Castle Rock: Season 2, Episode 1 Recap and Review

Throughout my life, I have been told that good things come to those who wait.

So, I would wait.

For Christmas.

For Halloween.

For summer vacation.

And, as an adult, I was still stuck waiting.

Sometimes, for *fun* things that I won’t even mention here, in the name of (ha!) decency.

More often than not, I was stuck waiting in even more *fun* places, like the place that is actually Hell, but with less screaming.

Or, for my favorite TV shows to return.

On the one hand, months or sometimes even years spent agonizing, coming up with fan theories, etc.

But on the other hand:  fan theories!

I have actually spent the better part of a year awaiting the return of one of my favorite shows from 2018:  Castle Rock.

As you probably know, Castle Rock is (loosely, and I mean loosely) based on the work of The Master Himself, Stephen King.

However, Castle Rock is also its own work.

It may be based on the works of the King of horror, but the show has inserted its own character and even its own mythos.

For the most part, it works.

And its fun.

Lots of fun.

Fun of the variety that we can talk about in this blog, even though some of that fun gets kind of interesting at times.

Usually interesting a good way, but I digress.

So, Castle Rock is back for a second season.

We have one of our favorite psychopaths that everyone loves to hate playing a major part in this season.

And one of the most beloved towns in the King multiverse will be featured.

You know, the one where a certain non sparkly vampire took over, and made a bunch of other non sparkly vampires, effectively creating a ghost town?

So, buckle up, partner.

We are gonna head into Castle Rock.

Or perhaps crash into it.

And, as always:


The episode begins by introducing us to a woman named Annie Wilkes.  Annie is a registered nurse, and has a daughter named Joy.

Annie is clearly  running from someone or something.  Throughout the years, she and her daughter Joy move multiple times.

Each time, Annie finds a job as a nurse.  She works at an establishment for a few weeks, and then steals the lithium from the hospital, as she is suffering from an un-diagnosed mental illness which causes Annie to suffer extreme mood swings and vivid hallucinations.

One night, Annie crashes her car just outside the town of Castle Rock, Maine.  As she is unable to get her car repaired right away, Annie and Joy are forced to settle into a long term rental cabin owned by Ace Merrill.

We also learn that Ace is at odds with his adoptive brother Abdi over real estate interests.  Abdi and his sister Nadia were adopted as teenagers by Reginald “Pop” Merrill, owner of a store called The Emporium Galorium.

Both Castle Rock and the nearby town of Jerusalem’s Lot are home to a large community of Somali immigrants.  Both Ace and Abdi are looking for a piece of that market, and Ace resorts to violent tactics to attempt to drive his adoptive brother out of town.  These tactics include firebombing the home Abdi shares with his sister.

Annie is able to obtain a job at the hospital in Castle Rock.  Nadia also works at this hospital as a physician.  We learn that Nadia has returned to Maine because Pop has been diagnosed with terminal cancer.

Annie attempts to steal lithium from the hospital.  She is caught breaking into Nadia and Abdi’s home before the firebombing.  Nadia is sympathetic to Annie, and writes her a prescription for lithium,  and Annie promises to keep quiet.

In the meantime, Joy sneaks out of the home and meets some of the other teenagers who live nearby.  She also sees Ace building his firebombs.

Joy sends one of her drawings to Chance, one of her teenage neighbors.  Chance attempts to obtain a cell phone for Joyce, as Joyce is not allowed to own a cell phone, per her mother’s rules.

When Annie returns home, she is paid a visit by Ace Merrill.  Ace tries to blackmail Annie, as he knows that she is on the run.  When Ace brings up the suggestion of keeping Joy quiet over what she has seen, Annie attacks Ace.  A fight ensues, and Annie kills Ace by shoving an ice cream scoop down his throat.

Annie drags Ace’s body to the area that Abdi is developing into a new mall, and attempts to bury the body there.  However, Annie falls into a hole with Ace’s body, and the episode ends.

My Thoughts

So, Annie Wilkes

Annie Wilkes getting waylaid.

Annie Wilkes getting waylaid in a town that has its own personality.

And just what in the hell could go wrong here?

Well, if you are Ace Merrill, plenty.

But, we will talk about that in a minute (gotta save the best for last, right?)

JJ Abrams and company have taken one of the most iconic characters in not just the Stephen King universe, but one of the most well known characters in all of fiction, and placed her into this show’s mythos.

Creative cajones, in other words.

And so far, so good.

Or maybe so far, so murderous and psychotic would be a better description.

Lizzy Caplan has some big, psychotic shoes to fill, as this was the character that helped put Kathy Bates on the map.

(In case you were wondering, I was just now years old when I found out that Castle Rock Annie Wilkes and Janis Ian were the same person.)

I know that the internet thinks that Caplan is “channeling” Kathy Bates, with mixed reviews on her performance.

However, I don’t think that there is any other way to approach playing this character, as there is only one interpretation of this character, aka Kathy Bates’ performance in a certain movie that we all love to hate.

But I don’t think that Lizzy will let the critics hobble her, right?

(See what I did there?)

I am loving all the little details we are getting about Annie in just this first episode:

She wears cute little piggy earrings.

She is on the run.

She works as a nurse.

She steals lithium.

She has a daughter that she will do anything for.  Murder is included under the “anything.”

Yes, there is someone out there who has Annie Wilkes for a mother.

The dynamic between Joy and Annie is shaping up to be an interesting one.

Joy has a mentally ill parent.  Joy is also a teenager who wants to spread her wings and explore the world.

It was okay when Joy was younger, and content to be singing Carly Simon songs while searching for the “laughing place” with her mother.

But, even in this first episode, we can see that Joy has started to question her mother, and is trying to obtain a lifeline to the outside world, aka a smart phone.

Its obvious that Annie is trying to hide something from her daughter, and has been successful.

Until now.

I can’t wait for more background info on Annie and Joy, and for their dynamic to be explored.  Hopefully, I get my wish.

And speaking of the familiar…

The Merrill family.

Actually, Family, right?  I think these guys are worthy of capitalization.

The patriarch, Reginald “Pop” Merrill appears to be a major player.

This is one character in the King Universe that has always fascinated me.

And his Emporium Gallorium.

Can we have a name for a store that is any cooler?

Pop tinkering with the Polaroid camera

If the King Universe has a crime family, the Merrill Family would be that family.

Pop is a colorful character, and it appears that the show may give us some more information on him.

We already know that the head of one of the most notorious crime families in the King Universe adopted two Somali orphans at one point.

Of course, there is friction between the adopted children and the ones related by blood.

I am also hoping to get more information on Abdi and Nadia.

In other words, I want to know just how they ended up in “America’s asshole.”

Oh, and Ace Merrill.

The douchiest of douches that ever douched in a douche canoe.

We love to hate Ace.

And Annie loves to…

Murder him.

But not just murder.

Oh no, murder in a creative way.

I will never, ever view an ice cream scoop in the same way ever again.

That wasn’t just a murder, that was art!

Hopefully, someone obliges us with memes using that images.

That kind of art er murder deserves all the memes!

And apparently, Annie tries to bury the body some place interesting.

(After all, we were given the hint last season that “dead” is only a technicality in Castle Rock.)

So, I am intrigued.

Luckily, there isn’t a lot of waiting, as the first three episodes are available on Hulu RIGHT NOW.

And I will oblige myself.

Well, that’s it for Let the River Run.

Join me next week for the recap and review of episode 2, titled New Jerusalem.

Tune in next week…

Same bat time, same bat channel!

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