I was one of those rare few people that really enjoyed Castle Rock’s first season, including the ambiguous, open ending. Castle Rock’s second season then is certainly a step up from that and likely to appeal to a broader audience. Following on from a strong episode last week, Castle Rock returns to the present day with an episode that feels like its building the foundations ready for a dramatic conclusion to the season.
We begin with Rita at a group therapy session, telling them she used to be an addict. She goes on to cryptically mention Annie and how she was sucked into her story, before returning to her mobile home. This is where we see Joy phoning through and speaking to her biological mother, bringing us up to date. As Rita heads over to a map, she picks up a pinned picture of Annie and moves it across to Castle Rock.
While Annie is taken home by a silent Ace after drowning her sorrows in alcohol, Nadia meanwhile questions Abdi about what happened 5 years ago with Pop. As they stare at each other on the porch, Ace meanwhile murders a random couple before bringing their bodies to the underbelly of Marsten House, shutting them in coffins and beginning to pray in a foreign tongue.
Rita arrives in Castle Rock some time later and questions Chance about Joy. She remains silent though, refusing to give up much information before shutting the door on her. As Annie leaves her house, she spies Rita from afar walking toward her. Panicking, she hurries back into her house and tries to find her books.
Chris awakens in Marsten Estate and finds himself face to face with his brother again. Only, this time he and Ace talk about the work they need to do and how much more is left. Back in the basement though, the coffins are opened but only one body happens to be there; the other stumbles out into the open and right into the side of Nadia’s car. She takes her into hospital where the nurses struggle to work out exactly what’s happened to the girl. To add further mystery, it turns out she has two blood types. Heading back into the room to do further tests, Nadia finds the girl missing and as we soon learn, it turns out she’s been brought back to Marsten Estate with Ace and the others.
Meanwhile, Joy meets with her biological Mother while Annie heads home and writes a letter to Joy. She hands it to her when they meet in the middle of the woods where she finally admits the truth to her. When she heads home, Annie finds Rita sitting at the table, playing a voicemail from Joy thanking her and refusing to leave Annie’s side. Rita drops a gun noisily to the table, showing her intent, before ushering Annie out the door and to follow her into the woods.
Back home, a possessed Chris returns and offers Nadia a glass of wine. As she does, Joy reads the letter from Annie; a heartfelt message about how much she cares for Joy and how good they are together. She closes up the note by reminding Joy she’ll always be her number 1 fan. When she returns home however, she finds the house empty.
Rita, meanwhile, holds the gun up at Annie’s back and forces her outside. She manages to get away though and as Rita fires blindly, she looks set to hit Annie in the face until Joy arrives and injects something into her shoulder. As she falls, so too does the gun which fires and hits Rita square in the stomach. As police arrive, Joy and Annie throw their hands up in defence as Annie screams out “I did it”, with blood soaked across her hands and shirt as the episode closes out.
What are the residents of Marsden House planning? What will the repercussions be following Rita’s murder? And will this season end with another open conclusion again? As we pass the midway point of the show, all of this looks set to gear up for a dramatic second-half, as Marsten House grows in power and threatens to swallow up Castle Rock and cause carnage. With Annie and Joy seemingly back on the same page again, their future certainly looks bleak following Rita’s death.
There are a lot of questions hanging over this one but there’s enough here to keep you coming back for more. Quite what will happen next week though remains to be seen but one thing’s for sure, dark times lay ahead for Annie and Joy.