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Castle Rock season 2, episode 1 recap: Let the River Run

Castle Rock season 2, episode 1 recap
Lizzy Caplan and Paul Sparks in Castle Rock. Pic credit: Dana Starbard/Hulu

The first episode of Castle Rock season 2 aired on Wednesday night. While the first three episodes aired, this recap just covers the premiere episode.

As a reminder, Castle Rock is based on the world created by Stephen King. Castle Rock is the fictional town that many of his stories take place in and is a neighboring town to other fictional King towns like Jerusalem’s Lot — which also plays into this new season.

Also, Castle Rock is an anthology series, which means each season is its own enclosed story and does not tie in the previous seasons (think American Horror Story or Fargo).

This season does something that the first season did not do. It takes a character directly from Stephen King’s stories and makes her the lead character.

That character is Anne Wilkes, as Lizzy Caplan takes on the role that Kathy Bates made popular and just completely knocks it out of the park. Honestly, you can close your eyes and believe you are listening to Kathy Bates.

This is when Annie Wilkes was young and was on the run for a murder that still haunts her. She starts off with her very young daughter and they hit town to town using fake names and fake license plates as they travel the country.

At each stop, Annie gets a job as a temp nurse until she can steal all the medicine she needs to keep her psychosis under control. When not on her medication, she can still see the man she killed haunting her. It also looked like she might have tried to kill Joy when she was a baby, but that is unclear.

The episode flashes ahead to when Joy (Elsie Fisher) is now an older teenager and they head into Castle Rock when they have a blowout and roll their car.

They find help from a man named Ace Merrill (Paul Sparks), who tows them into town and gives them a place to stay in a small housing park he owns. However, as Annie tells her daughter, no one gives something for free without wanting something.

She is likely right.

Ace is the son of Pops Merrill (Tim Robbins), a man who has his hands in several businesses, both legal and illegal. Ace also has his hand in business, owning his own mall with the Somali population of Castle Rock and ‘Salem’s Lot renting from him.

However, he has problems as well since his adopted brother Abdi (Barkhad Adbi) is opening his own mall and is convincing shopowners to leave Ace’s mall for his.

This causes a huge problem. Ace, being a very bad person, even firebombs his brother’s home to try to drive him out.

This is where the story of Annie and Ace cross.

Joy has snuck out of the house and met some local kids and wants to make her first friends, as she has been on the run with her mother since she was a baby. However, while out, she sees Ace mixing up some chemicals in his home.

Meanwhile, Annie is working to steal medicine from a hospital in Castle Rock but she is caught. The doctor who catches her is Nadia (Yusra Warsama), Ace and Abdi’s sister who came back home to care for Pop Merrill, who has cancer.

She writes Annie prescriptions to help her and promises to keep it quiet when she realizes what is wrong with the woman. This, sadly, happened after Annie broke into Nadia and Abdi’s home to steal the key to the medicine room and was there during the firebombing.

When Annie returned home, she was paid a visit by Ace, who knows that Joy might have seen him making the firebombs and Annie did what any good mother would do.

She shoved an ice cream scoop into his mouth and used all her weight to pound it into his throat. She then takes his dead body to the area that Abdi is developing into his new mall to bury the body there.

However, while the idea is that this could lead to Abdi being implicated in the murder, the episode ends with Annie and Ace’s body falling into a hole and ending up in a huge underground tunnel.

That is where the Castle Rock season 2 premiere ends.

Castle Rock drops every Wednesday night on Hulu.


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