Castle Rock season 2, episode 4 recap: Restore Hope

CASTLE ROCK -- "New Jerusalem" - Episode 202 -- The Merrills search for answers. Nadia (Yusra Warsama), shown. (Photo by: Dana Starbard/Hulu)
CASTLE ROCK -- "New Jerusalem" - Episode 202 -- The Merrills search for answers. Nadia (Yusra Warsama), shown. (Photo by: Dana Starbard/Hulu) /

In this episode of Hulu’s Castle Rock, Nadia learns something unsettling about Pop and Ace expands his otherworldly cult.

Previously on Castle Rock, Annie Wilkes (Lizzy Caplan) thought she had killed John ‘Ace’ Merrill (Paul Sparks), but Ace came back the very next day. Later, Annie’s daughter, Joy (Elsie Fisher), tied Annie up to give her medication (and to prevent her from becoming violent). However, Annie escaped and slashed Joy on the arm, making her flee. However, this Castle Rock episode doesn’t begin with Annie. We learn that Abdi (Barkhad Abdi) and Nadia Howlwadaag (Yusra Warsama) lost their mother in a U.S. military operation in Somalia.

That flashback sequence ends quickly, though, and we see Ace creepily following Joy in his towtruck, asking if she needs a lift. However, Joy smartly boards a nearby bus. Not only was Ace shifty before his strange rebirth, but he’s even creepier now. Joy ends up at a shelter where she is spotted by Nadia.

Meanwhile, Chance (Abby Corrigan) shows up at Annie’s to get Joy’s things. Understandably, Chance criticizes Annie for slashing Joy’s arm. Later, Annie meets up with Dr. Nadia who tells her (in so many words) that she needs mental help and fires her. Then, when Annie shows up at Nadia’s to collect Joy, Abdi tells her to leave at gunpoint.

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Chris, Ace, and Pop

Ace continues as an enigmatic presence on Castle Rock, especially with weird beetles still lingering everywhere he goes. Now we see him watching an old video of himself, seemingly to study his own behavior (indicating he’s not quite himself). Chris (Matthew Alan) shows up to confront Ace about the racism of his crew, noting that people have almost died already. Of course, Chris isn’t aware that Ace has literally died — by Annie’s hand — and that he’s not talking to the old Ace anymore.

Later, Annie witnesses Ace speaking French on the phone, mentioning Abdi’s full name. Later, Ace enters the Marsten house with 2 loyal, reborn servants (Alison Wright and Faysal Ahmed). Castle Rock hasn’t forgotten about Chris and Ace’s dad, Reginald ‘Pop’ Merrill (Tim Robbins).  He is now speaking to a Priest (Aaron Staton), confessing something bad he did to a woman. We also learn that Pop is holding a wake for himself.

The lockbox and the hidden papers

Chance visits Joy at Abdi and Nadia’s to give her Annie’s secretive lockbox. After fidgeting to figure out the secret combination, Joy unlocks it to find a gun inside and a disc. After hiding the gun, Joy uses a laptop to look at the disc. She opens the file to reveal a story called “The Ravening Angel,” suggesting that Annie Wilkes is trying to be a writer. Meanwhile, a literally and figuratively scarred Annie is at home binge-eating ice cream and donuts while watching The Wizard of Oz.

Annie’s not the only Castle Rock character with dark secrets. After learning her adoptive father can receive an experimental treatment for his cancer, Nadia enters Pops’ “Emporium Galorium” to find some necessary paperwork for him. After finding out a dark truth about Pop, she actually gets attacked by two of Ace’s crew named Billy (Chad Knorr) and Lance (Owen Burke). She uses a gun kept under a table to escape.

The wake

At Pop’s wake, a few things happen. Ace tells Pop that he won’t make trouble with Abdi anymore, which would be reassuring if Ace could be trusted. Also, Pop’s speech gets a little somber toward the end. In rapid succession, a number of people get killed, too. Timothy (Skylan Brooks) gets hit by a speeding vehicle, some lady kills some guy, and the cop (Greg Grunberg) who previously arrested Ace now kills an unknown blonde woman.

Meanwhile, unaware of these events, Chris talks to Acem saying he doesn’t believe Ace’s newfound peaceful disposition. Oddly, Ace proceeds with a vague history lesson about New Jerusalem, then stabs Chris in the gut. Chris doesn’t die instantly, however. He smashes Ace’s face numerous times against the hardwood floor, then makes it the aforementioned Priest, urging him to call an ambulance. Unfortunately, the Priest is one of Ace’s new “converts” who kills Chris instead. Ouch!

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Unaware of all of this hullabaloo, Pop tells Nadia that he’s done getting treatment. However, she confronts him about his classified military mission in Mogadishu, which resulted in him shooting her and Abdi’s mother to death. Nadia leaves angrily, suggesting she may never wish to speak to him again. While we don’t fully understand Pop’s past by this episode, it’s clear that it has some twisted aspects.

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