As we hit the business end of Castle Rock’s second season, this Hulu Original returns with a shorter episode this time around, clocking in at a little under 35 minutes. Of course, the episode itself packs a good amount of tension and action within that time-frame, all of which setting things up nicely for the final two episodes and the inevitable dramatic conclusion to this one.
While Annie and Joy are brought to Marsten House by the police, the droves of entranced Castle Rock residents begin marching toward Jerusalem’s Lot. Back at the house, Ace convinces Annie to stay, reminding her that it’s not safe outside for Joy. Away from the watchful eyes of Ace, she pleads with Joy to leave with her but she refuses to listen. As Joy turns her back on her Mother, Annie starts hearing voices again.
Meanwhile, Nadia fights off Chris in her house before managing to knock him out. She takes him to the hospital but it’s here she realizes the town is completely abandoned. Bringing him back from the brink, Nadia listens as he implores her to leave. “They’re coming for you Nadia”.
Joy’s drawings grab the attention of Ace who realizes Annie isn’t the vessel after all – Joy is. After asking numerous questions about her drawings, Annie draws Ace’s attention to the basement, questioning why it’s locked. Annie has a nightmarish vision soon after while Joy runs into Ace, who asks her about the falling man she drew. Grabbed by Abdi, Ace prepares her for the ritual at hand while Annie sneaks down to the basement and sees piles of dead bodies.
Determined to leave the house, Annie grabs a knife and stabs one of the women in the house, before slamming a sledgehammer across the face of another, repeatedly after asking where Joy is. Eventually she does find her daughter but despite managing to escape the house, as Annie steps outside she stands back in horror as the entire town stand silently infront of the house.
Chris continues to fight back again the man possessing him, teaming up with Nadia and stopping the threat from two men who arrive at the hospital. Unfortunately in the ensuing scuffle, he’s shot in the chest and dies. Back at Marsten House, Joy and Annie are separated outside as the stationary townsfolk suddenly start walking purposefully away. Joy, it seems, has seen the statue and as the episode closes out, Joy hypnotically walks with them while Annie is held back.
Compared to the first season, Castle Rock has felt far more purposeful this year, with a good injection of tension and a solid protagonist in Annie Wilkes. Lizzy Caplan plays her to perfection too, with a good balance of maniacal instability and purposeful determination. It makes it really easy to root for her too, especially given her drive to do right by Joy. Given how this one plays out in the future, I’d imagine it won’t be a happy ending for Annie and Joy may well end up the casualty in the finale.
Quite what next week holds in store for us remains to be seen but for now, Castle Rock bows out with another strong episode here.