Hulu’s Castle Rock
Season 1, Episode 3: “Local Color”
Directed by Dan Attias
Written by Gina Welch
* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “Habeas Corpus” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “The Box” – click here
Back in ’91, a young Molly Strand (Cassady McClincy) was worrying over her friend Henry (Caleel Harris), who’d already been missing a whole six days. She was a borderline stalker, really. She went over into the Deaver home, where she took that hoodie she still has 27 years later. She went upstairs where the Reverend Matthew (Adam Rothenberg) was clinging to life. Then she disconnected him from his life support machines. He struggled to breathe, and soon passed on into death. Holy shit. That’s beyond stalker behaviour. In murder territory. So many secrets in little Castle Rock.
The past is catching up to Molly in 2018. She sees a vision of the reverend, preaching to her in the church. He preaches to a congregation of others, bandaged up like himself, their faces obscured— their mouths, their eyes, their ears, to speak no evil, to see no evil, nor to hear any, either. Perhaps those painkillers are more to take the edge off her guilty conscience than anything else. But, is there more to why she did what she did those many years ago? We’ll have to wait and see.
In the meantime, Molly’s trying to help revitalise the “hellscape” of downtown Castle Rock. She’s going on Local Color, the local TV show, to promote her plans. A noble effort. Particularly in a town driven by the prison-industrial complex up at Shawshank State Penitentiary. Molly gets a hand from Jackie Torrance (Jane Levy) transporting a big model for the downtown plan. After that she gets a visit from Henry. It brings out lots of noise in her head, not quite a happy reunion.
We get more and more about the young lives of Henry and Molly. She was quite the little stalker, though it didn’t totally throw him off. What’s clear is that there was a controlling relationship between the reverend and his adopted son. We get a glimpse of young Henry burning a tape, muttering to himself: “Fuck you, dad.” What’s on that tape, I wonder?
At Shawshank, the feral inmate (Bill Skarsgård) continues his days, while Boyd (Chris Coyd) and Zalewski (Noel Fisher) keep an eye on him. Zalewski tries to be nicer to the prisoner than his pal. After work, he talks with Henry (André Holland), trying to form a game plan as to what they’ll do next. The corrections officer tries to do what he can, trying not to get fired.
Molly gets home to find her place was ransacked. Everything is messed up. She finds her box of things down in the basement turned over. She’s obviously unsettled, unsure of who would’ve broken in and why exactly they did— Jackie is likewise suspicious when her friend is reluctant to talk about it or Henry. And nothing Molly does can relieve her of those painful memories. Especially when she’s out of painkillers. That means she has to go track down teen dealer Dean Merrill (Charlie Tahan). But there’s no supply at the moment. This is going to send her to even sketchier places to score.
There was a strange connection between Molly and Henry when they were young. As if she literally felt what he was feeling at the exact same moment. Like when Mike was in those woods, she breathed cold air just like him. We saw this last episode, and I wasn’t sure what it meant. What exactly tethered these two together?
Later, Molly goes out to the trailer court in town. There she discovers quite an odd scene. Drug dealer Derek (Russell Posner) and a bunch of kids hold a weird court together, wearing masks. It’s a murder trial. And Molly’s being singled out as a murderer. When it’s over Derek sells the lady some pills. Not before the cops arrive. Whoooa. Not good!
Lucky for Molly that Henry shows up to talk with one of the local cops about former Warden Lacy. She’s able to get out of her cell. Although she doesn’t really want to talk much about why she’s there, or anything, really. She does mention that she’s basically beyond being an empath. She feels what others feel, so it wasn’t only Henry. He does her another solid by helping her get over to the Local Color set. Problem being, she simply cannot shut out the past, nor can she shut out Henry’s thoughts/feelings. So, what does she do? She brings up the feral inmate at Shawshank in order to make a point re: “a little change” being needed in Castle Rock. Goddamn, girl. Maybe she’ll redeem herself for what happened in ’91. Or, maybe neither she nor Henry realise who or what that prisoner is truly.
That afternoon, Henry’s called over to the prison. Suddenly Porter (Ann Cusack) wants to play nice after the bit of surprise press from their local cable show. They’re offering a settlement to cover their asses. Henry isn’t inclined to take the deal. Definitely not without consulting the young inmate he’s trying to help. The two meet across the glass in a visiting room, closer than before. Henry advises his client to keep on saying nothing like he has been. The inmate only asks: “Has it begun?” Oh, that’s absolutely fucking creepy. I love it. Because he’s talking about something scary, not legal proceedings. And he also repeats a phrase Henry’s father said to him when they were in the woods together 27 years prior. Unsettling, to say the least.
Again, Molly finds her house is messed up. She also hears noises upstairs. With a knife she goes to take a look. A perfect shot in the reflection of the knife shows a masked intruder quietly lurking on the periphery of her vision: it’s the reverend, bandaged as he was in her nightmares. Just her and her tortured thoughts alone in that house.
In love with these first three episodes. Cannot wait to see more! Others be damned, this is a near perfect adaptation of Stephen King’s mythology into a new set of stories. Perfect for lovers of his literature and those who haven’t read any, either. Lots of great stuff.
“The Box” is next time.