Cracking Castle Rock – Episode 9: “Henry Deaver,” Or He Wasn’t Asking For A Lawyer After All

by Rachel Bellwoar

What if Skarsgärd’s character isn’t the Devil but Castle Rock’s greatest victim? This is the curve ball thrown by Castle Rock’s penultimate episode and it tracks with what we know of how the show likes to unfold its plot, layer after layer, until we’re literally given a parallel universe this week where Skarsgärd’s Henry Deaver and Deaver – the Deaver who went missing and couldn’t remember what happened – was taken for the Devil by his dad and locked in a cage.

Bill Skarsgard (Photo by: Dana Starbard/Hulu)

This, more than Skarsgärd’s name being Henry, and his rebranding as a wronged party, comes as the biggest surprise this episode. The lights go on and there’s Henry, and suddenly we understand what Skarsgärd meant when he told Henry he rescued him in episode eight.
Matthew Deaver takes Lacy’s place as Henry’s jailer, down to committing suicide. For other characters, this time line shows a marked improvement in their lives. Molly’s city council chair and more successful than her sister. Pangborn and Ruth have moved away, and Skarsgärd’s Deaver seems happier than we’ve ever seen André Holland’s Deaver be. Castle Rock’s dark history hasn’t been erased, but the town isn’t the same trap we’ve known it to be. Some of the characters have gotten away, while others are thriving living there.
Does that mean young Henry is the real Devil? That doesn’t seem likely, but maybe it’s easier to exonerate him because he’s a child. We now understood why Skarsgärd’s Deaver knew so much about Ruth and gave himself permission to poke around the house. He’s not the outsider we’ve thought him to be, but while Henry told everyone his story when he arrived in a parallel universe, Skarsgärd’s silence hasn’t been doing him any favors.
Not that it’s the most believable of tales, but being locked in Shawshank will change a man, so is that what’s happened to him? He can’t be thrilled to realize Henry doesn’t remember him, and then there’s Castle Rock’s vendetta against fathers-to-be.
Melanie Lynskey and Bill Skarsgard (Photo by: Dana Starbard/Hulu)

Dennis is alive in this parallel universe, but somehow shoots Molly with a warning shot. The obvious explanation is that he fired a second time while we were in Stephen King limbo (or wherever that place was where we seemed to see Red and Andy escaping, maybe the sparrows from Dark Half, and I’m not sure if there were other references) but no shot is heard, and Dennis seemed equally confused by Molly’s condition.
The one father on the show we’ve seen get a chance to raise his child is Matthew, and we learn as a baby, his mom tried to strangle him with a hanger. Castle Rock isn’t the first show to threaten violence towards a child (Game of Thrones has done so more than once) but going beyond implication with a baby feels wrong, and I don’t want to censor a show or act as taste police, but that’s how strongly I feel this scene shouldn’t have been included. Without the image, it’s still a horrible scene, but it’s the inclusion of that visual – a hanger being pressed against a baby’s neck – that takes it too far.
Episode Verdict: Sometimes it feels like, more than move the plot forward, Castle Rock keeps giving us alternate pilot episodes. Castle Rock could’ve started the year with “Henry Deaver” and maybe a show told from Skarsgärd’s perspective would’ve been worthwhile (that line about Ruth miscarrying in Holland’s universe wasn’t throwaway) but beyond preferring certain episodes to others, I’m not sure if this pattern that Castle Rock has gotten into, of retracing its steps, is the most dynamic. It’s consistent. Skarsgärd’s whole talk about Alzheimer’s involving a loss of continuity could’ve been talking about the structure of this season, but heading into the finale, I’m not sure what I want to see. Is Henry Deaver the Devil or have we been focusing on the wrong person (persons?) this whole time?
New episodes of Castle Rock stream every Wednesday on Hulu.

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