In the wake of the success of It, the announcement of a Pet Sematary remake, and a general rekindled interest in Stephen King’s works, Hulu hopped on the train with its show Castle Rock. The show is based on the vast library of King’s works, and our weekly “Curiosities and Connections” article takes a look at the references to King’s other works in each episode, which may give us hints as to what we can expect–and what the answers to some mysteries may be–in future episodes of Castle Rock.
This week we saw events from several episodes through the eyes of main character Henry Deaver’s mother, Ruthie, who suffers from Alzheimer’s. This was a particularly creative episode, shed at least a dim light on some mysteries, shown in a way that a person suffering from the disease might struggle with the world.
Although this is a take on how the disease works, not just a take on how it works in the King universe, it was a major piece of Dolores Claiborne. Dolores’ employer from her teenage years until her elderly years is rich Vera Donovan, who slips into Alzheimer’s as she ages. She has good days, she has bad days, she has villainous days. And as she slips away, she begins revealing things by accident, though what she reveals is easier to catch on a second read. I was fully expecting a revelation along the lines of Vera’s big revelation–Dolores wasn’t the only one that had had enough of a family member.
Speaking of Dolores Claiborne, the turning point of the book happens during a solar eclipse. For a few episodes I’ve noticed the half-covered sun in the opening of the show, but I kept on thinking it was a reference to “The Sun Dog,” a story about an evil dog trapped in a Polaroid camera, and then thinking I must be misreading it. Although there are a lot of connections to Needful Things in the show, and “The Sun Dog” is its prologue, so to speak, it seems out of place. But what if the picture was an imaginative way of showing the sun behind the moon, with its flames still sputtering behind it? That seems much more likely to me.
I hadn’t caught it the first time around, but this time I noticed that the mental asylum Bill Skarsgård’s character was dropped off at is called Juniper Hill. The bully who was driven insane after seeing It’s true form resided there, as well as Joubert from Gerald’s Game, and Alan Pangborn’s girlfriend from Needful Things that appears to have been written out of the show’s canon also had a friend who stayed there temporarily. The asylum is mentioned in a slew of other King novels and short stories.
Henry’s son shows his grandmother a mobile AR horror game. You fight demons and the undead that seem to appear in your home, and Ruthie seems to be good at it, helping him kill a spidery creature in her bedroom. It’s true form is described as a spider-like beast, and a vampire that feeds on emotions named Dandelo also appears along the way at the end of The Dark Tower series. Before his death he reveals himself to be a spiderlike monster as well, though he appeared perfectly human before then. One fan theory is that Dandelo hatched from one of It’s eggs.
Another spider-beast from The Dark Tower is (kind of) main character Roland’s son, Mordred. Like It and Dandelo, he can transform from boy to spider at will. A gruesome, vicious character, he is eventually done in by his kind-of dad after bringing down Walter O’Dim–one of Randall Flagg’s personas or avatars. This episode changed perception of Skarsgård’s character (a little bit), but I’m not letting go of my Flagg theory just yet. Maybe Ruthie does manage to destroy him successfully later on.
Last episode, there was a lot of talk about the “voice of God” being heard out in the woods. Henry said he heard it as a kid, Ruthie’s memory shows that she told him to say so to placate his father who thought he had heard it. What could have really been going on? He was suffering from a brain tumor, which can cause auditory, visual, and olfactory misperceptions. Again, it isn’t exactly a Stephen King reference, just a simple stated set of scientific fact.
However, in The Dark Half, the main character does have split personality disorder, sort of, and sometimes these periods are marked by hearing or seeing what seems to be a flock of sparrows. In the beginning of the main character’s life, he had a tumor removed from his brain that had minute, partially-formed human parts like an eye and nostril inside. The sensation of sparrows doesn’t leave with the tumor removal, though, as the absorbed twin in utero stays a part of his brother, somehow, somewhere in there. (By the way, the crimes in this book are investigated by Alan Pangborn!)
Though a tumor could be the cause of father Deaver’s auditory proof of God, a previous episode tells us that Henry’s MRI scans came back normal and it could just be tinnitus. It doesn’t seem like just tinnitus, but no one else who claims that they have heard the noise (other than Henry) seems totally right in the head. Could Henry have convinced himself that he really heard the noise after his mother’s suggestion? I don’t have any thoughts on this yet, but episode six had Henry getting locked into a strange chamber that blocks out all noise but the “voice,” and this episode had Molly Strand panicking over him, so we’ll probably find out next week what the deal with this is.
That’s all we have for this week’s episode of Castle Rock; check back next week for our “Curiosities and Connections” article for episode eight, which will be out on Hulu August 29! And if you want the scoop on previous Castle Rock episodes, check out our hub page for the series to check our other “Curiosities and Connections” articles. And if you think you noticed something that we missed, please let us know in the comments below.