Hulu’s Castle Rock
Season 1, Episode 4: “The Box”
Directed by Michael Uppendahl
Written by Scott Brown
* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “Local Color” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “Harvest” – click here
Skip back to that fateful time in 1991, as a young Henry Deaver (Caleel Harris) goes missing for days. The town searches for him, but to no avail. In the present day, Henry (André Holland) still feels those old ghosts lurking. Around every corner of Castle Rock is another one, just waiting for him.
Note: This episode uses one of my favourite Tom Waits songs.
We see poor Dennis Zalewski (Noel Fisher) continue his job as a correctional officer at Shawshank State Penitentiary, wondering what’s going on with the kid (Bill Skarsgård). Speaking of, the young inmate is listening to deputy warden Reeves (Josh Cooke) ramble on about himself, his time in the regime toppling Saddam. Reeves talks about how he and some other men “fed” a man “his teeth” to get him to speak, believing him mute. This tactic doesn’t work on the mysterious inmate, whose eeriness is enough to unsettle anybody.
Henry wants to find his father, after the grave was moved without his consent. Of course Alan Pangborn (Scott Glenn) is along, having given consent himself. Definitely an awkward trip. Particularly after Henry talks about wanting to bring his mother Ruth (Sissy Spacek) back home with him, get her into a good home. This doesn’t sit well with Alan. Soon, the past starts coming up. Henry doesn’t like the former cop’s “Gary Cooper shit” and wants to know why he was out in those woods in ’91, by himself, 11 days after Henry originally went missing. He knows it was because of his involvement with his mom.
“He has a name written on him which no one knows except himself”
In a bar, Henry chats with Molly Strand (Melanie Lynskey) about how things are going in town, including the past, too. Suddenly, Zalewski turns up to talk with him. He tells Henry about Shawshank, the other horrible things happening behind the prison’s walls. He wants the truth to be revealed. There’s a legal hearing in a week, but Dennis feels disillusioned, believing nothing in Castle Rock will change because all the darkness is intentionally left covered. He just tries going through the motions, day after day. It’s not hard to tell he isn’t faring well psychologically. He doesn’t realise the true nature of the inmate he’s trying to protect, either.
Henry digs into his own past. He asks his mother about when he went missing, including a man who was released from prison right around the time he disappeared. The conversation only devolves into an argument over him wanting to take her to a home in Texas. It’s clear there’s more to this line of questioning, though. We’ll have to remember this man, Vince Desjardins. Ruth mentions people thought he and his family were “Nazis hiding out in the woods.”
Already, Henry’s looking into the man and his property in the woods. The place is dilapidated. Henry searches for anything at all that might trigger his memories. What he does discover is a massive crate in the backyard, a locked box. He opens it and there’s a bowl, a spoon. He begins wondering if this was where he’d been taken when he disappeared in ’91.
Then, another vehicle turns up on the property. It’s an older man called Joseph— brother of Vince. He’s got a barber shop up there. He tells Henry about Vince having issues with fraud. When conversation turns to ’91, Joseph gets strangely excited. He takes Mr. Deaver to a room where there’s an old file box full of stuff about Henry, including the police file on the case. We further find out Vince only owned the house, and Joseph was the one who lived there all those years. Hmm.
“There is a lot of history in this town. Not all of it good.”
When Henry starts asking more questions of Alan, he gets back info he doesn’t to hear. The old cop says the day before the reverend died he told him: “Henry did it.” But we have to ask, is this actually what happened? Or, is it further manipulation by Pangborn? I’m inclined to believe the latter. Although it’s never sure, give how many mysteries and secrets are swirling around that little place. Already, it’s making Henry question himself, so he goes straight to Molly. She tries to assuage his guilt, knowing more than she tells him, obviously.
Coming into town is the coffin of the former Rev. Deaver. As if sensing it, Ruth feels her late husband’s presence. What more will this bring?
Next morning, Henry decides he’s done in his hometown. He contacts Dennis, who’s not thrilled to get the message— the young guy’s got to remain there in Castle Rock, facing the horrors of Shawshank. Zalewski goes to work, like any other day. Except he’s decided to take out his gun and do a bit of staff cleaning via murder. Henry just so happens to be on the premises when the massacre occurs. He then must watch as the guard is gunned down in front of him.
WOW! I already loved this series. Now I’m totally enthralled because it continues digging in at new territory using King’s mythology. So impressed by the pacing, episode after episode. “Harvest” is next time. Sure to bring new, weird, creepy revelations again.