This might have spoilers. Please take care when reading.
I watched the entire Castle Rock Season 1, which in and of itself is an accomplishment for me. (Note, I did not watch the entire thing in one sitting.) I’m a little disappointed in the final episode, but not for regular reasons. The show had inspired me in a way, and then the final episode… well, read on.
The penultimate episode, called Henry Deaver, showed an alternate reality in which Ruth left the Reverend Matthew Deaver when he lost his mind. In this alternate reality The Kid is Henry Deaver, and the show opens with him running and sirens wailing, but it turns out he’s only exercising before an important meeting. He goes to the meeting in a suit and makes a presentation eloquently and he doesn’t seem the slightest bit creepy or unhappy. He presents a device that his company has been working on to combat the effects of Alzheimer’s disease. He’s a doctor and is inspired by his mother’s condition. After the meeting he calls his wife. In short, he’s happy.
He receives a call from Pangborn, who married his mother. Pangborn tells him that his father has died, so he goes to the house he was raised in to find a hoarder’s nightmare - nothing like the immaculate home we’re used to. In the basement he stumbles upon a small Black child in a cage - the Henry Deaver we know from our reality, but as a child. All of this opened doors to alternate reality theories, with universes crossing paths and people being flung from one to another, a real mind game.
This concept made me pause and consider my life. My thoughts focused on the trip I took in the 90’s to visit my brother who was stationed there with the Peace Corps. It was the best time of my life, and remains a highlight for me. It also was the beginnings of a problem that I’ve dealt, and will deal with, for the rest of my life.
This episode made me see my life very clearly with two realities. In the alternate one, my mother left my father when we were young and during my trip to Costa Rica I had self confidence, self esteem and I valued my life. My brother and I still traveled across the small, beautiful country, but I wasn’t the depressed, self-destructive, apathetic mess that I was in my own reality. If Mom had, indeed, taken us away from my father, would I have taken better care of myself? The alternate reality in my mind very clearly showed that I would have.
Just to be clear, I am not trying to bring anybody down here. We all make decisions based on our circumstances at the time and I do not blame anybody for mine, nor do I question anybody else’s here.
Then came the final episode, Romans. It becomes rather clear that the entirety of the previous episode was just a story that The Kid told Molly in order to get her to try to convince Henry to go to the woods with him. It didn’t work, and The Kid ends up back in the cage. None of that other reality was real. My whole personal revelation feels so false. I had made plans to look at the rest of my life and see how I could approach it with the same self-confidence that my alternate life had. I know I can still do this, but still. I feel cheated. My fictional happy future has been ripped out from under me by a twist at the end of the story, and I don’t like it.