Castle Rock Reaction: “Filter”

Castle Rock‘s sixth episode, “Filter,” opens with the re-burial ceremony for Matthew Deaver. I know that within the story, relatively little time has passed, but watching this plotline gradually spool out week-by-week has made the settling of Matthew’s remains seem like quite the protracted affair (no wonder he haunts Molly as a restless revenant!).

The mysterious duo who show up at the sparsely-attended ceremony appear even more conspicuous as they station themselves outside a giant camper. That vehicle could be a nod to the RV-riding psychic vampires in Stephen King’s novel Doctor Sleep, and thus creates a sense of wariness about the strange black man and his young white sidekick.

Best Line of the Episode goes to Ruth Deaver, her blunt utterance, “Coulda sworn we buried your father in that suit.” Terrific ambiguity here: is this just more absent-mindedness from the addled Ruth, or is there something sinister afoot (especially considering that the cadaverous, suit-clad Kid looks like he just lurched out of Night of the Living Dead)?

As Henry attempts to understand his vaguely-recalled childhood forays with his father, the episode leads us deep into the woods. “Filter” felt like it was approaching Pet Sematary territory here, and at first I wondered if that haunting sound Henry kept hearing was somehow Wendigo-related. Turned out to be something much more bizarre, though…

Ironically, “Filter” ends up saturated with exposition–that long scene in which Odin Branch goes on (via emphatic sign language and verbal translation by his protege Willy) about the Voice of God and the Schisma. All this mystic mumbo jumbo comes off like an infodump; more disconcertingly, it steers the story in a far-out direction that is at odds with King’s down-home Castle Rock narratives (in King’s writing, places like Derry and Haven are the more familiar sites of cosmic horror).

What’s in a name? The unusualness of “Odin Branch” causes viewers to ponder the moniker’s signifance. Anyone who’s read American Gods knows this character’s surname references the tricksy Norse god. So is Odin Branch an offshoot of that towering mythological figure? Does the name point to Odin’s self-sacrifice, his hanging on the worlds-spanning tree Yggdrasil?

A blind man could see that Henry was being lured inside the titular Filter–a customized anechoic chamber within the camper–so the springing of that trap wasn’t very shocking (Odin Branch’s sudden voicing of “Not deaf, perfect” did register high on the creepiness meter, though). More intriguing is the question of what Henry will be like once he inevitably escapes from such mind-bending confinement.

A large part of the suspense mustered thus far Castle Rock has centered on the uncertainty of the Kid’s nature. Is he a misunderstood victim or a malicious villain? The pendulum appears to swing towards the latter at episode’s end (was Alan sent off on a wild goose chase so the Kid could wreak havoc on Ruth’s home?), but something tells me there’s a further swerve coming and this character won’t prove to be the embodiment of ultimate evil.

The least satisfying episode of the series to date, “Filter” plays like a placeholder, a forestalling of more significant developments next week. Perhaps the episode will be better appreciated in retrospect, after viewers find out what happened to Henry and Ruth, respectively, and learn more about Matthew Deaver’s machinations and the Kid’s apparent quest for comeuppance.

 

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