Castle Rock season 1, episode 2 recap: ‘Habeas Corpus’


In the premiere of Hulu’s Castle Rock, The Kid (Bill Skarsgård) seemed to escape his cell and Henry Deaver (André Holland) awkwardly rolled into town. What happens next?

Did The Kid (Bill Skarsgård) escape and leave a trail of dead Prison Guards behind him on Castle Rock? A Guard named Zalewski (Noel Fisher) believes so, and he sounds the alarm for backup to arrive. It turns out, however, that the man’s mind was playing tricks on him…okay, let’s face it: It was The Kid himself, using some sort of mind-warping powers to make Zalewski hallucinate.

As any King fan knows, his stories often involve telepathy, hallucinations and mind powers (such as telekinesis or even pyrokinesis). The Kid obviously has such powers (and an otherworldly vibe), as well as Molly Strand (Melanie Lynskey), who seems to not be in full control of hers. In any case, there is clearly potential for a psychic showdown further down the line.

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Scattered King Lore References

As the episode progresses, the now-deceased Dale Lacy (Terry O’Quinn) tells us about Castle Rock. According to him, the doom and gloom goes by at about a mile a minute. Basically, he lays the “cursed town” sauce on pretty thick. While doing so, he mentions when they “found that boy out by the train tracks” — an obvious Stand By Me reference. We’re also briefly shown an incident where a sports mascot waves to a kid, leaps off a tall building and goes splat.

Then, while Henry Deaver (André Holland) interviews Mrs. Lacy (Frances Conroy) about her late husband, he is shown leafing through news article clippings. The articles mention things like a rabid dog (Cujo reference) and hints at the visitations of Needful Things shopkeeper Leland Gaunt. That’s an interesting development, as it may discredit speculation that The Kid is the Devil himself — although, of course, it’s plausible that the Devil could appear in many forms. Still, the question remains: Why would he be so keen on revisiting Castle Rock? What would the big attraction be?

Dale Lacy himself felt the Kid was the devil, which is why he was locked away in the prison. When
Sheriff Pangborn (Scott Glenn) meets the new Shawshank Warden (Ann Cusack) at a bar, he offers this stern warning: “[Dale] said he had always thought the devil was just a metaphor, but now he knew the devil was a boy. And he said he caught it – had locked the devil in a box.” He warns her against ever letting him out. Of course, Deaver’s actually intending to do just that, as his profession entails.

André Holland and Jane Levy in Castle Rock (2018)

In other words, Deaver’s bad reputation could easily get even worse. He’s already commonly accused of murdering his father, a Pastor in Castle Rock. That’s why Mrs. Lacy gets offended when she learns it’s Henry Deaver that she let in, and shoos him away (although, honestly, one wonders why a Prison Warden’s wife in a cursed town would be so trusting as to let someone in without better identifying them).

As another big reference, you have the character of Jackie Torrence (Jane Levy) — whose name is a bit on-the-nose in reference to Stephen King’s The Shining. She seems to function as the informal town fountain of knowledge, at least for Henry. Cordial and warmer than the most of Castle Rock’s other denizens, it’s not yet clear how linked she is personally to the town’s doomed history (and current events). \

She tells Deaver about a place called Nan’s Luncheonette, where they would host sex parties (apparently to blackmail the Governor, before the town unincorporated and Nan left). She also says what the town thinks — that he (Henry) lured his dad out to Castle Lake, pushed him off the rocks, wandered around for 11 days and pretended he couldn’t remember.

Digging Dogs and the Strange Case of the Cancerous Nazi

Scott Glenn in Castle Rock (2018)

Similarly, Henry’s mother (Sissy Spacek) has Sheriff Pangborn digging up a dead dog to make sure it’s still dead — a reference to Pet Sematary, but also an interesting tie-in with another story element. A neighborhood dog digs up dear, departed Warden Lacy’s head, hinting that things in Castle Rock rarely stay buried.

This, of course, ties in thematically with The Kid, who was himself (or itself) essentially recently dug up. One of the Guards responsible for it, Zalewski, now asks The Kid if he was out of his cell the previous night — you know, when he seemed to escape and kill a bunch of people. The kid offers no satisfactory answer but gives Zalewski a sufficient case of the willies.

Then, out of Shawshank’s infinite wisdom, they place The Kid — who has committed no known crime at this point — in a cell with a white supremacist. Sensing weakness, it seems the Nazi guy might use The Kid as a punching bag, or worse. To that, the Kid advises, “You don’t want to touch me.” Sure enough, as the episode winds down, we learn that the prisoner somehow died from cancer…well, okay, we know it was The Kid. At the same time, one could hardly fault him for using his special gifts in this case.

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Speaking of special gifts, this episode almost has Henry meet The Kid, presumably as a potential client. Henry basically has to con his way in, by boarding a prison bus in a singing prayer group. As he briefly sees The Kid in the prison yard, it ends up a mute experience. While “Habeas Corpus” means a trial must occur for one to be properly imprisoned, it seems just getting to meet The Kid will be a trial — regardless of his potential for evil.

More Molly

Last but not least, this episode hasn’t forgotten about the character Molly Strand. In addition to showing an eerie childhood connection to Henry, she is set to appear on a local TV show, appropriately called “Local Color.” However, it’s obvious that she’s brutally unprepared for the interview, and that her psychic powers are making her batty.

That wraps up this Castle Rock recap. Feel free to discuss it in the comments!