Hulu’s Castle Rock
Season 2, Episode 10: “Clean”
Directed by Lisa Brühlmann
Written by Michael Olson & Dustin Thomason
* For a recap & review of the penultimate episode, “Caveat Emptor” – click here
* Will we get a Season 3? Stay tuned.
Ace drags Pop’s corpse away, headed towards Marsten House so he can make use of everything that was rolling around in Reg’s head. They’ll need the old man’s knowledge if they’re going to make use of everything Warden Lacy wrote to Alan Pangborn in those notes. Back at the mansion, Ace and the others bring Pop below the earth to stuff him in one of those gooey resurrection caskets. Elsewhere in the house, Joy’s being prepared as the vessel for Amity— a big celebration. And there’s also a big fight coming. “The end of them is the beginning of us,” the undead priest in Ace tells his congregation. Big trouble in Castle Rock.
The few left unfazed by the noise in town are at the construction site. Abdi has a bunch of Semtex that might be of use. Annie shows Nadia and Chance where she fell through the ground when it collapsed into the caves below Marsten House. She wants to get Joy out of there, then Abdi can use his toys to blow the place sky high. He isn’t particularly concerned with getting involved deeper in the town’s drama, though Nadia insists they have to help liberate all the brainwashed residents.
“We must protect our new place
in this old, rotting world.”
One of the other cultists has now become a resurrected Pop. So, Pop and Ace sit down to talk about “the schisma“— remember, from Season 1? It’s attributed to “the sound of the Angel.” We’re hearing more about how Castle Lake is a door to “other heres, other nows, other dimensions,” and that the Angel travels between these other spaces and places and times. At the same time, Abdi and Nadia are underground setting up Semtex, waiting for the right moment to detonate.
Soundtrack: “Troubled Waters” by Cat Power plays here
The brother-sister duo make their further below in the tunnels underneath Marsten House. The further they get, the more they’re confronted with the buzzing insects. They place one more piece of Semtex directly below where the most insects are concentrated. Right above stands the Angel’s statue, and the crowds of catatonic people. In their midst is Chance, trying to find Joy. She gets spotted by Vera, which draws the attention of everyone, and she’s quickly snatched up by the cop among the Marstenites. This leaves Annie in the trees by herself, unable to get hold of Nadia by radio, only hearing her dead mother’s voice whispering criticisms.
What does Annie do? She panics, running right up to the Marsten House door knocking. She tells Ace that Nadia and Abdi are in the tunnels with explosives. She wants to get Joy out of that place. But now she’s in the cult’s grips, and her friends are being hunted. The brother and sister are found down there. Resurrected Pop is with the men who catch them. He kills the men, revealing to Nadia and Abdi he shot himself up with Haldol before he died, which we saw last episode. This gave him a way to trick the Marstenites, and it’s now giving him time enough to help his adopted children. In the end, Pop will have his chance to redeem himself.
Abdi detonates the first explosive, as per Pop’s word, then the second, which takes out the Angel’s statue. Everybody standing around to watch the big ceremony is stunned, then they’re attacked by swarms of insects. Pop gets Chance out of the house, and Joy stabs Ace with the ceremonial knife.
Inside, Pop handcuffs himself. He calls to Nadia, ordering them to detonate the other explosive. “I deserve it,” he tells her. And as Annie finds Joy, rushing off into the trees, Nadia detonates the last Semtex and Marsten House crumbles. The Angel watches on the edge of Castle Lake’s cliffs before disappearing into time and space.
Skip ahead, one week later.
In a motel, Annie and Joy are back to a life on the road. That’s where mom picks up a copy of Paul Sheldon’s Misery’s Quest— wonderfully eerie Easter egg connecting this Annie with the Annie we know later down the road in Misery. Annie reads some of the book to Joy, falling in love with Sheldon’s work the way she once fell in love with the writing of her father.
Annie and Joy head for the Canadian border. They cross just fine. (Notice a Missing poster for Henry Deaver at the gas station.) Annie finds someone looking to hire a caretaker, giving them a place to stay / hide. While Joy keeps her distance, Annie watches over her elderly patient and continues tumbling into her Sheldon novel. But is it really Joy keeping her distance? Or did Amity Lambert make it back from the other side? Probably not a good sign that Joy’s watching movies entirely in French all of a sudden, or that she’s making clandestine plans with some man over the phone.
This makes Annie paranoid, poking into Joy’s things to see if there are any clues. The girl’s sketchbook is filled with strange, unsettling drawings and phrases, a lot of which connects to the presence of the Angel. More than clear that Amity was able to cross the threshold of death before the explosion. Annie does her bad nurse routine, crushing up pills to feed Joy in ice cream. Then she confronts Amity, but things go sideways. She gets stabbed with a pen, and Joy runs off. They both wind up falling in the water. Annie holds Joy’s head under the surface, drowning her “little love.” That’d be fine if it were only Amity. Problem is, it’s still Joy’s physical body.
Annie goes back up to the house, where she finds a letter from Joy, talking about wanting to leave and be on her own. Joy was looking to get emancipated from her mother. Perhaps she was just watching that French movie, feeling the emotion. And this is another horrorshow as a result of paranoid Annie, taking terrible matters into her own hands. Annie rushes to her daughter’s body in the water, trying to perform CPR, and she manages to save Joy. She lies to Joy, of course, and now the daughter thinks mom is her saviour. A perfectly twisted twist.
This rejuvenates the mother-daughter relationship. They eventually get on the road again to someplace new. They go to a reading by none other than Paul Sheldon. But it’s more than obvious there’s something not right. Annie sees her dead mother, and it’s evident now that Joy is also dead, her presence only a figment of her mother’s imagination.
A stunning close to this season, tying up all the Marsten House stuff, as well as finishing on an amazing note re: Annie Wilkes. A great use of her character in this season. Let’s hope that there’ll be a Season 3. It’d be wonderful, especially for Stephen King fans, to see more characters from this universe get adapted in fresh, exciting ways.