Castle Rock season 1, episode 1 premiere recap: ‘Severance’


Hulu’s Castle Rock began with 3 slow-burning episodes of horror-entwined drama and mystery. Let’s analyze what happened in episode 1!

In 1991, an 11-year old named Henry Deaver (Caleel Harris) is being searched for by the young Officer Alan Pangborn (Jeffrey Pierce). Bizarrely, he finds a deer buried in the snow, and it reads like an omen. Then, while Gene Pitnney’s “24 Hours From Tulsa” plays from his vehicle, Pangborn spots Henry on the ice of Castle Lake. Where did he come from? Where has he been? Also, Pangborn wonders how he doesn’t have frostbite from the forty below temperature. Clearly, there is mystery afoot in Castle Rock.

Vroom-Vroom!, “Ackk!,” Splash!

Zoom ahead to 2018, where we meet Mr. and Mrs. Lacy (Terry O’Quinn and Frances Conroy, respectively). After some polite conversation, Mr. Lacy leaves his wife for what sounds like his daily routine. However, it turns out there’s nothing routine about today’s planes. Dale Lacy, the Warden at Shawshank Prison, tests the tensile strength of a noose around his neck. Then, deciding it’s sufficient for his needs, he exits his car and ties one end firmly to a tree. Satisfied, he ties the other end around his neck, ready to go. Without further ado, he drives his car off Castle Bluff, severing his head as his car (and presumably body) plummets to the waters below.

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There’s a New Warden in Town/Meeting The Kid™

Not content with a headless, motionless, rotting and speechless Warden, Shawshank hires a new one by the name of T. Porter (Ann Cusack). Almost immediately she finds her job strange. Not only is she replacing a man who killed himself, but a previous Shawshank Warden had also shot himself in her office. Surely, this comforting information for any new hire! On top of that, Porter’s surprised to learn about Block F, which was left unoccupied for 30 years.

When she demands an investigation of the ramshackled Block, some Guards find a mysterious person they’ll later call “The Kid” (Bill Skarsgård), in a cage inside a prison hole. Who is he? No one yet knows. What was he doing down there? Being creepy all by himself, of course. Putting aside questions of how he lived (did he feast on rat meats and ceiling drips?), The Kid has no fingerprints in the system. When asked about his identity, he has three words: “Henry Matthew Deaver.” That’s right, The Kid’s got Deaver fever!

Deaver the Underachiever

All these years later (and in Texas), Henry Deaver (André Holland) is a Defense Lawyer specializing in capital cases. As it turns out, he doesn’t have the highest success rate. His current client, Leanne Chambers (Phyllis Somerville), is about to die — sentenced to death for murdering her husband, Richard “Eyeball” Chambers. The two have a chat about their earliest memories. Henry says that, for him, it’s Gen Pitney’s “24 Hours From Tulsa.” She recalls a certain smell, then adds, “What I keep wondering: All the smells we smell; songs and pictures – do you lose them all? Wherever you go next, does the tape get erased? And if it does, you’re not really you anymore, are you?” Henry asks, “Is that what you’re afraid of?” She responds, “That’s what I want.”

On that cheery note, she is soon brought to the death chamber, where she’s given a lethal injection which — for some awful reason — just doesn’t take. Henry tries to get into the chamber, telling the killing crew that there are no do-overs. However, his words fall on deaf ears, and soon Leanne Chambers is successfully croaked away.

Shortly after this memorable occasion, Henry receives word that he’s wanted in Castle Rock. The Kid has spoken his name, and he heeds the call. Also, he’s fresh out of clients, so why not? The impression is that, although he’s intelligent, Henry isn’t very successful in his career.

Molly Strand’s Anxiety Pills and Ruth Deaver’s Cemetary Bills

Sissy Spacek, André Holland in Castle Rock (2018)

Upon returning to Castle Rock, Henry Deaver almost encounters Molly Strand (Melanie Lynskey). However, she avoids him and sets off to score some pills from a kid named Dean (Charlie Tahan). It’s clear instantly that Molly has anxiety issues, which are no doubt added to by getting pills from a teenager. He also refers to her as a “Milf,” although she corrects him by noting that, technically, a Milf would need to have kids (learning is fun with Castle Rock!).

Anyway, as Deaver checks out his old stomping grounds, some dude shouts “Hey, killer!” to him. A bunch of other folks look at him ominously, and not likely due to racism. Instead, they all seem to think he’s responsible for his Pastor father’s disappearance years ago. By this episode, it’s not quite clear what happened, but we do know it’s something odd. Now, as Henry meets his adoptive mother, Ruth (Sissy Spacek), it’s clear that she’s losing her memory.

Then, an older Officer Pangborn (Scott Glenn) enters the scene, saying he stays with Ruth sometimes. He tells Henry of his mother’s financial problems after his dad’s death, and how they sold the cemetery land.  This implies that either the corpses were moved or they remain under the new and improved buildings. This, of course, has some future spook potential.

Next. Castle Rock: Bill Skarsgård reveals more about The Kid. dark

The Kid Keeps it Creepy

In a flashback sequence, Warden Lacy is speaking with the kid, who was presumably newly condemned to Block F. Lacy tells him, “When they find you, ask for Henry Matthew Deaver.” Then, flashing forward, we see the same Guard who called Henry — named Zalewski (Noel Fisher) — reading a book in his station, as surveillance cameras start to act strangely. Then, every Prison Guard’s nightmare — it seems a prisoner has escaped! Who? None other than The Kid, of course! Also, judging from appearances, he may have left a trail of dead in his wake.

That’s it for this Castle Rock recap! What are your thoughts? Let us know in the comments!