'Castle Rock' recap: The mystery man's identity is revealed
Go then, there are other worlds than these.
The show has already stated that the “Voice of God” that Henry’s father claims speaks to him from the woods is the sound of friction between multiple universes.
“Other years, other nows. All possible pasts, all possible presents. Schisma is the sound of the universe trying to reconcile that.”
So explained Odin Branch a few episodes back, and here we get an episode focused on one of those alternate worlds. We also learn the real name of the mystery man played by Bill Skarsgård: Henry Matthew Deaver.
But he and the character played by André Holland are not one in the same, although they share the name. They don’t really share the same universe, or shouldn’t.
Skarsgård has spent decades locked below Shawshank prison, but he hasn’t aged a day. That’s because he’s a man from another time, another place. His body is not part of the chronology of the place he’s inhabiting.
The same thing happened to the young version of Holland’s Henry Deaver, played by Caleel Harris. At some point, while exploring the woods and searching for the Voice of God that his adoptive father described, the boy ended up in another time and place himself, one in which the Reverend Deaver and his wife Ruth never lost their biological child.
That child grew into Skarsgård’s Henry Deaver, a doctor researching a cure for Alzheimer’s disease. His mother is still suffering from it, but she has led a different life than the Ruth we know from the original Castle Rock timeline.
This other Ruth left her abusive minister husband and took her son to live with her and Alan Pangborn. They had a happy life and raised a happy son, who learns during his trip home that he may soon be a father himself.
He’s summoned back by a call from Pangborn. His father has committed suicide, out at the lake, just like Warden Lacy in the other timeline. And just like Warden Lacy, Reverend Deaver has a prisoner in the basement — the child Henry, the adopted Henry, played by Harris.
Here’s where the story becomes a kind of loop — or a wheel, in the parlance of The Dark Tower. Child Henry was swept back in time, landing sometime after 1991, when Skarsgård Henry would have left Castle Rock with his mother and Alan Pangborn.
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There are audio cassettes of Reverend Deaver describing his experiences with the boy, who appeared from nowhere, claiming to be his adopted son. The boy knew specific details about the family and house, but the reverend came to believe he was “a deceiver,” a source of evil manifested by the town and its cursed place in the world.
So he cages the child in the basement, and the episode begins with narration from the reverend that mirrors a letter Warden Lacy wrote to Sheriff Pangborn in the other timeline. “Let me stand athwart the door, I told him, but God, he doesn’t take request. I waited for years for instructions. Then one day, one terrible day, God answered.”
When Skarsgård Henry comes back to his father’s old house, he finds the boy and immediately calls the police. Dennis Zalewski, who in the other timeline was a Shawshank guard, but here is an officer with the Castle Rock PD, is one of the people who respond to the call.
Skarsgård Henry has also reconnected with Molly Strand, who is a city official in this timeline and doing quite well for herself. In fact, Castle Rock looks to be a lot more prosperous as well. In this version of events, Molly’s bossy sister is the black sheep, having destroyed her marriage with an affair, only to end up on her sister’s couch.
Molly is the one Skarsgård Henry confides in when he finds his father’s tapes, ruminating on various local disasters like a school bus rammed by a train and a helicopter that crashed in the town square.
All of those tapes were made long ago, however, and they reference the boy in the basement even though he couldn’t be more than 12. It turns out Harris Henry also hasn’t aged, following the same rules that apply to Skarsgård Henry in the other timeline.
“I can find out where they took him,” Molly says, but when they get to the child welfare facility, they find it in flames. Seven are dead, ten still missing. They think the boy did it.
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Molly talks the police into releasing the boy to her and Henry’s custody since jailing him after all that time in a cage would be inhumane. Zalewski will trail them and stand watch outside, but on the drive home Molly veers into the woods.
The boy wants to return to the Schisma, so she’s going to help him.
Once they are in the woods, the boy stops. He sees a vision. Daylight, and a young girl standing in colonial garb, holding a bloody knife. In Rev. Deaver’s recordings, he traces Castle Rock’s woes back to its own original sin — a group of French settlers who froze to death, all except for the girl who survived by feeding off their bodies.
Here she stands inside the Schisma, which Molly can see when she touches Harris Henry.
Meanwhile, Skarsgård Henry and Zalewski are trying to keep up with them. Molly and Harris Henry are seeing other visions of people from different times and places in Castle Rock’s history.
Zalewski fires a warning shot in the air, but somehow a bullet also goes through Molly’s stomach. She falls into the leaves and dies, fulfilling what Skarsgård Henry told her in the last episode about knowing the place where she died.
“Help him. Help him,” she tells Skarsgård Henry, evoking shades of Joseph Heller’s Catch-22.
“Help the bombardier. Help him. “
“I’m the bombardier.”
While Zalewski tends to the mortally wounded Molly, Skarsgård Henry pursues Harris Henry until he too can see into the Schisma.
Then he finds himself in the same spot, but a snowy landscape. At the edge of the lake, he sees Harris Henry standing on the ice, with Alan Pangborn calling out to him. The boy has been missing for six days in this world, although he was trapped in the other for years. It’s 1991, but the episode ends in the present day, after Skarsgård Henry’s 27-year imprisonment.
He’s standing in Molly’s childhood bedroom, as he was at the end of the previous episode when he told her where she died. “I wandered around for days, trying to get back. I couldn’t,” he says. “Then Lacy found me. Took me to Shawshank. Said he heard the call. Said I was the devil.”
He looks back at her. “You believe me, don’t you?”
There’s still much to be explained, but one thing is clear — this is a clever way for the writers to explain their own presence in the King universe. He is God, and his voice dictates the stories. But there are many worlds connected to his own and those he has offered up to the creators and writers of Castle Rock as a playground.