The season’s mid-point sees flames knocking on Castle Rock’s door.
A brief flashback opens “Harvest” revealing that Henry (Andre Holland) was having health issues two years prior involving a ringing in his ears. Returning to the present it’s clear that the shooting rampage he walked into at Shawshank has triggered it again. He’s too busy to worry too much, though, as his new client, the Kid (Bill Skarsgard), has been released into the wilds of Castle Rock.
The doctors determine he’s suffering from retrograde amnesia, and with no idea who he is and no place for him to go Henry takes him in with Molly’s (Melanie Lynskey) help. She sets up an inflatable mattress for him — an amusing thought for a character who may just be the devil. They advise the Kid stay in the room and avoid Castle Rock’s streets, but he goes out wandering after dark anyway coming to rest in a home where a young couple is celebrating their young son’s birthday. It’s a joyful scene, but as he sits quietly in the shadows we hear the celebration descend into chaos. It’s equal parts chilling and intriguing as we see his effect doesn’t seem to require a touch to cause bloody mayhem.
Jackie (Jane Levy) visits Molly’s loft the next morning unaware that the Kid is a temporary resident, and as she hops onto his mattress she also finds a pocket knife under the pillow while a naked Kid watches from nearby. It’s a reminder of just how bad of an idea this was — they have no idea if he’s a murderer, a rapist, a Scientologist — and when Molly returns she finds the place empty. Nothing to worry about, though, as Jackie’s simply taken the Kid out to get high on a tour of the town.
Turns out Jackie is just a cool lady.
It also turns out that she’s Jack Torrance’s niece. Her real name is Diane, but she changed it to Jackie as an act of protest towards her parents’ refusal to talk about how he went mad and chased his family with an ax one winter. She loses her audience when the Kid climbs atop an abandoned factory roof — his second time doing so as earlier he sat on the roof of the family celebrating the birthday — stands on the edge, and “listens” to the voices of distress echoing through the town. Molly, in turn, hears some of his thoughts, but as she explains to Henry, “Everyone broadcasts at their own frequency… but with him it’s like I was listening to the pain of everyone in this town all at once.”
She tells him something’s wrong with the Kid, and Henry responds by… having the Kid stay the night at his mom’s house. Oh Henry. He at least has him stay in their garage instead of the main house, and as he prepares the pull-out couch (for the devil!) the Kid starts playing the piano. Alan (Scott Glenn) finds him creeping around the woods later and confronts him revealing three things.
One, he’s not the devil. Although, let’s be honest, would the devil admit to being the devil? Two, Alan saw him in the trunk of Warden Lacy’s car nearly three decades prior, and while Alan’s aged the Kid looked exactly the same. So while he may not be “the” devil he may still be something fairly devilish and immortal. And three, he tells Alan that he can “help” Ruth (Sissy Spacek). The implication is he can heal her Alzheimer’s, but “help” can have a lot of definitions depending on who’s doing the defining.
Casting its smoky shadow over everything in this episode is a raging wildfire ripping through the nearby forests and possibly heading towards Castle Rock. We see some townspeople wearing masks and hear news reports about the damage its causing, and it carries a certain feeling of judgmental flames lapping at the town’s front door. The Kid may not be the devil, but he just may have brought hell with him all the same.
References! Quotes! Questions!
- The kid celebrating the birthday is named Gordie, but odds are he’s not related to Gordie Lachance from “The Body”/Stand By Me. Still a nice little nod.
- The doctor suggests they might find a room for the Kid at Juniper Hill, a mental hospital that’s been featured previously in King’s novels including It, Needful Things, Gerald’s Game, and more.
- The addition of impending wildfires combined with the tightening of the town and the presence of a weird stranger in the Kid all remind favorably of King’s Storm of the Century. If you haven’t watched that one yet do so sooner rather than later as it’s a real beaut of increasing tension and devastating finale.
- Always nice seeing James Le Gros in things, and we even get a quick glimpse of Rory Culkin watching Alan’s ceremony from the sidelines.