Hulu’s Castle Rock
Season 1, Episode 5: “Harvest”
Directed by Andrew Bernstein
Written by Lila Byock
* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “The Box” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “Filter” – click here
In 2016, we see Henry Deaver (André Holland) being given a brain scan, doing a few psychological tests. He was having strange symptoms. He’s told the scan looks clear, though he doubts it. He’s heard a tinnitus-like sound since he was a teenager.
In 2018, Castle Rock’s experienced a massacre at the Shawshank State Penitentiary, and now wildfires are burning across the town. Henry goes over to see the pastor (Aaron Staton). Looks like something’s happened to his father’s casket/body: “exploding casket syndrome.” A nasty sight. And the incident at Shawshank – when Henry was too close to the gunfire – aggravated his old symptoms, causing the ringing in his ears to start flaring up again.
Theresa Porter (Ann Cusack) is busy trying to figure out what to do with the kid (Bill Skarsgård), threatened with her own punishments from the upper echelons of the prison-industrial complex if she doesn’t settle things appropriately to their liking. The feral inmate is currently stuck watching old tapes about getting paroled. “Choose the life you want to live,” the man on the tape says, as if it’s so easy. As if this kid isn’t some dark entity waiting to be unleashed unto the world. And so he’s released from the walls of Shawshank into Castle Rock. His lawyer Henry is there to meet him. A new beginning. Or, the beginning of the end?
Flashback to former Warden Dale Lacy (Terry O’Quinn) in that sub-basement where he kept the kid in the cage. He recites Genesis 6:15 a little, like paralleling his own struggles to that of the story about Noah being called on to build his ark. This was getting around the time when Dale was starting to question whether he “did the right thing” by capturing the young man.
Soon, in the present, the kid starts talking more, at least enough to identify images for a doctor. Another doctor tells Henry she believes it’s “retrograde amnesia.” She wants to get the kid back to his home. Only nobody has an idea where he comes from, and Henry’s got to figure out how to look after him until they can figure out something better. Molly Strand (Melanie Lynskey) does her old pal a favour, offering up space in her office where the young mysterious man can lay his head for the night.
Instead of staying in for the evening, the young lad goes for a walk. He walks right into the home of a family celebrating one of their child’s birthdays. He’s fascinated when he sees a knife laid on the table. Suddenly, the family starts arguing, things get nastier by the minute, and then commences the violence. All from the mere influence of the young man who once lived in the cage below Shawshank.
Ms. Jackie Torrance (Jane Levy) shows up at the real estate office, only to find clothes belonging to the kid upstairs. She flops on the air mattress and finds a knife under the pillow. Right after that, the young man turns up naked.
Both Henry and Alan Pangborn (Scott Glenn) are worried about the state of Ruth (Sissy Spacek) and her dementia. While the son is beefing up security measures at his mother’s house, Alan is falling into despair, remembering the past and trying to hold onto what they have right now, too.
A ceremony is underway in Castle Rock. A moment of silence is held for those lost at the incident inside Shawshank. After which Alan is honoured for his long service over the decades to the town. He gets up for a speech following the nice introduction, thanking those who put faith in him to protect Castle County for so long. In the midst of his speech, Ruth gets up and jumps over the nearby bridge. Henry goes in right after her, as well. OH. MY. GOD! Terrifying. More so given the Omen-like dog barking beforehand, almost hypnotising Ruth. Thank god she’ll survive. Nevertheless, it shakes up both Alan and Henry.
Out on a drive, Jackie tells the young man all about Castle Rock’s horrible history while smoking a bowl of weed and listening to TV on the Radio (“Wolf Like Me”). The kid doesn’t say a whole lot. He mostly listens to Jackie talk about her uncle who “one winter” freaked out and “tried to axe murder his wife and kid at some fancy ski resort.” Finally, a beautiful reference to Mr. Torrance. We discover Jackie only took her uncle’s name purposefully to piss off her parents. So perfect!
Later on, Jackie calls Molly with an emergency of her own. The kid has climbed up on top of an abandoned building. He’s standing at the edge. In his head he hears dogs barking, growling, angry voices, screams, talk of a “dead body,” and all sorts of things— the various sounds of the horrors in Castle Rock. Molly tries convincing the kid to come down. Simultaneously, she hears what’s going on in his head, like with others around her. This prompts her to talk about it with Henry. She says it was like hearing the entire town’s pain “all at once.” Henry doesn’t buy it, until Molly tells him everything which exists in his head, swirling in a junkyard of memory.
Pangborn has a bit of a run-in with the kid in the woods outside Ruth’s place. Doesn’t bode well for the former cop. We further find there’s history with these two. Lacy got pulled over by Pangborn the night the old warden was doing some kidnapping. Alan says he’s never forgot the kid. He lets us in on the fact the young man hasn’t aged a day. He asks: “Are you the Devil?” The reply is no, but it comes with more cryptic talk. Very curious, cryptic talk.
Another wonderful episode in this series. Utterly fantastic so far, I can’t complain. Again, the pacing’s what serves the material so well. Everything’s coming out gradually. We’re not getting big dumps of expository dialogue, either. Even the mentions of the Stephen King universe are well peppered into the episodes. “Filter” is next time.