An episode heavy on development for Castle Rock’s ace realtor Molly Strand provides a great showcase for Melanie Lynskey, a phenomenal actress. She’s been handed a juicy role here, one crafted from a classical Stephen King mold in that it’s unclear exactly how we’re supposed to feel about her. In the opening scenes, we learn that young Molly Strand murdered the injured father of Henry Deaver while his son was missing and presumed dead. Is she a cold-blooded killer? Or did she do it to protect Henry?
Something is definitely unusual about Molly Strand. We watch the 1991 version of her cross the street to Henry Deaver’s house. As his father lays in bed attached to a breathing machine, Molly, who walked barefoot in the snow by the way, stares at him. She unhooks the tube and watches a religious man die. Why? Was Henry’s father doing something evil that Molly saw (or, more likely, psychically felt) and was just protecting her childhood crush? And did she know where Henry was when she did it?
Back in the present day, Jackie Torrance is talking to Molly about being on the show Local Color the next day to promote a real-estate project. After some chit-chat about the dire state of Castle Rock, there’s a nice beat in which Molly seems to “sense” Henry about to come through the door just before he does. He seems to be very casual. Maybe he doesn’t know about the childhood crush. He clearly doesn’t know about the murder. We see Molly “hearing” sound clips from the previous two episodes, including moments with Henry she was nowhere near. She clearly has some remarkable powers, and Henry seems to amplify them. She even knows that Henry wants to sell the Old Deaver Place.
After a flashback in which Molly invites Henry into her room to check out her Ramones and Violent Femmes posters, we check in with the creepiest kid in Shawshank, eating his Wonder Bread and basically creeping everyone out. He starts glaring at Lacy’s photo on the wall — would it really still be there? — adding to the theory that the warden kidnapped him. Officer Zalewski passes all of this information on to Henry, who needs more information.
Molly comes home to a wrecked house — drawers open, fridge destroyed, property ransacked. Was someone just looking for drugs? Whoever did it, they also knocked over the box of Henry Deaver belongings in the basement, and Jackie notices. Her nosy friend will be the least of her problems soon.
As Molly is practicing for her Local Color appearance, she discovers that she’s out of drugs. That won’t work. She goes to her main connection, but he’s out. Grandma didn’t come to town. And so she finds her way to the very creepy Timberland Motor Court, a place that recalls Children of the Corn in that all the adults are gone. As one of them makes clear, all the moms are out drinking and all the dads are at Shawshank. And so the kids are holding some mock court in terrifying masks, a ceremony that ends with them yelling “Guilty!” at Molly Strand. The “judge” takes her to a room, where she finally gets to place her prescription order, only for the cops to show up first.
Coincidentally, Henry Deaver is at the Castle Rock Police Station asking about the crime scene around the warden’s car. Henry is trying to figure out exactly how Lacy and the Kid are connected, but the cops closed the case immediately. As the local law says, “Suicides solves themselves.” He overhears that the Real Estate Queen is in a cell and bails her out, although she’s not exactly grateful. She keeps trying to push Henry away, finally admitting that she feels things that other people are feeling. And she says that some people are louder than others, especially Henry. He’s the Bee Gees song that gets stuck in her head. She has one line that’s particularly foreboding: “Things happen when we’re together and it can be overwhelming.”
Not taking any of Molly’s psychic confession too seriously, Henry hails a cab to get her to Local Color on WBBV. Molly is made up and shoved onto the air, where she looks like she might pass out. Instead of having a friendly appearance about real estate, she drops the bombshell about the young man stuck at Shawshank. It’s public now. Molly says, “I think Castle Rock is ready for a little change.” It feels like that’s coming real soon.
Bad publicity isn’t good for a new warden, so Porter calls in Henry Deaver and offers a settlement. The Kid will get $300,000 but has to sign an NDA. Henry knows it’s not good enough. They’re gonna get millions. But offering the settlement to his client will finally get them face to face.
The Kid seems to only be getting creepier, and he doesn’t exactly perk up when he meets Henry. He asks unsettling questions like “Has it begun?” and wonders how old Henry is — does anyone else think that if Henry had asked The Kid his age, he might have said something like 439 like he’s a vampire? Most interestingly, he asks Henry if he “hears it now,” which is the same question we see Henry’s father ask in flashback just before the young man runs into the woods.
Molly comes home to a disaster, unsure if her house is even empty. She hears something upstairs, grabs a knife, and climbs the stairs. She steps on a broken light bulb and moves slowly down the hall. She leaves an empty room and turns around to see a bloodied priest in bandages. She can’t close the bathroom door as he screams, “Behold! I tell you a mystery!” The apparition disappears.
Four Past Midnight
• The nightmarish vision that Molly has feels important for the narrative of this season. It’s the start of Corinthians 15:51-52, and it continues: “We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed. In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed.” Could that trumpet be the sound that Henry’s father and The Kid hear?
• Porter quotes an old commercial about how “you never get a second chance to make a first impression.” She thinks it’s toothpaste, but it’s this iconic Head & Shoulders ad campaign.
• This episode was directed by Dan Attias, a TV-directing legend for three decades, twice nominated for the Emmy (for Entourage). He has helmed multiple episodes of Homeland, The Americans, Ray Donovan, The Killing, True Blood, House, Big Love, The Wire, Six Feet Under, The Sopranos, and dozens more.
• Allow a moment on a soapbox to proclaim the talent of Melanie Lynskey, once again great here and someone who has been excellent and underrated for over two decades, since she debuted with Kate Winslet in Heavenly Creatures. She makes everything better.