‘Castle Rock’ Premiere: Welcome to the SKU!

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Most of you Stephen King and Stranger Things fans out there are also huge fans of his other works, and here we finally have a love letter of a show from the Horror man himself, to us, his forever fan-atics. A show with a bit of everything from his long history of works, mostly Horror but plenty of other drama too, has dropped and we had been needing badly to fill that King-sized hole in our lives – Castle Rock does the job nicely.

We begin in the town of Castle Rock, ME, and of course in the past, where a dear little boy went missing for eleven days and a whole bunch of strange things took off because of that. In particular the name Sheriff Pangborn (Scott Glenn), a character of King’s who’s battled in his books Needful Things and The Dark Half , is introduced right away as being in the thick of this weird incident.

Now here in the present, meet Warden Dale Lacy (Terry O’Quinn). His wife is blind but there’s no end to the loving banter between them, or so you’d think. Lacy has a loving wife and a nice house and holy crap, what is he doing?! Inevitably the Warden’s untimely demise leads us to the prison he used to manage, a place oh so familiar, yes it’s Shawshank Penitentiary.

Because Warden Lacy is now gone, there’s a lot of shakeups in Shawshank and a new boss is brought in, Warden Porter (Ann Cusack). In the process of turning over every buried stone at the privatized Shawshank Prison, a long-held secret of an actual person, a silent young man (Bill Skarsgard) in a buried cage is uncovered, and this in turn sends out feelers into the world outside Castle Rock, to Texas of all places.

The little boy who overturned too many rocks back in 1991, he’s grown into a man who tries essentially hopeless cases, a criminal death offense attorney. Henry Deaver (Andre Holland) fled Castle Rock for Texas, with some of the harshest laws in the US, just to escape whatever happened some years ago. Yet a phone call changes all that and Deaver finds himself back in Castle Rock, full of strange side-eyes and odd occurrences, and of course barred from talking to the men of Shawshank.

This is essentially where the first episode leaves us, with a mystery in the past that reaches out to the present and blankets everything in darkness, as Stephen King so often does in his stories. Tons of King-related easter eggs pepper the show, in particular the Sissy Spacek in the role of Deaver’s adoptive mother Ruth, and Castle Rock can clearly be considered the introduction to what has now been dubbed the SKU – Stephen King Universe.

King often has a tendency to shuffle beloved characters through different stories of his, like iconic bad villain Randal Flagg (oh please please please let some version of Flagg show up on Castle Rock!), so all you eagle-eyed viewers out there can play spot the reference while enjoying the show! And no, you don’t have to be a King fanatic to watch and enjoy the show, though really, if you’re not playing the “where do I know that King character from?!” dinking game, what are you even doing watching ‘Castle Rock’?

Get hunted and haunted with Castle Rock, out on HULU now!