8 August 2019
An amazing series since it is not based on one particular book or story by Stephen King but rather on the fictional city of Castle Rock itself and various characters or situations used by Stephen King in many of his books, without falling into the abyss of a potpourri of allusions and references. In fact you can just ignore those and just enjoy the story, the way it comes, knowing that it is television and it means that you can easily jump from one time to another, from one level of depth to another and in the end you will not really know what date the action in this sequence or that section takes place in. Personally, I think the distant past is both incorrect and not clear enough. In the 15th century, there were no English people in Northern America. They arrived in what is going to be Virginia, in Jamestown in 1607 or so and the first slave will be introduced in the brand-new tobacco plantations in 1619. I am surprised about this because Stephen King is generally doing his homework, but someone has been a little bit messy on such details. Or maybe I misheard. It is true Maine was French at first and the French were rather early arrivals in Northern America, both USA, and Canada with Quebec, and the future vast Louisiana.
That would explain a lot. The berserkness of Castle Rock is a distant heritage from French colonists. That makes sense since the French have always been considered slightly corrugated, to the point of selling the vast Louisiana to the USA at the beginning of the 19th century, and what’s more for three times nothing as they say in French, for a mouthful of bread as they still say in France, in other words for practically nothing at all.
Castle Rock is, of course, deranged to the utmost extreme and the devil is living there. The point is that this devil has to be kept in a cage, as if he were that impotent, and in an older, or deeper version of the story it is the black boy who is in a cage in the basement of the house of the predicator and he is discovered by his son who is white and a doctor after the preacher’s death. That’s the twist of the season, and at the end of course. No one knows really where the black boy came from and from this deeper layer of history to the modern one the black boy is freed from his cage and becomes the adopted son of the preacher and the preacher’s real (really real?) son is locked up in the underground basement of the prison of Shawshank in a cage. The first personification of the devil is thus black. I like that one, ah! ah! The second personification of this devil is white. That’s more like it. You have to be from one of the three Semitic religions to believe in the real blood and bone, flesh and marrow humanoid incarnation of the devil. That’s slightly new for Stephen King, though of course the Devil who is a concept, an unmaterial entity can embody himself (not herself) into a banal human being like in “Needful Things,” in Castle Rock precisely. But he is better known as the Dark Man, often identified as a black crow (that must be why the Psychopomps are not sparrows, as they should (see “The Dark Half”), but crows as they shouldn’t, but he cannot be destroyed, he cannot be imprisoned, he can only be defeated into escaping to another dimension or territory, like in “The Stand,” which does not take place in Castle Rock. In “Apt Pupil,” the devil is, in fact, an ex-SS who is living incognito till a teenager discovers him. But that is a HUMAN devil more than THE devil.
This being said, the series is good because it is very closely knit and both dense and tense with a lot of ellipses and time-shifts that make things difficult to follow and yet you can easily manage not to get lost. You are just in a complicated multilayer reality that might give you vertigo. The only basic element that is absolutely typical of King is the fact that the main culprit, the main sinner, the main deranged corrugated person is the preacher and as such he becomes a corrugator making other people corrugated with puritan principles, fundamentalistic beliefs, Christian narrow-minded principles and quotations from the Old Testament like the only retribution a sinner can get is death. Who is that human being who is playing God? After he has adopted his black son, hence in what is our real-world layer, he tries to make him his agent at justifying if not carrying out his vengeance on his wife who is having an affair with the local sheriff. The black son has it even with him and pushes him over a cliff and he will die with a little bit of help from a young girl neighbor who will unplug the preacher’s respirator.
The whole objective in this story is how this devil of a son of a b**** will finally be put back into the cage where he belongs, the cage where he was found at first, and who will do it and take care of him thereafter till the guardian dies in a way or another and someone not-in-the-know discovers the encaged devil and frees him, and the whole story will start all over again. The story goes from cage to cage just like history goes from war to war. And be sure we are always governed by either some personifications of the devil or some personifications of multifarious sin-killing and sinner-killing archangel? Anyway, it ends up in real life with a long list of casualties, most of them anonymous. Do we know the names of the refugees who get drowned in the Mediterranean? Of course not. We should know the names of the refugees, children or adult, who die in custody at the US border, on either side of it, but do we advertise their names? Of course not. Victims of hellish satanic human actions are always anonymous.
Jump into the maelstrom of Castle Rock and try to survive it, at least long enough to be able to enjoy the second season.
Dr. Jacques COULARDEAU