Sometimes, you take that relaxing drive through the country.
Everything is going as planned and you drive along, enjoying the scenery.
But then, you take that left turn.
And you are no longer enjoying the scenery, per se.
You are no longer enjoying the scenery because it is not an idyllic countryside.
You happen upon a car accident, which you still look at, because it’s a car wreck, so your eyes are drawn to it.
But the tone of the drive has changed, due to that car accident.
It is still entertaining, but more in the way of your eyes stayed glued to the scene, as opposed watching the scenery go by.
This hypothetical car accident is a perfect analogy of what has happened to the show Castle Rock.
The first three episodes had the viewer on cruise, more or less.
Even though the show is creepy and mysterious (after all, it is part of the Stephen King universe), the viewer was somewhat comfortable and thought that he/she knew what to expect.
However, the fourth episode, titled The Box, changed all of that.
The show had its hypothetical (and really bloody and even tragic) car accident.
And now, we have to watch. We can’t look away.
And I love it.
So join me in the recap and review of The Box.
And, as always:
The episode begins with Zalewski, who appears to be under tremendous pressure due to the wrong doings occurring at Shawshank State Prison. A warden also visits The Kid, in an attempt to intimidate the mysterious prisoner. However, The Kid begins to quote The Book of Revelations to the warden, and the warden retreats, appearing to be intimidated by The Kid.
Henry has a drink at The Mellow Tiger with Molly. They are interrupted by Zalewski, who tries to talk Henry into bringing Shawshank State Prison down. Henry gently reminds the guard that this case needs to be about The Kid and nothing else, and that he cannot assist Zalewski any further. Zalewski makes comments in regards to how evil the town of Castle Rock is, and that bad things happen because the bad people are protected.
Henry returns to his mother’s house. He takes a ride with Alan so that he can move his father’s remains. Alan and Henry argue, as Henry wishes to move his mother to Texas when he returns the next week. Alan disagrees with this decision, stating that Ruth will want to remain in Castle Rock, as it is her home. Henry asks Alan about his disappearance in 1991 as he wants information in regards to the case, but Alan is not forthcoming with any details. Henry also accuses Alan of having an affair with Ruth back then.
When Henry greets his mother, he again tries to ask her about his disappearance. However, Ruth declines to discuss it, and instead changes the subject to the fact that Henry discussed putting her in a nursing home with Alan. Ruth is angered, because she wishes to remain in Castle Rock until she passes away.
Molly is showing Warden Lacy’s house to a couple who is considering moving to Castle Rock. However, an urn containing Warden Lacy’s ashes is discovered, and Molly is forced to explain that the house once belonged to someone who committed suicide.
At the prison, Zalewski visits with The Kid, offering words of encouragement. He fist bumps The Kid at the end of the conversation, and it is clear that The Kid’s touch has affected Zalewski in some way.
Henry researched his disappearance at the library, browsing through newspaper clippings via the microfiche. He finds out that a man named Desjardins was a possible suspect, and decides to pay a visit to the man.
When Henry visits Desjardins, he discovers a cage that appears to have housed someone or something. Desjardins denies any involvement with Henry’s disappearance, even though he has kept newspaper clippings in regards to the incident.
Henry confronts Alan in regards to Desjardins, asking Alan why he did not investigate the suspicious man. Alan then reveals a deathbed confession from Henry’s father: Henry’s father accused Henry of causing his injury and subsequent death from the injuries.
This information causes Henry to flee his mother’s house, as he is devastated by the revelation that he may have caused his own father’s death. He seeks comfort with Molly, who reassures him that it was not his fault, as he was just a child.
Henry makes the decision to leave Castle Rock the next day. He leaves a message for Zalewski, telling him that he will have The Kid take the prison’s offer of a settlement without a fight, as he plans to leave town the next day.
Zalewski is upset on receipt of Henry’s message. The guard snaps, and goes on a workplace killing spree, shooting several prisoners and fellow employees. It culminates with Zalewski confronting Henry (who has arrived to speak to The Kid), but Zalewski is subdued with a grenade thrown in his direction, and then another guard shoots Zalewski, mortally wounding him.
This show has taken an interesting turn, to say the least.
Just when you think you may have it figured out, things take a hard left turn.
And we can also make the argument that that very little, if any, supernatural elements were involved in this episode.
Nope, for the most part, we were treated to good old human horrors this week.
As anyone who has been reading this blog probably knows by now…
Stephen King real life blah blah blah blah man’s inhumanity to man blah blah blah human horrors blah blah blah…
Well, you get the point.
And the writers of Castle Rock have given us many things that we can relate to.
First of all, there is the horror that is known as for profit prisons.
For profit prisons are not just horrors in a story set in the Stephen King universe but not actually written by Stephen King.
No, for profit prisons are real life horrors. It can be argued that they are modern slavery.
The abuses that innocent people have experienced at the hands of for profit prisons are worse than the horrors of any piece of fiction, let anyone a piece of fiction set in the Stephen King universe.
Although Shawshank State Prison is fictional, at its heart it is no different than the thousands of for profit prisons that populate this country. Sometimes these prisons are actually a major source of employment for a particular area, which is frightening to think of.
Being employed by one of those prisons…
Well, I think I would rather be trapped in a haunted hotel in a Stephen King story. Or be trapped in a Ford Pinto by a rabid Saint Bernard.
I am sure being employed by one of those for profit prisons changes a person. And not necessarily for the better.
And it is obvious that working at Shawshank State Prison has taken its toll on Zalewski (more about him in a minute.)
I think this is something that we see from the first episode, now that I think about it.
I know that hindsight is 20-20, but looking back, it is fairly obvious that Zalewski is someone who has had his limits tested, and likely long before the events even in the first episode.
Zalewski even comments that if there was a Wal Mart within 60 miles, he would not be working at the prison.
I have made countless trips to Wal Mart and have fantasized about going into a Carrie-like, telekinetic rage on most of those trips, so the fact that Wal Mart is more desirable of an employer than a state prison is telling.
If Zalewski was showing cracks in the previous episodes, those cracks turn into crumbles and outright disintegration in this episode. Finally, the structure is outright destroyed, with tragic results.
Now, I know that The Kid touched Zalewski. But is that why he snapped?
I don’t actually know the answer to that question. And that is actually fascinating.
On the one hand, we know that The Kid is capable of seriously hurting or even killing someone. His neighborly Nazi cell mate was an example of this. The Kid also showed him “footage” of inmates and guards being shot, which may have also planted the idea in his mind.
But on the other hand, we know that Zalewski is fragile, to say the least. And this is understandable, given the fact that he is forced to work in undesirable circumstances. There is also the added stress of a baby on the way.
He begins to draw smiley faces on the camera.
No, those weren’t frightening at all…
Then the message from Henry sends Zalewski over the edge.
And what happens next is not supernatural: a mass shooting, which is another thing that is all too common in this country.
Of course, we didn’t see it in real time.
No, JJ Abrams and co. were nice enough to show it to us via the same security cameras that showed us the same events in the first episode, making it that much more surreal. The Roy Orbison song playing in the background was also a nice touch.
I also have a funny feeling that what we saw in the first episode and the events in this episode will become important later in the season.
Speaking of surreal, how about that conversation that Ruth and Henry have while Ruth is gutting fish?
That has to be the weirdest, most uncomfortable scene I have seen in awhile. And I love it.
Then there was the visit to the Desjardin house.
Anyone else need a shower after that one, or was that just me?
And again, nothing supernatural there.
Just a creepy potential pedophile…
And his…spare body parts, that he saved as a souvenir of his brother committing insurance fraud?
And Henry’s missing posters? How many people in Castle Rock have kept tabs on the poor man?
Speaking of which…
What is up with Henry?
So far, I love the ambiguity.
Did he murder his father? Is he innocent? Or is it more complicated?
I know that I won’t find out from Andre Holland’s facial expressions. It seems like Henry is as baffled as we are.
So, on to the next episode, where maybe we can peel away some more layers of the onion that is the show Castle Rock.
Well, that’s it for The Box.
Join me next week for the recap and review of episode 5, titled Harvest.
Tune in next week…
Same bat time, same bat channel!