Author’s note: SPOILERS for the ninth episode of Castle Rock, “Henry Deaver”.
God turned his back on this place.
The schism revealed itself, and Henry Deavers have swapped universes. “Henry Deaver” places itself in a world separate from the one we’ve spent the previous eight episodes in, where the characters we knew are similar but on different paths. And in Henry Deaver’s case, he is not André Holland, but rather Bill Skarsgård’s The Kid.
Alternate timelines are at play, solving the question of who The Kid is, and solving what happened to Henry Deaver as a child in his disappearance. It causes a whole host of other questions, but for now, the puzzle is making more sense. The Skarsgård version of Deaver has a good job, trying to solve Alzheimer’s, which this world’s Ruth is also suffering from. He is expecting good news from his girlfriend or possibly wife over a potential pregnancy, when he is called back home and ends up finding something horrible in the basement: the young Henry Deaver we know, caged and confused.
Both versions of Henry turn to Molly (Melanie Lynskey) in their time of need and in search of answers. They take the young Deaver kid to the woods, as he has requested, and things go crazy. There is an apparent tear in reality, which young Deaver, Molly, and Skarsgård’s Deaver cross into. All sorts of terrible mayhem is at work, murder and chases and debauchery leaking through ultraviolet colors and stretching what we can see. Molly doesn’t make it, a stray bullet or perhaps something from that middle ground catching her. But it swallows up young Deaver and Skarsgård Deaver, spitting them out into the world we have known to this point.
The portal/alternate universe shift (or “thinny”, as mentioned below), appears to leave those crossed over with the ability to never age and be a catalyst for horrible things to happen. It appears to always be a twenty-seven year difference between both places, 1991 and 2018 (twenty-seven years being an important number to King fans due to IT). It would be interesting to note if some of the disasters we hear in Matthew Deaver’s tapes are alike in both worlds, though from the second episode’s opening monologue, they may be completely different but just as devastating.
Some friendly faces over the season return in one form of another, like Noël Fisher, not as a guard at Shawshank Prison but rather as a police officer; and Alison Tolman as Molly’s sister, this time as the screw-up rather than Molly.
But this episode was a great showcase for Skarsgård as this version of Henry Deaver, where before he was relegated to creepy stares and ominous phrases. Here, Skarsgård is given a lot more to do and excels in doing it. He’s given more character, and it allows us to see what he was before the reality shift and cage-bound twenty-seven years changed him forever. He is a quiet, brooding sort of presence, filling the frame with a hint of innocence under the surface, but that innocence may only be a decoy for something else entirely.
“Henry Deaver” is a big episode for the series, but one which takes its time to play on our memories and expectations of previous events before making everything clearer. I really enjoyed the careful approach taken to doling out the information, letting us learn about this side before ripping the rug out. It was methodical in its reveals but done effectively. A lot of its information is malleable and open to interpretation, especially going into the finale, but I found myself invested and enjoying the ride. I hope now that Skarsgård’s Deaver is remembering everything, his present day is more cognizant and present. But it all comes down to whether Molly will believe him and what could possibly be in store in the final hour.
∗ It’s possible the portal is a “thinny”, a break in reality, from a number of King works (notably The Dark Tower series and The Mist).
∗ Skarsgård’s version of Deaver finds a rudimentary version of the Filter in the woods, half-rotted and falling apart at the touch. But it’s a connection both worlds hold, both Matthew Deavers dragging their sons into the woods to hear the voice of God.
∗ Henry Deaver seeing young alternate universe Henry Deaver in the basement was shot and executed exactly as it had been in Shawshank in the pilot. It was a clever moment which really sold the suddenness. There were a number of times where shots from over the season are mirrored in this universe.
∗ Puck the cat got his cognitive feline disorder solved, so at least someone ended up with a happy story!