Castle Rock Reaction: “Harvest”

Cataclysm is in the air, right from the start of this fifth episode. As wildfires rage across Black Mountain, a cloud of orange smoke encroaches on Castle Rock (a visual I found eerily reminiscent of the 2017 arrival of The Mist). This impending inferno hints at the diabolic, and creates the sense that all hell is about to break loose–perhaps not coincidentally, just as the Kid is released from Shawshank.

The lingering shot of the Kid’s New Balance sneakers as he is about to step past Shawshank’s gates and into freedom seemed at once allusive and symbolic. The capital “N” on the footwear echoes the title of Stephen King’s apocalypse-concerned novella, and a new balance–an upsetting of moral order–might be in store for Castle Rock now that the Kid is venturing into town.

The ostensible “N.” Easter egg is subtly inserted, but the same cannot be said for Jackie (birth name: Diane) Torrance’s reveal that she is the niece of Jack Torrance and adopted the name of the notorious Overlook caretaker to spite her parents. This invocation of The Shining felt forced and distractingly on-the-nose; the show arguably ranges too far afield here from King’s Castle-Rock-centered material (before we know it, we could find ourselves in the author’s Dark Tower multiverse).

Last week’s episode showed how an exhumed coffin gets shrink-wrapped prior to transportation. In “Harvest,” that same coffin (Matthew Deaver’s) is the subject of a phenomenon called “exploding casket syndrome.” No end to the morbid tidbits on Castle Rock!

The moments of intimacy between the elderly Alan and Ruth were very touching. Viewers got to watch a pair of veteran actors–Scott Glenn and Sissy Spacek–at the top of their game, creating maximum emotional impact with minimal effort.

Alan had the lion’s share of great lines in this week’s episodes. My favorite was his sardonic, hardly-thrilled reaction to Henry’s installment of home security cameras to monitor Ruth: “Why don’t you just put a chip in her like a golden retriever?”

The horror of Castle Rock again succeeds via obliquity. The scene in which a cake-cutting at a child’s birthday party turns into a deadly stabbing spree proves all the more unnerving for occurring off-screen (merely overheard as the camera focuses on the intruding Kid).

With “Harvest,” the inaugural season has reached its halfway point, and the various plot threads have started to weave together. What pattern is actually taking shape still remains a mystery, though. The Kid’s closing question–“You have no idea what is happening here, do you?”–is posed to Alan but can be extended to the audience as well. We still don’t know where exactly the show is headed, but there appears to be little reason to doubt that the Weird Shit is about to hit Castle Rock’s fan.

 

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