CASTLE ROCK Review: “Filter”

Listen to the Voice of God.

Note: This post contains spoilers for Castle Rock.

"We've been here before - this conversation - and we'll be here again. Life used to go in one direction: forward, like one of those people movers at the airport. Somehow I got off it..."

We live. We die. We are buried. Somebody takes our place. The cycle continues. Be it at a job or with friends, there's always going to be a circular nature to the way time churns on, forcing us to live certain events and tragedies over and over again, until there's nothingness or Heaven (depending on what you believe). For Henry Deaver (André Holland), the latest somber happening that he's been forced to revisit is the funeral of his father, as Pastor Matthew Deaver's displaced resting vessel has been returned home to Castle County, causing his son to oversee the lonely proceedings, before scooping a shovel of dirt onto the casket. Henry's been before – as a boy, with all the town's eyes searching him for any sign of guilt regarding his dad's untimely death – and now he's back, being silently questioned by everyone he encounters, nearly three decades later.

Episode six of Castle Rock (titled "Filter") also sees two parallel journeys being set in motion by The Kid (Bill Skarsgård), who exhumes Matt's old brown suit – which Ruth Deaver (Sissy Spacek) swears she buried her husband in – along with a stack of tapes from an attic trunk, which feature young Henry being tailed by his filming father as they head out into the woods. Simultaneously, the mysterious former inmate at Shawshank sends Alan Pangborn (Scott Glenn) to retrieve the town car Warden Dale Lacy (Terry O'Quinn) drove over the side of a cliff into Dark Score Lake. He swears he's trying to aid Pangborn in his endeavor to save Ruth from her deteriorating, dementia-riddled mind, so Alan abides by his orders, albeit questioningly. Of course, the Kid isn't going to give up the divine (or perhaps devilish) mechanizations he's orchestrating, offering only cryptic responses to the retired lawman’s inquiries.

Molly Strand (Melanie Lynskey) continues to reach out to Henry, desperate to show him that she's been “with him” since they were children, thanks to her "shining" abilities. In an instance of desperation, she confesses to Deaver that she was the one who snuck into his childhood home and removed the life support tube from Matt's throat. She could feel the pain Henry's dad caused throughout the years, and understood the fear that the foster child endured whenever he'd be marched out into the woods by the man of God. But Henry's not having it one bit. This pill-popping, struggling real estate queen is an utter crazy person, and he tells her as such, before taking his dad's camera from the Kid and following the path those home movies mapped.

It's here that "Filter" presents what could be Castle Rock's most ambitious tribute (thus far) to the horror author who invented this spooky New England abode. In the woods, Henry discovers two men, who were creepily present (along with their massive RV) at the cemetery during his dad's second funeral. Sitting around a campfire is a deaf man named Odin Branch (CJ Jones) and his interpreter/protégé Willie (Rory Culkin). Both claim to have known Matt, and Odin insists that the church wasn’t Henry’s father’s true sanctuary, but that the man instead often journeyed into the woods to hear what he described as “the voice of God”. Due to the advanced degrees he possesses, Odin is able to categorize these voices much more scientifically, going as far as to assign them a name: schisma.

According to Odin, schisma is “nanoscale psychoacoustics”, which can be experienced at greater frequency depending on the geographic location of the listener. The volume of the schisma is in turn an indicator that the specific spot where the listener is standing may be operating closer in parallel to a companion version of itself. In layman’s terms, it means that there are “other heres, other nows”“All possible pasts, and all possible presents,” Odin explains to Henry, “schisma is the sound of these places trying to reconcile themselves.” Suddeny, it becomes clear that Castle Rock is tackling a much wider breadth of King's texts - as was also indicated with Diane "Jackie" Torrance's bizarre, Shining related backstory from last week - than just the tales specifically set in the author's favorite Maine stomping grounds. 

This sort of scientific mumbo jumbo is going to sound vaguely familiar to Constant Readers who've taken the epic trip to The Dark Tower. At the climax of the first installment in King's defining fantasy series (The Gunslinger) the book's big bad (Walter, The Man in Black) explains to the titular man of violence (Roland of Gilead) what the signifigance of his eponymous  goal truly is. The Tower is the lynchpin of all realities – the center of all creation – supported by a series of Beams, which expand from its center like a bicycle wheel. In essence, were these beams to be destroyed, all realities would cease to exist. Walter's master, the Crimson King, wants to reach the Tower and scale it to the top, an ascension which would allow him to remold all existence to his awful whims. Roland, and others like him, have appointed themselves peacekeepers in their realm, as “ka” (or “destiny”) leads him on a quest for the Tower.

In the Multiverse of The Dark Tower, the Crimson King (a/k/a Ram Abbalah) is described as “Gan’s crazy side”. Gan is essentially this realm's equivalent to God, and speaks to men through “can-calah” (or what we mortals simply refer to as “angels”). Just as they do in the Bible, these fantastical beings can become sirens for the devoted, granting them purpose and delivering missions from up above. In Castle Rock, Lacy leaves Alan Pangborn a message following his suicide that asks who “the defenders” of the town are, believing that the former Sheriff (along with himself) could’ve been filling those roles for a generation. Now, it could be Henry and Molly’s turn to stand up and fight the forces of darkness – especially if the Kid turns out to be another of the Crimson King’s servants (or, perhaps, Ram Abbalah Himself). Another cycle continues, even if Henry and Molly aren't completely aware that the wheel is turning. 

With the RV, Odin built a machine, based on schematics drawn up by Henry’s father, to drown out the “noise” of the world, and allow them to hear the “voice of God” more clearly. By the climax of “Filter”, Henry finds himself in the portable sound proof chamber, immersing him in “total silence”, as well as the schisma. Could the points where schisma is heard the loudest - such as Castle Rock - be where our reality nearly touches Midworld, the parallel existence where much of Roland’s quest transpires? One suspects that Henry is about to find out, as the past (along with snapshots of his childhood) come rushing back in the dark, just as Ruth's memories do at the most unsuspecting moments. 

While this is simply one writer's crazy theory (at the moment) - and could, in all likeliehood, turn out to be utter bullshit - if true, then executive producer JJ Abrams and showrunners Sam Shaw and Dustin Thomason have attempted a rather brazenly ambitious endeavor (and kept the spirit of King's interconnected storytelling realm alive). Though "Filter" concludes on a rather grim note - with Alan arriving back home to find the Kid with blood on his hands and ominously scolding Pangborn for ever leaving him alone with Ruth - it's hard not to be utterly thrilled with the possibilities the revelations in this episode have opened up. 

Stay tuned, Constant Readers, for Castle Rock may have attempted something slightly mind-boggling. We'll just have to see if this theory proves correct. 

Filter is available now on Hulu. Read our ongoing Castle Rock coverage here.