Last week I said that things have started to wind down with Castle Rock as we approach the end of the first season. That was a silly thing for me to have said. This week, the dial was turned up to 11 as we witnessed what may or may not have been an alternate universe or alternate history version of the story we’ve seen thus far. Welcome to this week’s “Curiosities and Connections” article, where we take a look at each episode of Castle Rock for connections with other works in the Stephen King library.
The basic alternative in the universe is the switching of Bill Skarsgård’s character, still nameless but named Henry Deaver in this episode, and the person who we’ve known as Henry Deaver all along. For the sake of clarity, we’ll still be referring to each in the same manner, as Skarsgård’s character and Henry Deaver. And be warned: this article has some spoilers for the episode in it.
This isn’t the first time a King work has dealt with alternate universes. The Dark Tower series confirms a canonical multiverse present in Stephen King’s work, having characters travel to a midwest that was destroyed in a nuclear war, a character walking into another universe that overlaps with his own, and even shows an alternate version of Bangor, Maine, where Stephen King himself appears to assist his character, among many other events. Technically, this canonical multiverse even justifies The Dark Tower film adaptation, and that’s just me pointing it out: please don’t shoot the messenger!
This reminded me less of The Dark Tower, though, than it did The Regulators. This is the mirror novel to Stephen King’s book Desperation, and it was the last book he published under his Richard Bachman pseudonym. Both of the books have mostly the same cast of characters, but in different roles: Collie, the first villain in the book Desperation (that would be Ron Perlman, if you actually saw that mess of a movie) goes out as a hero in The Regulators, for example, and the evil entity Tak returns, though his character is slightly different and he appears less powerful than in Desperation.
The locale is also pretty similar, with Desperation taking place in Nevada and The Regulators taking place in an Ohio that has been molded into a recreation of wild west shows like Gunsmoke and movies like The Searchers (some have pseudonyms, but it’s pretty easy to guess what is what), thanks to the interests of the main character, Seth, who is partially possessed by Tak.
I got the same vibe: similar locale, similar problems, and characters the same but different. Skarsgård’s character is a respected man studying breakthrough cures for Alzheimer’s, because his mother in this universe is Ruth Deaver, and she still has the disease. She lives with Alan Pangborn, but they have moved out of state. Molly seems a bit more adjusted and still has the connection she had with Henry Deaver, but Skarsgård’s character seems calmer about it. Henry Deaver took his place in the prison cell and when let out, commits acts of arson and other things that we’ve seen Skarsgård’s character do over the course of the past eight episodes. Interestingly, he comes out of the cell as a young boy who hasn’t aged, just as Skarsgård’s character supposedly didn’t age while imprisoned.
Skarsgård’s character also finds a box of audiotapes of his father in this universe–Ruth’s deceased husband. He says he met the young Henry Deaver and questioned him, finding that Deaver knew about his habits and daily routine, despite the fact that in this universe, he wasn’t his son.
Weirdly, though, this episode ends in the universe we’ve seen in all the past eight episodes. This gives me the sinking suspicion that this episode was just padding–but I’d like to think that this will become something overarching, perhaps a clash of worlds. It might even be a hint at the direction the show is heading towards–why Castle Rock seems to be cursed and why other versions of Castle Rock are just as cursed.
While in the alternate universe, Molly Strand and Henry Deaver see a vision of a harried-looking eighteenth-century woman holding a knife. This also gave me a distinct feeling that we were heading towards some sort of explanation for why Castle Rock is a magnet for evil and tragedy. I suspect that this woman as key, though admittedly I can’t think of an already-existing King story to link her to.
Other than these speculations, there were a handful of small connections. Again, we had the presence of sparrows when someone had a vision. When Molly touches Henry Deaver’s hand, she has a flash of split-second scenes and images, which seems to reinforce the idea that she has the shining. And finally, in the background of a quick moment, we see “Claiborne’s Creamery”–obviously named for Dolores Claiborne, of the King book and film of the same name.
That’s all for this week’s “Curiosities and Connections” article, check in again next week after episode ten hits Hulu on September 12! Check out our hub page for previous articles in the series in case you missed any, and as always, if you think you noticed something we missed, let us know in the comments below.