Let The River Run was Annie’s road trip theme song. She has been on the run all of Joy’s life. But that all changes when fate strands her in Castle Rock. Will Castle Rock let her run away? Not with paying a high price.
Annie’s On The Run:
Annie (Lizzy Caplan) has been on the run from her past, her family, the authorities, and herself, for all of Joy’s (Elise Fisher) life. But their routine is interrupted when they enter Castle Rock. Annie & Joy land at the Star Gazer Lodge under the control of Ace Merrill (Paul Sparks). Her jeep is being fixed by Ace’s brother Chris (Matthew Allen). Joy wants to make this stop longer to make this their Laughing Place, but Annie won’t hear it. She is a week off her meds and the visions are coming. She finds work at the Deuxvilles Hospital that sits on the boarder of Castle Rock and Jerusalem’s Lot.
She makes her mark at the hospital by organizing everything and putting order to the chaos. This gains the notice of Dr. Nadia Howlwadaag (Yusra Warsama). Annie needs her meds but the finicky lock on the pharmacy door means only Nadia’s key will get her in. She finds Nadia’s address and breaks into her house. She gets the pass key, but Nadia’s brother Abdi (Barkhad Abdi) comes home. Annie is stuck until fate helps her out. She heads back to the hospital intent on getting all the drugs and running, but Nadia catches her. Annie makes a heartfelt confession about needing the drugs to stay a nurse and provide for Joy. Nadia has mercy on her and tells her she will get the drugs Annie needs as long as she works there. With her meds, a helpful boss, and a fixed car, Annie is a different woman.She tells Joy about being a Searcher and a Settler. They are going to settle there for a bit.
But things go bad. Ace comes in and confronts Annie on being Annie Wilkes not Ann Ingalls and Joy’s snooping. Annie Snaps, knees Ace in the crotch, driving an ice cream scoop in his mouth and then down his throat. He is dead. She takes his wallet and the scoop, cleans the place and looks for a pace to get rid of the body. She ends up at Abdi’s Somali Mall construction site. As she attempts to burry him, the ground gives way to a space below. She falls in and is knocked out. Large numbers of huge bugs escape.
Annie’s visions start with an audio cue of a manual typewriter. She remembers running through the woods as a younger person. She is covered in blood and caring a box. The box has Wilkes written on one side and The Ravening Angel on the other. The box has something living in it. She gets to the edge of a lake. We see her with her hands in the water. Later we see her take a baby out of the box. We assume it is Joy. She as visions of the Tall Man (John Hoogenakker) with blood running up his face. It is his voice we hear in her visions. Is it her father? Is Joy really her daughter, possibly a child of incest. Is Joy her sister that she stole from her mother, whom she then killed? Or was it a baby she stole after killing the mother?
Pop’s Feuding Young’uns:
Pop Merrill (Tim Robbins) has a business empire that runs trough Castle County. He has his fingers in the pie of things both in Castle Rock and Jerusalem’s Lot. But he has chosen not to run things on his own. He has included his two nephews, step-step son and step-daughter. But family dynamics are a killer. We don’t know the full story yet, but Pop adopted Abdi & Nadia. He raised them as his own. Abdi is business savy and learned much from Pop. He grabbed up unwanted land in the Lot and is building a community and business center for the large Somali community in the Lot. But this is stealing Ace’s renters at his mall.
Ace confront Abdi and Pop about this does not like their answers. Abdi challenges him and Pop reminds him all he has was given to him. Ace’s brother Chris tells him to calm down. Ace says to stay out of it. Pop has cancer and is getting treated by Nadia as well as treating it himself with pot. He asked Nadia to talk with Abdi, because in a few months things will be done. It seems that Chris and Nadia are staying out of the illegal side of the Merrill empire while Ace and Abdi are dirty like Pop. Pop has the Sheriff Boucher (Greg Grunberg) and all of his officers on his roll.
Ace decides to firebomb Abdi, who is staying with Nadia. He follows Abdi home. Abdi is about to discover Annie in the house, when Ace throws in the molotov cocktails. Abdi puts out the fire, but calls his boys to find Ace. Nadia begs him not to retaliate.
Joy Has Fun:
Joy knows nothing more than a life on the run with her mother. She is self/homeschooled and her mother lets her have very little contact with the outside world. But the crash has changed things. Her mother is off her meds and Joy is scared. She literally has cabin fever. She decides to open the blinds to the cabin, cabin 19. She hears her neighbor Chance (Abby Corrigan) playing guitar. It is a song about the witches in that area that were burned out. Joy and Chance become quick friends and Chance introduces her to Vera and Timothy. They are hanging out and having fun, when Annie fueled by one of her visions stumbles upon them. Annie warns Joy against them.
Joy has been aching for this friendship. She is a gifted artist with an inclination for the macabre. She draws a picture of a witch and ghost for Chance and slips it under Chance’s door. But she sees Ace making molotov cocktails. Later Chance finds the drawing and wraps up an old phone for Joy to use and puts it on her stoop. Joy finds it after her mother’s change of heart. She happily gets drawing paper in Castle Rock and opens the gift.
In this episode we see Pop Merrill repairing a Polaroid camera. This is a clear shout out to the story Sun Dog that revolves around a Polaroid and one that does not see a happy end for Pop. Here is a summary for the short story via Goodreads.
In “The Sun Dog,” the concluding novella in Stephen King’s best-selling “Four Past Midnight,” the source of terror is a simple Polaroid camera owned by a 15-year-old boy in the small town of Castle Rock, Maine. No matter where Kevin Delevan aims the camera, it produces a photograph of an enormous, ugly, vicious looking dog. In each successive picture, the menacing creature draws nearer to the flat surface of the Polaroid film as if it intends to break through. When old Pop Merrill, the town’s sharpest trader, gets wind of this phenomenon, he envisions a way to profit from it but the Sun Dog, a beast that shouldn’t exist at all, turns out to be a very dangerous investment.”
We will see if this story plays out this season in Castle Rock, or of Pop’s fate will happen later. But Tim Robbins is doing a great job with his run of Pop.
We also had ties to last season’s events, Salem’s Lot and much more.
Let The River Run was a great first episode for the season. We find out from TV coverage and other comments, that this season takes place just over a year after the events of last season. Lizzy Caplan is doing amazing job playing the many facets of Annie Wilkes. It is going to be so wonderful to see how she brings depth and width to this complex character. Tim Robbins inhabits his roll as Pop and make him jump from a small character in the books to a cunning godfather type man here. Elise Fisher lives in her roll of Joy and I know she will shine this season. But truthfully the character I want to learn more about is Yursa Warsama’s Nadia. Over all a great first episode and it left me ready to run to episode two.
Here is what we know about the first 3 episodes all dropping on 10/23/2019 and the rest drop every week on Wednesday. You can find photos and descriptions in our Facebook group.
2 x 2: “New Jerusalem” The Merrills search for answers.
2 x 3 “Ties That Bind” Annie tastes her own medicine.
2 x 4 “Restore Hope”
2 x 5 “The Laughing Place”
Season 2 Game Plan:
Wayne and I will record shorter podcast about the first 3 episodes. Record your feedback and we will do a special feedback podcast. Then starting with episode 4 we will go week to week with Feedback being due by Friday’s at 2pm.
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You can find Wayne on the Electric Dreams podcast and Geoff doing the Flashes from the Underground segment on Maid of Steel and Gotham Undercover.