When I come back, I’m not going anywhere, and neither are you. – Alan Pangborn
Lines like that tend to be the kiss of death on TV, and Castle Rock doesn’t ignore the implications, yet somehow the show manages to surprise. Nothing could be more foreseeable than Skarsgård’s stranger wanting revenge on the guy who facilitated his capture, yet his betrayal comes out of nowhere.
This is with Skarsgård’s whole demeanor changing this episode, too. He’s wearing Henry’s father’s suit, talking – and not just talking, but ordering Pangborn around. Pangborn’s no fool, so part of how the show gets you is by having him not see this coming and not be more distrustful of Skarsgård’s offer to help Ruth.
Say you did figure out Ruth was the one Skarsgård was going to target. That doesn’t diminish how successfully this episode was constructed. Take Skarsgård’s character watching the home movies and planting the idea in Henry’s head to use them to follow the path he took through the woods as a kid. That gets him out of the way, so he can find Ruth later in the house alone (unless Henry’s son, Wendell (Chosen Jacobs) was there, in which case the blood on Skarsgård’s hand could be his, or any number of possibilities the show’s trying to suppress so we assume Ruth was attacked).
Who is Skarsgård? It’s a question worth returning to this episode. From the way Ruth behaves, he’s her husband, risen from the grave. Then there’s the child we learn Ruth lost in labor, before adopting Henry. The timing of this reveal could be insignificant, but maybe it’s important.
Other cool things about “Filter”:
- Early in the episode, when Skarsgård enters the house, there’s a brief moment when the show switches over to Henry’s security camera. It’s the kind of footage you look at when a crime has taken place and by the end of the episode, one has occurred.
- And the award for best transition goes to: Ruth talking about leaving chess pieces around the house as bread crumbs, that switches to Henry using his home movies for bread crumbs in the woods. Besides wanting the show to change course and become about Ruth and her conception of overlapping times, Castle Rock gets to be this dark, Hansel and Gretel fairy tale for a while, and it’s my favorite inception of the show yet.
- Another well-played scene: Pangborn jumping out the car after a report on the radio mentions there was a fire at Juniper Hill Psychiatric Hospital. The timing of his exit makes it seem like a reaction to the broadcast but Pangborn can’t know Skarsgård’s character was sent there, so it ends up being a coincidence.
- Most unexpected explanation: why the pokers are in the fire. I know I haven’t been diligent about avoiding spoilers so far, and this one’s out of context, but I’m not going to take any chances. After thinking they must be important and not understanding why, Castle Rock comes through with the answer.
Some ordinary thoughts on the episode:
- So, it sounds like there’s a connection between Ruth’s understanding of time and whatever Odin (Charles Jones) and Willy (Rory Culkin) are talking about in the woods, with the “voice of God” and parallel universes, but while the latter has to do with the bigger picture of the show, the personalized, Sissy Spacek version sounds a lot more compelling.
- This should be credited to Melanie Lynskey, too, but it’s amazing how much you sympathize with her character, Molly, when Henry has every reason to be furious. She confesses to killing his father this week and alleges she was acting as his vessel at the time. That’s pretty upsetting! But because Henry knows what Castle Rock’s capable of, and because he keeps using her, and then turning around and calling her crazy, he ends up looking lousy. Unless Molly’s mistaken, how much repression is going on, too, that he can’t remember hating his father?
- Anyone else feel like having a camper for the anechoic chamber was too soon after Breaking Bad?
New episodes of Castle Rock stream every Wednesday on Hulu.