The series premiere of Hulu’s horror anthology Castle Rock opened with a bombshell for ranking officials at Shawshank State Prison in the wake of its warden’s suicide. Deep within the bowels of a long-abandoned cell block, a corrections officer discovered a tank containing a caged and seemingly mute young man they’d later dub “The Kid” (Bill Skarsgård). With no prison record and no indication of why or how he was able to be concealed within Shawshank’s prison walls — much less how long he’d been there — the discovery surfaced some wild theories about The Kid’s origins.
Nearly halfway through the series, there are few clues as to who (or perhaps what) the man is. While Castle Rock’s first four episodes point to a supernatural origin, it’s difficult to say with certainty whether The Kid is legitimately responsible for all of the sinister phenomena afoot at Shawshank (though the sudden death of The Kid’s neo-Nazi cellmate and an inexplicable mass shooting would certainly make it seem that way). Reddit, however, offers a few pretty good ideas about what the heck up with Shawshank’s nameless prisoner.
The Kid Is Randall Flagg’s Son
Castle Rock may be a wholly new story, but it’s littered with King Easter eggs. Redditor ikiris11 suggested that The Kid could be the son of Randall Flagg, a demonic antagonist at the center of King’s novel The Stand and a recurring villain by various other names throughout King’s body of work.
I think the kid is Randal flags son. In The Stand Flag was trying to have a son with Nadine.
In the The Stand, a superflu that wipes out the majority of the human population creates a rift between good and evil, with Flagg positioned as a nefarious being intent on sowing unbridled destruction. Nadine Cross is a woman who becomes overpowered by Flagg’s evil and is later assaulted by him.
Given the fact that The Kid has been described as evil incarnate, this would at least offer some context as to why and how that came to be.
The Kid Is Ruth Deaver’s Child
This theory is among the more outrageous but somehow defendable theories for The Kid’s connection to Henry and the Deaver family at large. We know that The Kid was instructed by Warden Dale Lacy prior to his suicide to ask for Henry Deaver when he was eventually discovered, but it is not yet clear why. (Flashbacks appear to indicate Lacy may have somehow been involved with Henry’s 1991 disappearance, though that has yet to be confirmed.) Reddit user skeetulrichhoe suggested that Matthew Deaver and Lacy may have been in cahoots:
I have this idea that maybe The Kid is somehow Ruth’s child? Matthew Deaver was religious. Could if be possible that he was the one who gave the message to Lacy about Kid being the “sole reason for the evil in Castle Rock”? Even before Kid was born?
Or, maybe he wasn’t involved. Maybe he didn’t even know about Kid. Maybe Ruth doesn’t remember him because he gave her the dementia (it’s implied he gave someone cancer so it can’t be that far off).
There’s also this picture.. In the very far right, there’s a hand. It doesn’t look like Lacy’s to me. Ruth knows / knew of Kid being in the cage. She just doesn’t remember it now. Anyone who’s watched interviews with Sissy and Bill knows they have scenes together, but I think the characters are related in some way.
The photo mentioned above is one of The Kid in the cage constructed by Lacy in the tank at Shawshank:
This theory would at least seem to resolve the connection between Henry and The Kid.
The Kid Is Connected to Pennywise the Dancing Clown
The idea that there may be a connection between The Kid and It is not particularly fringe. After all, Pennywise’s cycle of appearing every 27 would seem to have some significance to the number of years The Kid spent stuck in a hole in Shawshank. Redditor InsideJobDuh noted:
Going on the idea that Stephen Kings body of work is heavily referenced in the show… Could The Kid be the It Clown. The movie based It went back into hibernation in 1988. In Castle Rock I think Henry went into the woods in 1991 so this could work. It also takes place in Maine. Not to mention Sarsgaard plays It in the latest movie. Just a thought…
Redditor rebdomine99 brought the Pennywise theory together with the idea that Randall Flagg may be connected as well:
The Kid so, Bill Skarsgard, he’s a wonderful actor, and has hit another home run with a King character, can’t wait to see what he does with it. ANYWAYS, The Kid reminds me of Randall Flagg with how Lacy talks about him, and I assume he intentionally gave his cellmate cancer when he talked to him, cause others have touched him, and he’s not given them cancer. I have to wonder if they’re related at all, or maybe The Kid is like It, and is more just the embodiment of all the evil that’s in Castle Rock, I’m not sure. I’m excited to see what his motives are.
Whether or not The Kid is directly connected to Pennywise remains to be seen, though there do appear to be some shared threads between their characters.
The Kid Is a Totally New Character
Because Castle Rock is a new series that draws from King works but is not directly based on any of them, this theory seems at present the most sound. As redditor inezzyinlove wrote:
I’ve seen plenty of post trying to link him to one Stephen King villian (monster) or another. I’ve also seen the show runners and even the actor describe him as something new, so instead of one of the master of horror’s characters, I think he is actually a combination of a few of them.
This was also floated by redditor Pirouette1209, who noted:
I’m starting to think he may be an original character loosely derived from one or a combination of his previous characters. I read something the other day that said Castle Rock is basically an original story inspired from certain universes Stephen King has created over time, so the kid doesn’t have to be a previously-used character.
As other redditors pointed out, Skarsgård previously stated at San Diego Comic-Con that The Kid was a new character with a “mythological connection” to King’s works. He did hint, however, that The Kid is “probably not what you would expect.”
Aside from these, there’s also the prevailing theory around comments made by Warden Dale Lacy that The Kid is the devil. That would certainly seem to explain all the dark phenomena unfurling at Shawshank, but it’s still too soon to say one way or the other.
One thing’s for sure though: The Kid is creepy as hell.