This was quite the week.
Filled with a bit of confusion.
Lots of drama.
Kept us glued to our screens.
The entertainment was non-stop.
Geez, did you think I was talking about some horror story or something?
Each week, Castle Rock keeps on setting the bar higher and higher.
And we got this episode.
Honestly, if this is the peak for the show and the rest of the episodes are just really, really good as opposed to the make you wanna slap your mama bad ass that is this week’s episode, I won’t complain.
But, I find myself getting blown away every week. Somehow, I don’t think that is going to change.
So, buckle in and join me in the recap and review of this week’s wild ride, titled The Queen.
And, as always:
The episode begins with Ruth hiding in the storage shed with a loaded gun, presumably hiding from The Kid. There is then a shift in time, and we go back to the day when Alan bought Ruth her chess set. We also go back to the day when the stray dog Ruth had been feeding was hit by a car.
There are then more shifts in time, which include the day Henry returned home, a trip to the doctor with Alan, Ruth reading to Henry as a child and Alan teaching Ruth magic tricks. Ruth places chess pieces in each of these memories. Each time she touches a chess piece, she returns to the present.
Ruth then remembers her marriage to Reverend Deaver and more of Henry’s childhood. It is revealed that Reverend Deaver was afflicted with a brain tumor, and his behavior was erratic and even abusive towards his wife and son. It is revealed that the reverend killed Henry’s dog by poisoning it. Ruth remembers a picnic that she took with her husband and son in the woods, where Reverend Deaver reveals that he had attempted suicide, but was unsuccessful because he believes that he heard the voice of God.
The episode flashes back to the present. Ruth is talking to Wendell, her grandson. Wendell shows Ruth a video game that he plays, and tells Ruth that she is a “Time Walker,” someone who can stop the chaos if she kills her enemy.
The Kid then shows up at the house. He puts on an old record, and tells Ruth that this is the song that played at her wedding. The Kid then dances with Ruth to the song. The Kid also tells Ruth the combo of the safe in the attic that supposedly contains her gun. Ruth offers to make The Kid something to eat and sends Wendell away.
Ruth then travels back to the past. In this memory, she speaks to Alan about her husband’s erratic behavior, and her fear for her and Henry’s safety. Alan tells Ruth to pack a bag, and that he will take Ruth and Henry out of town, to anywhere in the country that she wants to go.
In the present, The Kid tries to give a Ruth a sedative, but she palms it. The Kid then goes upstairs to draw a bath for Ruth.
Ruth returns to the past, where she is packing a suitcase. She packs her gun and bullets in that suitcase. However, she does not leave and choose to stay with her husband. She buries the suitcase and bullets in the backyard.
Ruth remembers where the gun is located and digs up the suitcase. She finds the the bullets and runs back to the house.
At the house, the door opens. Ruth panics and shoots, thinking that she is shooting at The Kid. However, it is revealed that she shot Alan instead. Ruth collapses on Alan’s chest.
There is another flashback to the past. In this memory, Alan has returned to Castle Rock, because of his love for Ruth. Ruth utters two words to Alan: Don’t go.
Ruth Deaver became unstuck in time…
And a “Ermagerd”, “ERMAHAGERD” thrown in for good measure!
And you thought that there was a lot to unpack last week!
Time to lay that suitcase on the bed (or in the backyard) and start unpacking!
First of all, Sissy Spacek.
I have have loved her, but this episode made me fall head over heels for her.
Now, this episode really only moved the series ahead maybe fives minutes (time wise).
And that worked.
The reason why it worked was, in a large part, due to Sissy Spacek’s performance.
The internet is abuzz with the words “Emmy nomination,” and for good reason.
The Kid, Alan, Wendell, Henry and quite a few others were characters in this episode.
However, they were almost cameos, meaning that this episode “belonged” to Ruth. Sissy Space had to put the show on her back and carry it, even if she only carried it forward a few minutes in Castle Rock Time.
In the hands of a lesser actress, this could have been a disaster.
Luckily, we had Sissy Spacek. So we were in good hands.
Spacek was able to evoke sympathy for Ruth and her (maybe, maybe not) dementia, and overall difficult life (being married to a nut job is not easy, trust me) but never made the character pitiful. Not in the slightest.
I also love that Ruth’s character and the mental illness suffered by her character is not used as the reason why such horrific things are happening in Castle Rock. Lesser horror movies often use this trope, but this is Castle Rock, after all.
The mental illness is a part of the story line, but it seems to be more of a product of all the horrible things happening on the show, as opposed to the other way around.
In fact, as far as the Stephen King multi-verse goes, Ruth is one of the most bad ass women in it. If Spacek does receive an Emmy for this episode, it is well deserved, and you will hear no complaint for me.
Let’s take a few minutes to talk about the visual elements of this episode as well, before we get to *that* part (we all know what I am referring to.)
We are not certain if Ruth is actually suffering from dementia or not. Myself, I believe that she is, but that there is a supernatural cause for her illness, i.e. living in a town that may be located in the Stephen King universe’s version of a Hellmouth.
Dementia is a tricky thing to portray onscreen.
On the hand, you want to show how devastating it is. But on the other hand, it can be risky, as the portrayal can come off as comedic, as opposed to serious.
Somehow, the writers and producers succeeded in this portrayal.
I still think that there are supernatural elements to Ruth’s illness, but this episode can be interpreted as either dementia with supernatural tie-ins, or just plain dementia. And that is the genius behind this episode.
I loved the metaphor of the chess board and chess pieces.
The chess pieces were scattered throughout the episode. Each time Ruth touches one, she becomes grounded again.
Her memories are a hologram, but the chess pieces are real. She can touch the chess pieces, and the hologram disappears.
In fact, the entire episode could be seen as a game of chess between her and The Kid, who she believes to be reincarnation of her crazy, abusive husband.
(I would also like to say thank you for confirming what I have believed to be true for the past few episodes: Reverend Deaver is crazier than a shit house rat. He abused his son. And killed a dog. Therefore, unplugging him was a public service to the rest of humanity: one less abuser walking the planet.)
She believed she was moving her pieces on the board, advancing them forward. And waiting for her opponent, so that she can pounce on him.
After all, what is the ultimate goal of chess?
Check and mate.
And what needs to happen for checkmate?
The white knight needs to fall, leaving the queen vulnerable…
Actually, ouch is what you say when you stab your toe on furniture.
What happened in this episode is closer to having your heart ripped from your chest, and having it stomped on while your heart is still beating.
I keep having to pinch myself and tell myself that no, this is not a bad dream.
We have lost one of our Stephen King legends.
Alan Pangborn was Castle Rock’s gunslinger.
He was a true white knight. One of the protectors that the King multi-verse so desperately needs.
Alan Pangborn was a good man.
This was a man who fought the devil and won.
It is clear that something happened to Alan, as he seemed to be a hard, cynical man at the start of this show.
But no matter what else happened, his love for Ruth was something real.
He came back to Castle Rock because of her.
He was investigating gun shots, ostensibly.
Due to the nature of space and time in Castle Rock, I believe that Alan heard gunshots from the future, and those gunshots were the ones that would kill him.
Think about that for a minute.
Ruth had to shoot her lover in order to give him an excuse to return to Castle Rock, and give her what were likely the best years of her life.
Those two words at the end: Don’t go.
So we stay in the past, with Ruth.
Because we don’t want to go.
We can’t go.
Well, that’s it for The Queen.
Tune in next week for the recap and review of episode 8, titled Past Perfect.
Tune in next week…
Same bat time, same bat channel!