'Castle Rock,' Episode 9: The Kid, Explained
This week’s episode of ‘Castle Rock’ pulled back the curtain on its biggest central mystery, and in the process revealed that I totally called it in my write-up last week. Mostly. Basically. Whatever, I was right. Are you ready to witness my verbal victory dance? Spoilers ahead, obviously!
OK, so: this week’s episode is titled “Henry Deaver,” which is a huge clue as to what you’re going to get. Remember how episode seven was called “The Queen” and it centered around Ruth’s POV? This is just like that, only it tells a story entirely from Henry’s POV. With a twist.
Because in this case Henry is actually The Kid, a.k.a. Bill Skarsgård. Or rather, The Kid has always been Henry. A Henry from an alternate reality where Ruth and Matthew had a child of their own, rather than adopting. And “Henry Deaver” tells the story of THAT Henry, in THAT world, and how he wound up in this one.
And the story is… very similar to what we’ve seen unfold around our Henry (André Holland), actually. The voice of God, suicide, mysteries in the woods, a kid locked in a cage — it’s all still there, in a slightly different form. In this reality, Henry is a doctor rather than a lawyer, and he’s developing an experimental cure for Alzheimer’s and dementia. His inspiration? Ruth, of course. Oh, and by the way — in this timeline, Ruth took Pangborn’s advice and left her husband Matthew with Henry in tow. Then Pangborn joined her and they lived happily ever after. In Sarasota. That fact alone makes this reality the BEST reality, for obvious reasons (specifically the whole “Ruth didn’t accidentally kill Pangborn” one).
In this reality, Matthew Deaver didn’t die in the past. Instead, he shoots himself down by the lake in the (let’s call it) present, forcing adult Henry (Skarsgård) to return to Castle Rock and deal with his father’s estate. And as Henry explores the mess that is his childhood home, he discovers a cage in the basement… and in it sits the same young Henry (Holland) that disappeared in the main timeline. Basically Matthew Deaver is filling the role that Warden Lacy filled: trying to protect the town of Castle Rock by locking up the Devil. Or… something.
Thanks to Daddy Deaver’s giant cache of audio tapes, Henry (Skarsgård) hears a whole lotta exposition on the history of the town and how it’s either been cursed or forsaken by God. But he also hears how his father found the boy in the cage, “our” Henry, and it matches what we know of Henry’s disappearance. Basically, this boy wanders up to Matthew’s house and starts calling him “Dad,” talking about how he was in the woods and he finally heard it (the God voice) and then suddenly he’s alone and the snow is gone and nobody in town recognizes him. Remember: “our” Henry disappeared in the dead of winter. It turns out, “our” Henry wasn’t kidnapped — he slipped through to another reality. And then he stayed there, never aging, for years.
That’s the secret that’s revealed through Matthew’s tapes. Getting a second chance to live with his son — and better yet, a version of his son who could hear the voice of God — is a dream come true for Matthew. But he realizes that he didn’t pray for a second chance with Henry. He wished for it. And God doesn’t answer wishes — that’s the Devil’s domain. Ergo: Henry is evil and must be locked up for the sake of the town. But much like Lacy bonded with The Kid (Skarsgård), Matthew bonds with this kid. He even teaches him how to make soap carvings (explaining why both Henrys know how to carve that same white figurine). And then presumably kills himself out of guilt, like Lacy did.
Henry Skarsgård reconnects with his childhood friend Molly (in this reality she’s a local big wig), and shares with her the tapes from his father, as well as the fact that a lot of young Henry’s story matches up with his own childhood. How could this kid, who shares his name, also know so much about him — like the way his mother told him to lie to his father about hearing the voice of God? So he and Molly decide to go to talk to the kid, and — just like in “our” reality — find all hell breaking loose around him. The hospital he was taken to is on fire, people are dead, and the cops think the kid did it (geez, everyone always blames our Henry!). Molly uses her clout to convince the sheriff to let her and Henry take the kid Henry home for the night, rather than leaving him to sleep in yet another cage at the police station.
But here’s the thing: Molly in this reality is still psychic, and when she touched kid Henry she saw the truth of his existence. She saw into that other reality from whence he came. And she knows why he is so desperate to escape back into the woods. It’s to return home.
So she evades her police escort and takes off into the woods with the two Henrys. And if you had your money on the dead Molly being one from another timeline then DING DING DING — you’ve won yourself, well, a dead Molly. Young Henry (Holland) follows the ringing in his ears and begins to peer into layers of Castle Rock’s history, witnessing the horrors we’ve heard about on Matthew’s tapes. And Molly becomes immersed in the schisma with him — to the point that she is unable to hear the police officer shouting at her to stop. He thinks he’s firing warning shots into the air, but one of them strikes Molly from behind. And when Henry (Skarsgård) holds her dying body, he too begins seeing into the other timelines. It all ends up back at the beginning, with young Henry being saved from the middle of the frozen lake by Pangborn… only this time we see Henry (Skarsgård) standing on the cliff above, witnessing it. They both slipped through to “our” reality.
Then we’re back in our Molly’s bedroom, realizing this is all the story that The Kid (Skarsgård) has been telling her. He was eventually picked up by Lacy, and placed in Shawshank, and now we’re essentially all caught up to the present. Or are we?
“You believe me, don’t you?” he asks Molly. It’s the last line of the episode, and let’s be real — that’s never a good sign. But with one episode left to go, would Castle Rock really waste an hour on an extended misdirect?
- BOOM! Nailed it! I said in last week’s write up: “I’m still stuck on the shirt from the “Missing” poster, and what the link between Henry and The Kid is. Remember how the Deavers adopted Henry because they couldn’t have a kid of their own? What if they DID have a kid of their own… and it’s “The Kid”? Who is here from another timeline?” And I was RIGHT. Just ignore allll the other speculations I gave. And the fact that I still don’t know what the significance of that shirt is. Just let me have this.
- I’m not sure if seeing an entire episode of Bill Skarsgård acting all norm-core is refreshing, or doubly creepy. Maybe both? Like, I was aroused and unsettled.
- We get some background on Matthew’s childhood, like how his mom tried to kill him as a baby (!!!) and his “resurrection” is what made him turn to God. His mom was played by a very scary-looking Mamie Gummer (Meryl Streep’s daughter), which — combined with Allison Tolman’s return as Molly’s sister — is another powerful reminder that Castle Rock has some of the best casting in the biz. Like, the show is so stocked with talent they can just waste some on incidental bit parts and chalk it up to being “atmospheric.”
- Hey! Zalewski’s back! The sympathetic Shawshank guard/informant is the unfortunate cop who shot Molly in the other reality. Poor bastard. Still, it was nice to see him again.
- Did you notice what Henry (Skarsgård) found in the woods while listening to those tapes? He comes across a derelict version of what is clearly one of those pointy soundproof booths, similar to the one that Henry (Holland) was locked inside in Odin’s RV. Odin had said he’d built it based on Matthew’s design. So, uh… was Odin from the other reality too?
- also, WHERE’S THE MISSING CULKIN?
- So where’s the show gonna go in its final hour? Will we find out if Castle Rock is really cursed? Will Skarsgård make it back to his own timeline and his maybe-pregnant wife? Will we find out why the people who hop timelines don’t seem to age? Will we get any hints on what’s ahead next season? WILL THE TOMMYKNOCKERS FINALLY ARRIVE?!
What questions do you hope the show wraps up in the finale?
Header Image Source: Hulu