Wednesday, September 5, 2018

REVIEW: 'Castle Rock' - The Kid Reveals the Mind-Bending Truth About His Identity in 'Henry Deaver'

Hulu's Castle Rock - Episode 1.09 "Henry Deaver"

A world beyond these walls.

Across eight episodes now, the season has revolved around the mystery of The Kid. No one knew where he came from. But it was clear that there was something supernatural and sinister going on with him. Alan knew that he hadn't aged in 27 years. Warden Lacy believed him to be the devil who was responsible for all the tragedies that occurred in Castle Rock. The audience didn't know what to believe either because of Bill Skarsgård's towering and cryptic performance. He was simply this guy who didn't say much but knew so much about the lives of the various citizens in town. He knew personal details about Ruth and Molly. And now, it's revealed that he isn't the devil or some kind of reincarnation of Matthew Deaver. Instead, he is Henry Deaver. He is the same person as who André Holland is playing. But this version of the character comes from an alternate timeline. That is the most supernatural, Stephen King twist to have occurred in this season to date. At first, the audience is completely uncertain as to what is going on with The Kid. He is now seen as a functioning person in society living a life that seems completely normal. It's only upon his return to Castle Rock that we understand that something shady is going on. It's a nice play on the expectations when it comes to alternate realities as well. When these stories happen, it typically comes from a place of one character making a choice that could radically change their lives. The alternate reality would show the consequences of the other action in that situation. But this is a completely different reality altogether. In this one, Matthew and Ruth were able to have a child. That's the big point of diversion. As such, it seems like things are certainly happier in this reality. And yet, they too are forever tormented by the horrific details of Castle Rock.

In this timeline, Ruth was also able to stand up to Matthew and leave him. She ran away to Boston where Alan would eventually join her as well. That too is a big difference for the life this Henry has known. And yes, The Kid should now constantly be referenced as Henry going forward even though that is bound to lead to confusion based on the Henry we have been seeing throughout the season so far. That Henry doesn't appear in "Henry Deaver" though. So whenever the name is mentioned, it's talking about the character played by Skarsgård who delivers a stunning performance in this hour. It has a sharp focus that really provides a lot of satisfying answers. This too is a Henry who has escaped his small town for the big city and made a life for himself. In this reality, he is a well-accomplished doctor who may have just discovered the cure for Alzheimer's. It's been a passion project for him because Ruth is still inflicted with the condition. That's a common trajectory for her life. The only difference was how happy she was before getting that diagnosis. Here, she is happier because she left Castle Rock and Matthew. It was the right decision for her family. As such, it seems like Henry has a much better relationship with Ruth and Alan. When he gets a call from them saying that he has to take care of business in Castle Rock, he is more than willing to travel there. He's distracted with thoughts about becoming a father after only trying for a month. But he's also more than willing to package up the old house after his father has killed himself out on Castle Lake. That detail is the first that should tip off the audience that something more is going on. Matthew dies here in the same location that Warden Lacy did in the premiere.

And yes, things quickly become crazy with the discovery of yet another kid locked in a cage. It's actually a young Henry from the original timeline. This is what happened to him when he disappeared in the woods all those years ago. In this reality, he is the scared and mysterious kid who was kept out of the sunlight and away from other people for 27 years. He's the individual believed to be the devil who doesn't age. Apparently, the show is suggesting that people only age in their original universe. If they somehow move to another one, then they are in a constant state of limbo. They don't get older. But the journey is plagued with much more trauma as the two Henrys will attest to. This twist also shows just how invested Henry is in getting the help he needs. He believes the other Henry knows who he is and what happened in the past. But it also seems likely that a person completely forgets about this massive adventure they've had in another reality as soon as they are restored to where they belong. When the young Henry is discovered on the ice, only 12 days have gone by. He has experienced 27 years in another timeline. Of course, he doesn't remember any of it. He doesn't recall anything about his life before that moment of discovery. Everything is wiped out. As a kid, he still has a structure to return home to. Sure, it's absolutely devastating because the entire town turns against him believing that he was responsible for killing the preacher. But he still has the support of his mother even though they never really talk about the mystery of what happened out there in the woods. There is just the natural understanding that Matthew probably forced Henry into doing something he didn't want to do. It inevitably ended in tragedy. Ruth just doesn't quite know the scope of all of this.

But the new Henry does. He discovered this kid locked in his father's basement. He finds the tapes that detail the mad rantings of a crazed individual who believes he is responsible for protecting the world from evil. In this reality, Matthew has grown up to become Warden Lacy. No, he's not the warden of Shawshank. But he's the man who hears the schisma and believes that it is giving him a purpose. He believes this child is the devil because he's trying to trick him into believing that everything he wanted from his own son was true. It just happened to come from an alternate dimension. That's too baffling for anyone to truly accept though. It's an explanation that doesn't make any sense. And yet, the adult Henry knows that the details being revealed are true. He experienced them as well. He doesn't know how to rationalize any of this. Much like the Henry we've known, he also seeks comfort in Molly. He is only in town for a few days. But he was able to make much more progress with learning who The Kid is and what needs to be done. He is guided along this journey by there being physical tapes left behind to explain everything. The other Henry hasn't had that prompting his discoveries about the life and mysteries of this town. All he had is a mysterious stranger who hasn't been saying much. Again, that highlights the ominous detail of referring to him as The Kid. In this new reality, it makes sense. The character presents as a young boy lost and traumatized. It's absolutely wrong no matter what to abduct a person and lock them into a cage. It's even more abhorrent when it's an actual kid. That's how this world sees him. He too is sent to a place where he doesn't belong or wants to be. He just wants to return home. But his journey mirrors what the audience has already seen. He burns down a building and it leads to multiple casualties. Because he's a child though, the police still allow Henry and Molly to take him home with them. They want to help him. Meanwhile, the older version of The Kid has highlighted a tendency to nonchalantly disregard the serious and depraved nature of grown white men. But even that has to pass a point of no return. The story did that and now he is on the run as a fugitive.

All of this makes Henry a much more sympathetic character. He is finally sharing his story. He is doing so to the one woman who actually made him get involved and offer his help in the first place. Molly instinctively knew that The Kid was telling the truth. When she touched his hand at the police station, she could see this entire live that was lived in another dimension. In this reality, she isn't as plague by her ability to feel the same emotions as certain individuals. She has revitalized the community as a city councilwoman. Her dreams have actually become a reality here. This town is thriving in a way that feels so strange and foreign. More opportunities have been created so that people can dream bigger than just working at Shawshank. Dennis is also a police officer here. He is the officer who is once again interacting with Henry trying to understand the mystery of this case. And yet, he just doesn't understand. He's left behind as Molly does what she instinctively knows she has to do. She has to help The Kid on his journey. She has to deliver him to the woods. That's where he is running away to. It just builds to the unfortunate tragedy of her getting shot and dying out there. Dennis is just trying to be a good and responsible officer. But he may still be untrained as well. He fires and it does hit her. It's a critical injury too. It means she dies and Henry has to help The Kid complete this journey. They are seeing this alternate reality that is at times beautiful while also completely terrifying. It's so mysterious and unknown. There is no sense to be made about this vision of the world in between worlds. It's where the Henrys are trapped though. It eventually leads to the two of them being taken to the reality that the audience has always known. Henry is found on the ice while The Kid is abducted by Warden Lacy. And now, The Kid believes he needs Henry and Molly's help to get back home. It's the pattern that worked once before. It now has the potential to do so again because the journey has just about completed the same cycle.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Henry Deaver" was written by Vinnie Wilhelm & Scott Brown and directed by Julie Anne Robinson.
  • Of course, the show continues to trick the audience into believing The Kid is Matthew Deaver brought back to life. The opening of this episode is a narration of Matthew's life story and how he believes he was resurrected when he was a baby. It's the story that led to his fierce passion in God. But it's also clear that he is delusional and that he was never really dead as a baby. His mother was simply mistaken. 
  • Again, Molly will probably be quick to just believe The Kid at his word. She has the power to see and feel things from other people. She knew to trust Henry. And now, she may be willing to trust The Kid even though he tells her a story in which she eventually ends up dead. That may be the tragic fate awaiting her at the end of this side of the story as well. She may die in service of Henry Deaver. As such, her life has always revolved around the kid across the street.
  • The Kid had nowhere to go in this new reality either. He was transported to a different timeline 27 years in the past. He couldn't just go home with the other Henry Deaver. He didn't believe Ruth would believe this crazy story. It's completely different hearing it from a grown man. So instead, he's taken by Warden Lacy whom he has never met before either. There was no counterpart in the reality that he has always known.
  • Whomever hears the schisma is bound to do some horrible things. The existence of an alternate reality probably proves that there is something to the idea of hearing instructions on what to do. It just also means that Matthew tortures his son by dragging him out into the woods while Warden Lacy just blindly abducts a total stranger. Again, there may be some divine narrative needing to be fulfilled. It's just led to many people being traumatized in the process.
  • It's curious why Mamie Gummer was cast in a role with no lines. She is a pivotal character to the story. She shows up as Matthew's mother who tried to straggle him to death when he was a baby and too fussy during the night. She failed and that completely transformed her outlook on life. But it's a story told from Matthew's perspective. As such, it seems like such a minor role to cast such a visible and known actress in. Perhaps it hints that there is more to this story and this individual.