In case you haven’t seen me rambling on about it, and while it wasn’t always as good as it could be but was SO close, Castle Rock Season 1 really captured me with its weaving, mysterious tales in the fictional small-town in Maine.
Inspired by Stephen King‘s multiverse, and produced by J.J. Abrams, Season 2 steps up the story and moves onto new characters, one of whom includes a young Annie Wilkes from Misery. If you didn’t know, the town of Castle Rock has featured in many of King’s stories including Cujo, Needful Things and IT – as well as The Body and Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption.
Season 2 also wastes no time in bringing in the big King names, as the aforementioned Annie Wilkes (played exquisitely paranoid and also focused by Lizzy Caplan) arrives in town with her daughter Joy (Elsie Fisher) in tow. We’re see their life through a montage over a few years, driving from town-to-town with Wilkes taking on nursing jobs in various hospitals – because she is a good nurse – but also so she can fund her need to steal drugs to curb her lingering insanity.
Showrunners Sam Shaw and Dustin Thomason‘s psychological-horror series quickly creates a smart, oddly understandable back-story for Wilkes but things, let’s say, definitely take a turn for the crazy as the episode progresses and there’s a finale which you’ll never forget, nor it will ever leave your ‘what have I just seen?’ mind. Ever.
Staying clear of general spoilers though, trust me I won’t give anything away at this stage, Episode 2 keeps the tension going and it’s all underpinned by an outstanding, captivating performance by Caplan as Wilkes. She’s not only completely unpredictable but, somehow, you find yourself understanding her internal chaos and the situation she’s in and, with it, she’s an intriguing anti-hero.
What’s to come over the entire season, I’m unsure of at this stage but that’s another thing Castle Rock does so convincingly: keeps its cards close and equally and exceptionally builds the mystery within. It also gives us Tim Robbins as Pop Merrill, returning to the King stratosphere and not too far from Shawshank, as he tries to keep control of his son ‘Ace’ Merrill, played by Paul Sparks. Robbins is as believable as always and you might have seen Sparks in House of Cards (as Claire’s writer/affair companion) but he’s a far cry from that soft-voiced character, here he’s angry and very much a large part of the world around Annie Wilkes and her daughter.
While S1 felt like a tester ground for stories and characters, and genuinely held some fine moments of original television last year, S2 has a lot more cohesion and intrigue. This might also be down to the wider cast, which as well as Caplan but the series also gives us the talents of the blinking excellent Barkhad Abdi, Yusra Warsama and Matthew Alan – plus, keep an eye out for Bad Robot-alumni Greg Grunberg in a cameo role…
Although I’ve only just seen the first few episodes, I can promise you’re in a for a treat with Season 2. So, whether you’re new to Castle Rock or not, get this goodness in your life because it’s a show that’s sure to become a cult favourite.