Hulu’s Castle Rock
Season 2, Episode 5: “The Mother”
Directed by Mark Tonderai-Hodges
Written by Daria Polatin & Vince Calandra
* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “The Laughing Place” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “The Word” – click here
Rita survived being stabbed by her lover’s daughter. She is now a recovering addict and alcoholic. She escaped California to “start again” somewhere where nobody knew her or her story, even if that was difficult. She finds it hard to erase herself from a story because she believes “stories shape our world.” But young Annie made her a part of a story she never wanted to be a part of, and now it’s up to her keep on writing it, to “turn the page.” This is the same evening when Rita gets a call from Joy asking about The Ravening Angel. The line disconnects, sending Rita on a frantic online search. See, Rita has spent a lot of time trying to track where Annie went, and a mysterious phone call like this one is enough to send her barrelling towards Castle Rock.
At the bar, Annie’s downing drinks. Who shows up sitting next to her but Ace, giving the woman a ghostly shock. This has Annie feeling like she’s probably hallucinating. She openly talks about killing him. He laughs it off, imagining more of the Castle Rock citizens have dreamed of killing him once or twice before. They laugh over the ice cream scoop death. Then Ace walks a hammered Annie home, tucking her in on the couch for a good night’s sleep. VERY CREEPY!
At a state group home, Dr. Nadia’s brought Joy to see if they believe it’s safe for her to stay with Annie. The doc insists she’ll look in on the girl. However, it’s left up to the courts whatever might happen now. And you know if any eyes are on Annie they’ll see she’s quite obviously an unfit parent. Nadia has more stuff to think about, too. Like all the revelations about Pop.
He’s left her a voicemail trying to apologise for his misguided attempts to “make it right” following the killing of her mother. Worse is that now Nadia realises her brother Abdi’s known for several years. She feels betrayed that he wouldn’t tell her the truth. Abdi explains Ace was the one to tell him, in an attempt to mess with his head. Yet Nadia’s throwing him out of the house anyway.
Heather and her man Lance get home to insects buzzing around outside.
Inside, there’s violence. Their bodies are taken to Ace. Below Marsten House, they’re laid in coffins belonging to long dead people. Such as one Amity Lambert, her coffin marked 1619, whom undead Ace refers to as “my love.” There’s a resurrection being planned in Salem’s Lot. That’s Ace’s new interest in Annie— to be a vessel for Amity.
When Annie wakes up there’s a child services rep at her door. The man’s asking questions about her employment, telling her that Joy’s in a state facility. She’s reluctant to let him in given that the place is an absolute mess. She claims she has a contagious flu and asks him to come back tomorrow. It gives her time. But now she’s got to come up with the “original birth certificate” among other things for the girl who was named baby Evangeline.
Right on cue, Rita is just arriving in Castle Rock.
Chance is playing guitar on the step when Rita turns up asking questions. It’s Chance’s phone that led the woman back there. Rita has a picture of young Annie. She asks about a girl that might look like her, too. Naturally, Chance is suspicious and won’t answer anything. She already knows what Annie’s made life like for Joy, she’s almost the girl’s protector. Annie walks out her door and sees Rita on the road outside. She panics, ready to start planning the next getaway. She now sees her lock box is gone.
Beneath Marsten House, Lance’s body is resurrected. Except Heather’s body is gone. This is when she arrives, puking up strange, gooey liquid at the hospital, where Dr. Nadia finds the woman wailing in a mess outside her car. Strangeness pops up on the blood tests. Heather has two different types of blood in her. Nadia thinks it’s incompetence on the nurses’ part. Then she sees Heather’s gone— the pastor sneaked her out of the hospital, ushering her back to Marsten House fast.
At the group home, Annie is going to see Joy. She’s too late. Because Rita got there first with help from Vera, not Chance. She lays out the wild, tragic story of their lives. A lot for Joy to comprehend in one sitting, though so much of her life now makes sense. An awful truth to discover. Rita tells her daughter: “You can be whoever you want.” Still not easy for them to forge a new life. The mother’s determined to work it all out, no matter how difficult things might become. It’ll be a gradual thing for Joy, whose entire existence has been rocked. Outside, Annie gets a glimpse of them and feels her life slipping away faster than ever before. Back at the motel, Rita starts drinking again after five years sober.
“You saved me
when you laughed”
The next day, nobody can find Joy. She’s out in the woods meeting Annie by way of Chance’s help. Annie wrote down the truth of her story for Joy to read. The young woman already knows most of it. Annie tries to convey what Joy did for her, saving her from an awful darkness that threatened to swallow her whole. “I‘m not normal,” she admits. Joy soon figures out Annie was going to kill them both that night.
The question is, will Annie truly go off the deep end now?
She gets home and finds Rita waiting in the dark with questions about that fateful night years ago. A particularly awkward, painful, and tense reunion. Rita knows it was “the dedication” in dad’s book that drove young Annie to violence.
Nadia wants to get out of Castle Rock, just like Chance and Joy plan to do together. She goes to Chris, believing they should leave. She’s got no way of knowing she’s talking to an undead man. Oh, my. Hopefully nothing disturbing happens to her.
That night, Joy reads the letter her sister-mother wrote. She’s too late. Rita is taking Annie out into the woods at gunpoint. We see an intense montage set to “Once Upon Another Time” by Sara Bareilles with the memories of Rita and Annie years before, laughing and learning, juxtaposed against the both of them, now older, and Annie facing violent retribution for her own violent tendencies.
Annie throws dirt in Rita’s face, rushing off back through the woods. When Rita goes looking she’s attacked by Annie from behind, putting her in a position to shoot again. Just in time, Joy rushes in with a syringe to poke into her real mother. Whoa! Rita drops the gun and it goes off, putting a bullet in her own gut. DOUBLE WHOA! And uh oh too once the cops show up. Then Annie gives herself up, in hopes of protecting Joy.
As if the series couldn’t get any more intense or wild. What a turn of events. Although even if Rita’s dead, she can come back potentially. They’re near enough to Salem’s Lot. Hmm. One way or the other, shit’s getting real.
“The Word” is next time.