If you settled in for the Castle Rock finale last night hoping to have all your questions answered, you weren't paying attention to the names in the opening credits. The series might be built around the sprawling horror universe created by Stephen King, but J.J. Abrams was executive producer, the man who kept Lost's mysteries simmering for years. Spoilers to follow...
Last night ended with the Kid, who we now know is an alternative universe Henry Deaver, albeit one that has somehow become twisted into something undeniably evil and destructive, back in the cage in the bowels of Shawshank. This universe's Henry Deaver has taken on the role of captor, mirroring the beginning of the show. There were two Castle Rocks all along, alternate worlds, with the two Henry Deavers becoming trapped in the wrong ones via an invisible doorway or rift hidden in the woods. While that's satisfying in it's own way, we have lots of questions and one plea for the subject matter of the - now confirmed - second season.
Let's talk about that epilogue
At the end of the credits, Jackie Torrance, niece of infamous hotel caretaker and axe fan Jack Torrance, reveals she's writing a book called Overlooked (a reference to the Overlook hotel of The Shining, of course) and declares "the best place to finish a book is where it started." A bright, plucky, Torrance heading back to the Overlook to figure out what happened there? Sure, in the actual King novel the hotel exploded, but there must be ruins, perhaps a new hotel on the grounds? Taking on the ghosts and ghouls within its walls with her journalistic curiosity and millennial smarts? I would forget all about both Henry Deavers just for the chance to watch ten episodes of that.
What is Henry Deaver 2.0?
Even before we knew he was a Henry Deaver stuck in the wrong world, we knew there was something very wrong with 'The Kid'. Even if he wasn't the one inflicting violence on those around him, just being near him was enough to inspire it, or to turn a seemingly healthy person into a walking cancerous tumor in one night.
Now, it's understandable that after years locked in a cage, occasionally being read Bible passages, the Kid might be mentally unsound, but his problems go way beyond PTSD and into the supernatural. In case there was any doubt, the show lets us see a withered, twisted face in the closing scenes that suggests the handsome boyish looks of Deaver 2.0 are just a mask for something darker. Has his time in the wrong world turned him into some sort of demon? Is there any of the real Henry Deaver left? Or - as the horribly familiar smile at the end suggests - does the character have more in common with Pennywise than just the casting of Bill Skarsgård?
Was Ruth's dementia also a sign something was wrong in Castle Rock?
Ruth Deaver's dementia gave us the most affecting episode of the whole series, and the final episode's revelation that time between the two worlds or universes was definitely a bit wonky raises some questions. If the original Henry Deaver was missing for 11 days in his own reality, but thirty years or so in Henry Deaver 2.0s, it makes sense that Ruth's travels through her past could be more than just faulty brain chemistry.
In the finale it's hinted that perhaps Ruth's visions are more than just memories when she stands on the bridge, talking with Molly Strand. "It just zigs and zags. Forks in the river, always changing, always the same," she says of time. "Been here before, be here again. You and me on the bridge." When Molly begs her to come down Ruth laughs, telling Molly she always says that, but reacts with surprise when Molly tells her that in another time, the alternate Castle Rock, she left her abusive husband. "First time you've said that," responds Ruth. Has Ruth been able to see both timelines? Does her mental time travel extend beyond the past?
What is it that made Matthew Deaver, Henry, and his son Wendell able to hear the sounds?
One plot strand that has dangled over proceedings since around episode six is the weird sounds that Matthew Deaver interpreted as the voice of the lord, and that our Henry Deaver and his son Wendell can also hear. The show called it the "Nature of the Schisma," and Deaver thought it was divine in nature, but when we hear it with Deaver and Wendell it sounds a lot like a very badly tuned radio. Is it a version of the "the shining" from the novel of the same name, or just a sound caused by the cracks between the two Castle Rocks that the Deaver men are somehow sensitive to?
How many different Castle Rocks are there out there?
We know there are two Henry Deavers, two Castle Rocks, two different timelines, but are there more? Stephen King fans will know that with his Dark Tower series King has explored the idea of his own multiverse, with the characters and stories of different novels weaving together, all connected. The Dark Tower series was all about Doors, which let people travel between worlds - so is that's what was in the woods? It makes sense that in a show that has been built on a strong foundation of King references - Cujo, The Shawshank Redemption, Needful Things, ‘Salem’s Lot - that the Doors of the Dark Tower books have a place too.