Editor’s note: Spoilers ahead. If you haven’t watched this episode of the series, which is available on Hulu, and don’t want to know what happens, go watch it before reading this.
There a line from Stephen King’s Dark Tower series that’s an appropriate descriptor of what happens on the penultimate episode of “Castle Rock”: “There are other worlds than these.”
After eight episodes with The Kid, as played with unnerving aplomb by Bill Skarsgard, we finally get some of the answers we’ve been looking for — who is he and what happened to him?
As it turns out, when he asked for Henry Deaver while still locked in Shawshank Prison on the first episode of the show, he wasn’t actually asking for him: he was saying he was, in fact, Henry Deaver. An alternate universe Henry, in fact, from a Castle Rock with far, far better fortunes for every inhabitant.
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The story unfolds throughout the episode, presumably as The Kid tells Molly his story.
Bizarro Henry, as we’ll call him, is a successful young doctor from the “good” Castle Rock. He’s a handsome, cheerful, optimistic Alzheimer’s researcher, inspired by his mother Ruth’s years of suffering from the disease. He’s developed a neural implant that he believes can stop the progression of the dementia, he’s trying to have a baby with his wife, and he’s got a pretty swank apartment in Boston, where he’s lived since Ruth left the abusive Matthew Deaver decades ago.
But Bizarro Henry’s life is disrupted when he gets a call from Alan Pangborn, with whom Ruth has been living all these years. It seems Matthew Deaver — who never left Castle Rock, in this timeline — has finally committed suicide, after years of apparently being the town weirdo.
Bizarro Henry heads up to Maine to attend to his father’s affairs. At the Deaver homestead, he discovers his dad wasn’t just crazy — he was dangerous. In the basement, he discovers another kid locked up in a cage: the 11-year-old Henry from the show’s timeline. The one who went missing in 1991, who grew up to be the Henry Deaver we’ve gotten to know over the past eight episodes. That Henry.
Both Henrys, Andre Holland and Bill Skarsgard, seem doomed to have fathers obsessed with the schisma, the voice of God, the music of the spheres. Whatever terrifying sound it is that’s coming from the woods. That’s largely where the similarities end, however.
Shaken by what he’s discovered, Bizarro Henry starts sorting through his father’s boxes and boxes of cassettes, on which he’s recorded hours and hours of notes on the alternate universe the kid in the cage came from. That alternate universe is the universe of the show thus far. Following me? OK.
Anyway, Bizarro Henry enlists the help of Molly Strand — in this timeline, she’s the town’s de facto mayor, a grounded, empathetic pillar of the community. Together, they take the kid in the cage under their wings, so to speak, asking him questions and later taking him in after the kid sets fire to a hospital, just like old timeline kid in the cage did. Zalewski, the Shawshank guard who was gunned down on episode four, makes an appearance too, as a detective in this timeline.
Driving that night with the kid, they are both overcome with the urge to let the kid out into the woods, chasing him until he stops, transfixed by something in the sky. When Molly touches him, she sees what he sees, a universe of Stephen King horrors: a young woman with a bloody knife, prisoners chased by dogs, an undulating sky ripped open to reveal other worlds. Not a pretty picture.
Zalewski has chased them out there, and accidentally shoots Molly, who — in the bizarro timeline — falls down dead. Bizarro Henry, however, is transported into the show’s timeline (the one where Andre Holland is Henry). He runs through some suddenly snowy woods, up to the cliff overlooking Castle Lake (the place where Warden Lacy killed himself) where he sees Alan Pangborn rescuing the missing 11-year-old Henry, as shown on the first episode.
Does this mean that The Kid (Bizarro Henry) is trapped in the wrong universe, doomed to never age and to cause chaos and misery wherever he goes? Is he just telling Molly what she wants to hear, where she’s the hero of the story, living a fulfilled life? Is he deserving of sympathy, or is he trying to fool her? How are they going to wrap this up on the next episode, the season’s last?
While Bizarro Henry is looking through his father’s barn, we see a stack of Moxie cans. Classic Maine shoutout, y’all. For an even more insider reference, there’s also a bag of Little Lad’s Popcorn. Well done, “Castle Rock” set decorators.
The wrong universe that Bizarro Henry/The Kid finds himself in, and the chaos and violence he attracts or causes, brings to mind other Stephen King scenarios in which similar things happen. I’m thinking specifically of the timeline in “11/22/63,” in which Jake Epping stops the Kennedy assassination, leading to, essentially, the apocalypse. I’m also thinking of towns like Lud and Calla Bryn Sturgis in the Dark Tower series.
When Bizarro Henry arrives in the Bizarro Castle Rock, we see a sign for “Claiborne Creamery.” This, of course, is most likely a reference to the one and only Dolores Claiborne, the protagonist of the book of the same name, set in another fictional Maine place, Little Tall Island. We also see a sign for “Sheldon’s Stationary,” which, I mean, come on. Paul Sheldon in “Misery”? Duh.
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