Hulu’s Castle Rock
Season 1, Episode 10: “Romans”
Directed by Nicole Kassell
Written by Dustin Thomason & Mark Lafferty
* For a recap & review of the penultimate episode, “Henry Deaver” – click here
* For a recap & review of the Season 2 premiere, “Let the River Run” – click here
We see a time before, when the kid (Bill Skarsgård) was kept underneath Shawshank State Penitentiary by Warden Dale Lacy (Terry O’Quinn). Dale lamented having “waited for instructions” from God about what to do, not having kids because he deferred to his supposed life’s duty. He contemplated shooting the kid. Obviously things played out differently.
In current day, the kid’s told Molly Strand (Melanie Lynskey) the truth. He wants Henry Deaver (André Holland) to go to the woods with him. The kid believes the sound’s “some kind of door” between worlds, and he needs the other Henry. He asks for Molly’s help.
Meanwhile, Henry is searching for his mother, and we see Ruth (Sissy Spacek) is standing on the edge of a bridge in town, preparing to possibly jump to her death below.
Molly’s the one to find Ruth. The old woman talks about Alan Pangborn. She’s lucid, knowing she killed him. But she feels him everywhere, jumping back and forth in time. It’s eerie, the odd connection between Ruth’s Alzheimer’s and the sound out there, the connection of two timelines. Could there be something more to it?
Shawshank’s shipping out all the inmates. Theresa Porter (Ann Cusack) oversees things as the “institution dies” a slow death after 100 years. For her, it only means career setback. For others, it means forced retirement or unemployment with whatever measly severance packaged they’re given. At home, Theresa finds a tiny carved figurine, not unlike those we’ve seen before. Hmm.
Flashback to Rev. Matthew Deaver (Adam Rothenberg) in the woods with young Henry (Caleel Harris). The man’s figured out his wife has been going behind his back with Sheriff Pangborn. He talks of “Romans 6:23” – “for the wages of sin is death…” – and says he wants it to just be the two of them. However, he begins sounding more and more sinister, which sends his adopted son off running through the woods, fearing for what could happen to his mother.
In present day, Wendell (Chosen Jacobs) wanders through the woods and stumbles onto a crime scene. He sees Willie (Rory Culkin), and dead on the ground is Odin Branch (Charles Jones), an arrow sticking from his eye. There’s something terribly creepy about Willie. He stares at the kid standing at the edge of the trees.
Henry manages to make it home finding Molly there with his mother. She tells him about everything. She believes the kid’s “a magnet” for all kinds of terrible things— exactly what the kid said followed Henry on the other side of that otherworldly gap. She wants Henry to go out to the woods with him. It all sounds insane to him. He’s also scared, seeing as how his father was looking for the nose decades before and wound up dead. He gets a call soon to pick up Wendell. That’s when Detective Daria Reese (Jayne Atkinson) stops him, asking questions about Mr. Branch. Oh, shit.
In the meantime, Molly goes back home where she gets a knock at the door. It’s Theresa. She says Lacy was right: “He‘s the fucking devil.” She looks traumatised. When she leaves, she walks into the road, and a truck flies by, running her over right in front of Molly. Irony? The truck is one of the Department of Corrections buses transporting prisoners from Shawshank.
At the precinct, Dt. Reese starts questioning Henry. But he won’t say a word. He asks for his phone call, which gets Molly in to see him. She shows him the figurine Porter brought her before she died. All Henry knows is he wants her to take Wendell back to his mom, then to “get away from Castle Rock” and from him, too. As he gets locked in a cell, the kid is swarmed by police at Harmony Hill Cemetery, standing in front of a grave marked DEAVER BOY. Soon, both men are sitting across from one another in opposite cells.
The kid says he doesn’t belong in their world, it’s why things are gone bad. Henry confronts him with the figurine from Porter’s house. The kid asks about his dreams of a cage in a basement, his disappearance, relating it to his own experience. They each remember Rev. Deaver talking of the passage from Romans, too. After a while, they’re both put in the same cage, as prisoners from Shawshank have to be housed in the other. Might get ugly.
And it does. The kid’s influence starts making the prisoners violent. They start with themselves, then they begin killing the police guarding them. In the madness, the keys wind up in the kid’s hands. On the way out, Henry sees Willie dying from a gunshot wound, unable to do anything for him. Worse, the kid’s now got Henry at gunpoint.
As Henry’s led into the woods, he remembers things his father said while he ran through the woods back in ’91, echoing what the kid says now. Henry remembers tricking his father by carefully retracing his footsteps in the snow. When Rev. Deaver walked to the edge of a cliff following them, he was pushed over, falling to the ice far below. Then the boy heard the sound and seemed to disappear. In current day, Henry tackles the kid when he hears the sound, grabbing the gun, and the kid reveals an ageing, terrifying face beneath his own.
Jump ahead one year. Henry’s back to paying attention to his work as a lawyer. Things are like normal. Molly’s trying to get back to normal, too. Sadly, Ruth has passed away, one day before Valentine’s Day. Her son leaves roses on a grave bearing both hers and Alan’s names together.
With Shawshank all but totally cleared out, Henry returns to the building on Christmas Eve. He goes downstairs into the bowels of the basement. He’s brought food, so he can feed the kid, who’s back in his cage. The kid keeps trying to convince Henry of the truth, getting nowhere. How long will they go on this way? Will Henry allow the kid to corrupt him just like Warden Lacy? So many things could happen from here.
“It wasn’t me— it was this place.”
Thankfully we’re getting a Season 2! Father Gore feels this ended on a solid note, keeping mystery alive to pursue once the series returns next year. Can’t wait for more. Especially for all the other characters, including Jackie Torrance (Jane Levy) who’s a writer like her uncle Jack, working on a book called Overlooked— get it? Either way, lots more to explore, plenty of stories to tell.