Castle Rock season 2, episode 3 recap: Ties That Bind

CASTLE ROCK -- "Ties that Bind" - Episode 203 -- Annie tastes her own medicine. Vera (Tenea Intriago), Timothy (Skylan Brooks), Joy (Elsie Fisher) and Chance (Abby Corrigan), shown. (Photo by: Dana Starbard/Hulu)
CASTLE ROCK -- "Ties that Bind" - Episode 203 -- Annie tastes her own medicine. Vera (Tenea Intriago), Timothy (Skylan Brooks), Joy (Elsie Fisher) and Chance (Abby Corrigan), shown. (Photo by: Dana Starbard/Hulu) /

Episode 203 of Hulu’s Castle Rock ups the insanity dose.  Did Annie really kill Ace?  How insane is she anyway?

Previously on Castle Rock, Abdi (Barkhad Abdi) was wrongly under suspicion of killing Ace (Paul Sparks) while Annie Wilkes’ (Lizzy Caplan) lies risked catching up with her. Now, for mysterious reasons, Annie has been seeing Ace after having killed him. Annie’s daughter, Joy (Elsie Fisher), is increasingly concerned over her mother’s freakouts. Elsewhere, Abdi frees himself from Reginald “Pop” Merrill (Tim Robbins), who collapsed with a dog leash in his hand. After trapping the dog in an elevator, Abdi still decides to save Pop’s life by bringing him to a hospital.

When Pop later regains consciousness, he asks Nadia (Yusra Warsama) if he hurt her brother, Abdi. After this scene, Annie returns to the construction site where she had buried Ace, then heads back to the creepy old Marsten house. Oddly, in that house she sees Hassan (Faysal Ahmed) eat a raw egg. Previously, it seems Annie had lodged an ax in his head!

Don’t rock the boat

Castle Rock season 2, episode 2 recap: New Jerusalem. light. Related Story

More from Show Snob

Left alone without Annie, Joy is invited by Chance (Abby Corrigan) to look for Ace’s body in Castle Lake. She accepts, seemingly not caring what her mother would think. For good measure, they also mention how the lake likely contains the head of former Shawshank Warden Dale Lacy (Terry O’Quinn) — a nice nod to season 1 of Castle Rock. Out on the lake in a small boat, Vera (Tenea Intriago) asks Joy how her strict mother would respond to her daughter dropping the “F-bomb.” It’s also revealed that Chance put some pot in the brownies they had eaten.

Feeling free and wild, Joy even dives in the water to retrieve the paddle they foolishly dropped. They’re all impressed by her independent spirit. However, she mentions a weird sound down there, and it’s doubtful that Annie would like how Chance is looking at Joy (in addition to Annie likely being behind the times, she seems to consider everyone around Castle Rock/Jerusalem’s Lot to be “dirty birdies”). On that note: While her daughter’s out on the boat with her new pals, Annie’s scrambling to get better meds from Nadia, suspecting she received the wrong pills. She mentions visual hallucinations.

Ace in the hole?

When Annie and Joy meet again, Annie says “they” tried to poison her pills, then confesses that she killed Ace but has seen him repeatedly afterward. Joy injects her mother with something to incapacitate her, then ties her up (presumably so she doesn’t become violent in some manic state). While they assume Ace is dead, Ace actually shows up to visit Pops in the hospital, not long after Abdi told Nadia that Pop was spared out of respect for her. Living or dead, Ace is acting rather irresponsibly. In little time at all, Ace is drinking and driving and gets pulled over by a hostile cop (Greg Grunberg).

Back at Annie and Joy’s place, Chance texts Joy about Ace still being alive, which obviously means either Ace is a ghost or her mother was hallucinating pretty hard. Annie seems semi-aware that being restrained is part of the protocol for her hallucinations. Still, she demands to be freed. Joy reminds her that her hallucinating a murder counts as an emergency situation. Much like at the hospital with Nadia, Annie insists that her medicine is wrong. In fact, after Joy gives her some pills, Annie secretly spits them out (where they are discovered by mice on the floor. Though it appears that Annie is crazy, it’s also true that strange things happen in Castle Rock.

The strange case of Ace

Ace later meets Valerie Blount (Alison Wright). They end up on the topic of Hubie Marsten. He apparently was a “gangster” who practiced black magic, lost his mind, shot his wife and then hanged himself. Awkwardly, Ace bluntly asks her if she’s able to have children. Soon we are introduced to a gunk-covered officer Anderson, crawling out of the upstairs bathtub. Behind Valerie, Ace stands with some chains!

That’s not the end of the craziness, either. Annie imagines Ace snapping Joy’s neck at one point. Unquieted by her mother’s panic, Joy finally demands to know what Annie’s hiding. Specifically, what are they running from? Annie claims they’re running from her father, but it appears as though Annie’s answer is an improvisation. Then Nadia interrupts with a knock on their front door.

Next. 11 binge-worthy Netflix originals to end the year right. dark

While Joy sees who it is, Annie tries to cut the rope with shards of a broken water glass. She also dislocates her shoulder and is ultimately freed from her ropes. Annie instinctively cuts Joy’s arm when she returns, making Joy flee the scene. Soon Annie sees the so-called “Tall Man” (John Hoogenakker) again, who warns Annie, “You’re going to kill her.” This heavily implies that she’s a threat to Joy (which most of us could have guessed). However, we don’t yet know who this mysterious man is, or exactly what’s going on with Ace and slimy cop.

What are your thoughts on Castle Rock? Let us know in the comments!