At the conclusion of the previous episode, we discovered that Rita, Joy’s birth mother, survived Annie stabbing her with a pair of scissors. Castle Rock S2E6 wastes no time in picking up that thread, as we open on the scene of Rita bleeding on the floor beside the empty crib. She suddenly jolts awake and we jump cut to an older Rita at an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting.
Rita says it’s been four years since she stopped using drugs and alcohol and fifteen years since she started, mentioning that many of them likely know why she fell into addiction since it was “a big story, especially back in California.” She says she moved to New York to start again because she no longer wanted to be a part of that story.
We get a few glimpses of her life: she appears to be working at a retail store but gets distracted by a happy mother and daughter, and then goes home to a trailer park and sits alone on the couch at the end of the day, which is when the call from Joy we saw at the end of the previous episode comes in.
Although Joy’s call is disconnected, Rita performs an internet search for the number and finds a name and location: Georgia Lachance at the Stargazer Lodge in Castle Rock, Maine.
Castle Rock S2E6 – “The Mother”
After the opening credits, we return to the bar where Annie has been drinking. The Ace-Thing approaches her and says hello, which causes Annie to start laughing. She tells him she’s not sorry for killing him. The Ace-Thing says the dream of killing him is a “nice dream,” and one that many “around here” have had dreamt it, as well. He asks her how she did it and laughs as she tells him it was with an ice cream scoop down the gullet.
The Ace-Thing walks her home, and she drunkenly tells him that the end of the dream didn’t make any sense, as (for starters) she doesn’t even remember when she woke up. When they get back to Cabin #19 at the Stargazer Lodge, we see the Ace-Thing tuck her in to sleep on the couch and then tenderly stroke her cheeks.
In the next scene, we see Nadia dropping Joy off at a State Group Home. According to Nadia, this is where she and Abdi lived before moving in with Pop Merrill. Nadia tells Joy she doesn’t know how long Joy will have to say, since they have to ensure it’s safe for her to be with her mom. Although Joy is nervous, a social worker takes her to a bed. Meanwhile, Nadia ignores an incoming call on her cell phone from Pop.
When Nadia arrives at her house alone, she plays the message on her answering machine, which is from Pop. He says there’s nothing he can say to change what’s happened but apologizes nevertheless, saying that he wanted to make it right but he realizes no that making it right is impossible. He concludes by telling Nadia not to hold Abdi responsible for keeping the information from her for the past five years.
When Abdi arrives back at Nadia’s house, he finds his sister arranging all his possessions on the lawn. Nadia confronts Abdi and asks what happened five years ago, but Abdi says that she already knows. Nadia asks Abdi how he knew and Abdi tells her that Ace told him, using the information as a method of getting into his head. Nadia tells Abdi that in the whole world, she had only him, her “blood,” and then tells him to go away, slamming the front door in his face.
In the next scene, we see Heather, the bartender who had been working at the bar where Annie and the Ace-Thing had been drinking, approaching her home at night with her boyfriend, Lance. He brings up the topic of marriage and Heather replies that he doesn’t have health insurance, but he answers that he’ll have it when he gets his job at Shawshank back.
The couple pauses at the sound of insect wings fluttering but then continues toward their destination as Heather says that she’ll consider the proposal if Lance buys her a lifetime supply of Zoloft and Paxil. Lance implores her to seriously consider the proposal, and Heather says she’s serious, noting that it’s expensive to stay sane in Castle Rock.
However, the best-laid plans of mice, men, and King characters often go astray, and when the couple enters the house, they are attacked!
Cut to: the subterranean cavern beneath the Marsten House, where we see the Ace-Thing and his minions interring the corpses of Heather and Lance in a pair of goop-filled sarcophaguses. Once this is complete, we see the Ace-Thing approach a coffin that reads Amity Lambert – 1619. Speaking in French, he tells his “love” that he is seeking a vessel that is worthy of her spirit… named “Annie.”
Speaking of Annie, she wakes up on the couch just before a knock at the door. He introduces himself as Steve Bannerman from Child Protective Services (the last name is a possible reference to George Bannerman, a cop who appears in several stories set in Castle Rock, including The Dead Zone and Cujo). Bannerman, who thinks that Annie’s last name is Ingles, informs Annie that Joy is being kept in a state home and begins asking her questions to determine how fit she is to be a parent.
Bannerman asks if Annie has a job and she replies that she’s a registered nurse, but Bannerman says that he’ll need to speak to her employer to confirm – not great for Annie, considering the situation with Nadia. Bannerman says he’ll need to see the living space where Annie will be staying with Joy and Annie looks around the trashed cabin in despair.
Desperate to get rid of Bannerman, Annie tells him that she’s sick and he’ll need to come back tomorrow when she isn’t contagious. Bannerman informs her that he’ll need Joy’s birth certificate and social security card, and from Annie’s reaction shot, it’s apparent that she doesn’t have this paperwork on hand.
Elsewhere, a bus carrying Rita arrives in Castle Rock. She heads directly to the Stargazer Lodge, where she finds Chance, the owner of the cell phone Joy used to contact Rita. Rita introduces herself to Chance, who doesn’t know that Joy attempted to contact Rita and is confused by her questions… at least until Rita mentions The Ravening Angel, at least.
Chance asks Rita if she’s a cop and Rita denies it, offering cash for information about Annie. Chance is unreceptive, and as Rita is leaving, Annie sees her and panics. She pulls out bullets and goes for the lockbox where she keeps her gun, only to discover that Joy has stolen it.
At the Marsten House, the renovations continue unabated. The Ace-Thing (Augustin) and the Chris-Thing (Bertrand) have a conversation in front of a mirror. Bertrand says he’s feeling better and asks about the quality of the wine. The pair discuss the choice of vessel for Amity, and Augustin says that the vessel “chose them.”
Bertrand and one of the other minions (the former real estate agent, Valarie) go to the cavern and open the sarcophagus containing the resurrected “Lance,” but when they open the coffin that contained Heather’s corpse, they are shocked to find it empty.
Nadia is listening to a voicemail from Abdi when arrives at the hospital for work, but is distracted when a goop-covered Heather begins pounding on her car window and screaming. Inside the hospital, Nadia wonders what the goop might be, trying to get an unresponsive Heather to answer her questions. Nadia tells the nurse that Heather was in for a suicide attempt the previous year and that she takes antidepressants.
At the Castle Rock Motor Lodge, Rita contacts the FBI and attempts to get them to involved and reopen the case, but it’s clear from her dialogue that they are no longer interested in her tips. Rita opens the minibar but is interrupted by a knock at the door. It’s Vera, Joy and Chance’s friend, who had overheard Rita’s offer of cash to Chance and has come to sell information.
Annie arrives at the Maine State Group Home and asks to see Joy Ingals, but is told that Joy is visiting with her mother. Meanwhile, Joy meets Rita for the first time. After Joy listens to Rita’s side of the story, she remains (understandably) uncertain about how to proceed. While Rita insists on referring to Annie as Joy’s sister, Joy still refers to Annie as “my mom.” Nevertheless, Rita says she didn’t come for Annie, she came for Joy. However, Joy needs time to think, and suggests Rita return the next day.
Back in her motel room, a despondent Rita turns to alcohol for comfort before heading to the bar to continue drinking. At the Stargazer Lodge, Annie writes a letter. Joy sobs as she lies on a bed at the Maine State Group Home.
At the hospital, Nadia notices some discrepancies on Heather’s chart. She asks the nurse about it, but the nurse reacts in a strange and noncommittal manner. When Nadia goes to check on Heather, she finds the hospital bed empty. Heather has been taken back to the Marsten House, where she seems considerably less panicked than she was in the previous scene. Augustin asks what the problem was and is told that the medicine she used “confused” her and slowed “the weaving.”
The next day, Rita returns to the Maine State Group Home and is told that they are unable to locate Joy. The next scene reveals that Joy called Annie and arranged to meet her in the woods, bringing Chance along as backup. Annie gives Joy a letter that contains “the truth” before confirming that Annie killed their father.
Annie says that none of them were “good,” but Joy is skeptical. However, Annie says that Joy saved her by laughing. Annie goes on to say that she knows she’s not “normal,” but that loving Joy keeps her flying right. Nevertheless, Joy confronts Annie about the fact that Annie had originally planned on killing Joy, too, telling Annie that she should go “far away,” so that no one can find her. Joy and Chance leave Annie alone in the woods.
A short time later, Chance is telling Joy that she could camp in the woods. But Joy says that she can’t stay. Chance says that they should go – to North Carolina, where they can stay with Chance’s stepsister (who owes her a favor).
Nadia goes to meet with Bertrand (who she thinks is still Chris). Nadia wistfully echoes the plans made by Chance and Joy, saying that the two of them should just leave town since relations with the rest of the family – Pop, Ace, and Abdi – have turned so sour. Glass of wine in hand, Bertrand listens to her air her grievances. It’s real creepy, y’all.
When Annie arrives back at Cabin #19, Rita is waiting for her at the kitchen table. She immediately plays a voicemail: Joy thanking Rita for coming so far and sharing the truth, but then declining Rita’s offer to go with her. Rita asks Annie if she knew Rita had survived, and Annie admits that she eventually did. Then Rita pulls out a gun and tells Annie that the hardest part was the hope that Annie was a good mom, since the alternative was that Joy was dead.
Elsewhere, Joy opens the letter Annie wrote to her, and we hear Annie’s voiceover narrating the text as she reads it. Rather than address the past, the letter speaks to the future and appeals to the bond between the two women, specifically referencing the Carly Simon song that opened the season.
The heartfelt letter concludes with Annie expressing her uncompromised love for Joy, saying Annie will always be “her number one fan.” It’s a reference to Misery, but it also echoes Annie’s relationship with her father, who used the same diminutive with his daughter, and brings the letter full circle, since it opens with an echo of the pet name Annie’s mother used with her daughter, “Little Love.”
After reading the letter, Joy returns to the Stargazer Lodge, but she finds Cabin #19 empty. We cut to a road in the woods, where Rita has the gun pointed at Annie and is marching her into the forest. The scene is set to a Sara Bareilles song and interspersed with flashbacks to the relationship shared between Rita and Annie back when Rita was her tutor. While Rita clearly intends to execute Annie in the woods, she is overwhelmed with memories and emotion, and she hesitates…
And Annie seizes the opportunity to grab a handful of dirt and throw it in Rita’s eyes. Rita begins firing wildly as Annie flees off the road and down a path into the woods. Rita follows her, but as she is searching the path with her flashlight, Annie creeps up behind her and jumps her. Nevertheless, Rita gains the upper hand and points the gun at Annie once more… which is when Joy appears, shouting “mom,” and injects Rita with the syringe she used to sedate Annie in the episode “Ties that Bind.”
As the quick-acting sedative takes hold, the gun slips from Rita’s fingers, firing as it hits the ground… and shooting Rita in the stomach. She collapses, screaming, and Annie attempts to administer emergency medical attention as light and sirens announce the arrival of the police. The cops tell them to put their hands up, and as they approach, Annie takes the fall for Joy, shouting that she did it.
Castle Rock season two is available for streaming on Hulu, and the Beat will be back to recap episode 7 next Wednesday at 19:00.