In last week’s episode of Hulu’s Castle Rock, Alan Pangborn told us a story at his bridge naming. He mentioned that he wanted to be a magician growing up because they always seemed to have a lovely assistant by their side. The one thing he could never master, however, was the art of the misdirection. The story that the magician tells to distract the eye as they palm an ace behind your back. It is a perfect metaphor for what we were given in this week’s episode, “Filter”.
For the first fifty-nine minutes of the episode, we were being told a story. We were lulled into following the mystery set up for us since the series began. For the first fifty-nine minutes, we forgot about the brutality that follows the Kid everywhere he goes. We forgot about the guards, the celebrating family, the firefighters, the staff and patients at Juniper Hill, and focused only on our need for answers. The answers we’ve been seeking seemed so incredibly close we could taste them. We could almost hear them in the woods, if we ignored the wind. Fifty-nine minutes of being lulled into complacency. We didn’t realize, until it was far too late, that we were being distracted from what was going on behind our backs. We were neck-deep into an illusion, and the trick worked.
” We didn’t realize, until it was far too late, that we were being distracted from what was going on behind our backs..”
The episode seemingly follows Henry as he tries to piece together the fragments of his past. He is desperate to know what exactly was going on out in the woods surrounding Castle Lake and why his father would take him out there at all hours of the night. He goes into the garage where the Kid is staying and finds him watching an old home movie of Henry and his father. The first few minutes are perfectly harmless, showing the two playing hide-and-seek in a large pile of autumn leaves. Then something changed. The happy memory is cut short as we are following Henry in the woods. “Which way do you think it is?” Reverend Deaver asks his boy. “The Lord blesses those who listen more than they talk,” he continues, “Ignore the wind. Ignore the sound of your own footsteps.” He accuses Henry of not trying hard enough and pushes him forward in a threatening tone that anyone with a stern father would immediately recognize as dangerous. It’s unsettling in its dichotomy. Something drastic changed in Henry’s father between the fall and winter months of 1991. Something wormed its way into his brain and changed him.
Something is changing in the Kid, as well. He is wearing the late reverend’s clothes, even going through the motions as if he is Matthew Deaver. He lays down in the bed he shared with his wife, adjusts his posture in front of the mirror and even kicks off his “clickety-clacks” when he enters the home. This is triggering memories in Ruth as she sees this mysterious young man taking on the mannerisms and musical tastes of her late husband. She begins to lose track of what is present, and what is memory. This isn’t helped by the introduction of Henry’s son, Wendell (It’s Chosen Jacobs) into the family dynamic. He visits from Boston, triggering even more of a shift in Ruth’s psychology. She places chess pieces around the house to remind her that she is in the present and not trapped in the past.
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As the Kid is creeping around, seemingly becoming Reverend Deaver, Henry goes into the woods to try to track down where his father used to take him. Deep in the forest, Henry stumbles across the campfire of two men we have seen before. They were at the cemetery as Matthew was being re-interred. Odin (played by deaf actor CJ Jones) and his interpreter Willie (Rory Culkin) are there for the same reason Henry is – to hear “the voice of god”.
Odin knew Henry’s father back in the day and used to talk with him about this sound they are hearing in the woods. While the holy man thought it was his savior speaking to him, Odin is a scientific man. He calls it a “schism”, and he believes that it is the sound of the universe trying to reconcile all possible pasts and all possible presents into one reality. This makes us wonder if Henry’s father was bringing him out into these woods to try and help his mother do the same thing. Was her mind beginning to break into these same fragments, forcing Matthew take his son into the woods to seek out the break in reality?
We’re thankful for Odin and Willie for the first few minutes of meeting them. They’ve given us a lot of answers that we’ve been waiting five episodes for. We know that Henry’s father heard something powerful in the woods and brought Henry out there to find its location. He drew up some blueprints for a sound-proof room he called the “Filter”, but died before he could complete it. Luckily for us, Odin and Willie were able to build one in the back of their creepy motorhome! They show it to Henry, explaining that to truly hear the “schism”, one must remove all outside interference from their mind. Inside this motorhome, we start to feel a little uneasy. Maybe it’s the claustrophobic quarters these three men are in. Maybe it’s the foam cones in the filter that look like black teeth. Maybe it’s the way Odin mentions that he “corrected” himself, and they would be correcting Willie soon. Maybe it’s the memory of the two glowing hot pokers in the campfire. Maybe it’s the way Odin mentions that he didn’t make himself ‘deaf”, no, but “perfected”. Maybe it’s the way Odin shoves Henry into the filter, closing the door after him. Maybe.
At the end of the last episode, the Kid tells Alan that he can help Ruth. This week, he sends Alan to Syracuse to the junk yard where they are keeping the car Dale Lacy committed suicide in. Apparently this vehicle is crucial to the Kid’s powers of healing. After some, um, harsh gun-related negotiating, Alan gets the yard to agree to ship it to their house, where we now see him running up the front steps in a frenzy. The Kid is sitting on the stoop, looking at Alan with a snake’s detachment on his face and blood covering his hand. “Why did you leave me in that trunk, Sheriff?” he asks Alan, who screams for Ruth and runs into the disheveled home.
You see, Castle Rock was spinning us a yarn for the first fifty-nine minutes of this episode. It put us to sleep and made us happy little viewers by whetting our appetite with some of the answers we have been waiting for. All the while, the magician was tricking us. He was diverting our eyes so we didn’t see the Monster sneaking up behind us. He was sending us to the woods, or to Syracuse, so the Beast could take everything away from us without us knowing. The Kid was never interested in helping Ruth. He wants revenge against those that locked him away. He is not the unthinking, unfeeling machine he portrays himself to be. He is full of rage and brutality, telling a story and distracting Henry and Alan long enough so that he can destroy that which they love the most.
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