castle rock henry deaver review

Welcome to our spoiler-filled Castle Rock reviews, in which we explore Hulu’s new Stephen King-inspired series. (If you’re looking for a spoiler-free review of the show, click here). This week we look at episode nine, “Henry Deaver.”

castle rock episode 9

Henry Deaver

At last, Castle Rock gives us some answers. Maybe. With only one more episode to go after this, “Henry Deaver” attempts to explain just what the hell is going on in this show. You may not like the answers. At least, I’m not sure I do.

With this episode, Castle Rock moves beyond Stephen King country, and into the land of Twin Peaks. While there’s nothing Lynchian about the filmmaking on display here, there’s a whole lot of weirdness about doubles, alternate timelines and strange portals buried deep in the woods. This is all stuff out of the Twin Peaks playbook, and I don’t really know if it works here, mainly because it doesn’t have David Lynch’s steady hand guiding things.

So just what is going on here? After teasing it for the past few episodes, Castle Rock leans into the idea of alternate dimensions. Almost this entire episode is set in an alternate Castle Rock – one we haven’t seen before. It’s similar to the Castle Rock we know, but also quite different. It’s also the place where the Kid comes from. Because in this alternate Castle Rock, the Kid is really Henry Deaver.

Confused? Let’s back up. A few episodes ago, Henry – the Henry we know, as played by Andre Holland – told his son Wendell that before he was adopted by Ruth and Matthew Deaver, the Deavers lost their own baby during childbirth. After this, the Deavers adopted Henry. But here, in this alternate Castle Rock, that didn’t happen. The Deaver baby didn’t die, and grew up. To us, he’s still the Kid, played by Bill Skarsgård. But here, in Castle Rock 2.0, he’s Henry.

This is both clever and kind of goofy. When the Kid was first found in the depths of Shawshank, he was asked his name. He responded: “Henry Matthew Deaver.” “That’s not Henry Deaver,” Shawshank guard Dennis Zalewski quickly pointed out. But as it turns out, the Kid is Henry Deaver. Just a Henry Deaver from another universe. Or dimension. Or timeline. Whatever you want to call it.

Unless…he’s making this all up. The events of this episode are being relayed, by the Kid to Molly, in the current Castle Rock timeline we’ve spent the whole season in. Can we – and Molly – trust that the Kid is telling the truth? Or is this a trick? It all seems way too elaborate for a trick, and yet…I keep going back to a moment from a previous episode, where, in flashback, we see Warden Lacy tell the Kid to tell the people who find him that he’s Henry Matthew Deaver. Why would Lacy do that? If what the Kid is telling us in this episode is true, that detail doesn’t make much sense.

For now, we’ll operate under the assumption that what’s happening here is true, because to do otherwise would negate the episode entirely.

castle rock episode 9 review

Another Time, Another Place

Here, in this alternate Castle Rock, Henry, aka the Kid, has grown up to become a successful doctor, studying Alzheimer’s disease. This gives Skarsgård the chance to play a normal, well-adjusted character for a bit, which is fun, considering he’s spent the entire season playing a creepy weirdo.

As the episode unfolds, we see how different this timeline is. Here, Ruth and Alan ran off together. They moved to Pasadena, and are living out their lives. But Ruth still has Alzheimer’s. And the Kid’s father, Matthew Deaver, is still out of his damn mind. But unlike in the main timeline, Matthew wasn’t killed by Molly. Instead, he’s remained alive, hiding out in the Deaver home like a crazy hermit.

Until one day he decides to kill himself. Out at Castle Lake. Just like Warden Lacy. This act brings the Kid back home, where he finds Castle Rock to be bustling and vibrant. It’s not the doomed, dying town we know it as. It’s a thriving community. And yet, to hear Matthew tell it on recordings he made before his death, the town is still cursed.

Once home, the Kid reconnects with Molly, who is also much happier and much more well-adjusted in this timeline. She still has her psychic powers, but she’s able to live with them comfortably. In short, things are good in this version of Castle Rock.

And then the Kid finds a boy locked up in his father’s basement.

The boy turns out to be none other than Henry Deaver – our Henry Deaver, that is. Still a 12-year-old kid, played by Caleel Harris. And now the pieces start to fit together. When Henry disappeared as a child, this is where he ended up – in the alternate Castle Rock, imprisoned by the man he thought was his own father.

After the authorities come and take young Henry off to a hospital, the Kid digs through Matthew’s tapes and pieces together what happened. Henry showed up at the house, thinking he was still in his own timeline, unaware of the fact that he had slipped into another dimension. He claimed he was Matthew’s adopted son. And he claimed he could finally hear the so-called Voice of God Matthew has been rambling about.

Matthew, in turn, believed this to all be a trick, and assumed this alternate Henry was in fact the devil in disguise. So, like Warden Lacy in the main timeline, he built a cage and locked the boy inside. Just like the Kid in the “normal” Castle Rock, Henry doesn’t age. He remains a boy for decades.

Eventually, this all leads to a big, weird confrontation in the woods. Molly and the Kid go visit Henry in custody, and comes to believe Henry’s crazy story with the help of her psychic gifts. She brings the three of them to the woods, where they do indeed come across a trippy entrance into another dimension – a sort of way-station between this world, and the world we’ve spent the bulk of the show in. And perhaps other worlds we’ll never see.

In the chaos, Molly is killed and Henry and the Kid ends up in the other Castle Rock. The one we’ve come to know. Specifically, Henry and the Kid end up back in the first scene of the first episode of the series, where young Alan Pangborn is out in the snowy woods looking for the missing Henry. Henry is discovered by Alan out on the ice, while the Kid wanders around, unsure of just what the hell is happening. He’s soon captured by Lacy and locked in a cage, where he remains for 27 years.

This all sounds a lot more complicated than it is, but ultimately, the question you have to ask yourself is: do you buy this explanation? Does the  alternate dimension story the Kid is selling add up? Or is there more going on here? More we don’t know about?

I’ll confess I’m not entirely on board. Castle Rock as a whole has remained quite good, but the season is beginning to run out of steam. This episode isn’t a complete disappointment, though. I loved the juxtaposition between the haunted Castle Rock we know and the lively, fun Castle Rock on display here. And I enjoyed seeing a happier version of Molly. I also liked the way the show presents the entryway into the alternate dimension, a kind of warped, washed-out, swirling void, where other individuals appear trapped – a woman in old timey garb clutching a bloody knife; a pair of chain-gang inmates hustling along; a young girl committing suicide. It’s an eerie, unexplainable moment. And yet, it’s not enough to sustain the episode as a whole.

It’s been impossible for the show to top the ecstatic highs of “The Queen”, and with only one episode remaining, I have a bad feeling that the conclusion is going to disappoint. If so, I wish I could jump into an alternate dimension where Castle Rock has a satisfying ending instead.

castle rock henry deaver

I Understood That Stephen King Reference! 

  • When Henry, aka the Kid, comes back to Castle Rock, his taxi drives by the Emporium Galorium, a junk shop that serves as the main setting for the Stephen King short story The Sun Dog. The Emporium Galorium was also referenced in Needful Things and Pet Sematary.
  • Another location the Kid passes is an ice cream shop called Caliborne Cream, no doubt a reference to King’s Dolores Claiborne
  • The portal in the woods to an alternate timeline is likely a reference to the Doors found in King’s Dark Tower books. There, the Doors serve as transportation across large distances, and also to other worlds entirely.
Cool Posts From Around the Web: