In this week’s episode of Hulu’s Castle Rock, the Kid is sat down and forced to watch an informational film before they let him out of Shawshank. In it, someone named Lou Hadley discusses a few of the hard questions that paroled inmates might face on the outside. He discusses the importance of being honest when faced with this inquisitions, but then he ventures into strange territory. He tells the soon-to-be released prisoners that it’s important to “reframe their narrative”. They can be whoever they choose to be once they leave Shawshank, they just need to establish a story that will reinforce their desired identity. This is an interesting concept to be teaching the supposedly reformed. “You can be the hero”, he continues,”You are no longer the person who first arrived here”. These words fall over the Kid as if they were a summer breeze, but it was far too strange to mean nothing. It may seem like a throwaway scene, a moment of levity before the horror begins, but it might actually be the entire point of this show.
Back in 1991, both Henry Deaver and the Kid experienced traumatic events. The Kid was picked up by the quarry by then-Warden Dale Lacy. The young man was tied up like an animal and deposited into a cell in the bowels of the prison. Around that same time, Henry went missing in the woods by Castle Lake. He remembers very little about the days he was gone, but he remembers being locked up. He remembers a dirt floor. He remembers a toy. His father was thrown from the cliffs near the lake, and the entire town believes that it was Henry that did it.
These events are obviously related. Somehow. It’s evidenced by the ringing in Henry’s ears that gets worse every time he’s near the Kid. Sure, it could just be the after-effects of a close-range shotgun blast, but it could also have something to do with the noise his father was trying to get him to hear all those years ago. These two characters are intertwined in a way that we cannot even try guessing at this early stage of the season, but we do know one thing:
While everyone else in this story has moved on with their lives and become lawyers, real estate agents, retired caretakers or headless fish food in the quarry, the Kid has not aged a day since 1991.
So what is he? Sheriff Pangborn comes right out and asks him at the end of this week’s episode if he is the devil. The Kid says ‘No”, but it’s unclear if even he has any idea what he actually is. Earlier in the episode, as he stands high above the town on the precipice of an old factory building, he tells Molly, “You should have left me in the hole”. She senses that there is something not right with the Kid, but it’s hard to articulate what she heard while he was on that ledge. Going through his head while staring out a the town, was every bad thing that had ever happened to Castle Rock. We heard Cujo’s barking, mentions of murder and someone asking us if we wanted to see a dead body. Molly sees him as a type of antennae for all the suffering of this small town, but we know a little more than that. We, as viewers, saw first hand that he is not just a receiver of this pain and suffering, but he is also a conduit that can divert the flow of evil toward whatever surrounds him. In what is, undoubtedly, the most disturbing scene in the entire run-time of Hulu’s Castle Rock, we witness what the Kid is capable of when left alone to his own devices.
After his release from Shawshank, the Kid is staying a few nights in Molly’s real-estate office. On his first night, he decides to take a walk. As he is walking down the street, he comes upon a home where they are listening to the old standard “Animal Crackers in my Soup” and celebrating the birthday of a young boy named Gordie. He enters the home, undetected, and watches from the shadows. As he sits and watches this family of four celebrate the life of a small child, the Kid stares at the knife that was used to cut the cake. As he does, the family spirals into screams of rage and hatred. We never see what they devolve into, but we hear everything. They are screaming. They are hitting. They are berating. They are stabbing. They are killing. What we are left with in the end are the terrified wails of an infant, now alone in the house where just moments ago he was being held and loved by his father.
So, again, what is he? There have been more than a few horror fans out there who have theorized that the Kid is actually none other than Pennywise the Dancing Clown. Their evidence for this is actually pretty interesting and makes one pause and think. First of all, he is played by 2017 It’s Pennywise, Bill Skarsgård. Why would he sign on for Castle Rock, another Stephen King-inspired series in between filming Chapters 1 & 2 of Andy Muschietti’s adaptation of the novel? Secondly, the time difference is quite interesting. The Kid and Henry both went through their ordeals in 1991. 27 years before the events of this show. As we all know, Pennywise makes his appearance in nearby Derry every 27 years or so. Lastly, the Kid seems to be able to alter the reality surrounding him. It looks like he is able to influence others around him with only his mind, much like Pennywise. Is he the eternal presence of It, forced into the form of the Kid?
This meat-suit theory is believable when we see how he physically changed in the aforementioned scene with the celebrating family. He was walking down the street, his mind a million miles away, until he heard the music and the laughter. He stopped, listened for a moment, and cocked his head to hear like a predatory animal. His head bobbed back and forth like a cobra sensing his prey, looking for an opening to strike. He was hunting, and there was a hunger in his movements. I don’t know if I buy the theory yet, but it is something to think about. Will we get to see some form of the Ritual of Chüd between Henry and the Kid, either in present day or back in 1991? Let’s hope that, as the season progresses, we get to see that bottom lip poke out and his eyes wander in different directions, signaling his memory and reminding himself what he truly is.
“We don’t know what he is, but we do know what he does. He sows pain, and anger, and hate, and violence, and murder, and suffering everywhere he goes. “
We don’t know what he is, but we do know what he does. He sows pain, and anger, and hate, and violence, and murder, and suffering everywhere he goes. Unfortunately for the people of Castle Rock, it is their burden to “Harvest” his rotten crop. As Lou mentions in the infomercial at the beginning of the episode, however, it’s all about “reframing the narrative”. Does the Kid have to be the evil amplifier that he has always been? Will he be willing to re-enter the hole to stop causing so much pain? Is he, finally, ready to be “the hero”?
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