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Castle Rock - Romans - Review: "What Do You Believe?"

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Castle Rock 1.10 "Romans"
Directed by Nicole Kassell & Written by Dustin Thomason & Mark Lafferty

Stephen King's endings have always been a bit hit and miss so it makes sense, that Romans is not going to work for everyone, this being a Stephen King inspired storyline and all. It ultimately comes down to two theories, do you believe that the other Henry was lying, thus rendering the entire penultimate episode essentially pointless, or do you believe that he was telling the truth? It's a difficult call to make and one that the show leaves up for grabs. What's made it worse is that we likely won't get much in the way of further answers due to the fact it's an anthology series, so presumably the next season will follow a completely different storyline with different characters.

But for now, the loop is closed. There's no way back for Henry II and he's locked in the cage in Shawshank again. It's a devastating end especially when you consider how close he came, but after Henry saw Henry II clearly influence the prisoners trapped in the police station with them to create a distraction so they could both escape, it was clear that Henry was never going to help him. He'd always been more reluctant to believe him than Molly, who jumped on the train pretty much from the word go. Henry II seemed to know more about her, but it's not hard to imagine that he did some research and played into Molly's insecurities, telling her how much more respected she was back in that world. There was just one problem, even if Henry believed him, every time they went out to the woods someone ended up dead, and he was reluctant to go back in case it happened again.

One of the most disappointing things about Romans and Season 1 as a whole was that Jane Levy was never utilised as much as she deserved given her acting calibre. Her character almost felt like an after-thought at times, made notable largely thanks to her eccentric, morbid personality and her surname. But what's left hanging is the potential that should the show wish to stick with the same characters in a different storyline could be to focus it on Jackie's investigations into what happened to her Uncle at the Overlook Hotel. It's unlikely, but it would be a way to capitalise on arguably one of the most famous King adaptions - The Shining - and also benefit from the upcoming movie Doctor Sleep, based on the sequel to King's novel. One thing that this show is never short of is raw potential, and for the most part the season for me has to go down as a success.

Yes, there are flaws. It's not a perfect season. Its answers don't always stick the landing, but when there are highs, there are real highs. The Queen remains the best episode of the year for me full stop. It's a masterclass in television and acting power from Spacek, who gets another chance to shine in the finale as Ruth is talked out of jumping off a bridge by Molly. Molly is the person who like Ruth, has powers, and understands sort of what she's going through as an outsider.

The conclusion as a whole is fitting. It closes the loop on the storyline by putting Henry in essentially, the same position as the previous Warden of Shawshank, Lacy, who had The Kid locked up at the beginning of the show. The Kid tells Henry after he brings him a Christmas present in the epilogue that Warden Lacy was in the same position as him, and you only have to look as to see where he ended up. I wonder if Season 2 will explore the ramifications of Henry's decisions from a different perspective, even if Henry doesn't directly feature himself. The constant back and forth between the innocence of The Kid created plenty of questions and kept the audience guessing - is he innocent, is he guilty? right up to the end. Yes, you could argue why the show would develop an entire episode to his story if he was guilty, but then, alternatively, he seems a bit too keen to get Molly to believe him, and is playing right into what she wants to hear.

I did like the resolution for the characters though, summed up rather briefly, as we caught up to what happened to them next which is always welcome, even if it's only for a few minutes. Molly moved to become a real estate agent in Florida Keys, a bit more successful than in Castle Rock, which is something that she deserves. Henry couldn't bring himself to move away, living as a lawyer in the town in his old family home where he earns a visit from his son, and Ruth passed away in February to be buried with Alan.

And at the end, it ultimately depends on what story, what theory you believe in. For a show built in mysteries, it seems fitting that this show should end on a suitably ambiguous note.

What did you think of Romans and the series as a whole? Let me know in the comments section below.

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