TV Reviews

Castle Rock Season 1 Episode 7: The Queen Review

If you would like to read my review of the last episode, click here.

Synopsis: Memories haunt Ruth Deaver. (IMDB)

Writer: Sam Shaw

Director: Greg Yaitanes

Rating: TV-MA

Running Time: 59mins

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

Behold the best hour of television this reviewer has seen all year and there has been some great television this year. We were waiting for this moment all season and now Sissy Spacek has been given a chance to shine with an Emmy-worthy performance in what was a Ruth-centric episode. Deaver is still in the filter as far as we know and he’ll just have to wait until the next episode. Meanwhile, the last episode ended with another cliffhanger involving Pangborn returning to Ruth’s ransacked home where a bloody Kid waited and Ruth and Wendell missing. Though this episode did address this, it did so in a very inventive way which may leave some confused and also shocked.

As we all know, Ruth had been suffering from Alzheimer’s and dementia. On the surface, she seemed like a woman who was losing her grip on reality but this episode showed us the other side of this by highlighting what was in her head. She explained to Wendell in the last episode that the coping mechanism she used was placing chess pieces in every room so she would know when it was now or then. These pieces were key in determining what was going on as her condition led her to weave in and out (great editing) flashbacks coming from memories of her past. If a piece was present during the flashback, it was now and not then. The flashbacks here definitely helped to fill in a lot of gaps and explain her behavior in every episode up to this point.

These flashbacks included her wedding to Matthew Deaver (Adam Rothenberg), her time as a family with a young Deaver (Caleel Harris), to Matthew’s funeral, to her time with Pangborn. Here, we learned that Matthew There was a lot to unpack here but having it from the perspective of a woman suffering from a mental illness became very tense to watch. Ruth was visibly shaken, she was scared and she was unsure of herself while processing these flashbacks, coming to terms with her condition, and even facing the repercussions of her actions. This just became worse as the episode went on as her condition was taking more control over her. Watching her gaze upon herself was powerful as she reminisced about all the events from her life.

As we all know, Matthew was sick himself as he believed he was hearing the voice of God. He was so convinced of this that he refused medical treatment. Ruth watched as Matthew took Deaver to the woods in the middle of the night for reasons unknown to her. Matthew had bought a gun and threatened to kill himself but didn’t and stashed the gun in the house. She wanted to leave Matthew (Pangborn wanted to leave with her) though couldn’t bare leaving Henry behind.

While everything else was going on, Strand stopped by to look for Deaver and Ruth shared that she knew what Strand did but it didn’t matter since he was back (which would explain a lot for Strand at least).

The idea was introduced that The Kid may be the reincarnation of Matthew, a nemesis that was causing her to lose grip on reality and that she may be the only one who can stop him. Ruth tried to take the gun, however, she would have to go back into her memory to find the bullets that Matthew had hidden. Using the fact that The Kid may be her husband, Ruth tried to take advantage of him. Keep in mind, she had no control over when the flashbacks happened so it was thrilling to watch the story went back and forth.

Once Ruth had the gun and the bullets, she headed to the workshop and waited. When someone came, she opened fire but it wasn’t who she thought it was. She shot and killed Pangborn. Ruth then cleaned herself off and was part of one more flashback of when Pangborn came back to Castle Rock for her.

Overall, this was simply an amazing episode of television that was great in every facet, from the writing, direction, camerawork, editing, music, you name it. While the shifting timelines may be confusing for some, this was a thrilling and often scary episode thanks to an excellent, Emmy-worthy, emotionally-nuanced performance by Sissy Spacek. The plot didn’t advance all that much but it almost didn’t matter. The one thing that could come of this is that Ruth’s ability may be in play later on to stop The Kid. Hopefully the last three episodes will give this season the send-off it truly deserves.

Score: 10/10

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