Castle Rock Season 2 Recap and Wrap-Up

Castle Rock Season 2 just wrapped up on Hulu and we loved it! We’ve got a compete recap of the season, all the terrific Stephen King Easter eggs, the answers that were revealed, and the questions we are still left with.

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1:35 What we’re watching: Brittany Runs a Marathon, The Irishman, A Marriage Story, The Kominsky Method, Merry Happy Whatever, V Wars, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Richard Jewell, The Movies That Made Us, The Masked Singer, Runaways, Daddy’s Home 2.

Stinger Topic of the Week: Castle Rock Season 2 Wrap-Up

annie and joy in Castle Rock
Lizzy Caplan and Elsie Fisher in Castle Rock. Photo Credit: Dana Starbard/Hulu.

25:11 Castle Rock is a psychological-horror series set in the Stephen King multiverse. It’s an anthology series on Hulu, which means that each season features a new story and new actors. But while season 2 is a new story, we can tell you that characters and ideas from season 1 do factor in.

So do you need to watch season 1 before season 2? It’s not essential, but you’ll get more out of season 2 if you do!

Showrunner Dustin Thomason told us in an interview at New York Comic Con that the plan is to weave threads into each season that will ultimately come together at some point. He said, “The plan was always to have an interconnected set of stories and, while every season would be its own launching point, there would be this fabric of Stephen’s multi-verse, if you will, that always bubbled beneath it, and a unity to the stories that existed.”

Bill Skarsgard in Castle Rock.
Bill Skarsgard in Castle Rock. Photo Credit: Patrick Harbron/Hulu.

Castle Rock Season 2 Recaps

Ep1: “Let the River Run”
We meet Annie and her daughter, Joy, as they drive. We learn that they seem to be hiding or running from something – they change license plates and object when a man takes a photo of their plate. We see Annie taking pills on a regular schedule.

As they drive through Castle Rock, they get in a car accident and get stuck in town while they car is repaired. Annie gets a temp job at the hospital and tries to steal the pills she needs. Joy is stir crazy and tries to make friends.

We also meet Pop Merrill, his nephews Ace and Chris, and Abdi and Dr. Nadia, who Pop adopted years ago from Somalia. Abdi and Ace are in conflict, and Ace throws a molotov cocktail through Nadia & Abdi’s window. Annie witnesses this, and Joy saw Ace making the cockails.

Ace watches Annie’s internet activity and figures out she’s not who she says she is. He threatens her because Joy saw Ace making the molotov cocktails. Annie kills him with an ice cream scoop.

Wow – that’s a lot of info and action to pack into one episode. And every other episode is just as exciting!

Ep2: “New Jerusalem”
Annie tries to bury Ace’s body at the construction site, but she falls into a cave. She finds her way through the cave and ends up in the bizarre Marsten house. Joy cuts her hand and ends up in the hospital. She has a phone her friend Chance gave her and she starts googling herself and Annie and finds no info.  Joy is starting to question her mother.

Meanwhile, everyone is looking for Ace. Ace’s dog runs to Annie’s cabin, so Pop confronts Annie. She points the finger at Abdi. Pop grabs Abdi and ties him up to question him – but ends up collapsing. We now know that Pop has cancer and is not doing well.

Ep3: “Ties that Bind”
Annie sees Ace and goes back to the Marsten House to try to confirm he’s dead, but the cave she fell into is sealed up with concrete. Annie thinks she is having hallucinations and suspects her meds are off.

Joy goes to Castle Lake with her new friends to look for Ace’s dead body. When she returns, Annie tells her that she killed Ace, but he came back. Joy gives her the “emergency drug” to knock her out, then ties her up in bed to force her to take her pills. Annie fakes taking them because she thinks the doc messed up the prescription. Joy finds out and they argue. In a gruesome scene, Annie breaks a glass under her pillow and cuts the rope holding her wrists, dislocating her shoulder and cutting her face in the process. 

We wonder if Ace is really alive or Annie hallucinated him, but then we see him talk to Pop and other people in town and we know he is somehow alive!

Ep4: “Restore Hope”
In this episode we get some back story for Nadia and Abdi. We discover that a soldier killed their mother right in front of them in Somalia – and that soldier was Pop.

Joy goes to Nadia for help after Annie cut herself out of the ropes. Nadia brings her to a shelter. Chance breaks in their house to get Joy’s stuff, which includes a mysterious locked box.  Joy cracks the safe and finds a CD with a story on it called “The Ravening Angel.”

Nadia finds out that Pop’s cancer treatment isn’t working, so she tries to get him into an experimental program. She needs his military info, so she starts digging around in his private papers and discovers he was the one who killed her mother in Somalia. She confronts him and yells at him.

Meanwhile, we see Ace killing several of the town’s people. But they all come back to life, so it’s clear there is something supernatural going on.   

Yusra Warsama and Barkhad Abdi in Castle Rock. Photo Credit: Dana Starbard/Hulu.

Ep5: “The Laughing Place”
This was the masterpiece episode of the season. We see Annie as a child with dyslexia. Her parents – who clearly have their own problems – decide to homeschool her. Her father is trying to write a book, much to her mother’s dismay, and he has Annie type/read it to help her learn to read better. They also hire a tutor – Rita – who Annie loves.

Years later, Annie gets her GED. She is hopeful about the future, but Annie’s mom is insane and keeps talking about making things “clean.” She tries to kill them both by driving her car into a river. She dies, but Annie survives.

Annie then lives with her Dad and Rita shows up with her baby – who we find out is Annie’s half sister. Annie is angry because she figures out her Dad cheated on her Mom. But when she reads that her Dad dedicates his book to Rita, she snaps and accidentally pushes her Dad down the stairs and he dies. She then stabs Rita and takes the baby and runs. That baby is Joy.

Meanwhile, Joy is reading “The Ravening Angel” and gets to the dedication at the end and looks up Rita Green online. 

Ep6: “The Mother”
Rita tracks down the phone number that Joy called from and comes to town to find her. Joy learns the truth about everything. She is devastated, but still feels love for Annie, the only mother she’s known. She tells Annie to leave – to go far away where no one can find her. Annie seems to accept that Joy needs to go her own way and writes her a letter saying “I’ll always be your number one fan.”

After Joy tells Rita she wants to be on her own, Rita goes to the cabin to confront Annie. Joy also goes back to the cabin and hears yelling outside. She finds Rita, about to shoot Annie. Joy sticks Rita with a needle – the “emergency drug” – to knock her out. As Rita is falling, she drops the gun and it goes off, shooting herself. The cops come and Annie confesses to the killing to protect Joy. 

Ep7: “The Word”
This was another shocking episode as we learn about the history of Castle Rock/Salem’s Lot. Back in 1619, a group of French settlers were having trouble growing anything on the land. Amity made a deal with “an angel” – who is revealed to be “The Kid” from season 1!! WHAT?!?

The settlers enjoyed a bountiful harvest, but then the “angel” asks something of them. They all need to die so they can come back to life in 400 years and continue the angel’s work. But just what is the angel’s work?? Or is he really the devil?

The settlers, who were in the cave that Annie fell into, are being reincarnated into new “vessels” (bodies) under the direction of Ace/Augustin. Ace is trying to find the Kid and finds his cell at Shawshank empty. Where’s Henry Deaver – who is supposed to watching over him?

During the Castle Rock/Salem’s Lot 400th anniversary parade, a statue of The Kid is revealed, we hear the creepy schisma sound from season 1, and almost everyone falls under a spell.

A few people were immune, but we never find out why. Hopefully they will address this in a future season!

Annie with knife in "Castle Rock."
Lizzy Caplan in Castle Rock. Photo Credit: Dana Starbard/Hulu.

Ep8: “Dirty”
The townspeople follow the statue through town and more and more are compelled to follow it on its way to the Masten House. Annie & Joy have been brought from the police station to the Marsten House by one of the officers who is a vessel. Ace thinks Annie is the vessel that will become the reincarnated Amity. But then Ace sees Joy’s drawings (Amity drew in a similar manner) and decides she is THE ONE.

Chris goes to see Nadia and tries to kill her to become a vessel. She strangles him until he passes out, then injects him with Haldol and it somehow helps his “real self” come out. Chris helps Nadia get a bit of insight into what is happening, but he is ultimately killed by another one of the vessels.

Annie & Joy try to escape, but Ace captures Joy. Annie gets out after she kills a bunch of people – and she uses a sledgehammer! Some of her best Annie Wilkes quotes come in this episode and the next!

Ep9: “Caveat Emptor”
Pop, Nadia, Abdi, and Chance hide out in the Emporium Galorium. Annie and two others show up from the tunnels and Pop et al are wary they are spies or vessels, so they question them. They discover one of them is and Annie ends up killing him by sticking syringes in his eyes.

Ace arrives at the Emporium and tries to bargain with Pop – he needs the letters that Pop has from Warden Lacy that explain all about The Kid. Nadia & Abdi make a plan to getaway by running over the train tracks just as the train goes by – it cuts the town in two and you can’t get past for at least a half hour. Pop comes up with his own plan to strap explosives to himself so Ace can’t get his body.

But when Ace gets to him and he clicks the button, nothing happens. Did Pop do that on purpose or did his wiring just fail? Ace shoots Pop and puts him in a coffin to become a vessel. 

Ep10: “Clean”
Nadia & Abdi dig up the entrance to the tunnels and plant a ton of explosives to blow up the Marsten House. Annie & Chance try to rescue Joy, but they fail. Pop ultimately saves them because he took Haldol before he died and he was able to “fight off” the other person inside him for awhile. He saves Nadia & Abdi and gives them the time to blow up the house. We’re not really sure who dies (except Pop definitely does), so we might just see these “vessels” again!

Annie & Joy drive to Canada. On their way, Annie finds Paul Sheldon’s first “Misery Chastain” book and starts to read it. Annie gets a job as an in-home care provider for a comatose man. She and Joy live in the man’s remote home on a lake.

Joy is depressed and suffering, and Annie begins to suspect that Amity actually IS in Joy. Joy is watching a French-speaking movie and is seemingly moved by it. The film is called “Blue is the Warmest Color” and it’s supposed to be a notoriously explicit LGBTQ movie. Joy was probably missing Chance at this time, though it could be argued that she understood the French because she was really Amity… Hmm…

Annie then hears Joy talking to a man on the phone and also looks through her sketchbook and sees tons of drawings that look evil and like “The Kid.” Annie tries to drug Joy with pills in her ice cream, then chases her out to the dock. They both fall in the water and Annie drowns her. It’s a nice(?) full circle to the beginning of Annie’s story when she almost drown the baby.

Annie goes back in the house and finds a letter from Joy that explains she was acting strange because she wants to be emancipated. Annie runs back out to her body and frantically tries to resuscitate her. It seems like she succeeds, and Joy and Annie go on to be happy. In the end, we see them at a book reading by Paul Sheldon!

But something is amiss. We see Annie’s Mom and Dad in the crowd. Someone asks if the seat next to Annie is taken, when Joy is clearly sitting there… except she isn’t.  Joy is really dead and Annie is hallucinating her existence. Whoa.

The big questions we are left with: Was Amity in Joy or not?? And what becomes of Ace and the other vessels?

Our final word: We loved how Annie was a sympathetic character in Castle Rock, unlike how we felt about her in Misery. It was amazing to watch how hard she tried to keep it together and her steady decline into insanity.

Stephen King References and Easter Eggs

Castle Rock skillfully weaves in tons of small details that delight astute Stephen King fans. Naturally, there were tons of references to Misery and Salem’s Lot this season.

  • The Marsten House is from Salem’s Lot.
  • Annie tells Joy, “I’m your Number One fan.”
  • Annie kills someone with a sledgehammer.
  • And of course all the Paul Sheldon/Misery book connections at the end. (Shannon thought that was more satisfying than the final scene of Rogue One with Princess Leia!) 

Here are a few more details we loved in season 2.

  • When Chance, Joy and two friends go searching in the lake for the dead body, it’s clearly a reference to Stand By Me/The Body. Later we find out that Chance’s actual name is Georgia LaChance — and Wil Wheaton’s character in Stand By Me was named Gordie LaChance. Could Chance be his daughter? She certainly looks like she could be Wil Wheaton’s kid! The other girl with them is named Vera – a reference to Vern in Stand by Me.
  • Ace Merrill is the bully character from Stand By Me – played by Keifer Sutherland in the movie.
  • When Annie’s getting gas on their way out of town, there is a Missing Person sign for Henry Deaver!  We were wondering what happened to Henry when we saw The Kid’s empty cell.
  • Pop Merrill and his Emporium Galorium is mentioned in several Stephen King works.
  • The Mellow Tiger Bar is from Needful Things and is frequently shown in seasons 1 and 2.
  • The town of Derry is mentioned several times. It’s a key location in IT and other King works. 
  • I read in another group that the car from the movie Christine is in episode 7, though I didn’t pick up on it.

Will There Be a Season 3 of Castle Rock?

Castle Rock has not officially been renewed for a third season at the time of this writing. But we do know from our New York Comic Con interview with showrunner Dustin Thomason that there is a broad plan for several seasons. He has even hinted in an interview with Collider that he and his partner Sam Shaw already know which Stephen King character they want to explore!

And we CAN’T WAIT to find out!

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