TV Reviews

Castle Rock Season 1 Episode 1: Severance Review

A Stephen King and J.J. Abrams team up and we get to watch it in Canada! While there is still a chance this will just be a big and ambitious mystery will little and/or confusing answers, I have every faith in all those involved.

Synopsis: Henry Deaver, a death-row attorney, confronts his dark past when an anonymous call lures him back to his hometown of Castle Rock, Maine. (IMDB)

Writers: Sam Shaw and Dustin Thomason

Director: Michael Uppendahl

Rating: TV-MA

Running Time: 54mins

Airs: Wednesdays at 10pm on Space (Canada)/ Wednesdays on Hulu (United States)

A series like this was obviously not going to tip its hand right away and rightfully so. There’s definitely a mystery going on in Castle Rock, Maine and this episode did an excellent job at setting it up or at least start to set it up. It gives you just enough information to keep you engaged while still leaving you wanting more which is what a series like this should do. This episode pulls you in with the creepy atmosphere and intense story and keeps you on the edge of your seat through its many twists and turns.

This episode introduced two story threads that we learned were connected somehow. One involved a death-row attorney named Henry Deaver (Andre Holland) and a mysterious nameless man (Bill Skarsgård) found within the depths of the Shawshank prison. What ultimately set the wheels in motion was the unfortunate suicide of the warden of the Shawshank, Dale Lacy (Terry O’Quinn). Now the reason why he commited suicide is unclear but it may or may not have something to do with the discovery of the nameless man. 

Deaver, on the other hand, is part of a mystery of his own. When he was a child, he went missing for 11 days under mysterious circumstances. We don’t know much about his disappearance yet other than the fact that his pastor father died after being found half-frozen and with a broken back. This incident has left a black mark on him. What led Deaver back to Castle Rock was that the nameless man just happened to know his name and a good samaritan correction officer, Dennis Zalewski (Noel Fisher), called him anonymously. The new warden of Shawshank, Warden Porter (Ann Cusack), wanted to cover up this incident so she tried to thwart him from identifying his client.

Not only did Deaver have drama at home to deal with, he was also being followed by a mysterious woman (Melanie Lynskey) who seemed to be intimately familiar with his case. His adoptive mother Ruth (Sissy Spacek) was suffering from dementia and had dispatched the nurse who was tasked to take care of her and appeared to be now living with the former sheriff of Castle Rock, and the man who found Deaver, Alan Pangborn (Scott Glenn). Deaver believed that Pangborn was taking advantage of his mother’s condition.

As we later learned, Lacy was loosely connected to both Deaver and the nameless man (for now at least). First, Lacy chose to drive his car into the same lake in which Deaver was found. Second, he told the nameless man to ask for Deaver as soon as he was found. And to top things off, Zalewski saw the nameless man on the monitor escape his cell and killed a few guards in the process.

Overall, this was a great episode that did an excellent job at setting up the story. The atmosphere is intense and the story was thrilling to watch. It obviously wasn’t going to give everything away but it gave us just enough to keep us wanting more. Whether it will continue to be satisfying remains to be seen, however, this episode did enough to make it worth tuning in to the next episode.

Score: 9/10

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