TV Review: Castle Rock – Episode 5: Harvest

CASTLE ROCK
 Episode 5: Harvest

Starring: André Holland, Melanie Lynskey, Bill Skarsgård, Sissy Spacek, Scott Glenn, Jane Levy, Ann Cusack
Director: Andrew Bernstein
Writers: Lila Byock
Based on: The Works of Stephen King

Reviewed by Sidney Morgan

This review CONTAINS SPOILERS. You’ve been advised!

Last episode literally ended with a bang. Several actually. For a show that had been developing slowly, choosing to focus on character development, it was surprising, shocking and even sobering. Though we knew Dennis wasn’t well, nobody could have expected the extent of his carnage, including Henry. Then again, Dale’s warning of an impending confrontation between good and evil has been hanging over Castle Rock since episode one, so some kind of action had to take place, no? But this episode isn’t about Dennis or Henry, as we’ve already had one dedicated to his past (even though there’s still lots we don’t know about Henry). However, just like Henry, the Kid is still a mystery. Who is he? Or could it be more appropriate to ask, what is he?

Molly (Melanie Lynskey) and Henry (André Holland) helping the Kid.

After the tragedy and complete mishandling of the Kid at Shawshank, Warden Porter (Ann Cusack) is left with but one choice, and that is to release him. Remember, the Kid (Bill Skarsgård) had no criminal record whatsoever and so no reason to be incarcerated. But trying to wash the prison’s hands of its problem only brings up another one. Nobody knows who this mystery person is (at least as far as we know). He won’t tell anyone his name. So what’s he supposed to do? Where is he supposed to go? Good thing he’s got a lawyer.

Alerted of the Kid’s release, Henry (André Holland) meets him at Shawshank. He’s willing to help, but he’s also planning to leave Castle Rock. Pronto. And therein lies the problem. What can he do with the Kid? With no home to take him to, Henry brings him to a hospital to have him examined for neurological problems, also hoping they’ll admit him. But they won’t as it isn’t an in-patient facility. However, a few tests allow them to conclude he’s suffering from retrograde amnesia stemming from an emotional event. Perhaps to foreshadow events, the doctor says that his memories could come back, like a light switch, if he were to be in a familiar setting. Could this apply to Henry as well?

The Kid claims he doesn’t know who he is, yet his behaviours seem to hint strongly in one direction. During his first night as a free man, he wanders off in the dark and makes his way into a house as a young boy’s birthday is being celebrated. But as he watches, the parents begin to fight, becoming increasingly violent. With the events surrounding Dennis and now this, the link seems obvious. Is the Kid responsible? Does his proximity to people lead to this? Is he in fact that evil influence Dale spoke about? Am I the only one thinking it could all be kept ambiguous on purpose? That perhaps this is a red herring?

Dale (Terry O’Quinn) refers to the cage he built for the Kid as an ark, akin to Noah’s ark. But those on that ark were meant to be saved to repopulate the world after all evil was washed away. With that analogy in mind, isn’t it possible the Kid is not the evil in Castle Rock? Then again…

Ruth (Sissy Spacek) supporting Alan.

In Harvest, the Kid oozes ominous vibes. Why does he keep ending up on roofs? Molly’s pretty sure it’s not to contemplate suicide, and I tend to agree. Rather, it looks like the Kid is overseeing Castle Rock. But for what purpose? Is he concerned? Does he care for it and its citizens? Is he preparing for the carnage that is to come (for the harvesting of their souls perhaps?) Molly senses that something isn’t right with him. She feels the town’s violent and painful past through him. And Alan’s (Scott Glenn) confrontation with him only seems to confirm the Kid knows more than he lets on. Heck, at this point, who doesn’t? It seems like everyone’s hiding something. We’re halfway through the show, and it feels as though the boiling point has been reached. It’s time for answers Castle Rock!

The Bare Bones:

  • How much does Ruth (Sissy Spacek) know about the events happening in Castle Rock? I’d wager she’s got intimate knowledge of it. Perhaps it’s the reason she takes that dive? Is she terrified of what’s coming? And what did she mean by saying the dead won’t stay dead…
  • The doctor at the hospital offers to get The Kid a room at Juniper Hill, which features in It, The Tommyknockers, Gerald’s Game, and The Dark Half among others.
  • The background continues to mimic the mood and helps to build tension. There’s an approaching forest fire whose orange and yellow glow perfectly contrasts the greys and blacks of the town. And for good measure, the fire has also claimed a few victims.
  • Why is Henry’s ear ringing? It’s highlighted several times throughout the episode. Is it to stop him from focusing? A dormant ability similar to Molly’s? Is it an alarm bell?
  • It really felt as though the barking dog during Alan’s speech was meant as an homage to Cujo.
  • When both the Kid and Henry are tested for cognitive issues, they are given five words to recall. Is it mere coincidence that both repeated the word family last? Or is there a deeper meaning?
  • Why does the Kid never say his name? Could it be that not answering is, in fact, an answer? Is the Kid the nameless one? And is anyone else curious about what exactly he “remembers”?
  • Jackie Torrance is confirmed to be… Jack Torrance’s (The Shining) niece!
  • (** SPOILER ALERT **) The Kid was released twenty-seven years after Dale imprisoned him. Sound familiar? It should if you think of the events that took place in Derry.
Jackie Torrance (Jane Levy)

Verdict:

Castle Rock continues to impress. In an incredible layout of the story, the producers have so far been able to match and even surpass each preceding episode’s quality. Harvest was filled with brilliant moments, including Ruth’s dive, Henry, Molly and the Kid’s being together at last, and Alan’s confrontation with the Kid. In an age of binge-watching, what an incredible decision to air only one episode at a time. It gives us the time to appreciate and think about the show while building almost irresistible anticipation for the next episode!

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