Welcome back to our weekly “Curiosities and Connections” article for Hulu’s Castle Rock series. The Hulu serial is based on Stephen King’s expansive body of work, and each week we take a look at the references it makes to that huge library in an effort to catch hints as to where it lies in the canon and what might be lying in wait for the viewer in future episodes.
When Ruthie comes back home from the hospital, she inspects a hand-carved chess set that her boyfriend, Alan Pangborn, bought for her when her mind first started to go. She picks up a bishop, possibly reminded of her late husband, a preacher. But before that, she picks up what appears to be a king. A sly reference to Stephen King or even the Crimson King, the penultimate piece of Roland Deschain’s quest in the Dark Tower series? She explains why she scatters the pieces later in the episode, but it’s worth noting what she picked first, I think.
Ruthie seems to be slipping through memories when she looks out the window and sees Bill Skarsgård’s character staring back at her. She mumbles that she “thought we buried him in that cellar.” Cellar might mean the “box” they tossed Skarsgård’s character in, meaning she knew about everything that went on with him.
Of course, her husband, who is also the main character, Henry Deaver’s, adoptive father, has also been dead for some time at this point. Knowing it’s a King work, it’s tempting to assign it a double meaning since spousal murder does occur in Dolores Claiborne, Gerald’s Game, and the novella 1922. In Gerald’s Game it’s mostly accidental, but in 1922 and Dolores Claiborne, spouses are knocked off with clear intent and bodies are hidden at the bottom of cellars and secretly buried. It’s not quite the same thing, but I wouldn’t write off a possible double-meaning quite yet.
Alan Pangborn visits a car junkyard in search of a specific Lincoln during this episode. I don’t know much about cars, but I bet there are a few Buicks, station wagons, and maybe even a crushed-up cube that used to be quite snazzy in the yard.
Henry Deaver also talks about hearing an unusual noise as a kid when he was out in the woods with his adoptive father. Later some theories are brought up–that it’s the voice of God, that it’s a seismic thing… I immediately thought of the Wendigo in Pet Sematary. I don’t believe this happens in the film, but in the book when Louis first goes with his neighbor Jud to bury his cat in the supernatural cemetery deep in the woods, he hears a horrible, inhuman noise and Jud informs him that it’s a loon. It’s definitely not a loon. Each time Louis returns, the noises and supernatural occurrences only increase, as he keeps on telling himself that it’s just a loon, it’s just a loon.
The fact that the “music of the spheres” can be heard clearly at all in these particular woods seems to reflect that same idea of a spot that has unusual psychic energy focused there. In Pet Sematary, it was both sacred and feared land to the Micmac tribe, and is unquestionably a place of evil power. The woods in Castle Rock have a more optimistic touch to them, being that people believe it’s the divine–the good divine–they’re hearing, but in this show, we’ve already seen people do some awful things for what they believed was God’s will. Besides, there were plenty of fools who thought the powers of the Sematary were positive and things didn’t end up so well for anybody involved.
One theory presented for the noise was that it was all “possible pasts and presents” existing alongside each other as the universe tries “to reconcile that.” Essentially: the multiverses are rubbing shoulders. This recurs again and again in The Dark Tower, as different worlds brush with one another and retain fragments of each, and the main cast hops through various forms of Earth.
In the first book of The Dark Tower series, a child named Jake is sacrificed for the sake of Roland’s quest. In the second book, we see him alive, even as he is plagued by visions of his doom and the visceral feeling of his own death. Roland remembers both sacrificing the child and never meeting him. The explanation is that Roland created a paradox that saved Jake’s life when he was fumbling around in another secondary character’s past, and eventually outside circumstances assuage and reconcile their paradoxical memories.
Finally, Skarsgård’s character closes the episode out with creepy talk of building a monument, a hand clotted with blood and quite a mess in the Deaver household. He wants to “build a monument to everyone who put me in there.” His language overall seems to echo the biblical talk he had to endure while locked up, and again, twisting around biblical language is something the most monstrous of King villains do really well. My money is still on Randall Flagg for this one.
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 seven, after it is released on Hulu August 22! If you missed our previous “Curiosities and Connections” articles, you can head to our hub page for the series to check them out. And if you think you noticed something that we missed, please let us know in the comments below.