Cracking Castle Rock – Episode 5: “Harvest,” Or The Kid Leaves Shawshank

by Rachel Bellwoar

You’d think a massacre would take a while to skip people’s minds, and it’s not like it’s forgotten, but “Harvest,” spends a lot less time on what happened at Shawshank than you might expect. The first sign that the show is trying to move on already comes when we learn that there are wildfires spreading through Castle Rock. That understandably takes priority, but in terms of the show, the fires end up being mostly window dressing, bad omens that burn in the background while it’s business as usual in town (except for the people who get evacuated, but we don’t know them).

Jane Levy (Photo by: Claire Folger/Hulu)

Skarsgård’s stranger gets released from prison, another excuse for the show to walk away from Shawshank. Some radio personalities talk about Dennis, but don’t mention him by name (though they do sound less interested in crucifying him than understanding why he did what he did). Henry gets “tinnitus” (if that’s what it is) from the gun going off by his ear, but it’s talked about less in relation to the murders than Henry’s history of hearing noises. Basically, a scene with the new warden and some janitors is all that’s dedicated to wrapping up the “unpleasant incident,” a lame choice of words that I use to mirror Castle Rock’s callousness.

What the show needs right now is Stephen King’s sense of humor, the corniness within which you can find genius (think 1993’s Tommyknockers) and heart. “Harvest” is full of “you’re not so different from me” epiphanies (more on those in “themes”) but outside of Rose and Pangborn, the show is missing those close relationships that mark some of the best adaptations of Stephen King’s work (not that Castle Rock is an adaptation, but you know what I mean).

Later we hear Jackie Torrance (who is officially related to The Shining‘s Jack Torrance) belly ache about how nothing happens in Castle Rock anymore. The town’s bar must be set high because if a dozen (+) dead guards can’t inspire a reaction, there’s the real reason to avoid Castle Rock.

Themes From This Episode:

  • Memory – Ruth has been losing hers, Henry can’t remember the days he went missing and Skarsgård can’t remember his past. A doctor they see inserts the idea that they’ll remember in the right context (Ruth around dogs, for instance). This maybe is what happens when Skarsgård walks by that house, but the scene’s unclear. It could be a memory. It could be a random family that implodes from Skarsgård’s presence (though wouldn’t that make the news?). The young boy’s name is Gordie, which recalls Stand By Me (as does the line, when Molly’s near him: “Want to see a dead body?”) but in that story, Gordie had an older brother and this scene shows a younger one, plus whatever happened to leave the baby screaming at the end.
  • Faith – Warden Lacy cites God as the how and the why he found Skarsgård. Pangborn’s use of the same word during his speech for the bridge feels like a statement of solidarity. We were already told he let Lacy break the speed limit when he nabbed Skarsgård, but in this episode we learn he found Skarsgård in the trunk and closed the door (and this isn’t the Skarsgård who’s been silent, but a young man hitting the sides, trying to get out).
Scott Glenn (Photo by: Claire Folger/Hulu)

Other thoughts on “Harvest”:

  • While Warden Lacy stays the course with being vague on the time line for Skarsgård’s caging, Pangburn lets us know it’s been 27 years. Since this timing doesn’t have any significance yet, the answer’s a bit of a letdown, but Skarsgård hasn’t aged, so there’s something supernatural going on.
  • The touch theory continues: assumedly right before his suicide, Warden Lacy took off his glove and touched Skarsgård. Is this why he decided to kill himself? Then, after Skarsgård’s release from Shawshank (and after watching that questionable job training video), Henry asks him for his name. Henry focuses on the fact that Skarsgård doesn’t answer but maybe he should be focusing on why Skarsgård doesn’t shake his hand. Filmed with a medium shot so you can’t see his hand, there’s some room for argument that the shake took place, but it doesn’t look that way.
  • In what feels like a missed opportunity, Pangborn learns about Skarsgård’s release from the video cameras Henry set up at the house. This gives him a chance to approach Skarsgård alone, instead of going through Henry, and again lets characters get away with not interacting (to compliment the technology, nothing is creepier than Skarsgård’s entrance being announced by the security system’s “front door open” alert).
  • Last review, I brought up how Henry got to leave Castle Rock and Pangborn stayed behind, but it turns out he left for a while, too.
  • Castle Rock Product Placement, Part 2: Dunkin Donuts.
  • Nit Pick Remark: Ending the episode with Skarsgård saying, “You have no idea what’s happening here, do you?” Too on the nose.

New episodes of Castle Rock stream every Wednesday on Hulu.

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