“Local Color” takes us inside the world of a troubled character who may be a crucial part of the unfolding mystery.
Before we even roll credits on “Local Color”, childhood Molly has gone all Kevorkian on the good Reverend Dever, bringing new meaning to Henry’s assertion in the previous episode that his adopted father died at home. Bonus creepy points for her doing it wearing Henry’s red plaid jacket (the same one she still keeps in a box in the present day). Speaking of present day, Molly certainly has guilt about the killing, complete bandaged people populating her dreams while the deceased reverend shames her with fire and brimstone. In the waking world, she hears muffled voices that seem to cripple her interactions, particularly when she is reunited with Henry. Initially, she brushes him off, pretending she doesn’t remember him. They meet again, however, when Henry bails her out after she is busted trying to score drugs from a random teenager who also happens to host bizarro games with the children of Shawshank prisoners (more on this later). It is then that she comes clean to Henry about their past.
Through flashbacks, we see the development of their misfit bond, beginning with Henry burning a videotape while cursing his dad (cursing people seems to be a trend in Castle Rock). We discover that Molly cannot only hear Henry’s thoughts but his feelings as well, even when they are apart. As children, Henry knew this, but present-day Molly must try to explain it to the clearly sceptical adult Henry. She can hear many people, but Henry is stronger, a song stuck in her head. She loses herself and falls apart when around him too long. So was she channelling Henry the night she donned his red plaid jacket and killed his father? Acting out his rage? Or was it simply the mercy killing for a suffering man?
Molly’s warnings to Henry prove correct during her much-discussed appearance on “Local Color.” We’ve been set up to believe she will tank, both because her sister has told us this and because we have watched Molly struggle to function with pretty much everyone except gal pal Jackie. It seems like she will break down on air until she dons her shades and calls out Shawshank prison for holding someone illegally. How she knows this is of vague interest to Henry, but not enough for him to take her claims of psychic empathy seriously. He is more invested in the result of her outburst which gets him a meeting with his client and an offer to settle from the warden.
Logging on the “the Kid is spooky” character development list, he only eats pieces of folded up bread. People are concerned by this, but I give it a pass as it must be hard being a carb guy in a gluten-free world. He and Henry meet for the first time with Henry in full on lawyer mode: they won’t reveal his name, they’ll get him released, and then they’ll sue the crap out of the prison. The Kid has more pressing concerns that he shares in end of days-style questions: “Has it begun?”, “How many years old are you?”, and “Do you hear it now?” This final question is the most troubling to Henry because his father said these exact words to him as they ventured into the woods, presumably right before Henry disappeared. Before he can recover from his shock, time is up on the meeting.
“Local Color” ends, as it began, with Molly. Her house is destroyed and as she walks through, knife in hand, she believes she is attacked by deceased Reverend Dever, all bandages and wrath (continuing his sermon from the first dream from Corinthians 15:51-52). It brings into question if this is just Molly’s own guilt, or if somehow she is connected to the dead as well as the living. For those playing Biblical allusion Bingo along with me, this passage is written by Paul (who was also referenced last week) talking about the death and resurrection of true believers. Those resurrected will have a new body. Who are the true believers of Castle Rock? Lacey? Pangborn? Molly? Will some take new forms? Maybe the writers are just picking these passages because they sound scary or fit with the narrative, but for now, let’s assume they aren’t.
The use of narrative in “Local Color” worked to its advantage. We know from the first few minutes the major event that haunts Molly and ties her to Henry, but how it unfolds, through present day and flashbacks, is well-crafted. Beyond that, this is an episode I caught myself rewinding to revisit a particular scene: the prisoner’s children game scene. This scene is clearly a reference to Lord of the Flies, complete with the pig mask, which is where King culled the name Castle Rock. King often looks at the world of the supernatural through children–Jack Torrance, the Losers Club in It, and even teenage Carrie. Often they are struggling with how to navigate a world where justice is beyond the range of what adults can understand. This scene has a perversion of the justice system handed over to those greatly impacted by it, in this case, children of imprisoned fathers and drunk mothers. References aside, this seems to foreshadow what is to come once the Kid walks beyond the walls of Shawshank.
I give this episode an extra half star solely for Melanie Lynskey’s fantastic work as Molly. As a fan since Heavenly Creatures, it is satisfying to see her given the type of material she deserves.
Amber is a doctoral candidate in Language, Diversity, and Literacy at Texas Tech. She holds an MA in Literature and History and a BFA in Theatre. A Texas-based mother of two, she is an Associate Professor of English and History at Howard College.