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Summering in Castle Rock Episode 1-05: Harvest

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What the hell is the deal with dogs in Castle Rock, both show and town?  We know Cujo is from the town; we have seen a bunch of dogs; Alan digs up the corpse of a dead dog in an earlier episode, and in this latest episode, Henry is given a cognitive test where he repeats certain words back.  You guessed it, friends… one of the words is “dog”.  I’m not sure of the impact or purpose of canines, but Henry is clearly more than ready to get out of Castle Rock.  After witnessing Dennis’s rampage, his father’s coffin has a chemical reaction and explodes (exploding casket syndrome is real and it’s bananas.  If you want to get weird – and let’s be honest, who doesn’t – give it a Google).  Henry justifiably wants to get the hell out of Dodge.  Bless his soul, though, he is trying to do his diligence by Skars, who has officially been released from Shawshank, and who’s own cognitive assessment reveals him to have retrograde amnesia (incidentally, Henry’s list contained the word “white” and Skars’s contained “red.” I don’t know what this means, but the narrative is rife with symbolism, so you can bet your sweet ass it means something).  Do I trust this diagnoses?  No, not really.  We see a flashback of Skars with Lacy, and since Lacy is dead, the only person who could possibly be remembering it is Skars himself. Which amnesia would cancel out.

 

Molly agrees to house the recently sprung Skars, which gives Henry appropriate pause.  And make no mistake, Skars provides ample reason to believe that he is bad news.  He wanders creepily into a house where a family had previously been happily celebrating a birthday party, and upon his entrance, chaos erupts.  Maybe Skars isn’t the devil, but he is definitely, emphatically trouble.  What makes him interesting, however, is how passionless he is.  He does not delight in the havoc he wreaks; he seems sort of elemental; just a living embodiment of destruction that watches with slightly detached curiosity as events unravel into menace and bloodshed.  He also only eats white bread? Which I will agree, is pretty nefarious, but beyond that, what significance are we to glean from this?  In a show lousy with Biblical allusions, it may be relevant that the only thing we see Skars eat is bread, a very Biblical food.

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Meanwhile…

Henry and I both ultimately reverse our positions on Alan this episode.   He clearly genuinely cares for Henry’s mother, and is doing his best by her.  To attempt to distract a bit from the Shawshank massacre, Alan is given a ceremony and bridge dedication, during which – wouldn’t you know it – a dog starts barking. A big, ugly, ferocious animal.  On the dog’s barks, Ruth (Henry’s mother and Sissy Spacek, so always Carrie White to me…) jumps off the bridge.

Elsewhere…

Molly goes back to where she left Skars and finds him gone.  What we see, that she doesn’t, is that there is a soap carving of a figure, standing on the ledge of the bridge in Molly’s scale model of Castle Rock.

And then…

Jackie Torrance – who we now know is Jack Torrance’s niece, who took his name to spite her parents – is smoking weed with Skars.  Or, more accurately, around Skars, who stares blankly.  I spoke at some length last week about the use of music in this show, and it is worth noting that the song playing in the car, in the background is “Wolf Like Me” by TV on the Radio.  A phenomenal song in its own right, but also a song about werewolves.  Dogs again, then.

At the hospital…

Henry and Alan have a small heart to heart, and Ruth explains that it was the dog’s barking that spurred her to jump… with the cryptic follow up of “nothing stays dead in this town”.

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Molly, who may be the purest agent of kindness on the show, returns home to find that Skars is on the roof.  She goes up after him, and has an empathetic reaction, hearing what sounds like a dense history of violence and unrest.  Skars says he should have stayed in the hole, which reflects a bit on something I’ve been considering… at no point in any of the flashbacks with Lacy, has it seemed at all like Skars was trying to get out of the cage.  He seems fine with the arrangement.

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There are a number of themes that are beginning to come into play; the role of memory is perhaps the most active player in this entire series.  There is also the notion of good intentions that lead to questionable actions.  Lacy for certain meant well within his own head and heart when he caged Skars.  But no matter how justified he may have felt, he kept a slender, delicate young man in a cage in a dank basement for years.  Henry sets cameras and alarms up in his mother’s house to protect her; but it is still an invasion of privacy.  And one could argue, another form of imprisonment.  We will find out whether Henry setting Skars free turns into another example of good intentions that lead to wrong actions.  As it stands, we are halfway through the season, and I’m still genuinely uncertain of where this is going.  And that is the most exciting part of it.

But I still want to know what’s going on with those damn dogs.

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Kelly Mintzer hates dolls but loves movies about evil ventriloquist dummies. She is working her way through the “Sandman” series slowly but surely, and has been compared more than once to that iteration of Death. Holding down South Philly with a creative writing degree and the full series of “Hannibal”, she hasn’t seen her natural hair color in years.