I took a chance on a Google this week, and searched for a phrase I had forgotten that seemed important from last week’s Castle Rock. The show is pretty damn dense, and it can be difficult to remember every detail that suggests greater relevance, when you are trying to comprehend a cohesive whole. But. Last episode, the phrase “I am smaller than a teacup” was said with the impression of import, and since I had (and spoiler alert, still have) no idea what it means, I took to the Googles to do some reconnaissance. The first several results were for teacup pigs, so no matter what, my time was not wasted:
The non-porcine result, however, took me to Reddit, a strange world that I swore I would never explore because, well, it’s toxic and weird for the most part. But what the hell, desperate times and all that… the Reddit page was dedicated to Castle Rock and posited that: A) Skars is Loki, and B) the mayhem occurring in the town is a sign that Ragnarok is coming. I am telling you this, dear friends, anecdotal as it may seem, because while I do not personally think that the show is ushering in the Nordic end times, I think there is the possibility that Castle Rock, the town, is actually Hell, and that this week’s episode – now with 50 percent more murder – is hinting that the reason no one stays dead in Castle Rock is because they’re already dead.
The episode opens with Mollie using her shine to locate and free Henry. The men who locked him up have vanished and when Henry returns to Ruth’s house, the only person he readily finds is Skars, creeping hard and serving looks. Skars takes Henry out to the shed and establishes that Ruth killed Alan out of confusion and suggests that they bury the body in the woods to protect her. But the police come and Skars scatters, and the blame is put on him, not Ruth. A cop throws some pretty intense shade at Henry, mentioning that the kids used to call him the Black Death – establishing that the children in Castle Rock were both cruel and racist, what a combination. Henry takes Wendell to the bus station to get him the hell out of Dodge, and after the events that landed him locked in a trailer, it’s nice to see Henry returning to some good decision making. Henry goes to the Lacy house – now transformed into a bed and breakfast – troubled still by the locked basement and looks around, only to be confronted by a room filled with portraits of Skars (we’ll come back to that in a moment); the most disturbing of which shows Skars wearing the same sweater that Henry was wearing in his “missing” picture. And that’s when things turn to shit.
Before we can discuss that shit, however, we need to rewind a bit. Concurrent to Henry’s storyline, we become better acquainted with the couple who has bought the Lacy house. They’ve moved to Castle Rock because after discovering his wife’s affair, the husband attacked a colleague. They turn the Lacy house into a bed and breakfast, leaning into its murder history, hoping to capitalize on morbid curiosity. I am not entirely convinced that anyone would truly think that was a good idea, so shortly after the warden killed himself – we are talking weeks or months, here, not years – but we’ll allow it for the sake of the narrative. A young couple stops for the night, and the professor (IMDB has not provided me with any credible assistance in finding a character name, so I apologize for that) is disappointed to find that they are not at all interested in the macabre history of the house or the town, they merely need a place to sleep and have loud, vigorous sex. Loud, vigorous sex that seems to torment him enough that he wakes and murders them. His wife – Lilith, a name I remember because of its Biblical significance – is surprisingly undisturbed by this turn of events, and helps him the next day to dismantle the bodies. This is the couple, in strangely matching track suits, that our man Henry stumbles into while he is looking at paintings of Skars. The professor seems content to let Henry leave, but Lilith stabs him, and a brawl ensues that ends with Henry getting stabbed, the woman getting stabbed, and ultimately, good old Jackie Torrance showing up in the nick of time to dig an axe into the professor’s head before he can kill Henry. Henry has already had a hell of a night, before he gets the phone call from the local reverend, saying Ruth has been and gone and seems upset and confused.
Skars wanders off to Ruth’s house, and Mollie finds him there, when she is going to look for Henry. Skars tells her a number of things he shouldn’t be able to know, and says that they know each other. He ends the episode by telling her she died out in the woods. Do we take this literally? I am uncertain. I am open to the possibility – there is enough to support the notion that Mollie and Henry could both be dead. Or that Castle Rock, the town, is some sort of purgatory. Or Hell. Is there also the possibility that this is some sort of strange, multiple personality, Identity-esque hellscape? There certainly could be… maybe this is all one man’s delusion? Skars and Henry have parallel to the point of symbiotic histories: both boys kept in basements. It almost seems like Skars was swapped out for Henry at a certain point. And I still don’t truly believe that Skars is evil. And sure, ok, yes, you could say I’m a little biased because, make no mistake, I would still happily bear his anemic, cadaverous, alien babies. But there is a lack of malice to his actions. A passiveness to his character.
Passiveness, in fact, is an important aspect of much of the violence in Castle Rock. I am not certain of the significance, but we see the impact of it, but not the moment of it. We see the dead bodies in the Lacy home, but not the Professor butchering them. It may be a stylistic decision, or it could be something more salient to the storytelling. I am not certain which yet.
While this episode does not reach the almost absurd highs of last week’s, it is certainly the murderiest by far, and the one that feels the most like Stephen King. The professor and his wife are pretty straight out of The Shining. Make no mistake; the only character more natural to a Stephen King climate than the outcast child, is the disappointed academic middle-aged white man on the edge. It’s his bread and butter. So while this episode was not as objectively good as the last one, it was much more fun. It felt more like a horror movie, in many ways.
Two more episodes to go. How can this possibly be resolved?
Also, what the hell is smaller than a teacup?