Stephen King’s latest show, Castle Rock, just premiered on Hulu yesterday. Although it promises an original story, like all of King’s other works, it is connected to the library of works that have preceded it.
We thought we would take a look at the connections to other Stephen King’s works that could place the show in his vast library, and perhaps illuminate plot points down the road.
Before we even talk about anything in Castle Rock specifically, it’s worth noting that Castle Rock is the fictional town that about 90% of Stephen King’s stories take place in, or right down the road from.
The very first character met in Castle Rock episode one is Alan Pangborn. Alan Pangborn was the sheriff of Castle Rock from 1981 to 1991, and is featured prominently in Stephen King’s novels The Dark Half and Needful Things and is referenced briefly in others. Needful Things was released in 1991 (which is the date we’re given for the scene with Pangborn at the beginning of the episode) and was labeled “the last Castle Rock story.” At the climax of the story, the town is literally ripped apart by a supernatural earthquake.
Pangborn does survive at the end of the book and film based on it, and it seems that for the show, the town did, too, or at least was rebuilt later. Later Pangborn is seen living with a major character’s elderly mother, which suggests that there will be some diversion from the story established by Needful Things. At the very least, it implies that things between Pangborn and his girlfriend Polly didn’t quite work out after the close of the novel.
Shawshank prison is another Stephen King mainstay that’s clearly important to the new show. I mean–just about half the show, if not more, takes place there! Everyone knows The Shawshank Redemption (1994), based on the 1982 novella “Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption,” where a wrongly condemned man finally escapes the high-security prison. That barely scratches the surface of Shawshank’s presence in King’s works; it was first mentioned in King’s 1972 short story “The Fifth Quarter,” which can be found in Nightmares and Dreamscapes and even Joe Hill mentions it in his novel NOS4A2. Appropriate–Hill is King’s son, after all.
When the new warden is taken to Shawshank’s office for the first time, one of the guard’s mentions that you can still see a bullet hole from one of the previous wardens who also committed suicide. It seems to be a trend amongst the wardens. Samuel Norton, the warden in both “Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption” and The Shawshank Redemption kills himself in his office when he realizes that all of his under-the-table manipulation of the legal system will surely get him prosecuted to the fullest degree.
When we first meet the adult Henry Deaver, he’s acting as a lawyer for Leann Chambers, who murdered her husband Richard. Richard was a part of the gang that pursues the prepubescent boys in the novella “The Body” and its film adaptation Stand by Me. It isn’t terribly surprising to learn that his life ended the way it did–he didn’t exactly seem like he’d make an open, loving husband or father, and several other members of his gang had similarly nasty ends, besides. Like “Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption,” “The Body” can be found in Nightmares and Dreamscapes.
That’s about it for references we caught on our first viewing for Castle Rock, which just about establishes the basis for the show’s world. Of course, we’re only one episode in! Keep on checking n3rdabl3 for more curiosities and connections for other episodes of Castle Rock as they become available to stream.
Three episodes of the show are available on Hulu right now; the fourth episode will be available starting August 1.