Castle Rock – A Solid Start

Has it begun yet?

In its first three episodes, Castle Rock has crafted a gripping, tense, and thrilling mystery that provides just enough information to keep the viewer hooked. There’s a lot going on in the mysterious town of Castle Rock and you wouldn’t be blamed if you got lost, but thus far, it’s been a solid start. Fans of Stephen King will see prominent characters and places making an appearance and that should make you giddy. It is pretty exciting to see that Aaron Pangborn and Shawshank prison would be central to the story and there might be more to come in later episodes. If everything continues to trend in the right direction, Hulu could have another hit series on its hands.

The opening moments of Castle Rock help establish the mystery surrounding the town. A missing child appears in the middle of the lake and then 20 years later the retired Warden of Shawshank commits suicide at that very same lake in a brutal and shocking manner that immediately poses the question: what the hell is going on in this town? The story shifts to Shawshank prison as the new Warden arrives to review the work of her predecessor. She discovers that a section of the prison has been abandoned for decades and sends two correction officers to determine as to why. They discover a young man known as “The Kid”, played by Bill Skarsgard aka Pennywise, trapped in a cage, who after examination only utters a name, Henry Matthew Deaver.

Henry is a death-row lawyer in Houston who left Castle Rock after the mysterious death of his adopted father twenty years prior. He acts as the central character of the narrative and seems to be the most level-headed character in the series. Unsurprisingly, he wants nothing to do with his old hometown as many view him as the sole suspect in the murder of his father. His actions throughout the start of the series display a man desperate to get away as there are far too many painful memories that Henry would like to forget. You can’t really blame him either as there aren’t many likeable people in Castle Rock and he is generally viewed as an outsider. His relationship to the mysterious man found in Shawshank feels coincidental, but nothing ever is in the works of Stephen King.

Also central to the narrative is Molly Strand, a seemingly aloof real-estate agent who desperately wants to modernize the town of Castle Rock as it has fallen into dire straits. She is a layered character, who like other citizens is harboring a dark secret but what separates her is the connection she has with Henry. When that connection is revealed it’s a powerful revelation that will alter the way you view her. Molly tends to act as the comic relief because of her witty retorts and headstrong ways, so when her arc takes an eventual dark turn it can be unexpected. This is honestly what makes Castle Rock so compelling as it adds a new layer of mystery when a character is given time to develop. Molly looks like she’ll become one the best characters as the series progresses so it will be interesting to see where she goes next.

Castle Rock is anchored by strong performances from its diverse cast. Be warned, this show can be a slow burn at times and may be difficult to follow if you aren’t paying close attention, but for those that do, Castle Rock can quickly sink its teeth in you. It is a visually stunning show that represents a step forward for those shows only found online. Normally, first seasons can be rough but Castle Rock has the look and feel of a show that is in its second or third season. There will be new episodes every Wednesday and while I dont have any real issue with this method of delivery, it is confusing as to why the first three were delivered at the same time. So far however, Castle Rock has been worth the wait. Hopefully, it keeps up.


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