With episode six of Castle Rock we get the sound. Next comes the fury.
The show took a detour down a rare science-fiction-y lane, as two mystery figures stepped forward to deliver an explanation of the weirdness in Stephen King’s fictional ‘burg that seems academic and realistic … until we discover they’re crazier than the loons down south near Prospect.
Meet Odin Branch (C.J. Jones) and Willie (Rory Culkin) — Willie does all the talking, but Odin does all the thinking. Odin is the older, more wizened member of the duo. He’s also deaf, and Willie is his fast-talking translator.
Henry Deaver discovers them while traversing the woods where his father used to trail him with a video camera, asking the boy: “Do you hear it, son?”
They offer an explanation of what “it” actually is — a discordance in the time-space continuum, of sorts. A clash between alternate universes that leaves an audible trace as the universe reckons with the collision.
Henry’s father, the good reverend, believed this sound was the voice of God Almighty, and he was even able to discern specific instructions from it. (More on that later.) It’s also probably the voice Warden Lacy heard that led him to capture and imprison the mystery man played by Bill Skarsgård.
But to Odin, this phenomenon — he calls it “the schisma” — is not supernatural. It’s science.
“I have advanced degrees in bio- and psycho-acoustics,” Odin, by way of Willie, tells Henry as they stand by the firelight in the deep woods. “Best I can tell, schisma is actually nanoscale turbulences caused by quantum totalities upbraiding in parallel. Other years, other nows. All possible pasts, all possible presents. Schisma is the sound of the universe trying to reconcile that.”
Henry gives him the same look you have right now. (Shout-out to writers Vinnie Wilhelm and Marc Bernardin for delivering this cascade of exposition in a way that’s both intriguing and utterly believable.)
“To some listeners, schisma sounds like ringing in the ears. You ever have that, Henry?” Odin asks.
Of course, we know he does. And now we know what it is. Sort of. And this may explain why Castle Rock is the source of so much malevolence and chaos. It exists on the shore of this raging sea of cosmic disturbance.
“Your father called it The Voice of God,” Odin tells Henry. “Most people can’t hear it at all. Some hear it once and never again. A lucky few hear it constantly, are practically deafened by it. There are variations, naturally. It’s quiet in some places. Much louder in others.”
To steal a line from Hamilton: Who the eff is this? Odin admits right away that he was an associate of Henry’s father from back in the day. They were apparently hunting this sound together, and Odin and Willie have been lingering this whole time in the background of Castle Rock.
Like the schisma, they were there only for those who were looking. And they’ve built something, based on the guidance Henry’s dead father got from this “voice of God.”
But this is how the episode concludes. It begins not with an uncovering, but with a burial. The body of Henry’s father is returned to a cemetery in Castle Rock. No one is there to say goodbye except the dead man’s son.
Henry’s own son, Wendell (played by Chosen Jacobs, who was Mike Hanlon in the recent remake of It) is also on the scene now, visiting his estranged father and mentally decaying grandmother, Ruth.
“Behold I tell you a mystery,” says the new reverend, echoing a line that Molly heard the masked vision of Henry’s father say a few episodes back. “We will not all sleep. But we will all be changed.” Later, Molly sees the same vision of him outside her office window, watching her.
As Henry is busy trying to reconnect with his son, the mystery man is in their guest house exploring old tapes of searching through the woods that were made by Henry’s father. He has a mission for Alan Pangborn: Recover the car that Warden Lacy used to commit suicide.
But the vehicle has been sold to a junkyard in Syracuse. “Then you go to Syracuse,” the man tells him.
Why? “I can’t explain in words you’d understand.”
“Try me,” Pangborn says.
“Time is her enemy, sheriff,” the man says. He was right. Pangborn doesn’t understand. But he goes anyway.
The mystery man is wearing Henry’s father’s old suit, one Ruth Deaver sees and says, “I thought we buried him in that.”
Henry actually leads the mystery man away, to the asylum Juniper Hill (another familiar King locale) and as he is dropping off the new guest, a murder of crows fills the sky. One of them dive-bombs and kills itself on the ground beside Henry.
That’s a good omen, sometimes. Right?
One of the hospital workers says, “Second time this week.” So … maybe it’s not the doing of the mystery man?
Back in Castle Rock, Henry’s son is asking about family history, specifically when the Deavers adopted his father. (He was five.)
“Why didn’t they have their own kid?”
“They tried. They lost a baby. Guess they didn’t want to go down that road again.”
“What were they like, your real parents?”
Henry says something that would truly warm the heart of anyone who is an adoptive mother and father. “Grandma and grandpa are my real parents. See you in the morning.”
That evening, Henry asks his mother why his father was always having him hike through the woods. “He ever talk about hearing a sound out there?”
Ruth seems defensive. “How would I know something like that?”
When Henry sees Molly next, he asks her if she ever saw him and his father venture off to the woods together. She confirms she did, and that her psychic abilities allowed her to feel she was out with them.
“You hated him, Henry.”
“I told you that?
“You didn’t have to.” She confesses that she was the one who removed his wounded father’s breathing tube after he was found near death in the frozen woods during Henry’s childhood disappearance.
“I was in the woods the night you disappeared. I was with you. Afraid. And then … Relieved,” she says.
Back at home, Wendell is bonding with grandma and trying to get to the bottom of her dementia. “Time used to go forward. I just brought your father home from foster care. Now you’re here,” she says. It sounds as though she is unstuck in time, like Vonnegut’s Billy Pilgrim.
Other years, other nows. All possible pasts, all possible presents. Schisma is the sound of the universe trying to reconcile that, as Odin said.
She explains why she hides chess pieces around her house. “It’s a coping mechanism. If I find a chess piece in the icebox, I know it’s now, not then. And I can find my way out of the woods.”
While Pangborn is recovering the warden’s car from the Syracuse junkyard (using a gun to do it) we hear a report on the radio that there is a fire at Juniper Hill. Severe damage has been done, and some inmates are on the loose.
Later that evening, the mystery man enters Ruth Deaver’s kitchen as she is picking up fallen pills. We don’t see what happens next. This is when the episode cuts to Henry finding Odin and Willie in the woods.
After they explain the schisma, they show Henry something they built based on his father’s interpretation of this “voice.” It’s a soundproof room inside their mobile home. This gives the episode its title: “The Filter.”
“Perhaps the only total silence on earth. All noise, cleansed. What’s left is the schisma,” Odin says. “What you hear now is just a rumor. What you’ll hear in the filter is truth.”
As Henry reluctantly steps inside, Odin explains that silence is “why I corrected myself. Young Willie will be corrected, too.”
Here’s where these two reveal a darker and more twisted side. “You … made yourself deaf?” Henry asks, horror washing over him.
“Not deaf,” Odin says, looking utterly demented. “Perfect!”
He slams the door on Henry, who soon finds himself in a paroxysm of agony as the ringing in his ear overwhelms him.
Back at the Deaver house, Pangborn finds the mystery man sitting on the front steps. He says he is having the Warden’s car delivered the next day. Then they can begin “fixing” Ruth, as the mystery man promised.
Or … perhaps not.
“There will be a monument to Warden Lacy,” the man says flatly. “And to everyone who helped put me in that cage.”
He is bleeding badly from his right hand.
“You said you’d help her. Why would you say that?” Pangborn asks.
“Why would you leave me in that trunk, sheriff?”
Inside the house, there is a skipping record.
The home is totally destroyed. Castle Rock may be heading for the same.