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Castle Rock

type
TV Show
run date
07/25/18
performer
Andre Holland, Melanie Lynskey, Bill Skarsgard, Sissy Spacek
broadcaster
Hulu
seasons
1
Genre
Drama, Thriller

We gain a new perspective on the events of the present by weaving through the mind of someone lost in the past.

For episode 7 of Castle Rock, titled “The Queen,” we see things through the fractured perspective of Sissy Spacek’s Ruth Deaver, a woman ostensibly struggling with dementia, who in the previous installment revealed she is pinballing around between traumatic events of the past.

In an astoundingly powerful performance, Spacek as Ruth is both the hero and the victim in this story. She uses a relatively recent gift of a chess set to help ground herself in the present. As she tells Wendell, her grandson, she scatters the pieces around her home to remind herself that if she sees one, “I know it’s now, not then. And I can find my way out of the woods.”

This presses pause on the other storylines playing out in the show. We left things with the ominous mystery man sitting wounded outside Ruth’s house. Meanwhile, Henry Deaver was locked inside a soundproof room by a demented scientist who insisted the “voice of God” that Henry’s father (and Ruth’s late husband) had pursued in the woods was actually physical evidence of multiple universes.

Other years, other nows. All possible pasts, all possible presents. Schisma is the sound of the universe trying to reconcile that.

Ruth is trying to reconcile the same. Recapping this episode is difficult because it amounts to scattered puzzle pieces. Before this, some of the pieces were missing. Now they’re all face-up, but we have to assemble them to understand the picture they create.

So much of Ruth’s existence is disorientation. Where is she? When is she? But in the midst of it all, we find the answers to some of the other bizarre events of the present.

For one, the thing with the dead dog is explained. In an early episode, Henry finds Alan Pangborn in the woods, digging up a suitcase used as a makeshift coffin for a stray dog who had been struck and killed by a truck several weeks ago. Ruth kept thinking the dog was back, and she wanted evidence that it was truly dead.

Alan excavated it, opened it up, snapped a cell phone picture of the deceased animal, and that was that. Weird, right? But it turns out to have more significance than we knew.

For one, we see the death of this particular animal happen. A clear accident with a tragic outcome, but it loosens a memory in Ruth’s junk-drawer mind that haunts her.

“Did I ever tell you what happened to Puck?” she tells Alan. Puck was the similar-looking dog that the family had when Henry was a boy. The pet just disappeared one day, with no explanation.

Leapfrogging to the end of the episode, we see her discovering an empty package of rat poison tucked deep into her trash. The dog was reacting badly to her husband, who showed extreme domineering if not outright abuse in this episode.

It’s clear the Reverend Deaver murdered the family pet. But apart from showing his cruelty, why does this matter? Ruth has a conflict with the specter of her late husband near the end of the episode, and he taunts her about her failure to muster the courage to leave him and run away with their son to a new life.

But there is something else calling to her from beneath these memories. She’s trying to hear it, just as her husband and Henry strained to hear the Schisma — the “voice of God” — in the woods.

In a way, it is now calling to Ruth.

Continued on the next page…

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