WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Castle Rock Season 2, Episode 7, "The Word," now streaming on Hulu.
Hulu’s Castle Rock is a cornucopia of Easter eggs for Stephen King fans. Some of those little nods are rather subtle, such as Annie Wilkes’ cabin at the Star Gazer Lodge being No. 19, a recurring figure in King’s work. Other references are so on the nose they're groan-worthy (the reveal of the name of Jane Levy’s character in Season 1 comes to mind). However, within the context of the series, rarely have the seasons been connected outside of the titular setting. That all has changed with this week's episode, “The Word.”
A familiar face has returned, but how he ties into the larger world of Castle Rock is only just beginning. Actor Bill Skarsgård (It: Chapter 2) makes an appearance in “The Word” during a flashback sequence that explored the history of the group of immortal body-hoppers taking over the town. Skarsgård played a character who, for the vast majority of Season 1, was known only as The Kid. The character was found deep in a cell in a dilapidated wing of Shawshank State Prison, where he was held captive by the warden, Dale Lacy (Terry O’Quinn). Lacy believed The Kid to be the embodiment of evil influence, and possibly the root of all the terrible things that have happened to Castle Rock.
The Kid claimed to be from another world, and shared the same name as the protagonist, Henry Deaver (André Holland). After being discovered by Lacy, the warden held this other Henry prisoner for decades without any sort of due process. That eventually drove Lacy to suicide as he didn't want to be the guardian of whatever evil The Kid truly represented. The legitimate Lacy’s concern and actions are treated with scrutiny throughout Season 1 right up until the final episode, where it seems that he may have been correct.
Season 2 pretty much confirms Lacy’s dilemma. The spirit possessing the body of Ace Merrill actually ventures to Shawshank to retrieve The Kid, only to find the cell he was returned to by the “real” Henry Deaver is empty. A quick flashback scene reveals that The Kid is certainly not who he said he was in the previous season. He was with the group of occultists 400 years ago, and plays a much larger part in the darkness plaguing Castle Rock (we guess Lacy was right). The return of Bill Skarsgård is a welcomed treat for viewers. He was fantastic in the first season, allowing his gaunt frame and wide, expressive eyes to do most the heavy lifting. But he return does not bode well for the people of Castle Rock.
Streaming now on Hulu, Castle Rock Season 2 stars Lizzy Caplan, Tim Robbins, Elsie Fisher, Paul Sparks, Barkhad Abdi, Yusra Warsama and Matthew Alan.