Terry O'Quinn Castle Rock

Habeas Corpus

Castle Rock episode 2, “Habeas Corpus”, is when the series begins to hit its groove. Primarily because the show takes a step back from setting up so many god damn mysteries and tries to tell a haunting story. A story primarily narrated from beyond the grave by Terry O’Quinn’s now-headless Warden Lacy. “It’s not luck, it’s plan,” Lacy’s narration begins, “And not God’s either. Remember the dog? The Strangler? Sure you do.” (The dog is, of course, Cujo. And “the strangler” is a reference to the serial killer from The Dead Zone). These two events are famous – or infamous – in Castle Rock’s history, but they’re only the tip of the cursed iceberg.

As Lacy says: “Take any house in this town…every inch is stained with someone’s sin.” We see flashbacks of suicides, and murders. Horrible, horrible things happen in Castle Rock. And why? “People say it wasn’t me, it was this place,” Lacy’s narrates. “And the thing is…they’re right.”

In rather impressive fashion, Castle Rock‘s second episode begins answering questions. Episode 1 was so Mystery Box-y that I feared the series was going to turn into a puzzle show, like Westworld. Instead, “Habeas Corpus” delves into some of what was set up previously. We learn just why Lacy locked the Kid away – or at least, his own personal reasoning behind the action. Whether or not it’s true remains to be seen. But as far as Lacy is concerned, the Kid is the devil. He’s the living personification of all the evil’s that plague Castle Rock. And God Himself personally instructed Lacy on how to capture and imprison this devil to save the town.

And Lacy wasn’t the only one in on this. Pangborn later runs into the new Shawshank warden at a bar, and begins spouting off about Lacy. “He said he had always thought the devil was just a metaphor,” Pangborn says, “but now he knew, the devil was a boy. And he said he caught it – had locked the devil in a box.” Before he departs, he gives the Warden a warning: don’t let the Kid out. 

We also learn why everyone thinks Henry is a murderer. Henry runs into a local, Jackie Torrance (hey, that name sure sounds familiar!), played by Jane Levy. Jackie is fascinated by Henry, treating him like a rock star. Jackie tells Henry he’s something of a local boogeyman in town – they think he lured his adopted father out to the woods, then pushed him off a cliff and killed him. Henry corrects her – his father died at home, not in the woods. “Kids used to dress up like you for halloween,” Jackie says. “But then it became a whole thing…with blackface…” It’s a funny moment, but it once again underlines how much of an outsider Henry is in this very white Maine town. In an earlier scene, Henry pays a visit to Warden Lacy’s blind wife (Frances Conroy), who, when she realizes who Henry is, asks, “Are you black?” “Last time I checked,” Henry replies, before she throws him out of her house. Right before he goes, though, he notices a padlock on the basement door. 

Levy’s Jackie Torrance is a breath of fresh air here. All the other actors are playing their parts very seriously, with a truly dour note. Levy’s Jackie, however, is almost giddy. And she’s giddy over truly ghoulish things, which makes her all the more interesting. Jackie’s name is, of course, very similar to that of Jack Torrance from The Shining. But Jackie isn’t the one in town with “shining” abilities.

Instead, that gift – or curse – belongs to Molly Strand. As Molly meets with her sister (Allison Tolman), she delves into her drug usage. As Molly puts it, she only takes a small amount of drugs to “muffle other people’s noise.” She can, essentially, hear what’s going on in other people’s heads. And it’s very, very loud. “Habeas Corpus” tells us even more about Molly. When she was younger, she was Henry’s next door neighbor, living in the house across from his. She would spy on him through her bedroom window, and even “stalk” him, according to her sister. We see young Molly writing Henry’s name over and over and over again in a notebook.

Henry, meanwhile, heads to Shawshank to try to find info on the mysterious Kid, but the new warden stonewalls him, and pretends she has no idea what he’s talking about. In the meantime, she has the Kid moved into a cell with a violent skinhead. The hope is for the skinhead to kill the Kid, and make the problem go away. But it backfires – when morning comes, it’s the skinhead who is dead. Before his demise, we saw him begin to threaten the Kid. “You don’t want to touch me,” the Kid whispers, and apparently this was a warning the skinhead should’ve listened to. Because when they perform an autopsy on his corpse, they find his body riddled with cancer.

Unable to find the Kid through official channels, Henry resorts to sneaking into Shawshank with a church choir, and the episode concludes with an eerie sequence in which Henry wanders through the Shawshank grounds as Dexter Britain’s haunting “Imagining The End” plays. Zalewski, the guard who called Henry in the first place, finds a way to sneak the Kid outside so that he can have a chance encounter with Henry. It doesn’t go according to plan – Henry separated from the Kid by several fences, and shouts that he can only be the Kid’s lawyer if the Kid asks. But the Kid doesn’t ask. He simply stands there, squinting in the sunlight. And that’s when Warden Lacy’s narration kicks back in. “Never again let him see the light of day,” he says. “That’s what God told me.”


The final reveal is that the Warden’s narration is coming from a letter he wrote before his death. A letter to Alan Pangborn, in which he calls Pangborn Castle Rock’s true protector. From the look on Pangborn’s face, he doesn’t seem particularly thrilled with this classification.

Jane Levy Castle Rock

I Understood That Stephen King Reference! 

  • As mentioned above, the narration from Lacy mentions both Cujo and The Dead Zone. It also mentions “finding a boy’s body by the train tracks,” which is a reference to The Body, the short story that would become the film Stand By Me.
  • While visiting Lacy’s house, Henry finds several newspaper clippings referencing events from CujoThe Dead Zone and Needful Things.
  • I’m not so sure what I think about this whole “Jackie Torrance” thing. It’s obviously a Shining reference, but the name is just too similar to Jack Torrance for my liking. And it’s unclear on if she’s supposed to be related to that character, or if this is all a coincidence (I’ve only seen the first 4 episodes of the show, and they don’t answer this question).
  • “Nan’s Luncheonette” is brought up by Henry. This eatery is mentioned as a location in both It and King’s short story The Sun DogThe Sun Dog is set in Castle Rock, but It is set in Derry, Maine. Which means Nan’s Luncheonette is either a chain restaurant in two different towns, or King forgot that he used it twice. Either way, Jackie tells Henry the luncheonette has long since burned down. 

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