Melanie Lynskey (left), Sissy Spacek, André Holland
Photo: Dana Starbard

Castle Rock is part of the recent wave of excellent Stephen King adaptations that includes last year’s cinematic takes on It and Gerald’s Game. What sets Castle Rock apart, and what might generally push viewers over the love-hate divide, comes down to how distracted they’ll be with picking up on the plethora of Easter eggs hidden in the narrative. Because Castle Rock is ostensibly a new story, set in a King-favored location with some familiar characters (and some who only look familiar), it’s easy to get bogged down in multiple rewatches, pausing every five seconds to take down license plate numbers or comb through indecipherably muddy microfiche in order to find a clue.

And so far? The story of Castle Rock seems to be doing a great job standing on its own, letting you know what parts of the author’s lore will be important to the story by putting it front and center, while the rest of the clue-hunting is, at least for now, pure gameplay. To keep that game going, here are the Easter eggs, categorized and chronologically cataloged, that my trusted Losers’ Club of roommates and I were able to find throughout the first season. If we’ve overlooked any, please be sure to let us know.

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Chapter one: “Severance

André Holland stars in Castle Rock.
Photo: Patrick Harbron (Hulu)

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Who is…?: Alan Pangborn

Our introductory character, who in 1991 went out one morning to the middle of the woods to find a missing Henry Deaver by just sitting on a lake and waiting for a large noise to happen, after which Deaver suddenly appears on the ice. Wow! Already a mystery! And already, a callback: Alan Pangborn was the hero sheriff in Needful Things, who tried to keep his down together as they became a mindless mob in the hands of the devil, who seduced them with cool thrift-store finds like real Tiffany lamps, Elvis memorabilia, and a necklace that cured arthritis. And wouldn’t you know it, the events of Needful Things end in 1991, the same year as the Henry Deaver mystery. “A” for consistency!

Pangborn is also the sheriff, either as a side character or someone mentioned but unseen, in Bag Of Bones, Gerald’s Game, and King’s novella The Sun Dog. He’s seen some shit—if his is the same Pangborn, that is.

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Stunt casting: Scott Glenn

Scott Glenn could be The Ghost Of Christmas Future for the version of Pangborn played by Ed Harris in the Needful Things movie. The actor is just a year removed from playing a different former sheriff on another paranormal prestige drama about how small communities deal with grief; on The Leftovers, Glenn bore the role of Kevin Garvey Sr. with Pangbornian stoicism and a knack for keeping secrets.

Visual cue: Dead deer in the snow

Encountered by Dale Lacy during his nature walk to the worst retirement party ever. Dead animals could mean a lot in King’s world: a sign of an infection or alien presence (The Stand, The Tommyknockers), or something more ungodly, like Pet Sematary or Cujo (the latter of which takes place in Castle Rock). We don’t see whether the deer has a body or is just a head, which, considering how Dale Lacy takes his own life, may be important.

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Visual cue: Frozen lake

The image of a boy stranded in the middle of an iced-over lake immediately calls to mind the beginning of The Dead Zone, where an ice-skating fall activates the first half of Johnny Smith’s dormant psychic ability.

Visual cue: Sheepdog

Cujo’s eponymous beast was a Saint Bernard—is that close enough? There’s also King’s own corgi, Molly, a.k.a. the “Thing Of Evil,” but it’s probably a bigger Easter egg that Melanie Lynskey’s character shares her name.

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Musical cue: “Sull’aria…Che Soave Zeffiretto”

Dale Lacy (Terry O’Quinn) listens to this duet from Mozart’s The Marriage Of Figaro, which is the same piece that leads to Andy Dufresne’s solitary confinement in The Shawshank Redemption.

Extended universe: The doomed wardens of Shawshank

Lacy beheads himself by tying a noose to a tree and then plunging his car into a body of water; as the vehicle sinks, we see the decal on the bumper: “Maine Department Of Corrections: Shawshank.” “Bit of trivia: Shawshank’s actually lost four wardens in office,” Lacy’s successor, Warden Porter (Ann Cusack), is later told. “You can still see the bullet hole where Warden Norton—,” her tour guide says, before Porter cuts off this bit of epilogue from The Shawshank Redemption.

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Wardrobe cue: Warden Porter is the devil in Prada 

We know this new warden is trouble, and not just because her brother was in 1408. There’s also the matter of the red dress she wears for her first day on the job. Red means something huge in King’s work; it’s a harbinger of the coming of the ultimate cross-series baddie. Call him Randall Flagg, the Ageless Stranger, The Man In Black—we know if a character wears too much red, they are either agents of Flagg or vulnerable to his influence.

Extended universe: Henry’s defendant, Leanne

We learn the boy who went missing in 1991 grew up to be a defense attorney. His current client on death row? Married to one Richard Chambers, better known as the bully in The Body and its cinematic adaptation, Stand By Me, both of which take place in Castle Rock.

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Show’s secret thesis: Leanne’s death-row speech

“Wherever you go next, does the tape just get erased? And if it does, you’re not really you anymore, are you?” This is a very big clue Castle Rock is sharing with us: that there are Castle Rock echoes of events like those in Cujo, Needful Things, and Shawshank, and characters who have experienced them. But the “tape got erased,” so we can’t just assume that, say, the Pangborn played by Glenn is the same one played by Ed Harris.

Same same but different: The shining

Town preservationist (god knows why), Molly Strand (Lynskey) has self-diagnosed “psychic disorders” whose symptoms include trouble empathizing with others and a few supernatural powers thrown in for good measure. She wears dark glasses and abuses painkillers to help cope with what sounds an awful lot like the abilities that helped Danny Torrance unlock the dark secrets of the Overlook Hotel in The Shining. And as we learn in that book’s 2013 sequel, Doctor Sleep, adult Danny copes with the shining by drugging and boozing it away.

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Stunt casting: Sissy Spacek

Nominated for an Oscar for playing a telekinetic teen with severe mommy issues in Carrie, Spacek’s playing a mother in a King-related production 42 years later, one who has dementia and possibly knows some things about Henry’s late, adoptive father that she’s not sharing.

Visual cue: The mouse

Not a fan of how this guy looks at rodents.
GIF: Castle Rock screenshots

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The Kid (Bill Skarsgård, the big screen’s Pennywise) was kept in an underground box by Warden Lacy for over a decade, but he’s made at least one new friend: a tiny mouse, just like the one held by the prisoner John Coffey in The Green Mile, which extended the rodent’s life span to Methuselah-esque lengths.


Chapter two: “Habeas Corpus

Melanie Lynskey stars in Castle Rock.
Photo: Seacia Pavao (Hulu)

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Audio cue: Thomas Newman

The show’s theme song, heard for the first time in the second episode, was composed by Thomas Newman, who also worked on the scores for The Shawshank Redemption and The Green Mile.

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Extended universe: The Lacy files

In a flashback voice-over, we hear that Dale Lacy knew about the incidents of Cujo, Needful Things, The Body, and The Dead Zone, and has been collecting files on them. He believes Castle Rock is evil, which is something that everyone seems to know and yet they refuse to move away, with the notable exception of that Deaver boy. He went all big-city and escaped.

What’s in a name: Jackie Torrence

The first time I heard Jane Levy’s character’s name I wanted to slam my head through a bathroom door, so I guess that’s a nice Shining reference.

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Same same but different: The Death Touch

It’s implied the Kid was able (or unable not) to send malignant and fast-growing cancer via touch after being grabbed by his neo-Nazi bunkmate. Maybe he’s reverse-John Coffey.

Locations: The Mellow Tiger and Nan’s Luncheonette

Both are mentioned throughout King’s stories that take place in or around Castle Rock, including Needful Things, It, and The Sun Dog.

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Extended universe: Pruitts

Someone being appointed to the Castle Rock board, might be related to two girls who get trapped in Under The Dome.

Same same but different: They come back

So our Pet Sematary suspicions were confirmed! Henry catches Pangborn digging up a dead dog they had buried the day before, to make sure it wouldn’t get up and start wandering around. But also, come on! This whole town tore down a cemetery and is currently reinterring the bodies, including that of Henry’s dad, who may have been a real creep.

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Oy, religion: Lacy’s last speech

Implies that he thought by keeping the kid in the cell, he was doing God’s bidding, but:

“‘Never again let him see the light of day.’ That’s what God told me. He told me where to find him, how his prison should be built, how to put an end to all the horrors we’ve seen in this town… What he didn’t tell me was how full of doubt I would be about what we did, or where I’d wind up in the end. I fear for this place. I fear what’s to come, Alan. But I know Castle Rock still has a defender, even in the dead of night”

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And this is after Alan and the sheepdog dig up Lacy’s severed head, which apparently is now free to roam wherever it wants. Seriously, Castle Rock can’t even figure out where to inter the bodies that will stay down, let alone the undead.

Screenshot: Castle Rock

It is never really great to do stuff because God tells you to in Stephen King stories—or in life, for that matter. But off the bat I’m wondering if the good Reverend Deaver and Lacy knew something the rest of the town—minus, perhaps, Pangborn—didn’t. It’s also worth noting that Needful Things featured two different men of faith falling prey to their baser instincts, but neither seem to be related to Henry’s adopted father.

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Chapter 3: “Local Color

Screenshot: Castle Rock

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Visual cue: Red flannel

Young Molly breaks into Henry’s house while he’s missing, puts on his red flannel jacket, and kills Reverend Deaver by unplugging his breathing apparatus. We know that she’s not fully herself, but using or being used as a conduit for someone in a very cold place. And despite knowing it was Henry (or someone else’s) rage, could you imagine the guilt living with that, if you were Molly? Knowing how that close of a connection with someone made her their puppet? Maybe the red flannel isn’t about Henry at all but the temptation from The Crimson King himself, offering Henry as a reward for the reverend’s murder.

Visual cue: Yellow raincoat

GIF: Castle Rock screenshots

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Molly wears a jacket that’s the same bright hue as Georgie’s in It, and it’s so incongruous with the drab, burned-out surroundings of Castle Rock, it must be addressed with a sick Minions burn.

Bad-idea jeans: “Every revitalized downtown needs a gazebo”

Maybe Molly should reconsider this plan, based on the history of the structure’s predecessors: The Castle Rock gazebo is the scene of a murder in The Dead Zone, and it’s burned down during the culmination of Needful Things.

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Same same but different: Children of the Oxy Corn

I know, I know, “put a bunch of creepy kids in a room together doing weird things like holding a kangaroo court while wearing the Eyes Wide Shut mask they made Daddy at summer camp but he never wore so it’s theirs now.” It’s actually less King than Creepypasta, but if you squint hard enough, the resemblance to Children Of The Corn is there.

Harmony Korine presents 12 Angry Men.
GIF: Castle Rock screenshots

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Literary reference: Lord Of The Flies 

This kids’ tribunal also contains echoes of William Golding’s allegorical novel, from which Castle Rock takes its name. King is a huge fan of the theme where children take over and create their own savage-but-fair feudal systems—plus, the Kid’s neo-Nazi cellmate is seen reading Lord Of The Flies earlier in the series.

Timey-wimey stuff: Henry Deaver’s age

Henry is 39 years old. When he was around 12, he was kidnapped by his father and taken somewhere for 11 days, after which he returned, unharmed. Comparing that with the references of both the rev and the Kid asking “Has it begun?” and “Can you hear it now?” it seems like we’re dealing with some sort of monstrous ritual that coincides with the ending of “hibernation” for the creature from It, a sort of Mercury retrograde from hell where people are more likely to go insane and murder each other on the street without it even being Purge Day. It happens every 27 years or so, and if Castle Rock is playing by the same logic, it would make sense that Henry has a more difficult time remembering incidents about the town than Molly, who is essentially Mike Hanlon without a library. With Derry, the setting of It, and Castle Rock being close to each other, it’s possible that something’s going on where supernatural occurrences can be timed like clockwork.

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Episode four: “The Box

Noel Fisher as Dennis Zalewski
Photo: Patrick Harbron

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Audio cue: Tom Waits, Clap Hands

Not necessarily an Easter egg per se, except in that Tom Waits’ music is some of the creepiest in the world and often deals with spooks and ghouls as often as it does heartbreak, whiskey, and pianos. If it were up to me, this episode would have launched with another one of Waits’ songs, the less melodious but way more on-point “What’s He Building In There?

What’s in a name: Vince Desjardins

Here’s another “The Body”/Stand By Me reference. Vince is part of Ace’s gang in the story, and as you may have assumed from the word “gang,” he’s not one of the good guys. The fact that Henry may or may not have been kept in a box for 11 days outside the Desjardins’ residence is not a signal of hospitality.

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Stunt casting: Quentin Collins as Joseph Desjardins

As Emily L. Stephens pointed out in her recap, the actor playing the living Desjardins brother is known for his work on a series about vampires in another Maine town: the influential supernatural soap Dark Shadows.

What’s in a name: The Box

The episode’s title, possibly referring to the one in the Desjardins backyard, with a spoon and a little bowl, which Henry may or may not have escaped from. Or was it a dog that was kept back there? If so, which dog? (There seem to be a few options.)

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Or this could be about the pine boxes that Henry’s adopted father keeps escaping from, having been dug up and reburied for the third time now. Or it’s the box in Shawshank where the Kid was imprisoned. Might even be the TV monitors that are ultimately Dennis Zalewski’s undoing.

Or this could be a metaphorical memory box, the one held by Molly but rightfully belonging to Henry Deaver, which is why he can’t seem to remember anything that happened to him. As the Kid says early in this episode, “He has a name written on him that no one knows except himself.” Perhaps “knowing” is a type of evil in Castle Rock, and only a few strong souls, like Pangborn and Molly, can keep their memories intact without being affected by its toxicity.

Extended universe: The Strangler

Stephen King is telling us to ignore the Easter eggs in Castle Rock and just focus on the show itself, and we’d love to, but if you wanted to create a stand-alone horror, maybe don’t have your realtor character mentioning that she lives in the same house that a “serial killer” died in—a serial killer with mommy issues. Not concluding that Molly lives in the house previously occupied by The Dead Zone’s Frank Dodd would be doing a disservice to all of us fans who keep track of this stuff.

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Visual cue: The smiley face

On the monitor bank at Shawshank, a very loud signal to a more recent King novel, Mr. Mercedes, in which the killer’s calling card is this proto-emoji.

Audio cue: Roy Orbison, “Crying

I was so happy for this one, as it references my favorite Stephen King short story, “You Know They Got A Hell Of A Band.” In it, a couple turns off the highway to end up in a town populated entirely by dead musicians, including Elvis, Buddy Holly, Janis Joplin and, you guessed it, Roy Orbison. And what a beautiful nightmare of a scene, all depicted through security cameras, leading up to Dennis’ final line: “I want to testify.”

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Visual cue: X marks the spot

Dennis X-ing out different monitors is a callback that seems linked to Henry marking Xs over the space of his father’s headstone.


Episode five: “Harvest

Jane Levy as Jackie Torrance
Photo: Claire Folger

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Extended universe: Tinnitus

Henry gets his hearing checked out after the Shawshank incident that ended with Dennis’ killing spree and death. He talks about this issue with his ears ringing; apparently it isn’t a new problem, but one he’s had since childhood. This is a problem Henry shares with King, who was plagued by chronic ear infections growing up.

Extended universe: Bangor Strangler

Again, a Dead Zone reference that, at this point, doesn’t do much besides point back at itself. Okay, we get it. We know which of King’s stories take place in this town—is there anything more about this that’s relevant to our story at hand? For example, is the Bangor Strangler controlling the Kid when he decides to break into a family’s house and watch the happy tableau turn into a fight between the mother and father while the child, celebrating his birthday, goes ignored? But wait, isn’t the Bangor Strangler shacking up at Molly’s house these days, vis-a-vis her throwaway reference in “The Box”?

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Extended universe: Arthritis complications

Runs in Ruth’s family. Luckily, Sheriff Pangborn should be used to dealing with it, seeing as his love interest in Needful Things was Polly Chalmers, who suffered from severe arthritis.

What’s in a name?: Jackie Torrance, again

Finally, some evidence that all these Easter eggs show us that Castle Rock belongs in the same universe as the Stephen King stories that take place in and outside the eponymous town. Jackie is related to the characters from The Shining and was named after her uncle, tortured, alcoholic author Jack Torrance. (Though on which side? Wasn’t a big part of The Shining how both Jack and Wendy were both alienated from their respective families? Why would a sibling then name their child after their estranged, homicidal sibling?)

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Extended universe: Undead dog

Whose dog was that, that kept interrupting Sheriff Pangborn’s retirement speech and distracting everyone enough to not notice Ruth’s exit? We’ve had several mentions and even seen several dogs around town, more dead than alive, however. Is this a Pet Sematary thing or a Cujo thing—or both? I lean toward the former: With all that’s going on with the reburials of Henry’s adopted father (and now his gaseous body causing a coffin leak that won’t even leave a body?), I’m worried that it’s only a matter of time until the good (or bad) Reverend Deaver finds his way back home.

Audio cue: What the Kid hears

Well, we’re getting closer to the truth now, at least a little bit, about the function of The Kid, if not his actual identity. (Apparently, he doesn’t age.) While earlier in the episode the show seems to point to the idea that he is indeed in league with the devil, destroying anyone or anything he touches (or, in the case of Dennis and the family he creepy-crawls, having them destroy themselves), from his final conversation with Pangborn in which he offers to help Ruth, I get the sense the kid is more of an amplifier, or a tuning receiver. He has some version of the Shine, at least. We can hear it when he steps on top of Molly’s building and is able to “hear” the town like it’s a faraway radio signal, with a loud dog barking (Cujo?) and the phrase “Wanna see a dead body?” (“The Body”/Stand By Me). Clearly, the Kid can “tune in” to all the bad juju of Castle Rock. Question is, what else does he do?

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Episode 6: “Filter”

Extended universe: Odin’s Winnebago

Screenshot: Hulu

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Yes, the “Easter eggs” of Castle Rock are becoming fewer and far between. Or at least, any original ones that don’t already reference the handful of Stephen King stories we’ve been catching since the beginning. That’s why I was so excited initially to see the Sportscoach III idling outside Matthew Deaver’s latest recommital. (I hope Castle Rock’s public works department operates on a punch-card system, because if they have to do this all over again, Henry’s dad definitely deserves his next burial on the house.)

King used Winnebagos as a big red flag fairly recently, in Doctor Sleep; it’s what the caravan of “psychic vampires” called the True Knot use on their pilgrimage to the Overlook Hotel. Does that mean Willie and Odin are part of that malicious extended “family”? I doubt it, considering the direction the show is taking (away from King’s established work and into new, surprisingly fertile territory regarding multiple realities and possible time loops), but let’s just say the True Knot is also known for kidnapping and locking people up in their RVs.

Visual cue: Credit where it’s due

There have been some slight changes in the opening, mostly regarding the notes we see scrawled in the margins. Now, when we happen on the It page, our unseen writer has added “They all float… kidnapped?” If this is indeed a multiverse being shown, it’s quite possible that King’s work—at least some of it, in some form—does exist in Castle Rock. But it also opens up the possibility that the characters we thought we knew from previous stories, like Sheriff Pangborn, could actually be entirely new iterations. This Pangborn might have never lived through the events of Needful Things, which is really the only way his “deal with the devil/the Kid” makes any sense. Pangborn might love Ruth, but the sheriff we know from Needful Things would be wary about performing even the most innocuous of tasks in exchange for a magic cure-all for his wife’s illness.

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What’s in a name?: Dr. Dietz

Screenshot: Hulu

Molly’s still plugging away at her Sisyphean task of trying to sell homes in a clearly spooky town that just gets scarier by the day. As her prospective client tells her, “I’ve Googled Prospect Street in Castle Rock—seems like some pretty awful things have happened there.” (Not to mention the fire that’s still burning the town but apparently not bad enough to evacuate. Castle Rock isn’t Centralia quite yet.)

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But did you catch the name of the client in her notebook after she sees the dearly departed Reverend Deaver through her window? It reads, “One hour DIETZ,” which is the same last name as a particularly awful doctor who briefly makes an appearance in the miniseries adaptation of The Stand. Maybe I’m stretching, but Dr. Dietz worked in a classified section of government clearance during the Captain Tripps outbreak—maybe this is the same man (or another iteration of him) here to investigate just what’s going on in Castle Rock.

Extended universe: Krakatoa

“Has exploded, a fiery monster in his belly!” we hear a much kinder Reverend Deaver telling his adopted son in a home movie discovered by the Kid. This reference of the volcanic island is first found in the Nightmares & Dreamscapes story “The End Of This Whole Mess.”

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Extended universe: Juniper Hill Psychiatric Facility

Anyone familiar with King’s body of work could probably tell you that locking up the Kid in the same mental facility that Henry Bowers escapes from in It would be a bad idea. But Juniper Hill, like Shawshank, is a much-used location in King’s work, with characters either referencing it or going there themselves in Needful Things, Gerald’s Game, The Sun Dog, The Tommyknockers, Insomnia, Bag Of Bones, 11.22.63, and The Dark Half.

Visual cue: The crows

Oh yeah, that crow that flew directly into a window the moment the Kid arrives at Juniper Hill? Historically not a good sign in Stephen King literature. Especially when it’s already the “second one this week.” A few more, and you’ll have yourself a real murder.

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Extended universe: Pills, no chaser

Ruth dry-swallows her pills, like Jack Torrance in The Shining (well, technically he chews his Aspirin, which is even more nauseating) and an option offered by Annie Wilkes to Paul Sheldon in Misery.

Audio cue: “The voice of God”

We’ve heard it once before, this low-frequency hum, right before Pangborn found Henry all those years ago. As Odin tells it, a lucky few are “practically deafened” by what he calls the “the nature of the schisma.” This otherworldly aspect of a naturally (or unnaturally) occurring phenomenon is reminiscent of the role the Northern Lights play in The Langoliers. Those obliterated everyone who was awake on the passenger plane that passed through them, leaving only the sleeping occupants alive—only to wake up on an airplane that no longer had a pilot or flight crew.

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Meanwhile, Odin’s mention of “The Filter,” a soundproof and soundless room that allows those with the ability to hear the schisma hear it way more traumatically, is straight out of The Tommyknockers, where a whole town suddenly develops the ability to build things beyond what the human mind should be able to create, like a psychic typewriter or a chamber of total silence inside an RV.

Chris Evangelista over at Slashfilm also floated the theory that the schisma itself might be a reference to a King series we haven’t heard that much about in Castle Rock: “In the Dark Tower, God is called ‘Gan,’ and he ‘speaks’ through angels.”


Episode 7: “The Queen”


Photo: Dana StarbardVisual cue: Game of dogs 

We’ve talked about the dogs of Castle Rock bearing similarities to those of Cujo and Pet Sematary, but what about the feral animal of Gerald’s Game? When we see Ruth wake up to one of her dogs on the bed, it nudges her, and she notices her hand is smeared with blood, a reference to the horrible incident up at the lake house in Gerald’s Game and the lengths we’ll go to to free ourselves from a supposed intruder.

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Visual cue: The Crimson King

Screenshot: Hulu

The Dark Tower echoes continue. The chess piece Ruth Deaver finds in her backyard during a truly terrible time in her life, when she became aware that her husband probably murdered their dog and had plans for their adopted son: It’s a red king, i.e., the Crimson King (a.k.a. Los, a.k.a. the Lord Of The Spiders, a.k.a. the Kingfish, a.k.a. the Red Daddy, a.k.a. Satan, a.k.a. Matthew McConaughey in last year’s poorly received Dark Tower movie). His primary goal? To destroy the Dark Tower that serves to stand between the worlds, and with it, all space and time. Sounds like something Ruth is experiencing in this episode, yeah? And that’s without mentioning the increasingly noticeable number of crows circling above the piece.

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Audio cue: Elvis Presley, “Blue Moon”

If you wanted another blatant reference to the antagonist from The Dark Tower, here you go. In fact, these two clues are so obvious that they are reaching Jackie Torrance levels here. Are they more than just our usual nods to the meta-author? Are they perhaps the key to Castle Rock’s entire puzzle?

If we want to read this another way, “Blue Moon” could be another reference to the short “You Know They Got A Hell Of A Band,” where Presley shows up as the mayor of the hellish rock ’n’ roll town that traps unwitting tourists. Of course, it could also be a nod toward the great and powerful King behind Castle Rock’s curtain: Stephen himself.

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Episode 8: “Past Perfect


Photo: Dana StarbardWhat’s in a name? Gordon

The new bed-and-breakfast proprietor and his wife relocate to Castle Rock from Des Moines, and they waste no time falling prey to whatever forces remain in the Lacy residence. Stephen King’s The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon is about a character who gets lost in the woods after her parents’ divorce and is infatuated by the title character, a favorite of Boston Red Sox fans like King at the time of the novel’s publication.

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Extended universe: The BTK Killer

Gordon did his Ph.D. work on Dennis Rader, also known as the BTK Killer. (BTK stands for “bind, torture, kill.”) King’s novella “A Good Marriage” from Full Dark, No Stars—about a happily married woman who discovers after 27 years that her husband is secretly a murderous psychopath when she finds a collection of ID cards from victims in the garage–was based on Rader. Rader infamously led a double-life: presenting himself as a happily devoted family man in public while secretly nursing his sadomasochistic tendencies. Sort of like how Gordon can talk about tenure until he’s blue in the face—right before beating a graduate student with a hardcover book.

Visual cue: An ax to grind

Finally, Jackie Torrance comes through, and in a major way. In what must be the sort of dramatic irony that would have pleased her uncle, Jackie comes to Henry’s rescue by planting an old fire ax in Gordon’s back. That would be exactly how Jack Torrance tried to kill his family in the movie version of The Shining; in the novel, Torrance comes after his family with a roque mallet. (Fun bonus footage: Here’s Jack Nicholson prepping for his “Here’s Johnny!” moment.)

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Extended universe: The shining

At this point, it’s unclear if Henry is able to fully accept his special ability when it comes to hearing the “God sound” that has plagued him ever since he went missing. His adopted father and the Kid both ask Henry at various points if he “can hear it” yet. Whatever “it” is, Henry resists, while his son Wendell, on his way out of town, is suddenly struck with intense misophonia when he tries to leave. In the novel, Dick Hallorann tells Danny that “shining” is a mixture of telepathy and clairvoyance, allowing people to see past or future events they weren’t able to witness. We know Molly has a version of it, while the Kid seems to be able to tune in to it like a giant radio receiver. Henry has it, at least a low-grade version of it, while Wendell has it in high-def. Sometimes, it seems, the gift can skip a generation.

Extended Universe: The basement

Apparently where Dale Lacy held Henry Deaver in 1991, during the boy’s disappearance. As you might expect, basements pop up frequently in horror novels, and King is no exception. The one glaring basement-related reference is the alternate-reality game on King’s website, a promotion for his novel Mr. Mercedes, called The Basement. Unlocking the codes (or just pressing the “cheat” button on the top left of the page) gives you access to images on a bank of computer monitors, many of which seem to be of a gunslinger. The Gunslinger, perhaps?

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What’s in a name? The Black Death

The highly offensive nickname Officer Reese gives Henry. It seemed so off-putting, it had to be a reference. Low and behold, in King’s latest novel, The Outsider, we have this little aside from DA Bill Samuels: “You sure? I’ve had Zoney’s coffee, and they don’t call it the Black Death for nothing.” I think we can all agree this is a much better usage of the phrase.


Episode 9: “Henry Deaver

Photo: Dana Starbard

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Extended universe: The helicopter crash

The opening of this episode harkens back to several calamities from Castle Rock’s past, like the helicopter that plummeted from the sky and landed on the gazebo. Under The Dome kicks off with an aerial incident, too: When the town of Chester Mills is put under an invisible force field that separates it from the rest of the world, one of the first victims is Claudette Sanders, whose small plane flies directly into the dome.

Extended universe: The train accident

In King’s short story “Willa” (originally published in Playboy and later collected in Just After Sunset), a man goes in search of his missing fiancée after an accident on a train leaves them—and several other passengers—with little memory of recent events.

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Extended universe: The Shawshank escapees

When both Henry Deavers are running through the woods, they come across several upsetting scenes, one of which happens to be a couple of prisoners trying to outrun guards and their bloodhounds. While not a direct reference to the events in The Shawshank Redemption, this event can be considered part of the larger mythology surrounding the prison and those who dared to risk jailbreak.

Extended universe: The Northern Lights

So now we finally get to see what happens every 27 years in the woods of Castle Rock: a link between at least two parallel universes, allowing the two Henry Deavers to cross between worlds and cause chaos in their wake. The way the show depicts the eye of the storm that links these two looks an awful like the Northern Lights of The Langoliers, as well as the “falling stars” of Under The Dome.

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Episode 10: “The Romans

Photo: Dana Starbard

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Visual Cue: Room 102

Screenshot: Hulu

As seen behind The Kid/Henry Deaver Prime as he holds his other self at gunpoint. Here’s a fun out-there theory for you: The documentary Room 237, about fans’ interpretations of The Shining, is exactly 102 minutes long. Coincidence? Maybe. But considering that Room 237 is about all the leaps people take to mold a piece of art into their perceptions of it, no deep-cut Easter egg possibility can be ignored.

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Visual cue: WKIT 100.3

Screenshot: Hulu

The sticker on Jackie Torrance’s laptop advertises the classic rock station in Bangor, Maine owned by Stephen and Tabitha King.

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Audio cue: “24 Hours From Tulsa”

The song that played over the closing credits is a self-referential Easter egg, but as Emily Stephens pointed out in her episode six recap, “24 Hours from Tulsa” is Henry Deaver’s first memory, starting at age 11. We now know this was because he blocked out his memories of the “other universe” where The Kid comes from, where the bizarro version of his adopted father locked him in a basement for 27 years.

Extended universe: All work and no play

Jackie Torrance’s new book (essay? blog entry?) is called Overlooked, and she’s about to take a field trip to the Rocky Mountains to follow up on some old family history. I just imagine her 23AndMe.com results turning up a hereditary predisposition toward “ax-related murders.”

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In retrospect, the eye-rolling obviousness of Jackie Torrence was the cipher key to this show the whole time. There are possibly infinite variations of the town and the denizens living therein. Which is kind of a cosmic bummer. Events can happen, or they can be changed, and the outcome will either be the same or worse than not doing anything at all. It doesn’t make a difference if you walk into the Overlook Hotel’s Room 217 or 237; you were screwed the moment you were written into existence. The only question is to what degree these characters are aware of their respawning. (Wendell seems pretty with it, thanks to his Dark Pokémon app.) Was the Sheriff Pangborn who participated in the events of The Dark Half and Needful Things the same guy we met in this series? I truly doubt it. I think the man we’ve been calling Alan Pangborn lived and died without ever coming across an old man named Leland Gaunt. Another version of him did. Maybe several. But not this one.