks to be the end of the street. This house is occupied by Ruth Deaver played by Sissy Spacek, who is famed for her role in King’s cult classic, “Carrie”. This takes me back to Kings “Salem’s Lot” where the house that Ben Mears lived in, sat perched on the top of a hill. Then we later see where the son, Wendell, of black Henry played by Andre Holland, gets off the bus, supposedly on his way back to Maine in a town just 24 miles from Castle Rock called Jerusalem. Jerusalem was abbreviated to Salem in the novels so there’s that connection.

4.      Those damn black birds. One of my favorite King movies is “The Dark Half”. This features Timothy Hutton as Thad Beaumont/George Stark. It’s another, go figure, author who has black outs and, in these blackouts, he is able to create these amazing novels. In this one novel, he is killing his protagonist, George, who somehow is his “Dark Half” and takes issue with his death. In such, he starts to take control of Thad’s blackouts. When these blackouts happen, a swarm of blackbirds appear. Now here’s where I start to find fault with King and this particular feature. There’s this ringing in the ear of black Henry that when he hears it, black birds appear. White Henry doesn’t hear this ringing. The story leads us to believe that white Henry is the “evil” that’s been causing all the disasters that take place in Castle Rock but if you really think about it, the reality is that chaos and mayhem seem to take place when black Henry is around or involved. Death just seems to surround him and with that we can equate him as the “Dark Half”. My issue is that we’ve now pitted white Henry, the light, against black Henry, the dark. With all that’s going on in the world, pitting ethnicity and races against one another, this seems so out-of-pocket. I take issue with Stephen, for taking the “popular” way out making black as bad and evil.

In case you missed it, I just referenced a “black” Henry and a “white” Henry. In the beginning of the series, we clearly have only one Henry Deaver, who is black and has been adopted by Ruth and Matthew Deaver, a white family. When this character, who has no name is introduced, we really know very little about him. As the series goes on, we find out he’s from an alternate universe and is in fact, Henry Deaver… who happens to be white.

You really have to watch this and pay attention to grasp everything. What you cannot do is be running back and forth and doing other things. If you’re going to watch, you have to sit down and watch. Don’t say I didn’t give you this very good piece of advice.

All in all, once I got more than half way through the season, the pieces came together. It’s a good show; I was just confused. I’m looking forward to season two; curious to know if we will remain in Castle Rock or move to Colorodo for a take on “Jackie” Torrance’s story. In either case, I’ll wait to get my binge on again.

And for me, I’d like to see Mr. King come back and fix what appears to the easy and most stereotypical attempt at highlighting good versus evil; pitting black against white.

What are your thoughts?