The last episode in Castle Rock‘s first season just premiered, and just like we have for the past two months, we’re taking a look at the references and connections it had to other works in Stephen King’s vast library. We got answers to some big questions in this final episode, but some choice dialogue and other points seem to point to what season two may be about. Keep in mind that because we’re discussing a finale episode, spoilers are unavoidable!
One of our first references is to the old mainstay of Shawshank. It’s described as having been open 100 years, which pretty much lines up with the existing King canon.
One of the quickest ways to get into Shawshank is to kill somebody. We learn that Henry Deaver’s father had found out about Ruth and Alan and was content with her getting her just reward in hell–heavily implying he would be the one to prematurely send her there. In King’s novella 1922 from Full Dark, No Stars, a father conspiratorially involves his son in the murder of his wife and mother of said son. Henry, the son in the novella, allows himself to get wrapped in it. Henry Deaver makes a departure from his father’s plans.
It was revealed several episodes ago that the chess piece Ruth wasn’t a king, but a queen piece. In the Shawshank office, the frazzled director picks up what could be a queen piece, if one from a different set than Ruth’s. This has been seen in the secret Shawshank cell, and has not received any other further explanations yet. In the Stephen King/Peter Straub book The Talisman, a boy goes on a quest through other worlds to try and save his mother, whose “twin” in the alternate universe is a dying queen. Although Ruth seems healthy other than her Alzheimer’s, that can be a marker for the beginning of the end…
Whenever I watch The Shining (1980), the scene where Danny (Danny Lloyd) walks backwards through his footprints to escape his father (Jack Nicholson) always confuses me. I understand that he’s covering his tracks, but he never backs into his father, and I never quite get why his father wouldn’t question why Danny’s forward-travelling prints suddenly stop. Obviously, I’m the moron, because it clearly works. It’s revealed in a flashback that a young Deaver pulled the same trick to escape his father in the woods. I’m batting zero, here. (It’s worth mentioning that Deaver’s father shouts, “I don’t want to hurt you,” as he lurches through the snow, as well.)
Bill Skarsgård’s character still doesn’t have a name, but at the climactic moment we get some idea of who he really is–or at least, what he really looks like. This is by no means unique to King’s style, but Pennywise and Dandelo from The Dark Tower both have similar reveals before they meet their end, no matter how temporary it may end up being.
There is a year jump ahead after the climactic moment mentioned above, and Deaver parrots a sermon we heard from his father in an earlier episode, slightly customizing it. Deaver says, “Maybe [people from Castle Rock] do forget [about Castle Rock] for a while. Some never leave, no matter how hard they try.” We see how the movement has manifested in the unseen year. Deaver, for example, has stayed in town, and his son has either joined him permanently or visits for the holidays. Others have moved on.
In It, we have the situation of the Losers’ Club. We’re with them when they’re children, and later as adults. Some are so desperate to stay away from the town they opt for suicide, but there is also one member who doesn’t leave, acting as almost a guard. Deaver’s monologue fits them perfectly–and in fitting them perfectly, he fits himself into their mold. He stays as a kind of guard for something in the town, specifically, something that’s back in the now-abandoned Shawshank. And it looks like his son will also have the opportunity to take up or reject (or do both) the mantle.
He also says that when people blame their fates on the town, or the town’s perceived evilness, that’s a story too. A hint at other intertwining stories we may see? I’m still hoping for some kind of origin explanation.
There’s a not-quite-post-credits sequence that shows Jackie Torrance typing in The Mellow Tiger about the murder she committed. It’s called “Overlooked” and she tells a man that she’s heading out west to do research. It’s a reference to the Overlook hotel. Although the hotel survives in the 1980 film, in the book the hotel is destroyed because the furnaces were not cared for properly and the boilers burst. Basically, it explodes a little then burns a lot. As of Misery (1987), the Overlook was still in ruins.
This all feels like a little more than just a wink at the audience, but it would be strange to diverge from Castle Rock when the show is named for the town. Still, if it does get its time, it would be a great lead-in to Doctor Sleep (due in 2020), and it would be interesting to see if the more famous film gets another nod and the hotel is still standing, or King’s preferences are uphold and only dilapidated ruins are left.
That’s all we have for this week’s episode of Castle Rock, and it’s all we will have until season 2 premiers, the date of which has not yet been announced. 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.