Give us 10 episodes of Jane Levy at the Overlook Hotel and we’ll be happy.
After 9 weeks of setting the stage for all sorts of intriguing mysteries, the first season of Hulu’s Stephen King-based anthology series “Castle Rock” came to an end this week, leaving us with pretty much all of the same questions we started off the series pondering. Even the previous week’s big reveal that “The Kid” is actually an alternate version of Henry Deaver was called into question in ‘Romans,’ a frustratingly unsatisfying episode that either confirmed “The Kid” is the Devil or turned Andre Holland’s Henry Deaver into something of a villain.
Those questions, well, the writers have left you to answer them.
The episode left us off with Henry Deaver locking “The Kid” back up in the bowels of Shawshank, either entirely convinced that he’s the “Devil of Castle Rock” or simply not wanting to take the chance on him being anything but. Like Warden Lacy before him, Henry has become the new protector of Castle Rock, devoting himself to ensuring “The Kid” never again escapes and wreaks havoc on the town. Of course, even if “The Kid” is telling the truth and he really is an alternate Henry, his mere presence in a universe he doesn’t belong in makes him something of an unintentional monster, so one could say that Henry did the right thing either way. “The right thing” for the town, at least, which will presumably be much more pleasant without “The Kid” roaming free. Not necessarily, however, “the right thing” on a moral level; after all, it’s entirely possibly that “The Kid” truly is an innocent, alternate version of Henry himself.
We’ll never know for sure who “The Kid” is, but a sinister smile from Bill Skarsgård at the very end of the episode did *seem* to suggest he’s anything but a benevolent, innocent man. Furthermore, Holland’s Henry Deaver seemed to have seen the true face of “The Kid” out in the woods of Castle Rock, appearing to him as an almost zombie-like creature in a brief flash. Of course, it’s possible that was the town, or Henry’s own mind, merely playing a trick on him. Again, these are questions the writers intentionally did not answer.
One question that was definitively answered was that it was indeed a young Henry who pushed his adoptive father off a cliff all those years prior, in order to save himself and his mother from the wrath of an increasingly insane and dangerous Reverend Matthew Deaver. It was perhaps the series’ only true definitive answer, for whatever that might be worth.
As for some of the other characters, Molly Strand moved away from Castle Rock for what will perhaps be a happier life, while Ruth Deaver passed away and took up permanent residence alongside the love of her life, Alan Pangborn. Wendell Deaver is now living in Castle Rock with his father, surely unaware of his dad’s dark secret in the depths of Shawshank.
All in all, “Castle Rock” amounted to a whole lot of mystery but not much else, stringing us along for 10 episodes (only one of which was truly exceptional, unforgettable television) and then leaving us off at a point that didn’t quite make that investment of time feel all that worth it in the end. The big questions were essentially answered with the very same questions, so it’s hard to be satisfied with the overall journey of the season.
But there was one thing about the finale that left me excited for more “Castle Rock”…
In a mid-credits scene, Jane Levy’s Jackie Torrance (aka Diane Torrance) popped up for what was either a tease for future seasons or merely a fun little nod to King fans. Jackie, as we learned early on in Season 1, is actually the niece of none other than Jack Torrance, a brand new addition to the Stephen King Universe who was created for the Hulu series.
Sadly, Levy’s Jackie didn’t get all that much to do in Season 1, popping up here and there but mostly serving as an ancillary character who linked “Castle Rock” to King’s characters and storylines in a more direct way than the season’s other characters did – aside from King staple Alan Pangborn, of course. Whereas the season primarily told a new story within King’s fictional town of Castle Rock, Jackie Torrance assured and reminded that the series was indeed taking place in a world where literally all of King’s stories had indeed happened as real events.
Jackie’s biggest moment came in ‘Past Perfect,’ when she saved Henry Deaver from a murderous bed and breakfast owner by slamming an axe down into the man’s head. It was a fun moment for King fans, as Jackie’s uncle was infamous for picking up an ax and going on a murder spree of his own. Mostly, however, the series sorely underutilized Levy’s talents.
But the finale’s mid-credits scene suggested that we haven’t seen the last of the true crime-obsessed Jackie Torrance, who is headed off to the Overlook Hotel in order to do some research for a novel she’s writing, titled Overlooked. Yes, like Jack Torrance, Jackie Torrance has become a writer, and her next stop is the place where her family’s nightmare began.
Mind you, we’ve been told that “Castle Rock” will be an anthology series of standalone tales, but the creators did recently hint that characters from Season 1 could end up appearing in other seasons. On that note, in a recent chat with EW, Sam Shaw and Dustin Thomason had noted that they personally would like to see more of Levy as Jackie.
“Here’s where we’ll probably be infuriatingly tight-lipped, but what I would say is that we would sure love to see Jackie explore the Overlook Hotel,” Shaw teased to the site.
He added, “In this final tag there’s this sense that there are worlds of Stephen King’s that this show may explore eventually that are more far-flung than the state of Maine.”
As much as I do admire that “Castle Rock” has set out to tell entirely original stories, I can’t help but feel that some more direct connections to King’s work would really make the series a big time treat for Constant Readers. And a season centered on Jackie Torrance’s exploration of the Overlook Hotel would damn sure be a good place to start, as it’d allow for the series to brush up directly against one of King’s iconic stories while expanding upon it as a sort of quasi-sequel. In only brief moments throughout Season 1, Levy proved to be a highlight amid the relatively dull ensemble of characters, so the thought of her character getting her own season is one that fills me with a whole lot of excitement about the potential future of “Castle Rock.”
Here’s hoping the mid-credits tag was a teaser, rather than a bit of throwaway fun.