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Castle Rock - The Box - Review: "Henry Did It"

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Castle Rock 1.04 "The Box - Review:
Directed by Michael Uppendahl & Written by Scott Brown

Castle Rock feels incredibly David Lynchian so far, echoing the style of the auteur as Henry Deaver is shifted front and centre again for another solid hour of the show that deepens the mystery. The character-centric piece of Local Colour gave us more about Molly Strand than we knew before, and one of the biggest revelations of the episode might be after all, that Henry is the one responsible for killing his dad, which would take a pretty dark turn if was true and would cause us to reevaluate what we know about the protagonist. Except it's not true. Molly is the one who killed him, as we saw in that night in the Deaver home. But we only saw the murder, not the build-up, and there are so many unanswered questions you have to wonder how Castle Rock will wrap them all up.

The different tonal approaches to Henry and Molly are subtle but noticeable. Henry's path is slower than Molly's, who seems to get all the crazy stuff happening to her at this point in the show. Henry's past reveals that he was locked in a cage like that of The Kid in Shawshank, and the two share several similiar connections. But The Kid is deadly, and his very touch can turn people insane, even the well-meaning ones like Dennis, who tried to bond with Skarsgard's character only for the fistbump to come back and bite him.

One of the Stephen King-related connections this week came in the form of Vince Desjardins's brother. Vince's name may be familiar to Stephen King fans as he was a member of Ace's gang who showed up in both Stand by Me and The Body. Here Vince's brother owns a barber shop and has a cage that was built for a child, and even more unsettling, he claims that he never touched Henry. He also contains Henry's police file underneath his bed. It's downright disturbing, but that pretty much seems to be Castle Rock's motto at the moment, along with that of a slow-burn nature that it finds itself in. Because this show is slow, often moving at a snail's pace. But that's not a bad thing. The slow-burn mystery box element is really helping this show, and it makes for a nice back-to-back viewing with Sharp Objects, which although does not quite delve into the horror territory like Castle Rock does, have plenty of mysteries of its own. One thing that is clear though is that this is almost certainly a red herring, it would be disappointing if this was actually the answer to what happened to Henry. It's pretty clear that especially with this being revealed so early on, there's far more than meets the eye.

Alan's confirmation that Henry is responsible for his dad's death was not what Henry wanted to hear, and it chills him, with his father being one to write down before he died on paper that "Henry Did It", and Alan buried the case to protect him. He and Molly share a conversation with the weight of what Molly knows still hanging over her mind, and Molly is wondering if the reason why he has gotten on board with the case of The Kid so much is because it reminds him of its own, she is also holding back the truth of her involvement in his dad's death. Their conversation is interrupted by Dennis, who despite the fact that it might not being a good thing for him to be seen with Henry before the trial, Dennis has a drawing of the water tank cell and he wants to bring down the whole abusive system at Shawshank rather than just get The Kid out. He's got bigger dreams, and it's quickly becoming clear that he's slowly losing his mind, as the foreboding use of Tom Waits' Clap Hands makes very clear.

Something that's interesting to note is that Castle Rock doesn't pin down what decade it's set in. There's little use of era-relevant technology and the use of songs from a variety of years - the episode opens with Clap Hands and also features Roy Orbinson's Crying - which again, plays into the whole Lynchian comparisons.

The fist bump that signified doom for Dennis is a rather harrowing gesture of goodwill that turns sour. Returning to his post, he draws smiley faces on the surveillance screens, and you know that something major is going to happen soon, and the spark that lights the fire is Henry calling Dennis to claim that he'll advise The Kid to take the settlement. It breaks Dennis, who goes on a shooting rampage at the prison, having lost his mind well and truly by now, and it's a disturbing scene that doesn't hold anything back, ending with a shotgun that takes Dennis out of the picture.

The Box on the whole was another solid episode of Castle Rock which retains its unnerving edge that it developed in the first three episodes. It contains plenty of intriguing factors that make it a compelling drama to watch, and with six episodes left to go the mystery is only going to get deeper. I do think the show is suffering from the same problem of Runaways though in that the weekly release is hurting it, and arguably Hulu switching to dropping all of the episodes of their individual shows at once would be a better move.

What did you think of The Box? Let me know in the comments section below and be sure to check out the next episode of Castle Rock this Wednesday on Hulu.

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