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Feature Article

Castle Rock Season 2, Episode 1 Impressions: A Better Start Than Season 1

This is easily Lizzy Caplan's best role to date.

Season 2 of Hulu's original series Castle Rock will not follow the events of Season 1. It's a whole new story, and at New York Comic-Con, we got an early look at the show during a screening of Episode 1. While the series won't officially hit the streaming service until October 23, we have a few thoughts about where this season is headed and whether the first episode was a smashing success.

The second season of Castle Rock is a total departure from the first, as this anthology series follows a whole new cast of characters but is set in the same titular town. We're introduced to the Merrill family, who--for all intents and purposes--runs the town. There is a rift between one son, Ace, and his adopted Somali brother, Abdi. Ace is the slumlord of a rundown mall catering to the Somali population of Castle Rock and Abdi is building a new one while poaching Ace's clients. Needless to say, there is a lot going on in the first episode, but everything weaves together, and it's easy to follow.

The main focus of the season is on Anne Wilkes and her daughter Joy. They land in Castle Rock after travelling cross-country and getting in a car wreck. It becomes apparent Wilkes is running from her past and also looking for medication to level her out.

Anne is played by Lizzy Caplan and winds up in Jerusalem's Lot with her teenage daughter. Caplan shines at breathing life into Wilkes' character, who was originally played by Kathy Bates in the movie Misery. The way she speaks, walks, and moves feels like a younger version of Wilkes.

While Caplan's portrayal successfully captures Bates' version of the character, the actress brings another dimension to the role; that of a woman dealing with multiple mental disorders such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. In no way is this an easy task, but Caplan delivers and exceptional performance during the first episode of a woman on the verge of madness. Her performance is the hook for the whole season, even though the multi-layered story is brimming with reasons to binge the entire season in one sitting.

The "sophomore slump" can be a hurdle to overcome for many TV series, but that doesn't apply here. The opening episode of Season 2 is more intriguing, better executed, and easier to follow than the first episode of Season 1. The first season revolved around the mystery of an unaccounted for inmate, and left the viewers asking a lot of questions with little answers early on. As a whole, it was a smashing success, but Season 2 does a much better job at grabbing its viewers from the get go. It will be exciting to see where this season is going to head, especially when the first episode drops introduces the town of Jerusalem's Lot to the story. Does this mean we might be getting vampires this season?

You can watch for yourself when Season 2 of Castle Rock lands on Hulu on October 23.

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Mat Elfring

Editor of GameSpot Entertainment. Continues to Bolieve. Very snarky about wrestling on the Twitter.

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