What happened to Carrie White, Charlie McGee, or Annie Wheaton when they grew up? What did these girls grow up to become? Was their ability a gift or a curse? That’s what Castle Rock co-creators Sam Shaw and Dustin Thomason wanted to explore with their character Molly Strand in their re-imagined Stephen King-based series currently streaming on Hulu.
I’ve gone long enough without covering Melanie Lynskey’s character Molly Strand. This was not for lack of interest or screen time, (full disclosure) it was challenging to fold in her story line within the others for the sake of a more streamlined recap. In the preceding episodes, she was peppered in as a presence but not a major character. The show seemed to also agree that the Molly character needed to have more of a role vs quick scenes and flashbacks, and dedicated much of Episode 3 to her.
A quick recap of what happened up until this point:
In the first Episode, Molly buys drugs from a underage dealer for her condition. While driving through town she sees Henry return but hides down not to be noticed by him. In episode two she has a strained conversation with her sister over mortgaging their parents house to finance her latest real estate endeavor in an effort to revitalize the town. After getting called out on her drug use for her “un-diagnosed psychic affliction” and her obsession with the Deaver boy, Molly runs out leaving her sis to foot the bill for her uneaten lunch. Through flashbacks we can confirm something is off about Molly even though she claims not to have a social disorder and instead links her issue to empathy. As a child she lived in the house across the street from the Deavers and her fascination with Henry appears more than a pre-teen crush. She can see his bedroom window from hers and watched out the night he disappeared, although she claimed to not see anything under the police’s casual questioning. These flashbacks no longer need to be distinguished with a preceding year card, they have a different look than the modern day story as they are shot in film vs digital.
**Spoilers for episode 3 from here down**
Episode three picks up in the timeline of the flashback as young Molly walks barefoot in her nighty across the snowy street to the Deaver house. She enters the house with a spare key, donning a sweatshirt by the door (one we know she still has an an adult) and makes her way to the master bedroom. Pastor Deaver is recovering in a hospital bed and she disconnects his breathing tube, unbeknownst to Ruth Deaver who is sleeping in the other bed.
In a dream echoing Silver Bullet, Molly walks through a snow covered church and sees Pastor Deaver, who’s head is wrapped in bandages at the pulpit lecturing 1 Corinthians 15:52. Midway through the spirited sermon, in an instant the empty church is now filled with a congregation who look like they are auditioning for Goodnight Mommy (2014). Her alarm saves Molly, waking her from this nightmare.
The next day, Henry is at the Mellow Tiger Bar reading the newspaper (like all the cool people do) when he sees Molly’s real estate ad. Just then, a promo for the local access program “Local Color” appears on the TV above the bar. Jackie and Molly are watching the same channel across town as they prepare for Molly’s performance on said program tomorrow. She is putting the finishing touches on her diorama of downtown Castle Rock. The model is one that if the inspiration source for the series were different, Betelgeuse would probably be living in it. The final touch is a gazebo as “every revitalized town needs a gazebo”.
Molly is able to ‘sense’ Henry the moment before he enters the building. The two then have an awkward conversation. This is mostly because Molly can’t actually hear what Henry is saying through the other voices clouding her head, and not because of the years of them not talking despite being close during childhood. Molly does the best that she can to carry on with the conversation, but her replies come out as non-sequiturs.
Her connection to Henry and ability to sense how he feels extends all the way back to when they were younger. In a glimpse of the past, Molly shows Henry her bedroom, he takes in all of her punk rock posters, including the Ramones. Very creepily, she tells him that she knows that he masturbates and can describe some of his feelings “when you are out in the woods its like I’m out there with you.” Clearly she is the clue to what happened to Henry after his disappearance.
Molly returns home to find that her house has been ransacked. With the help of Jackie she begins to clean up. Like a mother running to her baby in a fire, Molly goes to her box in the basement with items from Henry’s disappearance. Jackie remarks on the murdery feel of Molly’s basement and after seeing the missing poster, recalls that Molly must have seen everything since she used to live across the street from the Deavers. She uses the phrase “front row seat” but from what we know about Molly it seems like she has even closer insight as to what occurred.
Having taken the last of her pill supply, Molly must re-up before her television debut tomorrow. Due to a “free market tragedy” her usual source is out and she is directed to the motor park, specifically to find Derek. Upon getting to the park, she is pointed to a building to find this Derek by an unsupervised toddler. As it turns out there are no parents anywhere to be found and instead these children are channeling Lord of the Flies (the same book the nazi convict last episode was reading and inspiration for the town’s name) meet Children of the Corn. Through their creepy handmade masks they are recreating a courtroom trial, with the older children teaching the younger the proper terminology. According to Zalewski’s assessment earlier in the episode, they probably know more about the law and legal process than the correctional officers at the prison do. It turns out that the children’s mothers are all out drinking and their fathers are at Shawshank. As the only adult, Molly stands out in addition to the fact that she doesn’t have time for these children’s games. This gets her accused of being a murderer resulting in the entire room chanting guilty at her. The lead boy takes her to the “death house” but along the way removes his mask revealing that he is Derek. Unfortunately before they are able to deal the cops show up to bust the place.
At the police station the next morning, Molly is lucky enough that Henry also happened to be there. He was seeking information about Lacy’s death, specifically if his client’s DNA was found inside the car. Since the police did not spend a whole lot, if any, time investigating a curious but clear suicide, they were unable to provide any more details on Lacy or the prisoner.
After Henry springs Molly out he helps her get her car back and to the television station in time for the show. She comes clean with him about her “ability” but this does not scare him off and the two team up. While she is in hair and makeup, to look less like the trainwreck who spent the night in jail fighting a sex worker, she “overhears” Henry’s phone call in which he discusses details about what is happening at Shawshank.
We knew from what we have seen that Molly was going to blow her TV spot. Instead of the confidence she portrayed in her practice runs, she spends the beginning of the interview in a daze while the host tries to carry the spot. She suddenly snaps out of it with an explosive expletive (considering it is public access, they probably got slapped with a fine), then launches into a tirade against local authorities about the man found trapped in a cage in Shawshank. Because, of course, the new Warden Porter sees the segment playing on the screen at the Tiger.
On the car ride home, Henry doesn’t know how Molly knew what she did. He doesn’t even know if the found man is innocent but thanked her for her help. The two then depart on good terms and expectedly he gets a call from Shawshank as it seems the Warden has a new deal for him. The bribes that the prison offered the correctional officers clearly did not help keep a lid on the situation from getting out.
The Kid (who is also called Nic at Night/Nic Cage) is kept away from other prisoners and eats his lunch alone. Although he pushes everything off of his tray except for the white bread. He almost causes a scene when he notices warden Lacy’s photograph in the cafeteria (next to Warden Norton). In light of Molly’s whistle blowing, Warden Porter invites Henry back in and hands him a deal for a wrongful conviction settlement for $300,000 to his unnamed client. Henry is all in now and wants answers. At this point he could have taken the offer and walked away having cleared his conscious by fulfilling his duty. Instead, he rebuts the deal accusing the prison of kidnapping and wants to speak with his client.
Through the glass the two have a stilted interaction. The Kid seems not from this world as his actions are slow and deliberate and not filling in each moment. Henry offers him the advice of not saying his name and therefore putting the burden of proof on the prison. The Kid gets hung up on the word “boats”, like he remembers some sort of past life involving them. Before their time is up, he asks Henry “Do you hear it now?” – the exact same thing Henry’s father said to him that infamous night in the woods.
Back in Castle Rock, Molly returns home to once again find her home ransacked. This time she hears someone else in the house upstairs. Channeling Wendy Torrance, she pulls out a large knife from the kitchen drawer and begins to check the house room by room. While we got a dose of creepy throughout the episode, this part is where the show seems to dive deeper into the horror tropes. Using the camera work and music to build tension, a close up on Molly at a dutch angle pulls the audience in to the terrifying experience. She moves slightly and we catch a glimpse of the figure behind her; the revenant reverend. “Behold I will tell you a mystery” he tells her as he seems to be stuck on a loop repeating the same bible passage from before. She runs away, but before she can close the door, he disappears.
If now you are like me and completely hooked, the remaining 7 episodes will be released each Wednesday for streaming on Hulu. You can check back here to see if you found as many Easter Eggs as I did, and if I missed any, let me know in the comments.
All gifs from Tumblr
Main image photo: Photo by Patrick Harbron – © 2018 Hulu