Castle Rock’s Once and Future “Henry Deaver”

Oh, the genius of a well-written parallel ‘verse! I am in awe of the elegance of this amazing reveal of The Kid’s identity. No way to emphasize this enough. It was just brilliant.

Photo Credit: Dana Starbard/Hulu

Not only brilliant but mind-bending as well since it takes TIME and basically knots it fourteen ways from Sunday. Try to keep up.

First, we get another dark and somber theory on the nature of Castle Rock. This time, though, it’s not Warden Lacy’s voice, it’s the Reverand Deaver’s. And, although, the speeches are incredibly similar, this one is tweaked just enough to be familiar and every bit as ominous.

“God turned his back on this place, abandoned us. That’s what people say. Or they say He’s punishing us for our sins like Sodom and Gomorrah. Do you remember the helicopter crash? How about the school bus? People say,’It wasn’t me. It was this place.’ And the thing is: they’re right.”

Where Lacy recounts a football game from his youth where his brother commits suicide wearing the school’s mascot costume at the beginning of “Habeas Corpus” , Deaver tells the story of his mother (Mamie Gummer, The Good Wife), sleep-deprived and alone with a crying baby, killing him in the crib only to have him resume his crying a few minutes afterward. He sees this as a sign of God’s power and devotes his life to his service because of this miracle. And then one phrase emerges, identical to Lacy’s speech:

“Let me stand to thwart the door, I told him. But God, he doesn’t take requests.”

And then something happens. Same as it did for Lacy. And it’s all happened before and yet we’ve never seen this at all. Because this isn’t the Reverand Deaver we’ve seen and heard about. This is an “other”. This is a different world.

Photo Credit: Hulu

“Continuity. It’s hard work. We don’t notice we’re doing it but we are placing events in sequence so that our lives make sense. When continuity is interrupted, everything starts to slide. Higher order functions become challenging. Reason and judgment erode. Can’t manage finances, drive a car. Planning and problem solving: gone. And, ultimately, confusion with time and space.” – Dr. Deaver

In this world of “what if?” that we are immediately thrust into, Matthew and Ruth Deaver have a biological son. In the world we’ve been in up until now (let’s call it “Prime”), their baby died in childbirth and they chose to adopt instead, raising the Prime Henry as their son.

Photo Credit: Dana Starbard/Hulu

In this other world, Ruth DID leave Matthew and took her Henry away with her when he was a child. She and Alan Pangborn live happily together in Sarasota for decades and when her Alzheimer’s begins to manifest, he’s there to take care of her. Not only that but, removed from the toxic influence of his father (still mentally unstable in this alt-world), Henry grows up into the individual we’ve come to know as THE KID and becomes a doctor, specializing in research in dementia, spurred by his mother’s condition.

Photo Credit: Dana Starbard/Hulu

After presenting a prototype implant that may reverse the symptoms of dementia to a board of potential investors using his childhood cat, Puck, as live subject proof (Prime Puck was the dog that Ruth suspected Matthew of poisoning), he’s debriefing with his partner (Peta Sergeant, Snowfall) when he receives a call from Pangborn saying that something’s happened to his father back in Castle Rock.

Photo Credit: Dana Starbard/Hulu

And, as another Henry Deaver returns to another Castle Rock, there’s no way to ignore the incredible integrity for the material as we are presented with beautifully nuanced recreations of the shots and scenes we’ve seen before when Prime Henry answers Zalewski’s call in “Severance

Photo Credit: Dana Starbard/Hulu

^^^ Look familiar? ^^^

v v v YUP v v v

Photo Credit: Patrick Harbron/Hulu

But the differences are elegantly drawn as well. Prime Henry returns to a shell of a town, filled with boarded-up businesses and haunted-looking locals. This Henry gets his cab to drop him off in the heart of a bustling Fall Festival, complete with balloons and food vendors. Even the lighting is warmer, a cheery harvest sunshine versus the Prime chill of encroaching winter.

Photo Credit: Hulu

Of course, there’s still something about the Church of the Incarnation that gives Henry pause. As well as some hesitation as he approached the Deaver house. Instead of Prime Ruth’s homey clutter, the inside of this Deaver house looks more like the Desjardins place Prime Henry pokes around, every surface covered with old papers and rotting food in the kitchen (although minus the piano fallen through the ceiling).

After reliving some of his father’s sermon voice (NOT his happy place), Henry is relieved to see some activity across the road and walks over the Strand house where Molly’s sister, Bridget, is unloading her car. Bridget runs her mouth awkwardly, thinking Henry is a speculator looking at the Deaver house. In a perfect parallel to Prime Molly selling the Prime Lacy house, she points out that Matthew Deaver killed himself on the lake, not in the house, if that matters.

Photo Credit: Dana Starbard/Hulu

As they’re talking, a much more put-together Molly Strand comes out looking for her sister and immediately recognizes Henry. The two head to the Mellow Tiger (considered a “Gastropub” in this narrative and looking extremely trendy and upbeat instead of seedy and depressed) to reminisce over drinks.

This Molly is greeted by everyone who sees her and cheerfully responds in like. No sign of Prime Molly’s anxiety, drug use, or sensitivity to others’ thoughts. She’s the Council Chair of Castle Rock (which we’ll assume wasn’t dis-incorporated like Prime Castle Rock) and pretty comfortable with the responsibility and public life that entails.

Photo Credit: Dana Starbard/Hulu

When they walk back up to their respective houses, Henry brings up the flashlight signals they used to use as kids, indicating that this Molly has the same condition as Prime Molly but has managed it better, maybe even made it work for her. He also asks if she knows why his father would’ve killed himself and she mentions that he didn’t seem to speak to anyone after he left the church.

Henry heads back to the dark house and gives his partner a call. As they’re chatting (specifically about how she may be pregnant), he realizes that the breaker’s blown and heads into the basement to see if he can fix it. When the lights come back on, he freaks out to find a boy in a cage in the corner of the basement. It’s young Prime Henry.

Photo Credit: Dana Starbard/Hulu

The Castle Rock police attend and it’s a weird sort of relief to see Dennis Zalewski (as a member of the Castle Rock P.D.) alive and questioning Henry about the last time he saw his father. When Henry asks him about the boy, Zalewski says the only words out of his mouth are Henry’s name.

While Henry discusses the late Reverand Deaver’s issues with Zalewski, Prime Henry makes a break for the woods, driven by the sound of the Schisma. The police catch him and bring him back. Molly and Bridget watch from nearby.

Photo Credit: Dana Starbard/Hulu

Left alone, Henry finds a mini tape recorder of his father’s and plays it. It’s labeled “Week 1437”. Not finding any more tapes in the house, he heads to the loft of the garage (where The Kid showed Prime Henry the videos Prime Matthew made of their walks in the woods) and finds boxes filled with the mini cassettes.

Through a montage of listening, we learn that Castle Rock’s origins began in tragedy with a group of French settlers starved to death, leaving one girl to eat her family for sustenance. We hear snippets of his theories on the nature of the Schisma. We even hear the tape that he recorded the episode’s opening voiceover speech on.

Photo Credit: Dana Starbard/Hulu

Henry takes the tape player and, like Prime Henry, heads into the woods to retrace his father’s steps. Out there, he finds the burned-out remains of what looks like Odin Branch’s anechoic chamber.

He finds the tape that chronicles the appearance of Prime Henry at the back door of the house, calling Matthew “dad” and describing how he heard the Schisma. The cassette is labeled “Week 624” and Deaver’s madness is apparent as he voices his initial joy at having a son who shared the ability to hear God’s voice and then immediately decides that the boy must be the Devil. So he drugs him and cages him. For sixteen years.

Photo Credit: Dana Starbard/Hulu

Henry shares the recordings with Molly, hinting but leaving unvoiced his suspicions of the boy’s identity. Molly pulls some strings to find out where the boy is being kept. When they arrive at the facility, it’s a scene of chaos with paramedics dealing with injured and firefighters trying to extinguish a blaze. Prime Henry (aka “The Kid” in this context) has been taken to the police station under suspicion of lighting the fire.

Photo Credit: Dana Starbard/Hulu

Molly and Henry speak with The Kid who identifies himself as Henry Matthew Deaver and can’t tell them how old he is. Despite the sunglasses Molly gives him to counter the bulb glare from the lighting, he is stricken by a wave of the Schisma and she reaches out to comfort him. On contact, she sees his Prime World experiences in her mind’s eye including her own Prime self’s connection to him.

Molly goes toe to toe with the sheriff, insisting that they can’t put a boy found in a cage back into a cage for holding. She wins the fight and The Kid is released into her custody for the night until Child Services can take over. Zalewski is sent in a trailing squad car to make sure The Kid doesn’t make another run for it.

Photo Credit: Patrick Harbron/Hulu

As she’s driving through the darkness, Molly continues to see her Prime self’s experiences, including disconnecting Prime Matthew’s air tube. Glancing back at Zalewski’s vehicle, she forms a plan to lose him long enough to get The Kid to the woods.

Using a passing train as cover, she gets away and then stops the car to let The Kid out. He takes off running with Molly and Henry following. He stops in a clearing, paralyzed. From his perspective, he’s being confronted in a day-lit wood by a knife-wielding peasant girl, presumably the French girl from the settler story on Matthew’s tape.

Molly walks up and lays a hand on his should and is immediately drawn into the same reality as him. Meanwhile, Zalewski has caught up to them and is insisting Henry shut up and get on his knees while he tries to get Molly to respond to him.

Photo Credit: Hulu

In the weird Schisma world, the girl runs off and The Kid and Molly follow. Zalewski fires straight up into the air and shouts for them to stop. Molly loses The Kid and stops to look around the strange landscape but gasps as she is shot through the back, following forward and back into the real world.

Henry cradles her and screams for Zalewski to call an ambulance. Molly looks up at him and with her last breath implores that he help The Kid. Henry looks up at The Kid and is suddenly in the day-lit wood. Molly’s body has disappeared and as he looks around frantically, he sees glimpses of various times in the history of the woods.

There’s a chain-gang of convicts being hunted down by dogs, a modern-day teen cutting herself by a tree, the French girl again, and then The Kid. The sky overhead is filled with blackbirds and then suddenly he’s kneeling in deep snow, completely alone.

He wanders out of the woods to the edge of a VERY FAMILIAR bluff and watches as Sherriff Alan Pangborn finds Prime Henry Deaver out on the ice of Castle Lake in the winter os 1991.

Photo Credit: Hulu

Twenty-seven years later and the Other Henry is The Kid, standing in Molly’s childhood bedroom, watching a police car drive by and telling her his story.  A few days after he came through, Lacy found him and locked him up in Shawshank under “God’s” orders. Asking if she believes him, The Kid/Henry turns from the window, looks at Molly, and waits for her answer.

Castle Rock streams on Hulu. The first season finale drops next Wednesday, September 12th.

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