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Castle Rock's Joy

Castle Rock Season 2 Episode 10: Clean-Recap and Review-What Joy’s Journal Said

Season two’s finale brought Misery’s origin story and a continuation of The Kid’s preparing for a probable season three.

Smart viewers predicted Joy was the vessel and Pop’s would make a return. Both things were correct in an episode that was as poignant and entertaining as any. Two complete story arches played out back to back in what felt like two finales for the price of one.

First, the Amity Lambert/satanist cult plot got a decisive conclusion. Before being rescued, Joy was prepared for marriage to Gus/Ace. What makes this even more impactful, is Joy is a child and seemed to be queer. We know the host soul remains in the body, just pushed down. Knowing that, it means Joy will have to spend the rest of her days, imprisoned in her own body, having sex with a much older man. Nadia blew everything up before that happened though releasing the townsfolk from their trance. In a nice feminist turn, Joy was able to be her own hero and stabbed Gus/Ace.

Chance and Annie were not successful in executing their part of the plan. Annie has only cared about Joy and when captured she immediately gave up the plan in an effort to save Joy. The remainder of the group fared better with Pop’s Haldol shot allowing the eldest member to subvert his parasite Ettien long enough to save the group. The Marsten House, the Fountain Of Youth goo vats, and most of the settlers were blown up or killed. I say most because we didn’t exactly see them all die including Ace/Gus who was stabbed but watched as his house exploded. He could have been far enough away to avoid death.

The Kid sensed his hold on the town was lost and disappeared. Where he went, and why, are two more questions for season three. What is clear is he will be the through-line for each season. What is less clear is which reality season two took place in. Unless Henry released The Kid from his cage this is not the same reality from season one. With Pop’s reveal to Ace/Gus we have confirmation the lake is the doorway between time and space.

The first twenty minutes was a homage to Stephen King’s best stories. Like all the best genre fare it should scare us and make us care. The more we are invested in the people and places the scarier the events unfolding will be. In just two short seasons the citizens of Castle Rock have become our friends and our enemies. Some to fear in the case of The Kid who makes an unsettling appearance, and some to feel hopeful for, in kind and capable Nadia.

Hulu has understood that from the beginning. What makes Stephen King so popular are his characters Mostly sympathetic monsters, they say and do things that are wrong, but easily understood. Many of his stories have read more like Rudy mixed with horror mashups, complete with powerful preparatory buildups. The Stand and It are so successful because the heroes are worth caring about and are facing impossible odds. Our ragtag team of heroes are determined and overmatched. As they made their plans and prepared for the battle the mournful strains of Cat Power’s Troubled Waters played. Serving as both a backdrop to the current situation and foreshadowing to later events it was haunting.

The last half of the finale played out like a sad parable for mental illness and paranoia. Annie’s origin story came full circle as she fled with Joy to Castle Rock and later Canada. It was during her time in Castle Rock she first comes upon Paul Sheldon’s Misery series. She reads to Joy every day hoping to bring the despondent girl out of her shell. In an effort to get a fresh start she takes Joy to Canada. She finds a new beginning in a sly callback to Delores Claiborne whom Kathy Bates also starred as in the film adaptation.

While there to care for an elderly patient she and Joy grow further and further apart. Parents of teens have to deal with their child’s raging hormones and rebellion, Annie is no different. A sullen teenager looking for independence. Annie’s illness prevents her from rationalizing what is happening. One twist after another tricks the viewer into thinking Joy might still be Amity and later that Joy was saved. Reminders of the past are everywhere as Annie scoops her Haldol laden ice cream for Joy and she ultimately drowns Joy just as she almost did when Joy was an infant.

Joy’s own journal betrays her when Annie sneaks into her room. Drawings of The Kid’s eyes and Ace/Gus’s fill the pages. In addition to the disturbing drawings are even stranger passages. “He who winks his eye is plotting perversity.” This passage from Proverbs 16:30 tells of those who plan mischief and evil do so with pursed lips and winking eyes. Randall Flagg and The Man In Black are often represented as a snarky, devilish figure who is obviously up to no good.

The second passage about being led where you do not want to go refers to John 21:18. It tells of the independence of youth. When people age they lose their autonomy. An elderly person relies on others to dress them and take them places. As Amity is 420 years old it’s not hard to understand why Annie was alarmed.

After drugging her child doesn’t work, Annie’s arc comes full circle and she drowns Joy. A letter found in Joy’s journal confirms she was not Amity after all, but a normal child stretching her boundaries. Annie succeeds in resuscitating Joy and they continue their lives together happily, or so it seems. In one final cruel twist, Annie’s hallucination is revealed. She did not save Joy and has only imagined her. A painful revelation reminiscent of Dean Koontz Odd Thomas shows Joy did not survive. The difference here being Odd saw dead people and Annie does not. The season closes with Annie’s obsession blooming.

This has been a fantastic season full of highs and lows. A mingling of several different stories with the thread of The Kid weaving them all together. Hulu has not released information on season three, but with the success of this season, there is no doubt there will be much more The Kid and Castle Rock, Maine.

Stray Observations:

  • Why was Pop’s able to control his body for so long when Chris was only able to maintain control for mere minutes?
  • This version of Annie likes all farm animals with cows and chickens showing up on her scrubs.
  • Were all the settlers Killed?
  • There are a ton of stories I would love to see in season three including Needful Things, Storm of the Century, and Children of the Corn.
  • Just like Annie with Paul Sheldon, I am Castle Rock’s number one fan. Only not in an obsessive, murdery kind of way.

13 comments

  1. A great review of the finale only you made one typo that sticks out like a sore thumb. ” She did not save Annie and has only imagined her.” You meant Joy.

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    • thanks for the heads up and thanks for reading!

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      • I still don’t get it.Why was her mother sitting in the audience at the bookstore?That was her mom right?And who was the man the camera pointed out at the signing?

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        • The man at the podium is Paul Sheldon the author of the Misery series. It is the man Annie Wilkes will later kidnap in the novel and movie Misery starring Kathy Bates.

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  2. I was hoping there would be some mention of the adult Henry Deaver missing poster sign.

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    • Glad I’m not the only one who caught that

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    • I was so shaken by that I couldn’t quite process it yet.

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  3. I think the drugs didn’t work because they were the false drugs the cult gave her.

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    • I thought so too for a while, but I think by then she would have replaced them with real ones.

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  4. I wish you’d mentioned the way the bookstores audience was staring up in rapt reverence to their “idol” Paul Sheldon. I half expected to hear the schism noise.

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    • That would have been an interesting twist!

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  5. Did anyone else notice the missing person poster at the Canadian gas station showing a grown up Henry Deaver?

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  6. I am still not convinced that Joy WASN’T Amity. Or at least sharing an identity with her. Why was Joy riveted to the French language soap opera on TV? She knew Annie overheard her phone conversation, who’s to say Amity didn’t counsel her to write the alibi in her notebook, to cut ties with the overbearing mother?

    Reply

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