Wednesday, December 11, 2019

REVIEW: 'Castle Rock' - Annie's Fight to Save Joy From the Satanists Extends Beyond Marsten House in 'Clean'

Hulu's Castle Rock - Episode 2.10 "Clean"

The opposite of Joy.

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 season finale of Hulu's Castle Rock.

"Clean" was written by Dustin Thomason & Michael Olson and directed by Lisa Brühlmann

This season opened with a brutal and vicious death. The season also ends with a brutal and vicious death. There is poetic tragedy in that. It all centers around the visual of an ice cream scooper as well. Annie Wilkes was more than capable of using that household item as a weapon to kill the man she perceived as a threat to her family. The season that followed showcased that that action only awakened a darker horror that lurked beneath Castle Rock. Her family wasn't better off as a result of that. Annie and Joy may have survived everything that happens with the Satanists. They get out of Castle Rock and escape to Canada. However, it still tragically ends with Annie killing Joy because she no longer trusts that it's actually her daughter. The show does a chillingly effective job in making the audience question that reality as well. The first twenty minutes of this finale are devoted to Annie, Chance, Nadia and Abdi working together to blow up Marsten House and the evil that resides there. They can't allow these malevolent forces to continue to swallow up the town. Of course, they do so not really caring about this community. They are all essentially planning on running as far away from this place as soon as it's all over. That is the sensible reaction as well. Castle Rock has a history of tragic events occurring. No one should feel safe in this place. The two seasons have tried to establish a mythology that possibly explains why tragedies keep happening over and over again here. It may connect back to the Schisma, the sound frequently heard that may break down the barriers between worlds, times and dimensions. That can possibly explain how The Kid can appear in various different places and times. He may be all powerful in this world. However, the season doesn't ultimately climax around whatever he was hoping to achieve with this coven of Satanists. Instead, their plan is disrupted before Amity can be brought back to life in Joy's body. The vessel may have been pure. But the damage of this world proved to be too much for these potential purifiers to overcome. That does come across as justice in the end. Sure, it's absolutely insane that Pop's crazy scheme to inject himself with the drug that can allow him to maintain his own identity even after dying and coming back to life works. Again, that's flimsy evidence of just how deep the audience has to think in order to track the logic of this storytelling. It was just a convenient device to explain that there are consequences to this body snatching. One person's identity doesn't simply cease to exist even after death. There are still remnants of it that forever echo out. That may prove how the destiny of this coven may not be done just yet. It just means their plan that has been 400 years in the making has failed. Their bodies sink to the ground below in an epic display of violence. But again, it's not about how the town recovers or the toil this will have on its citizens. They may be able to chock this up to the latest weird thing to happen here. Instead, the narrative follows Annie and Joy as they escape. They are the primary focus during the concluding half of the finale. That's fitting because they are the most resonant and grounded characters. They have each endured a horrifying trauma. And now, Annie is forever plagued with the thought that body snatching may have actually worked and taken her daughter away. She no longer believes that the teenage girl in front of her is Joy. That is absolutely devastating. It once again leads to death by way of ice cream scoop. Sure, there are probably more efficient ways to get the drugs into Joy's system. But this way conjures up the image that started the season. That moment proved just how gruesome this journey was about to get. It continues here with Annie drowning Joy and failing to bring her back to life. Of course, there is the tease that her efforts to bring Joy back are successful. Instead, that is just the cruel way her brain has now decided to process the world. She latches onto the idea that her daughter survived and the Misery novel can be her profound laughing place. Again, the audience knows that all of this will lead to future disaster. It may prove that this season was nothing more than setting up the events of what takes place later on in the life of Annie Wilkes. The audience has to have some base line of knowledge in that regard. Otherwise, it's just cheap shoutouts that scream importance with no actually meaning. The same is true of the missing person sign for Henry Deaver seen outside the Canadian gas station. That means something. It points to a larger clue about the strange behavior of this world. Answers may not be forthcoming. However, that doesn't take away just how powerful those concluding beats are where Annie's monstrous nature clashes with her need to feel secure and comforted. That is her very essence. It was destructive and will always remain that way no matter how frequently she gets away with these various crimes. She may even save the world. That just also happens to ruin her own life and sense of happiness in the process.