After last week’s Annie Backstory-palooza, Castle Rock regained its forward momentum this week as it began barreling into the back half of the season. For awhile now it’s felt like there were two distinct plots afoot — “Misery” and “‘Salem’s Lot,” basically — but now we’re finally starting to see the threads that will unite Annie Wilkes to the mysterious plague possessing the town. A plague that we might finally be getting some answers to… But first, HI RITA!
Or should I say, Bye Rita? Because wow, was that quick. On the heels of Joy’s surprise phone call, Rita hops on a bus to track her mysterious caller, only to discover her long lost baby girl — and lay waste to all the careful lies Annie has spent 16 years constructing around her sister/daughter. It’s a heartbreaking episode for all three women, as Annie faces losing her reason for being, Rita finds her daughter isn’t as ready to accept her as she’d hoped, and Joy tries to wrap her head around a reality where the woman who has cared for her all her life is both far more broken than she’d imagined, and also still the only mother she’s ever known. For a moment it seems like Joy is going to accept Chance’s offer to leave town and run away from both women (which would have been perfect timing, considering what else is going on in Castle Rock during all of this…), but then she reads a letter from Annie that she promises is “The truth — all of it.”
So what is Annie’s ultimate truth? That no matter what happens, she’ll always be Joy’s “#1 fan.”
Unfortunately, when Joy goes to see Annie again, she finds the cabin empty… because a distraught Rita is currently marching Annie through the woods at gunpoint. Joy arrives just in time to stop Rita from executing Annie, using another one of Annie’s emergency tranq syringes to dose her — but as the drugs take effect Rita loses her grip on the pistol, dropping it. The gun goes off as it hits the ground… and the bullet hits Rita in the gut, exactly where Annie had stabbed her with those scissors all those years before. Annie’s nurse training kicks in and she tries to save Rita’s life, but it doesn’t appear to have worked — and when the cops arrive, Annie immediately confesses to the crime in order to protect Joy.
So it seems like next week Annie will finally be in police custody, preparing to face the consequences of her past — which is a problem, because it’s not her past that’s about to catch up with her. It’s Castle Rock’s. Remember the end of last week’s episode, when Ace sat down at the Mellow Tiger next to Annie? Turns out they had a lovely night drinking together and laughing about her crazy ice cream scoop murder dream (note: IT WAS NOT A DREAM) before Ace escorted her drunk ass back to her cabin and tucked her in. Why didn’t he seize that perfect opportunity to convert her into one of his monsters, you might be wondering? Well, he’s got bigger plans for her. What we learn this week is that the things that have taken over the dead townspeople are… well, more dead townspeople. OLDER dead townspeople. Specifically, the dead townspeople that were buried in that crypt. Call them witches or Satanists, but whatever they are, they’re the original settlers of the area — and one of them is more special than the rest. Her name is Amity Lambert, and Ace (who is possessed by “Pere Augustin”) calls her his love, and his prophet.
“Soon you will rise,” Ace tells her coffin. “In a vessel worthy of your spirit. And her name is… Annie.” Ace is planning a ritual to raise Amity in four day’s time — which will mark the 400th anniversary of, well, probably whatever killed them in the first place. What’s important is that this is all going down exactly as Amity foretold way back when — and Ace didn’t choose Annie as the vessel himself. Instead, he claims that “She chose us” — probably because she’s the one that dropped his body into the crypt and kickstarted this whole mess in the first place.
Meanwhile, Ace has set up a whole conversion operation, killing residents and sticking them in the coffins in the crypt so they can become “vessels” for the other settlers through a process called “weaving.” When one woman escapes partway through the weaving, however, Ace learns of a weakness in the process: Apparently antidepressants can cause interference in the possession, and slow the weaving. It’s not clear if other drugs would have a similar impact, though I have a feeling this detail may have some bearing on how Annie will fare as a vessel, given her dependence on antipsychotics.
I’m also not clear if Nadia has been converted yet, as the last time I saw her she was sipping wine with Chris — who is now possessed by someone named “Bertram.”
— Gee, it’s a good thing Greg Grunberg’s possessed cop is still hanging around, because I’m pretty sure Ace’ll need him to spring Annie free from the police station in the near future!
— I think we’ve pretty much moved past the idea that this infestation has anything to do with vampires at this point, but I’m also not sold on this being straight witchcraft. For one thing, we haven’t seen any spells — we just see bodies being taken over by creepy goop. Sadly, there’s a lot of creepy goop in Stephen King’s books, from the fungus in “Dreamcatcher” to the demonic Tak’s incorporeal possession in “Desperation”, not to mention the fact that this still could be an entirely original threat. So… I’m still not clear on what’s going on.
— You know what does give me pause? That drugs-as-inhibitor thing, because it reminds me an awful lot of my favorite crackpot Castle Rock theory: THAT THIS WILL ALL TURN OUT TO BE “THE TOMMYKNOCKERS” AFTER ALL! In “The Tommyknockers” the protagonist, Gard, is mostly immune to the transformative effects of the alien gas permeating the town thanks to a steel plate in his head. No, it doesn’t make a lick of sense. “Antidepressants” would have been a much cleaner narrative solution.
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