Hulu’s Castle Rock
Season 2, Episode 5: “The Laughing Place”
Directed by Anne Sewitsky
Written by Vince Calandra & Daria Polatin
* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “Restore Hope” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “The Mother” – click here
A glimpse at young Annie shows her struggling to read as a girl, likely because of dyslexia. She wasn’t able to make sense of the words, and the other kids joked about her. Annie made up her own part of the story to tell, only able to pick out the words “the Laughing Place.” In a way, she’s become an adult who makes up her own story, too, because the person she is doesn’t fit with everyone else. Little Annie got violent with her bullies. The school felt it was “pathological behaviour” while her parents, Carl and Crysilda, resisted the idea of something being wrong with their daughter. That left Mr. and Mrs. Wilkes at odds over what to do. Young Annie was facing a life of homeschooling— “a school of us,” her father said. It only made her feel isolated further, even if her father insisted he’d be teaching her about “the real world.”
Her father was the one who began writing The Ravening Angel. He was going to get Annie to type out his story for him on a computer, after he finished his writing on the typewriter. An interesting use of the “number one fan” rhetoric we see Kathy Bates’s Annie spouting in Misery here, jigsawed into the Castle Rock universe as Carl giving his daughter the moniker himself.
Annie grew up and continued helping her father as he drafted his tale. She helped him with the story and he imparted life lessons, particularly about the good and bad in all of us. It was more than clear how divided her parents were at the time, barely looking at each other when they have a conversation. That’s because dad was sheltering his daughter from the world, rather than actually introducing her to it. Annie could barely read in front of anybody other than him, not even her own mother. Crysilda was getting tired of supporting the family while Carl was isolating his daughter into a world where it might as well have just been the two of them.
Crysilda only cared about her daughter. She wanted her Annie to focus on getting her GED and to get out of their shitty little town. She encouraged her daughter. At the same time, Crysilda was flossing and doing hygiene work on Annie, and this is not unlike the strange control of Carl, either. Neither parent was doing their daughter any big favours.
Annie eventually met Rita Green— “special help” to give the girl a leg up on the GED. This was a new relationship that helped her start to actually learn, breaking her out of her father’s world. Rita provided Annie with a path towards becoming like Pinocchio, a way to cut her own strings. Problem was, the girl had trouble seeing the grey areas of life, only seeing black or white and nothing in between.
In current day, Joy reads The Ravening Angel. She’s pulled away to go somewhere with Abdi, who’s got to meet somebody on business. Annie shows up out of nowhere like The Terminator. She wants a few minutes with her girl. She attempts to apologise for what happened recently, and hopes things will be better once they leave Castle Rock. She’s resistant to doctors, believing they’ll take Joy away from her. The girl only has questions about her father. Annie won’t say anything other than he was “a bad man.”
More and more, Rita helped Annie learn. They became close like two friends, rather than a pupil and her teacher. Carl actually became fine with the whole situation after some time, even if it took a while. Life moved on, and Annie developed into a great reader compared to her abilities before. She was looking forward to the GED test. Rita was likewise looking forward, but to the child growing inside her. She didn’t want to talk about the complicated father.
(Does anybody see where this is headed? Father Gore does.)
Not long after this when Carl told his daughter he’d be moving out to find his “place in this world.” Annie blamed herself. Dad tried telling her it was due to the relationship between him and her mother. He insisted he would always be her biggest fan.
“I’m your mother.
I don’t need to prove anything.”
When Annie got her GED letter she called father immediately. Crysilda kept on feeling melancholy about her daughter’s life, no matter of being proud. She wondered why Annie didn’t want to go further than just staying close. She didn’t like the “dirty world,” and she kept feeling Carl was only continuing to control their child. There were some serious psychological issues going on with Crysilda. But was there something deeper causing all that? There was a dark past lurking behind mom’s eyes. Then Crysilda drove her and Annie right into a river.
Only the daughter made it out alive. Then she truly was left with just her father.
Six months later, Rita and her baby, Evangeline, came to visit for supper. That’s when Carl and Rita finally decided to tell Annie that they were together romantically. And the further truth comes out that Carl was the father of the baby. This sent Annie over the edge, grabbing a knife as she got angry. She dropped it, but it scared Rita.
Time moved on again. Rita was becoming an official part of the household, and Annie could do nothing but deal with the change. She spent time in her own Laughing Place mentally, isolating herself in the old room where dad first taught her. She wasn’t getting any medication that she might’ve needed, seeing as how Carl stopped taking his own lithium to foolishly let his creativity shine, that old destructive myth.
One night, Annie was listening to the muffled moans of her father and Rita fucking. She went in to see the crying baby, just as Rita rushed to grab the child, as if the girl was going to do something wrong. Annie went about like she was a ghost among the living. After a while, Carl had finally finished his book. It was a celebration. But when Annie read it, she took major offence to the novel being dedicated to Rita, a.k.a dad’s Laughing Place. This is what entirely sent Annie off the deep end. She ended up pushing him over the stairs and Carl fell to his death, impaled on a piece of broken wood. There was nothing she could do to save him.
And once Rita saw what happened, she got stabbed to death.
This is the beginning of Annie’s life with Evangeline, whom she renamed Joy.
How long until Joy discovers her real mother?
How long until she finds out what happened to her real mother?
Is Rita still alive today? Yes. And Joy’s just called her on the phone.
A truly heartbreaking episode. Gives Annie an entirely new story, and one that doesn’t only seek to show her as a lunatic, but that also attempts to look at how a young woman might have become such an unpredictable, psychotic person as an adult. While Misery is amazing, there’s also something wonderful about the way Castle Rock chooses to give its audience a perspective on the dirtiest birdy of all, Annie.