Martin Carr reviews the season 1 finale of Castle Rock…
Philosophical notions and alternate dimensions in which mirror images of us exist have been around since words were put to paper, yet Castle Rock makes this idea feel fresh, intriguing and unique. Andre Holland and Bill Skarsgard who own this finale lock stock and barrel draw together inextricable threads, maintain mystery and give away nothing come that inevitable closing gambit. There in lies the draw of this superior serial and that sense that these characters can get out from under which maintains interest, sparks imagination and ultimately keeps us watching.
Spacek, Glenn, Holland and Skarsgard help shape these people, providing dimension and motive, while flashbacks either dementia driven or trauma induced give insight which feels intrinsic to circumstance. Castle Rock still requires its audience to pay attention but now that focus has been lessened as sense of place and familiarity allow us to hone in on character.
As you would expect there is a cyclical narrative inherent to the closure of season one and the inevitability of this, although obvious never feels contrived. There are still interesting questions being asked and shock tactics employed which combine with nuanced moments of character. It is best to realise early on that closure is not the intention of either writer or show runners on this gig, as to completely achieve this blocks off avenues. That is why the visceral, emotive, theological and philosophical approaches incorporated into Castle Rock leave their mark but remain open to interpretation.
If there are any lessons to be taken from this first formidable run they would be to others that something like this is possible. How a non-linear structure tied together by crafted narrative, thought provoking performance and subtle moments of emotion almost devoid of visual trickery can be successful. Mainstream networks should pay attention and take a leaf or two from the book of these show runners and throw offers at them immediately. That they have respectfully taken the idea of post credit sequences from Marvel and it works, only backs up what I have been saying from episode one. Castle Rock is an impervious nugget of Nielsen rated Kryptonite both original, old fashioned and familiar without feeling lazy or boring. Pre-order the boxset now and then send letters of thanks in care of Flickering Myth to Martin Carr.