First of all... called it! Like I noted in my last review, Castle Rock seems like a modern-day King-motif updating of the Twilight Zone episode "The Howling Man'. Where the Devil is imprisoned but gets out. And sure enough, this week when Henry returns home, guess what's playing on the TV. The Twilight Zone episode "The Howling Man". Thanks, producers, for confirming my theory!
On with the actual plot. The Kid speaks up when Reeves threatens him and recites Bible verses. Later, Dennis comes by and tells the Kid to hang in there, and fist-bumps with him. That's probably a mistake, since the Kid's touch apparently turns Dennis into a murderous psychopath who late in the episode goes on a shooting spree and kills Reeves, Boyd, other guards, and prisoners. There's no sign of Warden Porter (Ann Cusack), even though Henry waits in her office. I guess they couldn't afford Cusack this week.
Henry suggests to Alan he move Ruth to a home in Houston. Alan apparently considers it, but a conversation with Ruth changes his mind. Henry confronts Alan about it later, and Alan reveals Matthew told him "Henry did it" before Matthew died. For whatever reason, this leads Henry to Molly's house and after he wonders if he did in fact kill his adoptive father, Molly invites him in for sex. All-righty.
Some of the back half of the episode is dedicated to Henry paying a visit to the Desjardins house, as he comes to believe that Vince Desjardins was involved with Henry's disappearance in 1981. Besides providing another Stephen King Easter egg (Vince Desjardins was one of the bullies in The Body), this leads Henry into a conversation with Vince's brother, freelance barber Josef (David Selby). The conversation doesn't seem to go anywhere. Josef has a large box in his back yard with a bowl of dog food in it, but Josef claims he never had a dog. So maybe it's all going somewhere.
Henry has Matthew's coffin exhumed from the landfill and returned to Matthew's church in Castle Rock. Ruth stares at it in shock when she realizes what is happening. And... that's it. Presumably Matthew was more than an innocent spectator in whatever happened in 1981. Although we already kind of knew that. Either that, or Molly used to be a cold-blooded killer and grew out of it.
The humor (and another King Easter egg) comes mostly from Molly trying to sell the Lacy home to a teacher from Des Moines and his wife. She hides the signs of Dale's suicide, but the teacher Gordon (Mark Harelik, who plays God on Preacher), finds the urn with Dale's remains. Molly says Castle Rock has a history and she lives in a house where a serial strangler used to live. Dead Zone, anyone?
We also get to see Dennis' descent into madness after touching the Kid. He draws smiley faces on the prison security monitors, chats with a creepy female guard, and eventually snaps when he learns Henry isn't going to stick around to pursue corruption at Shawshank. That's when he goes on his shooting spree, makes his way to Porter's office while 50's rock plays on the soundtrack, finds Henry, and then gets gunned down.
Taken by itself, "The Box" doesn't seem to answer any questions. Maybe it's too much to expect four episodes in. The Kid can do something unpleasant with his touch, but we already knew that from his skinhead cellmate's death by super-cancer. We find out about Vince and Josef, but it doesn't seem to add up to anything. Vince is dead, Josef kept the two fingers Vince cut off of his own hand to get an insurance settlement (which is why Vince has a sealed felony record, which is why Henry visits Josef), and there's a weird box in the back yard for a dog that apparently doesn't exist.
What a weird dog has to do with the Kid, that has to do with Henry's disappearance and Matthew's death, which has to do with why Warden Dale instructed the Kid to ask for Henry when he was discovered, which has to do with Jackie Torrence who is once again absent from the episode... well, who knows? Not to mention the creepy masked kids Molly met in episode 3.
So Castle Rock has creepiness in spades. And good performances, from Scott Glenn in particular and David Selby as the guest star this week. But so far it's not that horrific. Or ties together all of the elements that it's introduced. The producers have described it as a love letter to Stephen King. And it is. But I wish they'd get done with the letter and get down to telling a coherent story.
But that's just my opinion, I could be wrong. What do you think?
Written by Gislef on Aug 4, 2018