I’ll admit that I have maybe been looking a little too closely at the leaves and not seeing the full forest that is the mastery of Castle Rock. In Episode 5, “The Harvest”, the forest has taken our full attention. Now in the second act of the show’s arc, it’s a flame and the blaze’s updates intersect the plot through the episode.
These fires bathe the town in an ominous red tint. With many residents being forced to evacuate their homes as wildfires threaten the lives of Castle Rock residents. It would seem that in addition to the displacement of the human citizens the animals have fled the woods and come to inhabit the town via metaphors.
This week’s episode emphasizes storytelling with characters advising others to re-frame their narrative, changed their own, or are anxious over forgetting theirs. This theme makes it clear to see the inspiration of Castle Rock is literary. Creators, Sam Shaw & Dustin Thomason, have departed from a fanfiction-style adaptation and are succeeding at creating a higher level homage to the universe Stephen King has created.
After being given no choice from her superiors, Warden Porter must release The Kid from Shawshank, despite having no more information about who he is, what he’s done, or what he is potentially capable of doing. The Kid watches a dated video hosted by a Lou Hadley (possibly related to Byron Hadley) that is expected to prepare him for life on the outside. We come to learn that The Kid has spent nearly 3 decades in the hole that Warden Lacy had stuck him in. It is interesting to consider that though Lacy felt The Kid was a threat to society, calling him the curse on the town, he chose imprisonment over eliminating him outright. Is this because The Kid is incapable of dying or, like a previous King character with the same moniker, does he have the ability of reincarnation?
Upon his release, Henry takes charge of him. It would seem that The Kid is aware of his gift/curse and refuses to shake Henry’s hand. With Molly’s permission, The Kid stays the night in her office (the mill) because he has nowhere else to go. Whether he’s restless, curious, or because he is finally liberated, the former prisoner wanders the streets of Castle Rock, despite Henry’s advice. Shirley Temple song Animal Crackers is heard as The Kid makes his way to the point of origin, a record player at what we can assume is the Lachance house. The surname is entirely speculation as the one character, who’s birthday it is, is identified as “Gordie”. The celebration is cut short as the events to which The Kid is a voyeur in the shadows too, turns violent. Though he leaves the house, the voices of victims seem to stick with him.
When I get hold of the big bad wolf
I just push him under to drown
Then I bite him in a million bits
And I gobble him right down!
-Animal Crackers, Irving Caesar and Ted Koehler
At the Deaver house, Henry has installed cameras around the house to monitor his mother (because we’ve learned nothing bad can happen under surveillance-yeah right). Ruth is tormented by premonitions. What we thought might have been visions of past traumatic events, may actually be of terrible things to come. Alan attempts to assuage her and go back to bed. It is in these moments where we can see how much he really cares about her. He reflects back to the times before her condition got bad, when he got her a Lewis chessman set, after the Vikings that she holds in high regard (or like the publishing company King partnered with up until ’97), to help with her mental ability.
We learn more about Alan Pangborn as his Castle Rock backstory seems to align with what we know about his character in the King universe. He had wanted to marry Ruth back in 1991, but she thought it would be an issue for Henry. So Alan moved South to New Hampshire and married another woman. Those well-versed with Needful Things (1991), can suspect this woman may be Polly Chalmers, though her name is not mentioned in our current show. When he moved back up to Maine, he was reunited with Ruth over a gunfire incident at her house. Though he doesn’t know (or just doesn’t tell) what caused Ruth to be so afraid, Alan chose to stay near her to keep her safe.
Ruth is best in the morning and she helps prepare Alan for his ceremony. Tying his tie the two have a rather cute disagreement over whether it is a fox or rabbit that goes in the hole. Like a teenager, Henry interrupts his “parents” to borrow the car. Ruth agrees but forces her son to go to the commemoration with them. This event proves to be more exciting than one would expect a bridge naming to be. In the middle of his speech, while talking about wanting to be a magician, but struggling to tell a story to misdirect, a large dog begins barking and moments later Ruth disappears from her seat. When she is spotted, she is on the edge of the bridge for which the ceremony is for. Before Henry can get to her, she takes a step off, shortly by her son’s recuse attempt.
Jackie, visits Molly’s office with Dunkin’ in tow (like a model New Englander) and a local paper. Below the story about Shawshank’s recovery is the headline: “Black Mounting Fire Sparked By Careless Leaf Peepers”. This is the one of many digs at tourists that the show has made, its like they have something against those they deem as outsiders. The two leave the building and have what seems to be a one-sided conversation in Jackie’s car, while Wolf Like Me by TV On The Radio plays on infamous station 100.3. She tells him how she would “give her left tit” to go back to the 80’s when the town was more exciting. We know Jackie has a twisted sense of entertainment because what she feels like she missed out on is the serial killers, psychopathic dogs, and tragic deaths that plagued the town. She is a writer and feels sniffled by the now boring Castle Rock, and in an act of rebellion took the name of her black sheep uncle she has a sense of kinship with.
While she’s smoking a bowl she tells The Kid her real name is Diane, another name not without precedent in King’s writings as a character in his short story Lunch At Gotham Cafe. This (obscure) point of reference is interesting to point out because within the source of Diane’s name Easter Egg, is a character tormented by a barking dog before he goes on a killing spree. The David Berkowitz canine mental torture is what Ruth blames for her episode when she wakes up in recovery in the hospital. We have seen Ruth’s hang-ups with dogs in nearly every episode thus far. But, her serendipitous swim in the river was also predicted by The Kid, via an addition to Molly’s Castle Rock diorama in the form of a soap carving resembling Ruth stationed at the precipice.
Molly found the shavings but did not notice the sculpture or the artist, to her surprise when she returned to the mill. Jackie notified her that after their hotbox session, The Kid took off for the roof of the old shirt factory. When Molly goes up to retrieve him, she is made aware of all of the voices that he hears. One of these voices asks “Wanna see a dead body?” again harboring back to The Body/Stand By Me. He tells her that he should have stayed in the hole, which gives us a sense that this character may not be the big bad that up until this point he had been painted to be.
Even though Molly is seemingly sympathetic towards him, saying he’s just a kid while up on the roof, and after all she did give him a place to stay, she takes him to Henry with a warning. She tells Henry of the bad feeling she gets from him and equates it to “listening to the pain of everyone in this town all at once.” When Henry doesn’t believe her, she rattles all of the thoughts that he has had including the ringing in his right ear and his estranged son. As if his ears were burning, The Kid enters the Deaver house before Molly is able to convince Henry who declares The Kid should stay there for the night. Henry sets him up in the garage behind the house, a place his father had previously spent many a night.
Alan is drunkenly pulling the plaque with his namesake off of the recently commemorated bridge when he gets an alert from Henry’s surveillance app that has detected motion at the house. It seems that The Kid doesn’t sleep much and is exploring the property. Alan returns home to confront this unwelcome guest in the woods. There is a flashback to the night Alan stopped Lacy while driving and discovered The Kid in the trunk. Though skeptical, the former sheriff trusted the seemingly crazy Warden and allowed him to continue the kidnapping. Back in the woods Alan pulls a gun on the un-aged Rip Van Winkle and asks him point blank if he is the devil. To which The Kid definitively replies “no” but does not respond to the follow up “what are you?” Instead, The Kid says that he can help “her” and throws it back in Alan’s face that he “has no idea what is happening here.”
Throughout the episode, The Kid has moments of acute awareness of the goings on in Castle Rock, even beyond his auditory ability. He takes moments to notice the prisoners leaving Shawshank to help fight the wildfire and when reports of updates from the blaze are on the radio. Is he the harbinger of a rapidly approaching apocalypse? With its surroundings aflame is Castle Rock the point for a hell on Earth? We know that Stephen King likes to include biblical references in his work (and we have already seen several here) in addition to positioning very definitive good and evil forces against each other. In ‘The Harvest” it is unclear what the two sides are, as we learn more about The Kid, the only thing brought to fruition is uncertainty.
Castle Rock streams on Hulu
Main photo by Patrick Harbron – © 2018 Hulu
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