Castle Rock’s “Filter” Amplifies the Town’s Potential For Tragedy

So much of Castle Rock’s strength lies in its atmosphere. There is a sense of anticipation, of foreboding, of waiting. There is a feeling that some presence in the town is always watching, always listening. This is not a town that lets you get comfortable and complacent.

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We start with scenes very much related to the late Rev. Deaver. In the loft above the garage, where Henry has stashed The Kid until a bed at the psychiatric facility opens up for him, The Kid is dressing himself in the late reverend’s clothing and discovering old home movies he made of Henry as a child, often in the woods.

At the same time, Henry is the lone attendee at the reinternment of his father’s remains. The “exploding casket” seems to have stopped leaking at some point.

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The new pastor of the Church of the Incarnation (Aaron Staton, Mad Men) presides over the ceremony and as he reads the passage from 1 Corinthians 15:51-55, Henry ear starts to give him trouble again and the pastor’s voice becomes distorted and very clearly becomes another man’s voice, possibly that of the deceased Matthew Deaver (Adam Rothenberg, Dietland).

Henry looks over his shoulder and sees two men standing nearby staring at him. When they see him looking, they get into their RV and drive away. The paster gives him the chance to say a few words at the end of the service and Henry opts for a simple,”Goodbye, Dad.”

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If the purpose of “Harvest” was to bring our main players close in order to really see the contrasts and consequences of their behavior, “Filter” spreads them out, creating distance between them in terms of geography, trust, and security.

Pangborn has implicitly made a deal with The Kid, not shooting him in the head in exchange for The Kid’s promise that he’ll cure Ruth’s dementia. To that end, The Kid sends him to Syracuse, on a mission to retrieve the remains of Warden Lacy’s car from the junkyard it was sold to. When Pangborn questions the use of the old wreck of a Lincoln in repairing Ruth’s mental state, The Kid simply states,”Time is her enemy, Sherriff.”

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The Kid spends a considerable amount of time making himself at home in the Deaver House. He plays music, explores the rooms, relaxes on a bed.

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At the hospital, the same doctor who examined The Kid (Zabryna Guevara, Gotham) asks Ruth to repeat back the words she’s read to her but Ruth is unable to recall a single one. Pangborn brings her home and then tells her he’s going to run an errand but once he’s back, they’re going to “fix [her] up as good as new”.

In town, Henry picks up his son, Wendall, from the bus depot. Their relationship is strained due to Henry’s absence in Wendall’s life. Henry wants him to visit with Ruth while Ruth is able to recognize her grandson. She appears quite happy to see him back, once they leave the room, her expression is one of blank confusion once again.

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Henry makes lunch while Wendall reads the program printed for Rev. Deaver’s reinternment. The Bible passage ends in the phrase “Death is swallowed up in victory” which seems significant considering The Kid’s current liberty and the return of Matthew Deaver’s remains to Castle Rock.

Ruth is fixated on one of her Viking chess pieces, standing by the open fridge. Later she tells Wendall that her mind is so muddled lately, with the past memories and present happenings all mixed together, that she uses the chess pieces as her breadcrumb trail to anchor her to the present.

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Ruth spots The Kid out the kitchen window and recognizes his clothing as one of her late husband’s suits. “I could’ve sworn,” she whispers,”that we buried him in that suit.”

Wendall’s a little (!) freaked out by The Kid’s appearance and Henry takes the opportunity to check in about that spot at the psychiatric facility.

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Henry manages to find a place for The Kid at the psychiatric hospital and goes to the garage loft to tell him the good news. He finds him watching Matthew Deaver’s home movies.

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Henry recognizes the voices but since he has no memories of his childhood from before being found on Castle Lake (which was after his father was already dead), the movies are completely unfamiliar although when the film moves into the woods, it is reminiscent of the flashbacks he’s been having. He is visibly upset to see the videos and turns the TV off.

Henry drives The Kid to the Juniper Hill Psychiatric Hospital (yet another well-known King-verse locale) and The Kid compliantly follow the nurse into the building. Right after a crow just drops dead out of the sky. Not ominous at all. Not. At. All.

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When Henry goes to say goodnight to Wendall, his son tries to engage him in conversation about his own childhood, his adoption, and his life with the Deavers. Henry discloses that the Deavers had lost a biological child in childbirth and assumed he was adopted so that they wouldn’t have to go through that again. Wendall asks what he remembers of his biological parents. As Henry has no memories at all of his childhood before his disappearance, he deflects and states that Ruth and Matthew ARE his real parents.

Again, the relationship between Wendall and Henry is awkward and distant, especially in contrast to the whole-hearted and enveloping one we’ve seen between Ruth and Pangborn. Neither father nor son really seems to know how to talk TO the other so they spend their interactions talking AT each other instead. It doesn’t help that Henry constantly seems to be going out and leaving Wendall alone with Ruth.

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Having seen the home movies Rev. Deaver made of them in the woods, Henry tries to get Ruth to remember what they did out in the woods. Since she wasn’t with them on those trips, she is vague about their activities and when Henry pushes her for whether his father ever talked about hearing a specific sound out in the woods, she becomes flustered and irritated and tells him to just go ask his father himself.

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The next day, Henry goes across the street where Jackie is putting up a For Rent sign at Molly’s childhood home. Poor Molly. She’s developed this relationship with Henry only to be plagued by the specter of the bandaged and silent Rev. Deaver she killed. So, of course, the logical thing is to come clean with Henry, clear her conscience and maybe lighten that load of guilt by sharing the knowledge of what she did.

Yeah, that doesn’t go well. Henry is shocked when she tells him that she pulled Rev. Deaver’s breathing tube and horrified when she explains that she did it for him, that Henry’s hatred for his father basically took possession of her, used her to commit the murder. He calls her crazy and heads into the woods, trying to retrace the route he took as a child by matching it to the home video. Of course, it’s been thirty years, he doesn’t know the geography of the woods, doesn’t leave a trail to follow how and, eventually, the battery on the camcorder dies. With no cellular signal, Henry finds himself stranded and lost.

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Out in Syracuse, Pangborn is doing a little haunting of his own, combing through a junkyard for Warden Lacy’s car. At first, it seems a futile task. Meanwhile, the news on his radio is reporting a fire that broke out at Juniper Hill and how many of the psychiatric patients had escaped into the community. (You’ve always got to be paying attention with this show.)

Just as he’s about to give up, he spots it being driven onto the lot. The driver isn’t willing to discuss a price for the wreck so Pangborn pulls his revolver and clearly states that he needs the car to save the woman he loves.

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Back at the Deaver house, Ruth is on the kitchen floor trying to retrieve the pills she’s spilled when The Kid nonchalantly walks in the back door, hangs his jacket on the hook, and removes his shoes as if he hadn’t been dropped off at a psychiatric hospital hours before. He and Ruth stare at each other. I have no idea where Wendall is at this point.

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When it gets dark, Henry spots a campfire through the trees and walks towards it, startling the young man sitting next to it. Their stand-off is interrupted by the young man’s companion, an older African-American man who seems to communicate primarily in sign language. The young man, Willy (Rory Culkin, Waco), only speaks when he is interpreting Odin Branch’s (Charles Jones) signing.

Henry recognizes them as the men who were staring at him in the cemetery when the Rev. Deaver’s coffin was being laid to rest again. Branch explains, through Willy, that he and the late Rev. Deaver were friends and shared an interest in the spirituality of the woods around Castle Rock. He points to his ears and says that they discussed the “acoustics” of the universe.

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The acoustics are what the Reverand called “the voice of God” and Branch refers to as the “schisma” which he defines as “nanoscale turbulences caused by … quantum totalities operating in parallel… other years, other nows… all possible paths, all possible presents…”

“Schisma,” he signs, “is the sound of the universe trying to reconcile them.” The schisma’s intensity waxes and wanes and recently it has grown to a level unheard of for decades.

In his defense, Henry does try to disengage and head home (although he’s still totally lost in these woods) but Branch draws him back when he mentions that people who are attuned to the schisma often mistake it for a ringing in the ears. He explains the schisma is a signal “lucky” people are receiving but the mundane world interferes with the signal with its noise.

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Apparently, the last time the schisma had peaked, Reverand Deaver thought up a device that would filter out the world’s noise and allow the listener to hear the schisma in a pure form. He told Branch it was like when Noah was given the plans to build the Ark by God. Deaver died before he could build the device but he had given Branch the plans and the device was now in the RV.

(If this strikes a familiar note, it’s because Warden Lacy describes being inspired to build the cage he kept The Kid in as the voice of God speaking to him in his dreams. He even quotes the passage about the directions for building the Ark when he’s talking to The Kid in the flashback in “Harvest“.)

Still looking skeptical (and bordering on scared), Henry joins Willy and Branch in the RV where Branch shows him the modified anechoic chamber he’s created. He claims that if Henry enters the filter room, he’ll be able to hear the Truth of the schisma. Without hesitation, Henry tells him there’s no way he’s getting in the cell.

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Branch tells him that it’s his choice, of course, but that denying himself the opportunity to really hear the schisma means continuing to suffer, to not know himself, to be unable to share himself with the people he cares about like his son. (It’s interesting to note that, between Molly and Branch, Henry’s innermost thoughts seems to be an open book to the most unusual characters.)

Henry moves into the doorway of the filter room. Branch continues to expound the glory of the schisma and reveals that his deafness was the “correction” he needed and that he will be “correcting” Willy so that he can hear the schisma unimpeded as well. Henry, completely inside the filter room now, is disturbed by the idea that Branch made himself deaf. Branch corrects HIM in that he hasn’t been “made deaf”, he has been made “perfect”. And, with those uttered words, he slams the door shut on Henry and locks him in.

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Inside the filter room, Henry first experiences some claustrophobia which escalates quickly into a panic attack. He begins flashing back to lost childhood memories, hearing his father’s voice, and suffering more auditory bombardment.

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From Henry’s scream of pain, there’s a sudden and dramatic segue to The Kid sitting in front of the house, wrapped in a blanket as Pangborn drives up. The ex-sheriff triumphantly announces that he got Lacy’s old Lincoln and that it would be delivered the next day. He asks The Kid again what it’s needed for.

“It will be a monument,” The Kid states to Pangborn’s frowning disbelief,”to Warden Lacy, to everyone who helped put me in that cage.”

This is when Pangborn notices that The Kid’s arm is bleeding. Realization dawns and he asks The Kid where Ruth is. “Why would you leave me in that trunk, Sheriff?” The Kid asks as Pangborn rushes into the house, calling Ruth’s name. He finds the house in tatters, bloody handprints on the walls, chaotic noise, a hot pan on the stove (just like the day Henry arrived) but no one (no Ruth, no Wendall either) in sight.

Castle Rock streams on Hulu with new episodes dropping every Wednesday.

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