Beware the local bed & breakfast.
Warning: FULL SPOILERS follow for Castle Rock Season 1, Episode 8, titled “Past Perfect.“
In last week’s episode, titled “The Queen,” Castle Rock delivered its best episode yet, featuring Sissy Spacek’s harrowing and beautiful portrayal of a time-traveling superhero struggling to cope with dementia.
This time around, Castle Rock turns its attention away from Ruth and back to the cumbersome supernatural elements surrounding Henry (Andre Holland) and The Kid (Bill Skarsgard), in an episode that’s often too cryptic for its own good.
While “Past Perfect” is not a bad episode per se, it does spend an unnecessary amount of time on the mystery of The Kid and his connection to Henry’s father. Sure, these are important aspects of the overall plot, but they are not the series’ prominent strengths. Character development is where Castle Rock shines, but sadly, this outing feels like it’s more concerned with setting up the final two episodes than it is with creating a compelling self-contained, hour-long narrative.
Another recurring issue is that some of Castle Rock’s outlying characters seem inconsequential to the plot. Jackie Torrence (Jane Levy), for example, appears to only exist for her connection to her uncle, The Shining’s ax-wielding antagonist, Jack. Apart from saving Henry from a gruesome death at the hands of the worst bed & breakfast owners ever, Jackie hasn’t really done anything of note yet, and the final episodes will have a lot of heavy lifting to do to make her seem anything other than incidental.
The best parts about “Past Perfect” center on Castle Rock’s recent transplants, Gordon (Mark Harelik) and his wife (Lauren Bowles). Their hilarious and gruesome adventures are fun to watch, as their murder-themed B&B turns into a literal death trap for an unlucky couple and Henry. Jackie may not be the most vital character in the series, but the insane action sequences involving her, Henry and the hotel proprietors are riveting.
Looking ahead, Castle Rock has a lot of ground to cover in its final two hours. The reveal that Wendell also has the gift of hearing the Voice of God is intriguing. Is this gift/curse a hereditary trait, and if so, how does Henry have it if Pastor Deaver is not his real father?
There’s also Ruth, who, last week, seemed to be some kind of time-walker who can theoretically defeat the evil pervading Castle Rock. Now it looks like Ruth really is just losing her mind, as Alan Pangborn is dead in the present timeline. Perhaps her trip to the church will reveal another twist in her story in the weeks to come?
Lastly, Molly’s apparent death in the woods all those years ago raises more questions. And while I’m curious to discover what happened to her, Molly’s relationship with Henry remains one of the series’ strongest attributes, so let’s hope Castle Rock isn’t done exploring their journey just yet.