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Severance was a great start to Castle Rock. So much so that, Dale lost his head. Was it over guilt of keeping the Kid in a cage under Shawshank or some thing more? Henry Deaver is called from Texas, back to Maine, to help solve the mystery of the Kid, but he has mysteries of his own to solve.
Severance From Duty – Dale and The Kid:
Dale Lacy (Terry O’Quinn) has served as warden for Shawshank Prison for a long time. But the world and the business of corrections are passing him by. He has been offered a severance package from the prison management company. We see him fixing breakfast in bed for his wife and then heading out for his last day of work before retirement. But he does not go to the prison. He heads to the bluffs over Castle Lake. There he ties a noose to a tree threads it through his car and puts it around his neck. At peace with his decision, he drives over the edge of the bluff decapitating himself.
Dale has made sure his wife is provided for, but we are left questioning his motives. Yes some people are not built for retirement. Some people are so involved in their work that, they cannot think of a life without it. But that does not seem to be the case for Dale. He has a beautiful home and what seems to be a good marriage. There has to be something more that literally pushed him over the edge.
His death leads to the prison management company to appointing a new warden and an examination of the prison. It is then a discovery is made. Inside a an abandoned cell block, in a water cistern, a cage is found. Inside the cage is the Kid (Bill Skarsgard). There is no record of him in the prison system. There is no record of him in the criminal system. He will not tell anyone his name and the new Warden is left with a problem. We see in a flashback that Dale visited him regularly and on his last visit told him to ask for Henry Deaver when he was found.
Did Dale put the kid in that cage? If so why? Was the Kid there before the Dale took over and Dale inherited the him? How long has the Kid been there? Why did Dale think Henry could help the Kid? We just don’t know.
Severance Leads To Challenges – Warden and Zalewski:
Dale’s radical Severance leads to a new Warden for Shawshank. She is starting to learn the lay of the land from Officer Zalewski (Noel Fisher). She finds out there was a fire in the the 80’s and one whole block was locked up and abandoned. The new prison management needs that space, so she orders Zalewski and others to count the beds. That is when he finds the Kid.
Zalewski has a drive and moral code. He wants to make sure the Kid is cared for correctly. He helps him get a shower, He hears him ask the Warden for Henry and overhears the Warden push that away. The Warden wants to keep the Kid a secret, so there is no political fall out. She cares nothing for the prisoners. This job is just a stepping stone for something more for her. She is willing to entertain the Kid’s murder to solve the political red tape. Zalewski will not stand for it, so he calls Henry and gets him involved.
Later Zalewski is on duty and watching the video cameras. It looks like his wife/girlfriend is pregnant because, he is reading a baby name book. He then sees the Kid is missing from his cell and is moving around the prison. In the Kid’s wake is a string of dead and injured people. Zalewski sounds the alarm. Will this spell the end of his corrections career? Will this crush his sense of duty and drive? We will see.
Severance From The Past Is Hard – Henry And Family:
Henry Deaver (Andre Holland) had a hard past in Castle Rock and has moved half way across the U.S. to try and distance himself from it. But the call from Zalewski has called him back home. When he arrives he finds some things never change and some things do. People in Castle Rock still think he had something to do with his father’s death.
We see in flashback that Henry was missing for 11 days during the twenty below winter. People had given up hope of finding him alive. But a young Alan Pangborn was out to find him. He takes a coffee break on the edge of frozen Castle Lake. After hearing a noise, he sees Henry out on the ice. Henry is healthy and has no frostbite. On the way home he shares that his father has broken his back and suffered in the cold. This led to his death. We see young Henry waiting in the car for his mother holding a white figure. We don’t know the meaning. Does it have to do with his missing time? Is it some sort of voodoo doll? It is an unanswered mystery.
Adult Henry is an attorney for people convicted of capital crimes in Texas. His last client appeal was unsuccessful and he had to watch her die twice, since the first time did not take. Talking with her got him to thinking about his childhood and family. When he gets the call from Zalewski, it pushes him home. He leaves his family in Texas and heads to Maine. He finds his mother outside. Ruth (Cissy Spacek) does not even recognize him at first. It seems she has major memory issues, but has either run off or worn her in home nurse out. But she is not alone in the home. Her live in sexual partner is, the now retired, Sheriff Alan Pangborn (Scott Glenn). He fills Henry in on why his father’s grave and the whole church graveyard was moved and other things he has missed. Henry is not happy, but starts to accept things.
He finds a chilly reception over at Shawshank as well. The new Warden plays dumb and does not admit to having the Kid. Henry is stonewalled by her, but he catches a glimpse of Zalewski and knows who to talk to later. He goes on a late night visit to Castle Bluffs and Dale’s suicide spot. He is taken back to the winter of his youth and we see a young figure, Henry?, behind him before he snaps back to present day. So many questions remain.
Severance Does Not Always Work – Molly:
Molly Strand (Melanie Lynskey) is a realtor in Castle Rock, but things are not good for her. She is turning to drugs to find some form of escape or control. When she sees Henry get off the bus, She is rocked. She drives off quickly and then takes some of the drugs while parked on the street. Later, we see her in the basement setting a timer and looking over the contents of a box from the past. We see the missing poster from where Henry was a boy. We also see her look at an article of clothing and quickly put it back in the box. We are left with more questions about Molly than answers.
We know that there will be little and big Stephen King Easter eggs throughout the series. We are going to share some that we spot, but feel free to share what you saw!
Since a good portion of the episode takes place in Shawshank, it is obvious that there would be many connections to the movie.
1. As Dale is contemplating before driving off the cliff, the song playing is the same Mozart piece (from the Marriage of Figaro) that Andy played in the warden’s office.
2. Several times when the prison or the name is seen we hear a cue of music taken from the Thomas Newman soundtrack.
3. The head guard mentions that 4 wardens have died in office and mentions that you can still see the bullet hole from Warden Norton’s suicide.
Severance was an amazing start to this show. Both Wayne and I met because of the TV show LOST. This episode reminded us of LOST with its’ mysteries and character dynamics. We are so excited to see where it goes next. We had a blast speculating and throwing out theories. We cannot wait to see if they come true, but we will be along for the ride. We look forward to hearing from you!
Hulu dropped the first 3 episodes in one night so most of you have watched all three. But for those spacing them out or those watching in the future here are the scant details about episodes 2 & 3.
Episode 2 Habeas Corpus: Henry gets a new client at Shawshank Prison.
Episode 3 Local Color: The past catches up with Molly Strand.
We will each episode individually and look forward to hearing from you about your thoughts.
Here is Hulu’s 30 min. documentary on Castle Rock. It is well worth the watch!
What did you think of “Severance?” What King Connections did you spot in the episode? What theories do you have about the show? Be sure to join our facebook group and get updates on upcoming shows!
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