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[This story contains spoilers from season one of Hulu’s Castle Rock.]
The universe of Stephen King’s novels holds an expansive array of gothic horror mixed with small-town Americana, including a diverse, deep roster of heroes, villains, monsters and supernatural lore that is rife for adaptation.
As such, Hulu’s latest drama, Castle Rock, which is set in King’s interconnected universe, draws heavily from his extensive body of work and offers juicy winks and nods to savvy, well-read fans of the author.
With references ranging from familiar settings to well-known characters to meta casting choices, here’s every Easter egg from the series premiere of Castle Rock. Bookmark this page as THR updates this story weekly throughout the freshman run.
Episode 1, “Severance”
Castle Rock: This one’s obvious. The series derives its name from the fictional small town in Maine that has served as the setting for a number of King’s works. Originally appearing in 1979’s The Dead Zone, the sleepy New England burg has been the backdrop for such well-known King fare as 1981’s Cujo and 1991’s Needful Things.
Shawshank Prison: Another familiar tableau — and one central to the plot of Castle Rock — is Shawshank State Prison. The series kicks off with Shawshank warden Dale Lacy (Terry O’Quinn) committing suicide and quickly ramps up when a mysterious young man (Bill Skarsgard, who plays the demonic Pennywise in this year’s hit big-screen adaptation of It) is found deep within the bowels of the penitentiary. Shawshank is another central locale in the King-verse, having been the setting of the 1982 novella “Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption” and is referenced in classic works like 1986’s It and 1992’s Dolores Claiborne.
Alan Pangborn: When attorney Henry Deaver (Andre Holland) returns to his hometown to find his mother, Ruth (Sissy Spacek, reunited with King after starring in 1976 adaptation Carrie) shacking up with a new man, Needful Things fans immediately recognized the name: Alan Pangborn (Scott Glenn). Pangborn — or, rather, Sheriff Pangborn — is the protagonist of King’s Needful Things and the 1989 horror novel The Dark Half. This version of Pangborn is a bit more weathered than his written counterparts, having retired and seemingly settled down, at least a bit, but the character has proved a powerful figure in King’s novels, so look for some serious screen time for Glenn this season.
“The Marriage of Figaro”: Right before Warden Lacy ties a noose around his neck and drives his Cadillac off a cliff, he is listening to “Sull’aria” from Mozart’s opera The Marriage of Figaro. Shawshank Redemption fans will recognize the classical duet as the same song Andy Dufresne (Tim Robbins) enjoyed in the warden’s office in the 1994 film.
Episode 2, “Habeas Corpus”
Rabid Dog: There are two references to King’s 1981 novel about a rabid dog terrorizing Castle Rock, Maine. The first comes in Warden Lacy’s voiceover monologue about the past evils of the town, while the second is a headline seen by Henry Deaver as he’s going through old newspaper clippings: “Rabid Dog Tears Through Town.”
Leland Gaunt: The primary antagonist of Needful Things, Leland Gaunt is a tall, charismatic stranger who moves into Castle Rock to open his curios shop, Needful Things. As one would expect, he is not what he appears to be at first glance and hides a nefarious secret in the novel. The reference comes from yet another headline found by Deaver, reading, “Shopkeeper Missing After Oddity Store Fire.”
Stand By Me: Another two-fer. King’s 1982 novella The Body (perhaps more widely known for its 1986 film version, Stand By Me) about a group of boys who go on a search for another boy’s dead body on a railroad outside Castle Rock in the 1960s is referenced in Warden Lacy’s monologue and in a headline found by Deaver which reads “Anonymous Tip Led to Boy’s Body.”
Nan’s Luncheonette: The eatery is mentioned as being closed in the episode and it has appeared in King works such as It and Needful Things, which are based in two separate Maine towns, Derry and Castle Rock. Maybe it’s a chain?
The Mellow Tiger: Another familiar landmark, The Mellow Tiger is the local dive bar in Needful Things.
Episode 3, “Local Color”
Gazebo: In an indirect nod to the The Dead Zone, Molly Strand (Melanie Lynskey) is adamant about the inclusion of a gazebo in the new city center she’s planning, a loose reference to the murder at a gazebo discovered by psychic investigator Johnny Smith (Christopher Walken) in the 1983 film.
Warden Norton: As Bill Skarsgard’s character is eating lunch in the mess hall of Shawshank, he catches a glimpse of Warden Lacy’s picture hanging on the wall. Beside Lacy’s visage is another familiar face: Warden Samuel Norton. That’s right, a picture of Bob Gunton in character as Warden Norton from the 1994 film Shawshank Redemption is right there beside O’Quinn’s Lacy.
Episode 4, “The Box”
Desjardins: A name that should certainly ring a few bells for King fans, while Henry Deaver investigates his own past he comes across the name of Vince Desjardins. Vince Desjardins, of course, was a member of the group of bullies in King’s short story “The Body.” Assembling a timeline for King’s works is difficult (given many adaptations of his work have changed the time period in which they were originally set), given the fact that “The Body” takes place in 1960, when Desjardins was a teen, and his involvement in Deaver’s disappearance in 1991 could mean its the same character from the original story. Another wrinkle: Desjardins is also the name of the P.E. coach in King’s Carrie.
Episode 5, “Harvest”
Juniper Hill: The mental asylum has appeared in a number of King’s works, most notably as the home of Derry’s most dangerous bully, Henry Bowers, as an adult in It.
Check back next week for additional call-backs.
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