The TripAdvisor rating for Castle Rock Historic Bed & Breakfast is not going to be reassuring.
Episode 8 of the Stephen King-inspired series begins with a focus on Gordon and Lilith, last seen at Molly Strand’s open house for Warden Lacy’s home. She seemed charmed by the home, while he was transfixed by the warden’s painting of the lake.
Basically, they were sold. And in the opening we see Gordon in his former job as an academic, debating whether the human mind is designed to forget past horrors. (This may be relevant when it comes to Henry Deaver and his lack of memories about his bizarre childhood.)
Then, Professor Gordon violently attacks his colleague, who had been having an affair with his wife. As they arrive in Castle Rock to start over, it’s clear that Gordon has still not forgiven her.
They’re moving a lot of strange mannequins into the house, which they intend to use to recreate some of the notorious murders that happened there. This will be a “theme” bed and breakfast for true crime enthusiasts. Gordon is busy arranging one of these scenes in the upstairs bathtub when Lilith announces that she has discovered the key to the basement.
Down there, they find dozens of Warden Lacy’s other paintings — most of them of the mystery man he kept imprisoned in the Shawshank dungeon.
Found the key to the basement!
Gordon seems to be mesmerized by the paintings of this man. It’s all getting inside his head in a strange way.
When Lilith appears in the hallway in a negligee, only to be spurned by him, she asks: “Can’t we just say it never happened?”
Then the phone rings. Their first customer!
The couple doesn’t know that the quaint B&B they’ve book has a macabre theme. Lilith gleefully informs them that Castle Rock was “the murder capital of 1991,” which is surely a reference to King’s Needful Things.
“We believe this to be the first fully immersive lodging experience for the true crime aficionado,” Gordon says. “A chance to stay in a house where actual murders have been recreated in exquisite detail.”
The couple, however, is just there for … an affair. Gordon sits awake at night, listening to the sound of their lovemaking. But the cries of ecstasy become shrieks of agony. Lilith awakens to find her husband clutching a knife over their guests’ butchered bodies.
Here’s a new tableau to recreate with some dummies.
We last saw Henry Deaver being locked in a soundproof room by the bizarre duo of Odin and Willie, who claim that the ringing in his ears was the sound of multiple universes trying to reconcile with each other — what Henry’s father called “the voice of God.”
Odin even deafened himself to better “hear” this audio phenomenon, which he called “The Schisma.” And when Molly Strand, using her psychic ability to detect Henry’s anguish, arrives to free him from this chamber, he asks “Where are those men?”
She says, “I don’t know,” and as they escape we see that Odin has been murdered by way of a screwdriver to the eye. Who did it? Molly? His companion and translator Willie? We don’t find out in this episode.
Next page: The Black Death …
Back at Henry’s mother’s house, he arrives to find the mystery man with no name, whom he last saw when he dropped him off at the Juniper Hills mental asylum. After some patients there spontaneously lit their mattresses on fire, he escaped and came back.
He tells Henry that his mother was confused and shot Alan Pangborn to death. Then he suggests they hide the body in the woods to protect her.
Henry wants no part of this. “You hear it? You do. Finally,” the mystery man says. “
“Who are you, why did you ask for me?” Henry demands.
“I waited for you. I waited for 27 years,” the man says. “I rescued you from that basement, and I didn’t ask for any of this.”
Here’s some new information. Was he captured because he tried to help Henry?
Wendell, Henry’s son, calls the police, and when they arrive only Henry is there to explain what happened.
The lead officer, Delia Reese, is anything but understanding. Her daughter went to high school with Henry. “What did they call you again …? The Black Death,” she says. A lot of bodies seem to turn up whenever Henry is around.
Ruth Deaver’s dementia excuses her from a more thorough questioning. The cops think the mystery man must have killed Pangborn.
“Fourteen dead, another five missing. Maybe next time you’ll think twice before you spring a lunatic from prison,” Reese says. “Your mother is still confused about what happened, I’ll circle back tomorrow and talk with her again.”
Back at the bed and breakfast, Gordon is cutting up a body in the foyer. I’d have expected one of the corpses to be his wife, but instead, Lilith is helping him. “I don’t know what came over me. I’m not a murderer,” he says, the dismembered remains scattered around him telling a different story.
“It never happened,” Lilith says.
Just then, Jackie Torrance shows up outside in her taxi. She wants to talk to the new innkeepers about trading customers and boosting each others’ businesses, but when she gets a peek at what they’re doing, she storms inside.
“I had this idea five years ago! Turn this town into a murder theme park,” she says, admiring a dummy on the sofa with an ax sticking out of its head. “You got here first, so respect.”
The scene in front of her was the handiwork of Johnny Carrick in 1929. “His cousin lost it all in the stock market crash, and Johnny here refused to help him,” she says. “That is a felling ax, not a fire ax. Carrick was a fireman.”
Gordon and Lilith eventually get her to leave, and Jackie tells them she’d be happy to volunteer for tours. Outside, however, she finds a bloody bracelet in the driveway. Her weirdness detector wasn’t triggered before, but now it is.
Next page: Ruth’s heartbreaking suggestion …
At the Deaver house, Ruth still has no idea she killed Pangborn. She thought it was Henry’s father. “He was coming at me, I had no choice. He scared me. You know what he can be like,” she says. “I don’t know how he came back, but he did. Only I stood up to him this time, like I should have before. “
She has a heartbreaking suggestion for Henry about dealing with the police. “Find Alan. He knows these men. He can talk to them.”
Henry’s next move is to get his son as far away from Castle Rock as possible. “This place is messed up, it always has been. I shouldn’t have brought you here.”
But after he leaves, the bus that Wendell has boarded for Boston gets delayed when a crow crashes into the windshield. While the driver is removing its corpse from the wipers, Wendell doubles over. The Schisma is now ringing in his ears.
Henry goes to meet Molly, and the two of them begin sharing what little they know about the mystery man and the violence that springs up around him. “If he doesn’t do it himself, other people do it for him. Like he pushes them somehow,” Henry says.
“I’ve never felt anything like it when I was near him,” Molly admits.
He tells her about the man’s claim that he rescued him from a basement, and he begins to wonder which one. Maybe Warden Lacy’s?
When Molly says they could never find the key to his basement, Henry goes to the newly founded Castle Rock Bed & Breakfast to investigate for himself. The house is dark, and no one answers the door, so Henry lets himself in and begins exploring.
The basement is empty, but upstairs he finds the murder room decorated with dozens of paintings of a familiar face. We already learned from Alan Pangborn that the mystery man doesn’t age, and now Henry comes to the same realization after studying the dates on the paintings, which range from the early ‘90s to 2005 — each of them depicting him at the same age.
One black and white painting catches his eye. It’s from 1991. And the mystery man is wearing the same striped sweater that Henry was in the missing poster that was put up during his disappearance.
Then Gordon appears in the doorway. “Can I help you?”
Henry explains that he was just leaving, but Lilith has charged at him with a knife. After a brutal hallway fight, she ends up accidentally slashing her own throat, and Gordon chases Henry down the stairs and out to his car — only to have Jackie Torrance show up and bury the ax from his living room in his brainpan.
Gordon is felled.
Next page: You cannot grow old in ‘Salem’s Lot …
Elsewhere, we see the bus pull into a quiet station. It opens its doors, and one of its passengers steps out. Wendell has decided he’s not going to Boston. Unfortunately, he has gotten off at the Jerusalem’s Lot depot.
King fans know that’s a sleepy little town by day, but it has a hell of a nightlife.
When the cops arrive at the bed and breakfast, Jackie explains her bizarre encounter with the couple earlier in the day. She decided to “snoop” after hours, and that’s when she saw the attack on Henry.
She says she “wasn’t myself anymore,” which raises the question of whether Gordon and Lilith were either.
Meanwhile, Molly returns to her childhood home and sees the mystery man inside.
“Where’s Henry?” she asks.
“I don’t think he’s ready yet.”
“Ready for what?” she asks, but he doesn’t answer.
“You can help me. You know me,” he tells her.
“I don’t know anything about you.”
“You do. And I know you,” he says, then proceeds to describe her childhood in the home in intricate detail.
Upstairs, he guides her to a window. After revealing some details of her past, he also has a tidbit about her future.
“Out there, in the woods,” he says. “That’s where you died.”