Castle Rock’s three-episode premiere on Hulu on Wednesday surfaced no shortage of questions about the nature of Bill Skarsgård’s character, a nameless young man found trapped in the long-abandoned cell block F at Shawshank State Prison. But aside from the uncertainty over whether he’s the embodiment of evil, yet another question arises in “Habeas Corpus,” the series’ second episode: How the hell did he do away with the murderous neo-Nazi?
Spoilers for Episode 2 of Castle Rock follow below.
Skarsgård’s “kid in the cage,” the one who appears to have some yet-unexplained connection to Henry Deaver (Andre Holland), was bunked with the Shawshank inmate by prison officials in an apparent attempt to have Skarsgård’s character murdered. If viewers blinked, they might’ve missed it. But, Shawshank’s acting warden and Reeves, another seedy higher-up, first hatched the plot in Episode 1. Reeves first suggests they “take him for a drive, drop him over the border,” but once that plan’s quashed, he proposes they place the kid with a serial prison murderer:
“We could find him a roomie — psycho who collects life sentences. Circle of life.”
It’s a grim solution to the prison’s PR nightmare of finding an unlogged prisoner in a tank in an unoccupied cell block; all this, of course, following the already complicated suicide of Shawshank’s warden Dale Lacy. But when the kid is placed with the homicidal inmate, however, it’s the inmate himself who ends up being carted out of the prison cell on a stretcher. In a bizarre turn of events, his autopsy reveals his body was riddled with previously undetected metastatic cancer.
“I’m amazed he walked into that cell on his on two legs,” the coroner tells Reeves and the new warden. This is key, as we know some other highly suspect devilry has been going down within the walls of Shawshank since the kid emerged from its bowels. And then there’s that Lacy narration in the final minutes of the episode:
“Never again let him see the light of day. That’s what god told me. He told me where to find him. How his prison should be built. How to put an end to all the horrors we’ve seen in this town. What he didn’t tell me was how full of doubt I would be about what we did, or where I’d wind up in the end.”
All of this appears to underscore one of the biggest questions from the first three episodes: Is the kid the devil or what?