Does Henry Deaver really bring death with him wherever he goes? As a colleague of the now-deceased Alan Pangborn brutally reminds him, Henry has brought only pain to Castle Rock. Not only was he basically run out of town after people suspected him of killing his father, but there has been a lot of death since he returned, including the massacre at Shawshank and now the death of a Castle Rock legend. And that’s not even the end of it. Before “Past Perfect,” more death will visit the life of Henry Deaver in the form of the lunatics who bought Warden Lacy’s house. There’s a Grim Reaper over the shoulder of Henry Deaver, and he definitely gets more active whenever the boy who disappeared comes back to Maine.
After the harrowing finale of “The Queen,” the writers of “Past Perfect” pull an interesting trick by delaying our return to characters we know and love, like Ruth and Henry. It’s a very King device, ending one chapter on a cliffhanger but then delaying our return to the protagonist or regular supporting characters with something that first feels like a tangent or even a short story within a main story. In this case, it’s the story of a professor named Gordon and his wife. Remember them? They were interested in buying Warden Lacy’s house from Molly Strand. Well, it turns out they did! And things went downhill fast from there.
With the modern love of true-crime stories, it makes a certain kind of twisted sense to open a bed and breakfast centered on our obsession with such things, especially in a place with as much of a violent history as Castle Rock. However, Gordon probably had no idea what he would unleash within himself, killing their first paying customers in the middle of the night. Was Gordon always going to be a murderer or did Castle Rock bring it out of him?
Gordon’s wife helps him cover up the crime but Jackie Torrance stumbles on the scene, suspicious that something isn’t quite right here, and it’s not just the creepy paintings of the Kid hanging everywhere. Later that night, Henry makes his way to the Lacy home, curious about what was in the warden’s basement. He breaks into the house, making his way to a room filled with the aforementioned creepy art, and he has a momentous revelation. We already knew the Kid was immortal, but Andre Holland beautifully sells the terror that sinks in as he notices the dates on all the paintings change but the face remains the same. He’s looked this way for 27 years, since the year Henry Deaver disappeared as a child. Just then, a wonderfully choreographed and remarkably inept fight scene breaks out as Gordon’s wife tries to stab Henry, getting her husband instead and then nailing her own jugular in the process. Jackie comes to the rescue, saving Henry with, of course, an ax. Would a Torrance have it any other way?
While this odd little short story within a big story was the main focus of “Past Perfect,” other plot threads progressed this week that are worth discussing. First, there’s the development of Wendell, Henry’s son, who first seemed like he might be a bit of a plot device, a way to play with Ruth’s memory even more, but now appears to be much more. Henry tries to get him on a bus out of town, but it’s almost as if there’s a force that doesn’t want him to leave. A bird crashes into the windshield of the bus before it’s even hit the road, and then Wendell experiences what sounds like feedback — he’s clearly inherited his father’s “gift.” In the middle of the night, while dad is fighting for his life, Wendell gets off the bus and starts walking back to Castle Rock.
And then there’s Molly. Mrs. Strand, the woman with a supernatural connection to Henry Deaver, gets a visitor in the final scenes of the episode, but that’s after she saves Henry from Odin’s camper. We see Odin dead outside. Molly takes Henry home to the nightmare that is the accidental murder of Alan by Ruth, and there’s a beat there worth considering as well. When the Kid shows Henry Deaver the body, he offers to help protect Ruth. If Wendell hadn’t called the cops, would Henry have taken it? Does anyone get the sense that the Kid is trying to partner with Henry rather than be an antagonist? He wants someone else who “hears it” too.
Back to Molly. First, it’s worth noting that Molly takes a bunch of pills to quiet her visions — which is the best explanation as to why she doesn’t “feel” what’s going on with Henry at the B&B From Hell. The episode climaxes in a visit from the Kid to Molly’s house, a legendary location in Castle Rock. He makes it clear how supernatural he is, revealing how much he knows about her background. As Henry gets a call from the pastor about a confused Ruth, the Kid says something wonderfully mysterious and threatening. As he looks out the window with Molly at the woods, he says he was out there with her. And he tells her, “That’s where you died.”
Four Past Midnight
• There’s an intriguing beat when, after saving Henry’s life, Jackie says, “I wasn’t myself anymore.” It might sound standard on any other show, but there’s been a lot of implications this year that people in Castle Rock can be controlled by others, including Molly/Henry and the Kid. Was Jackie being controlled in that moment?
• Wondering about that terrifying audio in the final scenes that sound like far-off voices and a record scratch? It’s actually a song called “Miste” by Haxan Cloak.
• This episode has such a different structure than “The Queen,” paced with longer scenes and less-stylized editing. It’s fun to see a show that can switch it up formally week to week and still feel consistent.
• There are only two episodes left! I’ll miss the characters of Castle Rock, but you’ll be happy to know it was just renewed for a second season.