Castle Rock—Season 1

castle rock season 1 poster review episode guide
7.5 Overall Score
Story: 7/10
Acting: 9/10
Visuals: 8/10

Good cast, builds an atmosphere

Feels like it keeps adding but no satisfying conclusion or revelations

castle rock season 1 title card review episode guide

Sit and stay for a spell…

Henry Deaver (André Holland) finds himself called back to his hometown of Castle Rock when an unnamed man nicknamed The Kid (Bill Skarsgård) is discovered hidden by the newly deceased former Shawshank warden Lacy (Terry O’Quinn).  Reunited with his mother Ruth (Sissy Spacek) who is suffering from Alzheimer’s and her new live-in boyfriend Alan Pangborn (Scott Glenn), Henry learns that the events of his disappearance as a child still hangs heavy in the town.  Henry finds his former neighbor Molly Strand (Melanie Lynskey) still lives next door and she might have insight into what happened to him as a child.  When new crimes begin to surface in Castle Rock, The Kid could be to blame…or could Henry’s return have sparked something else?

Castle Rock—Season 1 is based on Stephen King’s fictitious Maine town.  The series was produced by King and J.J. Abrams and received a staggered release on Hulu.  The series was released to mostly positive reviews.

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Just sitting around…waiting for something to happen

I have always been on Stephen King’s boat.  Even in King’s bad novels, you can generally finds something positive and the idea of an author creating a horror based mythos surrounding his work (kind of in line with Faulkner’s Southern Gothic world) is fun.  The appeal of Castle Rock is great…but it also leaves a lot to be desired.

Don’t go into Castle Rock expecting to have tons of King’s characters popping up.  For the most part, the story is original and there are references to other King stories and characters littered through the ten episodes.  Panghorn probably is the most prolific of the characters having appeared in a number of King’s works, but the season is largely something new…with a King feel.

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Hey dog…um…you’re drooling on me

The cast is quite strong.  André Holland plays the primary character of the series with Bill Skarsgård as the flipside to his character.  Holland has the problem of being the straight character while Skarsgård continues to be a creepy lurker through most of the season.  They are backed by a great supporting cast.  Sissy Spacek continues to prove her abilities as the Alzheimer’s patient trying to keep control of her life while Scott Glenn does his best Scott Glenn (aka grumpy old man) role.  Melanie Lynskey also is fun as the touchstone of the series who tries to find what is going on.  The Jackie Torrance character played by Jane Levy is fun, but it seems gimmicky since she isn’t in the season enough.  You also get appearances by Frances Conroy, Terry O’Quinn, Allison Tolman, Chosen Jacobs, Rory Culkin, and CJ Jones in some fun supporting roles.

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I want more of this…

The series does have a lot of atmosphere, but it squanders some of it.  It feels like this season is building and building.  There is tension and there are some jumps (mostly involving bird strikes), but it doesn’t necessarily feel like it pays off.  It isn’t quite Gothic horror, but it also isn’t gore horror…it feels stuck in-between both in storytelling and visuals.

Castle Rock was a bit of a disappointment.  They had two options with the series.  They could have gone the route they went with an all-new story and new characters, or they could have gone all in and loaded it with classic Stephen King characters.  While the latter might have been more entertaining, it could have also come off as cheesy or hokey…but I feel the new storyline created in this season doesn’t pay off enough for fans of the author.  I am interested to see where Castle Rock goes with second season seeming to promise more “King” in the Stephen King world with Misery storylines creeping up…I hope Castle Rock is more fun to visit.

Castle Rock—Season 1 Complete Episode Guide:

castle rock season 1 episode 1 severance the kid bill skarsgard


1.1       Severance Release Date:  07/25/18

Newly retired warden Dale Lacy (Terry O’Quinn) has killed himself in a most spectacular way, and Theresa Porter (Ann Cusack) now finds herself in charge of Shawshank Prison.  Ordering a cleaning of the wing that fired destroy years before, Dennis Zalewski (Noel Fisher) finds a young man (Bill Skarsgård) can’t be identified in any prison records.  When the man says the name “Henry Deaver”, death penalty attorney Henry Deaver (André Holland) finds himself returning to his home of Castle Rock where as a child many believed he was responsible for his adopted father’s death.  Now, former Sheriff Alan Pangborn (Scott Glenn) has moved into Henry’s home with his senile mother Ruth (Sissy Spacek), and Henry must first find his mystery client.  Meanwhile, Molly Strand (Melanie Lynskey) learns Henry has returned to Castle Rock and old memories are reawakened.

castle rock season 1 episode 2 habeas corpus henry deaver andre holland

“Habeas Corpus”

1.2       Habeas Corpus Release Date:  07/25/18

Molly meets with her sister (Allison Tolman) and is reminded of her childhood obsession with Henry Deaver.  Henry tries to investigate the mystery prisoner and is forced to get creative when he finds himself barred from the jail.  Dennis suffers visions of the prisoner and discovers that security has moved him to lock-up to cover-up his discovery.  A suicide note by Lacy gives warning to Pangborn of what the unknown man might really be.

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“Local Color”

1.3       Local Color Release Date:  07/25/18

Molly recalls the events after Henry’s father’s “accident” and her role in the death.  Dennis is contacted by Henry about The Kid and tries to use Dennis to reach him.  Henry reconnects with Molly, but Molly discovers Henry’s return has reawakened their empathic connection.  With the thoughts in her head racing, Molly finds she must find a new connection for the drugs to dampen them.  Warden Porter finds The Kid could cause problems for Shawshank if the truth of his existence is revealed.

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“The Box”

1.4       The Box Release Date:  08/01/18

Henry seeks out keys to his disappearance by investigating Josef Desjardins (David Selby) who was questioned at the time he went missing.  With a debate about what to do next with The Kid, Henry makes a big decision…but Dennis’s actions could change everyone’s plans.

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1.5       Harvest Release Date:  08/08/18

The Kid is released to Henry’s custody following Dennis’s shooting rampage and Henry learns that there is a problem involving the re-burial of his father.  Wildfires threaten Castle Rock that seem unstoppable, and the attempt for the city to honor Alan could turn deadly.  Jackie Torrance (Jane Levy) encounters The Kid but is forced to call in Molly when she discovers there is something wrong with him.  The Kid wanders the streets of Castle Rock and has an unsettling effect.  Alan reveals to Henry what was told to him by his father before he died, and Alan comes face-to-face with The Kid…and realizes he knows him.

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1.6       Filter Release Date:  08/15/18

Henry’s father is reburied, and Henry finds that his constant ear problem is getting worse.  Alan sets out to help Ruth by tracking down Warden Lacy’s car for The Kid.  Henry’s estranged son Wendell (Chosen Jacobs) comes to visit and learns the secret of Ruth’s dementia from her.  Molly reveals her part in Henry’s father’s death to Henry.  The Kid’s trip to Juniper Hill turns out to be shorter than expected, and Ruth faces him in her home.  A journey into the woods to retrace his childhood steps lead to a man named Odin Branch (CJ Jones) and his interpreter Willie (Rory Culkin), and Henry learns why his father made trips into the forest.

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“The Queen”

1.7       The Queen Release Date:  08/22/18

Ruth has become unstuck in time.  Shifting to different parts of her life, she remembers her husband Matthew Deaver (Adam Rothenberg) and his belief that he could hear God speaking to him.  With The Kid in the house, Ruth must find a way to defend herself and remembering the location of her gun and the bullets could prove deadly.

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“Past Perfect”

1.8       Past Perfect Release Date:  08/29/18

Alan Pangborn is dead at the hands of Ruth Deaver, but police suspect that The Kid is responsible.  A bed and breakfast themed around Castle Rock’s dark side in the former home of Warden Lacy may be a mistake for the new owners Gordon (Mark Harelik) and Lilith (Lauren Bowles).  Using her connection to Henry, Molly saves Henry from Odin’s soundproof room…and Henry realizes Warden Lacy’s home could hold the keys to his past.  Molly is visited by The Kid, and The Kid makes a shocking reveal.

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“Henry Deaver”

1.9       Henry Deaver Release Date:  09/05/18

Henry Deaver (Bill Skarsgård) has it all.  He has an up-and-coming science study on research into Alzheimer’s and the potential of a breakthrough drug.  When he is called back to Castle Rock, he learns that his estranged father is dead and a child (Caleel Harris) was found locked in a cage in his basement.  Teamed with his former neighbor Molly, Henry sets out to find where the boy is from…and trying to get him home could change Henry’s life forever!

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1.10     Romans Release Date:  09/12/18

Things are getting worse in Castle Rock.  Birds continue to crash into things, and people are dying.  With police suspecting Henry Deaver playing a role in the deaths, Molly tries to encourage Henry to go to the lake with The Kid in the hopes of reversing whatever has happened.  When Henry discovers his son is beginning to hear the ringing as well, Henry decides something must be done.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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