(Note: This post contains spoilers for the Sept. 5 episode of “Castle Rock.”)
Throughout the first season of Hulu’s Stephen King-inspired series “Castle Rock,” fans have been wondering what the deal is with the character known only as “The Kid.” In Episode 9, “Henry Deaver,” we finally found out — along with the show pretty much explaining all its mysteries.
That doesn’t mean the explanation was extremely clear, even if it was well-executed. In Episode 9, “Castle Rock” shook up everything, rewrote its timeline, and gave viewers a ton of information about The Kid (Bill Skarsgård). You’d be forgiven for not fully understanding what you were seeing, since it completely re-contextualized everything viewers knew about “Castle Rock.”
To follow what “Castle Rock” was showing fans with its reveal of The Kid’s identity, you have to think back two full episodes to one key piece of information. It came up when Henry (André Holland) ventured into the woods in Episode 6, “Filter,” and met Odin (CJ Jones) and Willie (Rory Culkin). During their conversation, Odin explained that the ringing Henry hears in his ears is “the Schisma” — essentially, what Henry and his father were hearing for all those years was the existence of other, alternate universes.
Episode 9 confirms the theory that there are alternate universes intersecting in the town of Castle Rock. It starts with The Kid, not cracked by his years of being kept in a cage by Warden Lacey (Terry O’Quinn), but living a normal life as a doctor and Alzheimer’s Disease researcher. We also found out his real name: Henry Deaver.
What we’re seeing throughout the course of Episode 9 is one of those alternate universes, one of those “other heres, other nows,” that Odin described in “Filter.” Earlier in the season, we learned from Henry’s mother, Ruth (Sissy Spacek), that she lost a baby before she and her husband, Pastor Matthew Deaver, adopted Henry. Episode 9 is showing us a whole other universe, where Ruth didn’t lose that baby. The Kid is also named Henry Deaver — to some degree, The Kid and Henry are two versions of the same identity.
The Kid’s universe includes key changes from the version of Castle Rock we’ve been seeing on the show up to now. First, Henry Deaver in this universe is The Kid, and therefore, Ruth and Matthew never adopted. The Kid grew up with basically the same childhood as the Henry we’ve seen so far, which included his father hearing “the Voice of God” in the woods, which we now know is the Schisma, the presence of alternate universes. Just like Henry, the alternate universe version of Matthew took his son, The Kid, out to try to hear the Schisma as well. Unlike Henry, though, it seems The Kid never could.
Ruth in The Kid’s world didn’t hang around when Matthew started to get scary and abusive. Instead, she took up Alan Pangborn (Scott Glenn) on his offer when The Kid was young, and ran away with him, leaving Matthew. Apparently, The Kid’s relationship with Matthew was basically non-existent. In this universe, Matthew never died during his son’s childhood, instead living another 15 or so years before committing suicide, which is what drew The Kid back to Castle Rock.
What The Kid finds in his father’s home is the big reveal of the episode: A child in a cage. Mirroring the first episode of the season, the discovery shakes up the town, as well as The Kid. Even more confusing, the child in the cage says he’s Henry Deaver. When The Kid listens to Matthew’s recorded tapes of years of hearing the Schisma, we discover what’s really going on.
The child in the cage is Henry Deaver, and what’s more, he’s the same character we’ve been following so far throughout “Castle Rock.” The tapes explain the missing time in Henry’s life when he was about 12 and disappeared for several days in the woods, which has been referenced since the show’s first episode. It seems that young Henry (Caleel Harris) unknowingly traveled through the Schisma and entered an alternate universe — and another Castle Rock.
When he eventually found Matthew in the new universe, Henry told him that he was his son and that he heard the Voice of God. That shook Matthew significantly, because in his universe, Henry was The Kid; he’d never adopted. What’s more, despite Matthew’s hope that his Henry would hear the sound in the woods, The Kid never did. Matthew came to think that young Henry was actually the devil, promising him what he’d always hoped for. That prompted Matthew to lock young Henry in a cage for years.
Somehow, despite being trapped for more than a decade, Henry didn’t age, and remained 12 for the entire time. After The Kid rescues him, Molly (Melanie Lynskey) and The Kid take Henry into the woods, where he tries to find the Schisma again. Molly winds up getting shot accidentally (she previously saw a vision of herself dying in the woods in Episode 8, but didn’t understand it), and The Kid and Henry somehow travel back into the other universe, which is the version of Castle Rock we’ve been watching all season.
Though Henry was locked in Matthew’s cage for something like 15 years, he’s only been missing for six days in his original universe, and is discovered in the middle of a frozen lake by Sheriff Pangborn. Apparently Henry repressed, or otherwise couldn’t remember, his whole ordeal. That’s probably as a result of being so traumatized by the cage, coupled with the fact that, even though a ton of time had passed, he never aged or grew up. Back in his own universe, Henry does grow up, to become the protagonist of the show as we know him.
Meanwhile, The Kid has now left his universe, where he is Henry Deaver, and is trapped in the alternate universe. He’s eventually discovered by Warden Lacey, who doesn’t believe him when he explains that he is Henry Deaver. After at least some time, Lacey imprisons The Kid in the cage in Shawshank Penitentiary. Like Henry, despite being in the cage for years, The Kid never ages. Lacey kills himself at the beginning of the season, just like Matthew did in The Kid’s universe, and that leads to the Shawshank guards finally finding him in the cage in Episode 1. When the guards ask him his name at the start of the season, The Kid says “Henry Deaver” — it turns out, he really was giving his name, and not just asking for this universe’s version of Henry.
So now we know what happened to Henry when he disappeared for those six days when he was young: he traveled to an alternate universe version of Castle Rock, and was imprisoned there. And we know where The Kid came from: he’s Henry from that other universe, who doesn’t exist in the version of Castle Rock we’ve been watching all this time.
We’ve also learned a few interesting tidbits about what’s going on with The Kid. Throughout Season 1, wherever The Kid goes, tragedy, madness and death seem to follow. That’s why Warden Lacey locked him up to begin with, and said he was the devil. It turns out the same thing was true of Henry when he was in the wrong universe, according to Matthew, which was also part of why Henry was caged. It seems that people who don’t belong in the universe they’re in have adverse effects on things and people — the out-of-place element apparently warps and twists the world around them.
The question now is, what will all this mean for the characters as the first season of “Castle Rock” comes to a close? Will The Kid be able to return to his own universe, and the life he left there — and how would he cope after all that’s happened to him? What effects might arise from attempting to return the Kid to where he belongs? How will the Schisma affect Molly, who clearly can sense the other universe?
And maybe most importantly: if The Kid and Henry could travel between the universes, what else could make its way into Castle Rock?