Wednesday, October 23, 2019

REVIEW: 'Castle Rock' - Annie Feels the Burden of Her Actions as the World Conspires Against Her in 'Ties That Bind'

Hulu's Castle Rock - Episode 2.03 "Ties That Bind"

Annie tastes her own medicine.

In 2018, there were 495 scripted shows airing amongst the linear channels and streaming services. The way people are consuming content now is so different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, there is less necessity to provide ample coverage of each specific episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site is making the move to shorter episodic reviews in order to cover as many shows as possible. With all of that being said, here are my thoughts on the next episode of Hulu's Castle Rock.

"Ties That Bind" was written by Scott Brown & Obehi Janice and directed by Anne Sewitsky

There is such a casualness in which Annie uses mental illness as a blanket statement for all of her bad behavior. She believes that she is forced into committing heinous actions because she has no control over her life. She is either afraid of what someone else is going to do to her or she believes that she is not of the right mindset to be fully in control. That's absolutely dangerous though. It means she holds herself accountable for absolutely nothing she has done in her life. She believes the only thing of value is her love for Joy. That relationship means the entire world to her. She will do whatever it takes to keep her daughter safe. Of course, Joy feels caged in because of the restrictions applied to her life by her mother. She doesn't disdain her though. She too understands just how difficult life can be for Annie. She knows that she is not of a sane mind. She needs these pills in order to be a functional person in the world. Without them, she is unhinged and needs to be sedated. Nothing she says or does can be trusted as the truth. Joy desperately wants that. It's only when Annie is fully unmedicated that she believes she can get it. It's haunting to watch Annie confess to murder here. Joy's new friends are so glib about the recent disappearance of Ace Merrill. Death is simply too common in this town. Instead of being horrified and concerned, they go out on the lake in search of body parts. That's what their lives are like in this area. None of this prevents them from exploring other interests. But again, Joy's life has been so confined. She doesn't know how to reach out to others to get the help she desperately needs. It means at 16 years old she is responsible for her mother. She is essentially taking care of her now. She is frightened by her mother's confession. She killed a man who she now claims has come back to life seeking revenge on the family. Up until this point, it's clear that she has been hallucinating. She sees it as a direct side effect of Nadia prescribing her a different medication. She is angry and lashes out over that. Nadia was an ally who could help her get what she needed. But Annie is openly hostile towards her the moment that things no longer seem that safe. Annie can never relax into a sense of comfort. She is always on the run. She can make up stories about the perceived threats and the dangers of this world. And yes, she is right to worry as a mother trying to protect her daughter. But again, that can only explain her behavior up to a point. The same applies to the way her mind processes the world. She sees it as the sole explanation. She must take these pills in order to rid herself of these brutal and increasingly vivid hallucinations. However, Ace truly is alive once more. It's surprising and unexplainable for the moment. There is something mysterious and supernatural happening at the Marsten house. It's just unclear how Annie plays into all of that. It means she confesses to a crime no one believes happened anymore. So instead, that paints a picture for Joy about her mother being in extreme duress. That is only amplified further with the shocking visual of Annie desperately cutting herself out of her confinement. Joy sees all of this as her following the plan that this family previously established for such an emergency. Joy has the clarity to understand that her mother isn't well. She still doesn't reach out to Nadia for help when given the chance though. She may run away upon witnessing the extent of Annie's horror. But again, that may not be reassuring in the grand scheme of things. Annie may have to rationalize that killing her daughter is the only way to ensure her safety forever. It's a kindness that can be offered. It just comes from the twisted and warped views of her mind. This paranoia and tension permeates throughout everything this season. This hour delves into the unhinged nature of mental health. But it's also painful to watch as mother and daughter fight in a way to regain what they once had with the tragic irony that the audience knows they have never been healthy as a family unit. The toxicity of their bond will only worsen until much more damage is done. That is thrilling and so compelling to watch though. Some of that tragedy may be inevitable and warranted. But it's so fascinating to see how much raw emotion the show has already inserted into the proceedings to make the audience go along with every shocking but grounded twist and turn.