By Anthony Breznican
August 09, 2018 at 12:54 AM EDT
Seacia Pavao/Hulu

Henry is dreaming. Flashes of terrifying imagery. He seems to be looking out through a screen, or a fence. Some kind of box.

Then he startles awake.

An administrator from Shawshank, Reeves, is meeting with the mystery man they found in the bowels of the prison. “Your lawyer friend filed papers in district court. See how that goes. See, we’re the biggest employer in the county. Gotta lot of friends, too.”

Reeves notes that Northeast Correctional is a subsidiary of a big multinational firm, which also does private security in combat zones. “I spent eight months in a sandbox. We were on cleanup duty, they weren’t ready to see Saddam go. There was one guy, Republican Guard, no name, just like you. Everybody thought he was mute.”

Reeves smiles: “So we fed him his own teeth. Real slow. Clean plate club. By time we got to his molars, he had a name. And a list of other names, too.”

The kid finally speaks. “He has a name… He has a name written on him which no one knows except himself.”

But wait, there’s more: “He is clothed with a robe dipped in blood. And his name is called the word of God.”

Reeves backs out of the cell. The torturer has become the tormented.

Elsewhere, Henry Deaver is going to his father’s relocated grave with Alan Pangborn.

That’s where he tells the old man that he’s not just moving his deceased father back to Castle Rock, but he plans to move his mother away from the town to a Texas eldercare facility outside of Houston.

“Ungrateful,” Pangborn snarls.

“For pulling me out of the woods?” Henry asks. “What were you doing out there? 11 days, I was presumed dead.”

“I didn’t see it that way.”

“You were out there for my mother. How long has this been going on, 30 years? Maybe that’s why you sent him up here. Did he know about you two?”

Pangborn leaves, and Henry marks his father’s grave with a large orange X.

Back at the Deaver house, there’s an old Twilight Zone episode on TV: “The Howling Man,” about a prisoner in a castle whose captors believe he’s the devil. A visitor wants to free him because he doesn’t believe the man is truly evil.

It’s a tip of the hand to Castle Rock’s own story, with the now-deceased Warden Lacy claiming he had captured the devil in his subterranean prison, to spare Castle Rock more misfortune.

Pangborn is talking to Ruth Deaver, and rather than denouncing her son’s plan to move her, he begins to acclimate her to it. “I’m thinking about moving to Houston. We could be closer to your boy.”

“I’m good right where I am,” she says.

At the Mellow Tiger, Henry is telling Molly about Shawshank’s offer of $300,000 to release the mystery client in their basement. He still doesn’t want to take it.

“Taking it means you have to take their version of the story. And from there it goes from a kidnapping to a clerical error,” Henry says.

In the background is The Band’s song “The Weight,” with more lyrics alluding to demonic forces:

“I picked up my bags, I went looking for a place to hide
When I saw old Carmen and the Devil, walking side by side
I said, ‘Hey, Carmen, c’mon, let’s go downtown’
She said, ‘I gotta go, but my friend can stick around’”

Zalewski and Henry meet next. The Shawshank guard tells him about rampant abuses at the prison, where one guard blinded an inmate on purpose with delousing powder. “You don’t know what it’s like hearing those doors lock behind you,” Zalewski says. “I didn’t see it until I found that [kid in the] tank. But I’m a prisoner in there, too.”

Henry asks him to hold off on all that until after the mystery man’s hearing. “You cannot be a disgruntled employee.”

Zalewski is plenty disgruntled, though. “They always say Castle Rock has some kind of luck. It’s not luck though, is it? Bad things happen here because bad people know they’re safe here. How many times can one town look the other way?”

Continued on the next page …

At the prison the next day, Zalewski seeks out the kid in his solitary confinement. In the background, a guard is beating a prison who shrieks: “What’d I do? What’d I DO?”

“As soon as I testify we’re both getting out,” Zalewski says. He offers his fist to the kid. The kid looks at it, uncertain. Zalewski shows him how to bump.

But a strange look passes his face when his fist collides with the mystery man’s.

Elsewhere, Henry is in the library looking through microfilm of old newspapers:

There’s an article headlined: “Nightmare on Christmas — The Fire at Shawshank,” which includes quotes from surviving prisoners who said guards did not unlock doors promptly. Matthew Deaver, Henry’s father, was the pastor holding the memorial service for the prisoners who died.

Then he finds articles about his disappearance: “Few answers after boy’s rescue.”

And … “Henry Deaver Case Still Open – Local Resident Vincent Desjardin Not Charged.”

That name should be familiar to Stephen King fans as a member of Ace Merrill’s gang of bullies from “The Body”/ Stand By Me.

Sitting with his mother Ruth, Henry asks her about Desjardin. “People used to say there were Nazis hiding out in the forest. Satanists who slaughtered their own pigs. His wife died in childbirth. Maybe two. Then it was just him. Peculiar man.”

Henry says Vince has a felony conviction from the late ‘80s, but the record is sealed. He was released from prison a month before Henry disappeared.

“Where did you think I was those 11 days. Why didn’t we ever talk about it?” Henry asks her.

“You want to talk, okay, let’s talk you sending me off to Texas,” she says. “That’s what Alan told me. I may be old, but I’m not stupid. This is my home, and I leave it in a box.”

But that, I’m afraid, is not “The Box” that gives this episode its title.

Continued on the next page …

Molly is selling Warden Lacy’s old home. She walks the prospective buyers through the living room, talking about the floor plan while trying to hide the urn containing the Warden’s remains.

The potential homebuyer finds it anyway, and Molly hastens to point out he didn’t kill himself in the house. “A serial strangler died in my house, and I sleep like a baby,” she says — a nod to King fans, who now know she resides in the home where Frank Dodd killed himself in The Dead Zone.

As she talks, the homebuyer is staring at a painting of the lake made by Lacy.

“Would they consider including the art?” he says, mesmerized.

While driving down a country road, Henry stops when he sees a familiar name hanging from a mailbox: “Desjardins.”

He drives down the wooded driveway to a dilapidated home that is being reclaimed by nature. Inside, a piano has crashed through the rotted floor. (Remember this for something that happens in Episode 5.)

Outside the home, he finds a wooden crate with a small screen cut into the door. Inside the box is a metal dish and a spoon.

A car arrives. It’s a man named Josef Desjardin (played by David Selby) who claims to use the old house as a barber shop. He seems more than a little crazy, and plunges further into the abyss when he finds out who Henry Deaver is.

He knows Henry. In fact, he has the police records from Henry’s disappearance in a moldy box under his bed — local history he says he rescued before it could be discarded. His brother Vincent did have a criminal conviction, but it was for insurance fraud. He cut off two of his own fingers.

Why did Josef keep the files? “I wanted to know what they said about me,” he says, matter-of-factly. “Making insinuations … You know, I never touched you.”

This seems to confirm it. He kept Henry in that box at one time.

All the old secrets are being unearthed, including Henry’s father. His casket arrives at the church just as Ruth, Henry’s mother, happens to be walking by. She looks stricken to see it, which is the only normal reaction.

Back at his home, Henry confronts Alan Pangborn with this new information. He tells him about finding the documents in a box — the third reference to the title of this episode — under Josef’s bed.

“Why didn’t you do your job?” Henry asks. This should have been investigated further.

“I know, Henry,” Pangborn tells him. “I’ve always known. He told me, the day before he died, right up there in that room. He was half dead, but still awake, with a tube down throat. So he wrote it out on a bank slip, all capital letters: HENRY DID IT.”

Next morning, the reverend was dead.

Pangborn says he protected the boy. “I kept the DA guessing. Made sure they didn’t have the balls to charge, with everyone looking at you.”

Molly hears this conversation in her head. Later, she comforts Henry: “Whatever happened, it wasn’t your fault. You were just a kid. “

Henry stays the night with her. In the morning, he calls Dennis Zalewski and says the testimony is off. He plans to accept the settlement. Henry wants to go home.

Zalewski is just going on duty. He listens to the message, then goes to his bank of monitors and crosses each of them out with a black marker. On the screens, we watch as he takes a service pistol and wanders the halls of Shawshank, executing his co-workers.

Most of the guards were in the process of torturing a prisoner when they died.

When Zalewski finally brings his rampage to the warden’s office, he finds Henry sitting there, ready to make his deal to release the kid and claim the settlement.

“I want to testify, Zalewski says.

Then a flash-bang grenade lands at his feet. Two guards appear and waste him with shotguns. Those are the last words Zalewski will ever speak.

Remember in the previous episode when police said Warden Lacy’s car contained a pair of large rubber kitchen gloves?

It’s easy to see that something about that fist bump, that brief physical contact with Shawshank’s secret prisoner, led the dad-to-be Zalewski to this bloodbath.