News

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)

DOES LIZZY CAPLAN’S ANNIE WILKES HOLD UP TO BATES’ OSCAR-WINNING PERFORMANCE?

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



HOW IS THE REST OF THE CAST?

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


HOW DOES THIS NEW EPISODIC STORY COMPARE TO ONE IN SEASON 1?

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, ComicBook.com

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.


#1
Adjusted Score: 90.704%
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.
Synopsis: In season two of Castle Rock, a feud between warring clans comes to a boil when budding psychopath Annie Wilkes,... [More]

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

Tag Cloud

APB cancelled TV shows richard e. Grant Infographic VICE Vudu Reality Certified Fresh Sony Pictures Pixar Watching Series Crunchyroll WGN natural history blockbuster Pirates sports ITV Film Mary Tyler Moore streaming crime thriller Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt YouTube First Look cancelled TV series zombies SundanceTV Trivia TLC canceled TV shows psycho dragons ABC Family blaxploitation travel Reality Competition Calendar true crime PaleyFest Christmas aliens Britbox cooking Martial Arts Binge Guide BBC America A&E SXSW nature Bravo justice league CNN Pop Disney+ Disney Plus Interview renewed TV shows GLAAD versus Song of Ice and Fire Sneak Peek anime robots spinoff sequel Marvel Television The Arrangement Polls and Games Schedule Oscars The Purge social media slashers indie Spring TV Countdown USA Brie Larson game of thrones Mudbound Premiere Dates TCA Cartoon Network Chilling Adventures of Sabrina spanish language GoT Musicals Red Carpet Pet Sematary National Geographic YA Showtime Comedy Drama FX police drama Spike Lifetime miniseries zombie 2019 LGBTQ Character Guide Emmys 71st Emmy Awards Fantasy ESPN crime Trailer Sundance Opinion foreign DirecTV Captain marvel Adult Swim spy thriller E! quibi political drama X-Men Emmy Nominations HBO Max Nominations Logo cars elevated horror 2016 TruTV Apple Action Universal Anna Paquin Disney Channel children's TV Amazon Prime Columbia Pictures Tumblr Marvel book adaptation TNT New York Comic Con Epix series teaser Syfy adventure romance Winners thriller DGA Nat Geo disaster canceled binge USA Network Grammys Mindy Kaling 007 Tomatazos based on movie Paramount kids green book jamie lee curtis MTV award winner TV Land El Rey GIFs spider-man animated Ovation TV RT History medical drama CBS Starz The Walking Dead Lucasfilm Masterpiece Women's History Month Family 2018 supernatural Paramount Network 2017 Acorn TV Animation Superheroe hispanic TIFF spain Mary poppins Election cops YouTube Red anthology singing competition harry potter cancelled television sitcom Kids & Family RT21 cats CMT Biopics 20th Century Fox unscripted golden globes composers what to watch movies Video Games TCM The CW YouTube Premium Mystery Elton John Amazon Prime Video Warner Bros. TBS docudrama BBC Rocky romantic comedy psychological thriller Superheroes boxoffice TV renewals DC Comics IFC Classic Film Horror Peacock FOX hist History space 21st Century Fox Star Trek Film Festival SDCC comic ghosts Television Academy Photos President science fiction Western television mutant dc Writers Guild of America Tarantino E3 AMC Spectrum Originals WarnerMedia 2015 Comics on TV Rocketman Hulu LGBT vampires theme song Best and Worst OWN NYCC Musical 24 frames Comedy Central Arrowverse discovery Rom-Com BET Sci-Fi stand-up comedy Ghostbusters Crackle American Society of Cinematographers latino Toys Valentine's Day technology IFC Films witnail independent cinemax doctor who Trophy Talk halloween Apple TV+ CBS All Access Cannes revenge MCU Rock Teen Marathons Apple TV Plus ratings video cartoon Music MSNBC Super Bowl Dark Horse Comics Turner Awards Tour dramedy Podcast ABC Shudder casting Awards joker Winter TV Box Office biography Extras comiccon free movies politics breaking bad 45 Nickelodeon batman Year in Review DC streaming service TCA 2017 diversity cancelled DC Universe Holidays Cosplay First Reviews war toy story Ellie Kemper Black Mirror period drama facebook Comic Book Food Network Fall TV strong female leads HBO zero dark thirty Marvel Studios The Witch Esquire Disney streaming service Chernobyl Star Wars Summer crossover Lionsgate Amazon talk show FXX transformers VH1 Netflix A24 CW Seed San Diego Comic-Con werewolf crime drama Mary Poppins Returns Quiz Disney Plus Stephen King Turner Classic Movies Disney game show cults Creative Arts Emmys Freeform Thanksgiving tv talk mockumentary Country PBS NBC historical drama Walt Disney Pictures festivals serial killer See It Skip It dceu Set visit south america Shondaland Sundance Now finale Fox News Pride Month Heroines