Castle Rock Season 2 First Reviews: Lizzy Caplan Kills in Iconic Role

Just in time for Halloween, a gory tale in the spirit of Stephen King that features one of the author's most beloved characters, Annie Wilkes.

by | October 22, 2019 | Comments

Castle Rock presented a cornucopia of Stephen King Easter eggs to fans when the first season premiered to Hulu in October 2018. The Shawshank Redemption, Needful Things, and Stand By Me were just a few of the author’s iconic works that were mined for the series — from co-creators Sam Shaw and Dustin Thomason, and executive producers J.J. Abrams and King himself.

Season 1 of the series (which is Certified Fresh at 87% on the Tomatometer with 76 reviews) followed the story of Henry Deaver (Andre Holland) who returned to his childhood home of Castle Rock, Maine after a mysterious young man (Bill Skarsgård) was found living in a cage underground, beneath Shawshank Prison. This odd discovery sparked a domino effect of terrible events throughout the town, establishing the inherent evil of the fictional town while providing a fun collection of genre nods for newbies and die-hard fans alike.

The goal here was to establish the King universe for the small-screen, adhering to the author’s extensive library of work — from short stories and novellas like The Body and The Sun Dog to his more in-depth novels like The Stand and The Shining — for inspiration. New characters and narratives breathed new life into the familiar genre goodies sprinkled throughout its initial run.

With season 2, though, it seems that Castle Rock has narrowed its focus on the master of horror’s work. This time around, the scope of the series will expand outside of the town’s borders to the Somali community of Jerusalem’s Lot — the small town featured in the vampire-themed Salem’s Lot. Tim Robbins, Paul Sparks, Barkhad Abdi, and Yusra Warsama are new to the cast this season, helping to expand this new storyline.

Most notable, though, is the character of Annie Wilkes (Lizzy Caplan) — a role which won Kathy Bates the Oscar in 1991 — leading the new season. How did the young nurse become the kidnapping psychopath, who terrorizes author Paul Sheldon (James Caan) in the Rob Reiner film adaptation Misery? These new episodes allegedly will set out to answer that question.

Here’s what critics are saying about season 2 of Hulu’s Castle Rock:

Castle Rock keyart season 2 (Hulu)

(Photo by Hulu)


Caplan is excellent as the psychologically deteriorating Annie Wilkes. She’s obviously heavily influenced by Bates, but she gives a fiercely committed performance of her own. —Liam Mathews, TV Guide

Caplan, who is in the unenviable position of following Kathy Bates’ Oscar-winning turn in the 1990 film Misery, does a remarkable job portraying Castle Rock’s reimagined Annie. —Kristen Baldwin, EW


Tim Robbins returns to the geographic proximity of THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION but plays a man haunted by his past and trying to make amends. Barkhad Abdi gets his meatiest acting role since CAPTAIN PHILLIPS and nails it. Even Elsie Fisher shows her work in EIGHTH GRADE was no fluke as she plays the tormented daughter of Annie Wilkes. —Alex Maidy, JoBlo’s Movie Emporium

Sam Shaw and Dustin Thomason are intent on putting their best foot forward from the moment go. That means making use of Caplan and Fisher, but also Tim Robbins as Pop Merrill, Paul Sparks (Boardwalk Empire) as Ace Merrill, and Barkhad Abi (Captain Philips), as a criminal family threatening to tear itself apart over the construction of a new Somali mall in Castle Rock. —Alex Maidy, JoBlo’s Movie Emporium

Abdi and Warsama are both standouts in a Somali storyline that starts off intriguing and timely only to sputter a bit by the season’s halfway point. —Dan Fienberg, The Hollywood Reporter


Season 2 fares a bit better. The show is still far too obsessed with trying to ape producer J.J. Abrams’ infamous “mystery box” formula, where only tiny bits of info are doled out in frustrating fashion. But the story is stronger overall, as is the cast of characters. —Chris Evangelista, SlashFilm

The effectiveness of not just the characters but the story itself is so strong and compelling that we don’t need any other references to King and his memorable characters throughout the rest of the season, with those possible nods likely only heightening the rivetting story that we already get to witness take place. —Patrick Cavanaugh,

Despite all its high drama, season two feels a little more conventional in its narrative, and that’ll likely make for a more satisfying story arc, especially with all the horror-fantasy elements to come. —Cheryl Eddy, IO9

Much like Season 1, this is a Stephen King mixtape, but the tunes are much better this time around. —Mike Fugere, CBR

Castle Rock season 2 premieres on Wednesday, October 23 on Hulu.

Adjusted Score: -1%
Critics Consensus: Driven by an unsettlingly compelling Lizzy Caplan, Castle Rock's second chapter opens the borders of its titular town without losing any of its creeping atmosphere.

Like this? Subscribe to our newsletter and get more features, news, and guides in your inbox every week.

Tag Cloud

Television Academy Musical Extras casting 79th Golden Globes Awards Marvel Studios OneApp TNT Sundance Now HBO Action disaster Winter TV 2020 stoner dexter Sundance crime Pet Sematary latino video zero dark thirty Countdown versus superman Country History ESPN See It Skip It interviews ID Spectrum Originals football politics YouTube Premium international Hallmark VOD CBS laika sitcom Superheroe Fantasy comic book movies tv talk Travel Channel stand-up comedy foreign comics aliens Creative Arts Emmys MGM Red Carpet Mindy Kaling TV renewals summer TV Avengers Disney streaming service summer TV preview joker psychological thriller indie gangster spanish TIFF Instagram Live best streamig cinemax Rom-Com art house slashers The Arrangement new york Dark Horse Comics Rock BET hidden camera Apple TV+ streaming movies Freeform deadpool television TCA SDCC kids high school PlayStation game of thrones suspense documentary TLC Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Fargo blaxploitation Bravo based on movie mcc series TCA Winter 2020 rotten telelvision hispanic Turner Classic Movies Heroines saw Turner cooking Holiday TruTV ABC slasher 2019 NYCC Anna Paquin Trailer 90s anime blockbusters robots Focus Features E! scary movies Disney Plus Crunchyroll what to watch streaming HBO Max Polls and Games toronto asian-american CBS All Access book adaptation rom-coms Walt Disney Pictures Photos a nightmare on elm street king arthur cancelled action-comedy Watching Series MSNBC justice league harry potter franchise New York Comic Con National Geographic broadcast social media Baby Yoda Disney Channel 2017 emmy awards films docuseries child's play 21st Century Fox PBS movies 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards Song of Ice and Fire 24 frames 007 GoT dceu Tubi El Rey screen actors guild Captain marvel medical drama indiana jones police drama unscripted adaptation french animated YA Marvel Television live action documentaries DC Universe finale Starz Mary Tyler Moore YouTube Red Black Mirror Box Office Paramount Pictures crime drama cancelled television The CW critics 71st Emmy Awards Vudu Best Director batman DGA Apple political drama Comics on TV BBC America stop motion dramedy hispanic heritage month crime thriller Alien The Walking Dead Mystery Sony Pictures Family Comic-Con@Home 2021 genre Awards Tour Rocketman discovery Crackle Best Picture Teen docudrama Best Actor zombies WGN 94th Oscars sports Trivia FOX First Look 2021 APB halloween tv pirates of the caribbean golden globes book nbcuniversal teaser 73rd Emmy Awards Elton John FXX PaleyFest Horror SXSW worst prank MCU kaiju women independent Adult Swim NBC NBA archives rt labs Disney remakes Writers Guild of America Biopics Chernobyl BAFTA Amazon Studios Acorn TV biopic natural history boxoffice rotten movies we love Discovery Channel award winner marvel comics festivals binge Rocky ABC Signature historical drama trophy nature BBC Superheroes RT21 Netflix Christmas movies Epix hist Fall TV Comedy Central CNN reviews italian comedies X-Men canceled The Academy richard e. Grant children's TV jamie lee curtis FX on Hulu spider-man dragons japan VH1 Musicals Pirates fast and furious Legendary diversity Film USA Network movie japanese king kong talk show cartoon theme song 93rd Oscars 72 Emmy Awards Women's History Month know your critic mockumentary Set visit Trophy Talk critic resources marvel cinematic universe Martial Arts spanish language thriller ratings transformers festival rt labs critics edition leaderboard target Nominations DC Comics Emmy Nominations cancelled TV shows Paramount Network Winners TCA 2017 Showtime Spring TV james bond HFPA Nat Geo mission: impossible South by Southwest Film Festival chucky Amazon Prime adventure Amazon Fox News YouTube Quiz Esquire serial killer Mary Poppins Returns Pixar screenings Neflix Television Critics Association Oscars 20th Century Fox comic books TV One spy thriller razzies Universal Pictures period drama universal monsters Oscar Hear Us Out Sneak Peek Pop Summer Universal Warner Bros. TV Land christmas movies Lifetime quibi Hollywood Foreign Press Association Prime Video scene in color composers Arrowverse miniseries ghosts cults Pop TV live event FX Fox Searchlight Comic Book doctor who toy story Tokyo Olympics black Masterpiece The Purge Podcast Sci-Fi sequels criterion worst movies Comedy directors Calendar Kids & Family video on demand technology Interview psycho Film Festival news cats dc Brie Larson kong feel good DC streaming service Exclusive Video 2018 Amazon Prime Video DirecTV Premiere Dates biography crossover Disney+ Disney Plus E3 Reality Pacific Islander CW Seed sopranos space all-time die hard Opinion green book Tags: Comedy Logo Toys rt archives TCM renewed TV shows Awards boxing nfl ViacomCBS VICE Nickelodeon comic Paramount cars Character Guide debate science fiction classics Syfy romantic comedy TBS aapi Academy Awards summer preview spinoff trailers Hulu Food Network Binge Guide Spike parents BBC One Cartoon Network Lucasfilm comiccon Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt First Reviews GLAAD Peacock Valentine's Day Netflix war Stephen King Classic Film Mudbound true crime Hallmark Christmas movies canceled TV shows spider-verse Thanksgiving Music Video Games TV movies President Animation royal family mob GIFs dreamworks reboot San Diego Comic-Con WarnerMedia breaking bad heist movie Star Wars superhero Broadway Election MTV posters Schedule CMT 1990s Infographic TCA Awards spain Tarantino cancelled TV series A24 facebook Christmas new zealand Emmys witnail free movies Tomatazos scary AMC Plus AMC LGBT Star Trek IFC Britbox Pride Month halloween BET Awards The Witch Black History Month name the review Tumblr Year in Review wonder woman Western Wes Anderson sequel lord of the rings supernatural young adult basketball australia romance Columbia Pictures vampires strong female leads golden globe awards elevated horror venice cops Shudder game show Lifetime Christmas movies ITV jurassic park travel dogs hollywood Endgame obituary American Society of Cinematographers Cosplay SundanceTV Apple TV Plus 2015 Holidays Ellie Kemper blockbuster godzilla USA dark olympics IMDb TV Paramount Plus RT History mutant Marathons Shondaland Ghostbusters LGBTQ HBO Go black comedy Cannes ABC Family Funimation monster movies Marvel concert 2016 legend Image Comics comic book movie vs. new star wars movies Sundance TV Certified Fresh popular Grammys The Walt Disney Company SXSW 2022 45 singing competition IFC Films 4/20 twilight Drama sag awards Lionsgate Best Actress revenge scorecard TV obi wan A&E Reality Competition adenture 99% south america Mary poppins zombie OWN Super Bowl fresh Ovation Best and Worst werewolf satire anthology