Warning: Spoilers for Castle Rock season 2, episodes 1-3 are ahead.
For a lot of people, season 1 of Castle Rock ended on an ambiguous note that’s been up for interpretation since the finale. Leading up to final two episodes, the truth of who The Kid is had been widely theorized on the internet. Some thought that The Kid (Bill Skarsgård) was Henry Deaver’s (André Holland) older brother. Others hypothesized that The Kid was Ruth (Sissy Spacek) and Matthew Deaver’s (Adam Rothenberg) dead child. One theory was that The Kid was a literal sin eater. By the end of the season, it turned out that all three of those theories were kind of true.
And then came season 2 of Castle Rock, which premiered October 23 with many fans wondering if the series would tie the new story back to the first season. Would we see Henry Deaver again? Would the same people still live in Castle Rock? Does evil still linger the streets, forests, and homes of Castle Rock?
But first thing’s first, let’s review where we left off with The Kid.
So, Was The Kid Really The Devil?
The Kid was originally found locked up in the Shawshank prison basement by Warden Lacy, having been imprisoned for more than 15 years. As soon as The Kid’s released, all hell breaks loose in Castle Rock. Everywhere The Kid goes, he causes harm — buildings catch fire, and people go insane, killing themselves and loved ones. The Kid eventually tells Molly (Melanie Lynskey) his supposed origin story that’s meant to explain all the chaos that’s erupted since he was discovered.
According The Kid, he’s the “real” Henry Deaver. The Kid tells Molly that, in an alternate universe, he’s the biological son of Ruth and Matthew — the son who we learned died. In this alternate universe, Skarsgård’s Henry is a happy, successful scientist who’s leading cutting-edge Alzheimer’s research. Ruth ended up leaving Matthew and moving to Florida with her true love, Alan Pangborn (Scott Glenn). Learning that his estranged father, Matthew, has killed himself, Skarsgård’s Henry leaves his pregnant wife in their Boston home to tie up loose ends in his hometown. When he returns to Castle Rock, he visits Matthew’s house, and discovers a young boy who’s locked up in a cage, in the basement. This young boy is the same boy who plays Holland’s young Henry Deaver (Caleel Harris) in previous episodes.
Skarsgård’s Henry learns that this child came to Matthew’s door one night claiming he heard the same noises Matthew (who, remember, is paranoid and deranged) has been hearing. This noise is supposedly the schisma, the sounds of the past and present colliding. The boy tells Matthew he woke up in the forest all alone, in a totally different time and season. Matthew takes him in, but the voice of God tells him that this child is the Devil, so he, like Warden Lacy in the other universe, locks him up in a cage where he sits for years and years, refusing to age.
The boy and Skarsgård’s Henry end up in the forest, where the portal to another universe is located. Suddenly, there’s a cosmic blast and Skarsgård’s Henry finds himself transported into a parallel reality. In this reality, he’s knee-deep in snow, and he sees the same boy being found by a young Alan Pangborn. He watches a young Henry Deaver being found after disappearing for days.
“I wandered around for days. I was trying to get back. I couldn’t. Then Lacy found me, took me to Shawshank. Said I was the Devil,” The Kid tells Molly.
In the season finale, The Kid and Holland’s Henry Deaver end up in the forest together, The Kid leading Henry with a gun pointed at his face, near the same spot the cosmic blast occurred. Except the two don’t switch places this time around. Henry Deaver overpowers The Kid, taking the gun from him, and points it at him. Henry suddenly sees a split-second flash of a gruesome, wizened face when he looks at The Kid. Was it the face of the Devil?
Henry seems to think so, which is why he locks up The Kid in a cage, vowing to keep him there in order to restore the balance of good and evil in Castle Rock. The torch has been passed from Warden Lacy to Henry Deaver.
The Kid’s final moments are up for debate. Henry stops by the cage to deliver The Kid a burger with fries, explaining that the upgraded meal is a Christmas present. The Kid tells Henry, “I know you still have doubts, Henry. How long are we going to do this?”
“Don’t know,” Henry says.
“After awhile you forget what side of the bars you’re on. That’s what Warden Lacy used to say,” The Kid says. “Look how things turned out for him,” he adds, in a tone that could definitely be taken as a threat. After Henry leaves, The Kid gives a sinister smile.
Does he smile because he truly is the Devil? Because he knows that the cycle will be broken and then start back up again? Because he’s insinuating Henry will take his own life just like how Warden Lacy did (and how Matthew Deaver did in the alternate universe)?
Castle Rock never definitively answers these questions, and nor does it want to. Like many Stephen King endings, this one is similarly cryptic, one that’s left up for endless debate. If The Kid was truly the “real” Henry Deaver, it doesn’t seem like he would be making existential threats to Holland’s Henry. Nor would he be smiling like a psycho in his cage, as though he knew all along what was going to happen, and what will happen. Was the Kid the Devil? Probably, IMHO.
Okay, Is The Kid Castle Rock Season 2?
Well, so far, The Kid isn't present in any obvious way.
Season 2 follows Misery’s Annie Wilkes (Lizzy Caplan) as she flees from state to state with her daughter Joy (Elsie Fisher) in tow. We know that she’s wanted for murder, something we see in gruesome flashbacks. Annie, who’s a nurse, makes pit stops in hospitals where she’s somehow easily able to stock up on antipsychotics as though she’s shopping at Sephora. But on her way into Castle Rock, Annie crashes her car and has to stay while it’s getting fixed. She, using a pseudonym, finds a temporary nursing gig at the town’s hospital (I really hope hospitals’ actual vetting processes are a bit more rigorous), where she’s on the hunt for her cocktail of pills before she and Joy skedaddle.
But Annie doesn’t escape Castle Rock so easily. Her creepy landlord Ace commits a hate crime, and Joy witnesses a part of it. Ace swings by Annie’s rental and tells her he’s been spying on her internet browser history (she googled “Annie Wilkes,” which brought up the murder, and, come on, girl! At least use incognito!) so he knows about her real identity. Ace also threatens her, telling her that Annie’s daughter saw some things she shouldn’t have seen. So, as one does, Annie takes the ice cream scoop she had in her hand and shoves it so far into Ace’s throat, she kills him.
Then, she goes to bury his body at a construction site which is clearly very haunted. That’s where things go from wrong to absolutely freaky. Dead people start coming back to life. There’s a haunted house, the Marsten house (a nod to Stephen King’s novel, Salem’s Lot) which seems to harbor the undead. Or something equally terrifying.
Is The Kid Affecting Castle Rock In Season 2?
So far, the series hasn’t answered that yet, and neither Skarsgård nor Holland are confirmed to be in Castle Rock’s season 2. However, there are several references to season 1 that prove we're still in the same Castle Rock, and not much time has passed since The Kid was locked back up.
First, Reginald “Pop” Merrill (Tim Robbins) stops by the very familiar Mellow Tiger Bar and corrects some kind of Castle Rock tourist group who thinks the town was run by witches. Pop argues the town was actually plagued by satanists. It's not out of the realm of possibility that The Kid could be one of those original satanists...
Then, when Joy is looking for Ace’s body in Castle Lake with her new friends (because that’s what teens in Castle Rock do for fun, I guess), one of the teens claim, “Everything bad in this town starts in Castle Lake." They then say that if anyone sees a decapitated head in the water they call dibs — also the head is Warden Lacy’s.
Lastly, after Joy jumps into the lake to retrieve a paddle, she tells her new friends that she heard a “weird sound down there.” Could it be the schisma? Must we grapple with parallel universes again?
Something tells me this season will be more single universe-minded. While it doesn’t look like The Kid will be making a physical appearance, it feels like he’s very much there in spirit.