Author’s note: this review contains SPOILERS for the eighth episode of Castle Rock, “Past Perfect.”
“Past Perfect” opens on couple, Gordon (Mark Harelik) and Lilith (Lauren Bowles), as they buy the Lacy home Molly had been trying to sell a few episodes before. Their marriage isn’t in great shape. Lilith has cheated and Gordon is teetering on the edge. Inside the house, they find a large collection of paintings that Dale Lacy (Terry O’Quinn) had made of The Kid over the years. They hang the paintings throughout the house and turn it into a murder house bed and breakfast destination. Is it the paintings or the house itself that makes Gordon snap and murder their first guests? Or was it bound to happen all along as his life unraveled? It’s a great opener that feels like something Stephen King might write himself.
Molly (Melanie Lynskey) uses her gift to find Henry (André Holland) and break him free of the RV. It’s quite possible he would have died in there; Odin is dead nearby and Willie, his protegé, is nowhere to be found. The Kid (Bill Skarsgard) tells Henry about the events of the previous night and what happened to Alan in the garage out back. Ruth (Sissy Spacek) is still confused; she thought she had again protected Henry from his father. This confirms that she did think The Kid was her dead husband and that she does not realize what has happened with Alan. At the end of the episode, the pastor reveals she’s asking questions and appears more confused than ever.
While trying to advertise her new taxi business, Jackie (Jane Levy) stumbles on the murder clean-up at the old Lacy house. Her love of all things murder in Castle Rock makes her suspicious of Gordon and Lilith’s strange behavior, which comes in handy later in the episode when they attack Henry. She knew her axes, and it pays off.
Henry’s son, Wendell, looks to have acquired the same affliction as his father, brought on by a bird smashing into the bus as he’s about to leave town. The severe ringing in his ear has started, too. The relationship between father and son is tense, at best. In the eyes of his son, Henry is absent and untrustworthy.
The best moment of the episode is when Henry discovers the room full of paintings of The Kid, which surround him as the strings of the score stretch and shiver. Seeing the dates on each painting, and how The Kid never ages – a Dorian Gray effect etched across each painting – creates a chilling scene. Gordon and Lilith have a taste for murder now, and attack him. Lilith stabs herself in the neck while being overzealous with the butcher knife, and Jackie saves Henry from certain death in the driveway. It’s such a kinetic and brutal scene. The sudden viciousness really caught me by surprise and it was a hell of an end for these two side characters.
The Kid continues to be incredibly cryptic. I enjoy the scenes he’s in but I also feel a little out of the loop. Things are starting to come together, which is rewarding, but the show operates at a drip-drip-drip pace, which will likely frustrate some viewers. I’m not frustrated yet, but with two episodes left, I’m hoping we get something next week before going into the finale. We’ve confirmed The Kid has never aged via both Alan and the paintings, and Henry had flashes of memories involving The Kid from his missing time as a child. He saw Molly communicate with Henry with her flashlight in the window when he was young, and The Kid knows quite a lot about her. All of these details are shaping a painting, but if you step back to look at the whole picture, it can still be hard to make out.
“Past Perfect” was another great episode of Castle Rock that brought the show closer to a climax. Taking the time to tell the story of the couple in the Lacy house was unexpected and a great way to set up the later events of the episode. Jane Levy getting extra screen time was something I was glad to see, as she has been notably absent for stretches of the season and always adds character when she’s around. The last stretch of the episode, with the paintings, the attack, and Molly and The Kid together, boosted a slow but effective hour of the show. It’s one of the better episodes, but could lose some of it cryptic mystery dialogue.
∗ Jackie gets to kill Gordon with an axe, a fun nod to The Shining and the Torrance legacy.
∗ Wendell gets off the bus at Jerusalem’s Lot, a pretty big King reference.