As Castle Rock begins to wind down for this season, things have only gotten crazier in Stephen King’s most famous town. The connections to his other works haven’t stopped, either–as we do every week, we’ll be taking a close look at those potential connections in the latest episode, “Past Perfect.”
To start, we get to see that Molly Strand is actually good at her job. A few episodes ago, we saw her trying to sell a house that had seen quite its fair share of murders. It seemed like she was flubbing, but she did sell it after all, to a couple that was actually interested in the house’s bloody past.
Part of Strand’s pitch was that Castle Rock was the “murder capital of 1991.” Needful Things, the book in which Castle Rock was decimated, came out in 1991. In it, a shopkeep offers visitors their heart’s desire, in exchange for a simple task, like throwing mud on clean sheets out on the line. These tasks light up undercurrents in the town, however, and quite a few murders come out of the seemingly minuscule actions.
The shopkeep is a middle-aged-to-older man, Leland Gaunt, who behaves like a human but has a very strange aura and is unpleasant to the touch. His existence is never really explained (the best there is is a sort of hokey reference to HP Lovecraft’s mythos in the book’s endgame) but he had been causing this kind of chaos since the middle ages, never aging, never needing to change up his pitches too much. I don’t buy that our mysterious, chaos-causing inmate is Gaunt, because his mere existence seems to spark chaos, whereas Gaunt needed tools to achieve chaos. I can believe they’re related entities, however.
Anyways, the couple buys the house and turns it into a bed and breakfast. The idea is that all of the murders which have taken place will be modeled in some way with mannequins. The real hotel that inspired the Overlook Hotel, the Stanley Hotel, has owned its connection to The Shining and holds themed balls and other related events before Halloween. It isn’t exactly the same thing, but…
Jackie Torrance wanders into the bed and breakfast right away. She brings up the insane asylum and a few other connections we’ve discussed before. She also shows off her knowledge of axes. Of course, we know her uncle is Jack Torrance, who attempted to do his family in the 1980 film adaptation of The Shining with an ax (in the book and nineties miniseries, he uses a roque mallet). She emulates him, so it’s not totally surprising that she may have internalized a lot of knowledge about axes in the process.
Also a bit funny is that she notes the difference between a fire ax and other types of axes. Why? Jack Nicholson had actually been a volunteer fireman, which meant filming the now-famous door-breaking scene was a pain for everybody on set. It was only a prop door, so thanks to Nicholson’s specific door-breaking training, it crumpled like it was nothing take after take after take.
There’s something about this house that, like the Overlook Hotel, brings out the worst in people. Whereas the Overlook seemed to be its own living entity that could cajole and convince to get what it wanted, the house just pulls those animal instincts right out, no rhetoric required. There is sort of a reason why that could be so in the episode.
Jacki’s animal instincts are appealed to, and she takes up the ax. Aw, the evil entity that played her uncle like a violin would be so proud. Mrs. Torrance would be dead by this point in the King canon, but Danny must have woken up after torment from bad dreams that night.
That’s it from us for this week’s “Curiosities and Connections” article, check in next week after episode nine hits Hulu on September 5! Check out our hub page for our previous “Curiosities and Connections” articles in case if you have missed any, and as always, if you think you noticed something we missed, let us know in the comments below.