Castle Rock Reaction: “The Box”

Some random thoughts on this week’s episode of Castle Rock:

As Andy Dusfrene no doubt would attest, Shawshank was never a model correctional facility. But, man, based on the glimpses of the prison provided thus far by Castle Rock, an inmate might be better off serving his time in the jail in Midnight Express.

The disgruntled Dennis Zalewski offers some strong insight into the character of Castle Rock when he grouses to Henry about the town: “Bad shit happens here because bad people know they’re safe here. How many times can one fucking town look the other way?”

Best quote of the episode, though, belongs to Molly Strand. While trying to sell Warden Lacy’s house, she assures the potential buyers that Lacy didn’t commit suicide on the premises, and then enthusiastically offers: “A serial strangler died in my house, and I like sleep like a baby.” It’s nice to see that actress Melanie Lynskey hasn’t lost her comedic touch since her stint on Two and a Half Men.

The venerable Scott Glenn makes for one crusty and salty Alan Pangborn. Surely this isn’t the sheriff that Constant Readers remember. Then again, this current depiction of the character might be a natural extrapolation: makes sense that he would end up so grizzled and gruff after all the bad shit he had to deal with in this town over the years.

Once again, the series exhibits a deft handling of Stephen King Easter Eggs. Viewers who recall that Vince Desjardins was one of the bullying hooligans who ran with Ace Merrill in “The Body” will have a deeper appreciation of the adult character referenced in this week’s episode. Anyone missing the call back to that minor figure from King’s novella, however, won’t be left befuddled by the storyline.

One of the strongest aspects of Castle Rock thus far has been its casting, and “The Box” demonstrates that even a weekly guest star can give an incredible performance. David Selby is awesomely unsettling as creepy barber/hoarder Josef Desjardins. Selby also proves an inspired choice in this sense that he once starred in a show featuring the most American Gothic town (prior to King putting Castle Rock on the map) in the Maine region of our Macabre Republic: Collinsport in Dark Shadows.

Once Dennis Zalewski decided to turn whistleblower on Shawshank shadiness, he seemed doomed for an early exit from the series. Nevertheless, his demise came in a shockingly unexpected form. The climactic massacre scene was quite haunting (and expertly filmed, with Dennis’s rampage playing out on a bank of monitors). Looks like that well-intentioned fist-bump with the Kid (the last guy to touch the mysterious inmate ended up with fantastically-metastatic cancer) ultimately bumped off poor Dennis.

Through most of four episodes, Castle Rock has been a slow burn, which made the sudden violent fireworks in the conclusion of “The Box” that much more arresting. I am eager to see next week’s episode, to find out the fallout from the terrible shootout.

 

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