Was Castle Rock… good?
Perhaps you watched through the show. Perhaps you read through our recaps. But after all was said and done, did you stop to ask yourself, “was this show good?”
In short – not really. In long – I don’t know, I still kind of like it but am confused by said like?
Ok, let’s break this down into manageable pieces, pros and cons, if you will.
Bill “Pennywise/Devil/the Kid” Skarsgård. To be upfront, I definitely did not see It. I can’t do monster clowns. But what I do know is that Bill Skarsgård is my favorite Skarsgård. I’ve loved him since Netflix’s somewhat disastrous Hemlock Grove. And his role in Castle Rock gave me much of what I loved about him in said Grove, with a little more empathy towards him on my part. I want to save this darling maybe monster baby who’s been trapped in a hole by the guy from Lost.
Henry “the First” Deaver. From DJ Jazzles to Lawyer, André Holland has got range. Although his story line (and the Kid’s, for that matter) is one of the negatives (I’ll get to that below), he still pulls out one of the best performances in a show full of best performances. His commitment to saving the unsaveable sets him up for failure in a world where the Devil may walk among us.
Melanie Lynskey, simply for being Melanie Lynskey. I think the first thing I ever saw her in was Sweet Home Alabama, and I quote her to this day. (“This one’s still on the t*t, so I can cart him anywhere!”) I also love her in that one episode of Psych. Basically, she’s a darling and really shines in the show.
Shawshank Prison. Once the show leaves the prison, it loses a lot of the intrigue, suspense, and horror. There’s nothing quite as terrible as a system that is perhaps more cruel and corrupt than the “devil” buried beneath it. And in that same vein, Noel Fisher gives the most compelling performance of the show, and provides one of the only moments where I audibly gasped when I realized what was happening.
The plot. Following up on the last positive point, the entire plot line sort of… fizzles out. What starts as a compelling suspense-drama-horror-thriller quickly becomes a whole lot more confusing. Not to mention Lost again, but it feels a little like that. As a viewer you want it to mean something. But I just don’t think it does. There is literally the shortest climax of a television show ever, and an odd bit of falling action.
Jane Levy as a side note character. She is seriously underutilized the entire show. She had great moments, but nothing that really mattered to the plot or the show as a whole. If they do move on to the Overwatch Hotel, she better be a central figure in it, and have a heck of a lot more “axe-to-the-head” moments.
Snatching from the Twilight Zone, without improving upon it. For the first two episodes of the show, I was convinced that it was a retelling of the 41st episode of The Twilight Zone “The Howling Man.” (Someone condensed it to 2-minutes, if you haven’t seen it.) In it, David Ellington happens upon an Abbey with monks who have trapped a man. They are only doing the work of God, however, keeping the Devil trapped as he is.
Sound familiar? The thing is, Castle Rock had several episodes focused on this idea; I was convinced this was a retelling of that story, until they seemed to drop it completely, bring in parallel worlds, the Schism. Perhaps we were all wrong and the Kid isn’t evil, but simply a Henry Deaver from another world. Or is he? That doubt permeates both shows, Warden Lacy in one, and David Ellington in another, and their words echo one another.
But isn’t it possible you’ve made a mistake? — What he didn’t tell me, is how full of doubt I would be.
“The Howling Man” ends how it begins, someone opening the door for the devil, only to spend their life trying to recapture him and serve as his jailer. Like Henry Deaver, who now watches over the Kid; “the jailer cared for them and washed their wounds.”
Basically, instead of one, nice, cohesive story line that made audiences go “ah-ha!”, audiences were left confused. Writing theories. Looking for the bigger picture. At the end of it all, there probably is not bigger picture. Just a poor man’s version of the Twilight Zone.
Maybe now you’re asking yourself: am I an idiot for kind of liking the show even though it has a lot of problems? Answer: Probably not? Because you can like what you like. I certainly enjoyed enough of it. I’m just not sure it was worth the payoff.
But no matter what, you best believe I’ll watch a second season anyway. It just better have Idris Elba in it.