Every town-based series is going to have its share of colorful characters. Gotta have the eccentric elderly. Need a few rapscallion youths. Maybe a crotchety shop-keep or a nosy neighbor or three.
In the short time we’ve known her, Molly Strand has been an obvious lady of the looney variety. She buysÂ her drugs off of the teenage dealers. She purports to have an over-empathic brain. She spent her youth obsessing over Henry Deaver and now spends some allotted time obsessing over her souvenirs of his disappearance.
This is a troubled woman.
And now we find out just how her troubles affected her as a child.
In a flashback to a night in the winter of 1991 when Henry had yet to be found but his father had been brought home from the lake with a broken back, we see her walk over from her house in her nightgown and barefoot. She lets herself in with the spare key, puts on one of Henry’s hooded jackets (which we’ve already seen in her box of souvenirs), and walks into the Deavers’ bedroom where Ruth is asleep in the bed and Matthew (Adam Rothenberg, Dietland) is lying in traction on a respirator.
Stopping to stare for a moment, Young Molly reaches down and detaches the respirator tube. The machine loses pressure and Matthew wakes up as he begins to suffocate. She watches until he loses consciousness and then leaves.
It’s no wonder she has nightmares of bandaged people judging her in a snow-filled church ruled over by an undead Rev. Deaver (who, interestingly enough, never invokes “God” in his condemnation of her, only “my Lord”).
Her alarm wakes her and sheÂ quickly heads down to the kitchen for her breakfast pill. It seems with Henry’s return to town, she’s burning through her supply pretty quickly.
Henry notices her real estate ad in the newspaper while having breakfast (?) at the Mellow Tiger Bar. He looks thoughtful.
At her office, Molly is putting the finishing touches on her miniature town center, complete with gazebo (for “peaceful contemplation”), and explaining Phase One of her revitalization plan to Jackie, her intern/executive assistant, who has to transport the display to the local television station where Molly will be discussing her plan on the human interest focussed program,”Local Color,” the next day.
Despite Jackie’s assertion that the only thing people in Castle Rock contemplate is suicide, Molly is gung-ho with her plan and desperate that the display be delivered safely to Charlene, the “Local Color” producer.
Having seen Jackie off with pleading to avoid potholes and reduce speed, Molly starts cleaning up but stops with a slightly pained expression on her face. A moment later, Henry walks in the door.
Pretending not to recognize him, Molly manages to keep it together until he starts explaining his current situation which clashes with his other thoughts Molly keeps hearing and she responds inappropriatelyÂ when there’s a pause in his speech.
When he asks for her help in listing and selling his mother’s house, Molly insists that she’s too busy to take on another client. Henry is skeptical but leaves, feeling like he’s offended her in some way.
Molly flashes back to seeing Young Henry burning an old VHS tape, angry with his father for some reason. Young Molly invites him up to her room. He expresses frustration with his father and she informs him that she experiences everything he does, including his masturbation and when he’s out in the woods.
Rev. Deaver starts calling for him in a threatening tone and Molly’s fist clenches just as Henry’s does.
Coming back to the present, Molly quickly administers another pill.
In Shawshank, The Kid pushes away all the food on his tray except for plain white bread. Officers Boyd and Zalewski stand nearby discussing the sudden “bonus” they were given in exchange for their silence about The Kid. When The Kid suddenly gets up, Zalewski intercepts him and convinces him to sit back down. Turning around to see what The Kid is fixated on, he sees a portrait of Warden Lacy up on the wall.
Zalewski meets with Henry on a country road to give him updates on The Kid (whom the other guards have named “Nick” for a dreadful pun) and expresses an interest in pursuing law training once all this Shawshank stuff is done. Henry isn’t encouraging but doesn’t shoot his dreams down either.
Molly returns home to find her door open and the house ransacked. Jackie comes over to help clean up but Molly is vague about what could’ve been taken. She rushes downstairs and finds her Henry box upturned as well. She quickly packs the bits back in but Jackie notices the missing child poster of Henry and starts asking questions. Molly scoots her out the door so she can practice for the interview.
When her flashbacks start to overwhelm her, she realizes that she’s out of pills. Thus begins a madcap descent down a rabbit-hole. Her usual dealer (Charlie Tahan, Gotham) is out of supply but he directs her to “Derek” at the motor court.
It’s dark when she gets to the motor court and she finds a tent full of small masked children reenacting a murder trial with some pretty grisly and detailed testimony. When she asks where their parents are, she’s told their mothers are out drinking and their fathers are in Shawshank.
Honestly, you’d think she was still on drugs with how she gets engulfed by the children’s courtroom drama. As she is declared guilty, she is remanded to the “death house” and escorted by the judge who turns out to be Derek (Russell Posner, The Mist). He brings out the oxy pills and demands she flash him. She negotiates for a cash-only transaction but then the police show up.
It’s the super-power of small towns that you can’t help run into people. Henry is at the police station going over the list of contents of Warden Lacy’s car with the on-duty sergeant when he overhears that Molly’s in holding, demanding a separate cell because of a catfight with her cellmate.
He gets her sprung but she tries to disengage again. When he expresses disbelief, she explains her empathic condition to him and likens it to an earworm that drives every other thought out of her head. It’s a pretty adorable metaphor despite her obvious distress.
When she mentions that she was supposed to be on “Local Color” that morning, Henry springs into action and gets her to the studio in time. Unfortunately, his proximity overwhelms her and when she has the chance to discuss her revitalization plan, she instead spews out all the facts about The Kid at Shawshank that she telepathically overheard from Henry.
Henry is stunned but not much more than Warden Porter who sees the entire thing while standing in the Mellow Tiger.
Molly drops him off at his mother’s house where he immediately receives a call from Shawshank. Arriving to a very different reception from Warden Porter, he is also presented with a settlement agreement from the prison, offering The Kid a maximum payout of $300,000. Henry drops the contract back on her desk and goes to meet with his client.
Henry’s advice to The Kid is to remain nameless so that the prison cannot prove he is being held lawfully for any sort of crime. No name, no record.
In the exchange, it’s clear they are having two different conversations. The Kid asks three questions of Henry: “Has it begun?” “How many years old are you?” and “Do you hear it now?”
Henry reacts to the last because it’s part of a memory he’s been having since returning to Castle Rock. In it, he’s in the woods with his father and his father keeps asking him,”Do you hear it now?”
Molly just can’tÂ catch a break. She finally gets home and finds that it has been trashed AGAIN. Standing in the kitchen, she hears noises overhead and taking the biggest knife she has out of her drawer, she heads upstairs. (Because calling the cops and getting the hell out of there wasn’t obvious enough.)
Creeping around the upstairs where all the light bulbs have been smashed, she clears every room and starts back to the top of the stairs. In an excellent moment of jump scare, a tall bandaged figure suddenly appears at the far end of the hallway.
She turns around and it’s her nightmare Rev. Deaver figure (although the face is completely covered). She panics and tries to barricade herself in the bathroom but her bathmat jams under the door making it impossible to close. She screams but then realizes that the hallway is empty.
Castle Rock streams on Hulu starting July 25.
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