My performance of the week ending 12/14/19 on TV goes to…

Lizzy Caplan as Annie Wilkes on Hulu’s Castle Rock season 2.

As soon as I started season 2, I was completely mesmerized by Lizzy Caplan’s portrayal of Annie Wilkes.  Her performance was so real and compelling each week and she had this wild eyed stare that would certainly make Kathy Bates proud.

**Please note major spoilers have been left out for your convenience.

While this story of Annie Wilkes is not necessarily a prequel to Misery, it does provide us with some fun Easter Eggs throughout the season leading up to the season finale.  Lizzy Caplan is able to show off the psychotic sides of Annie with accuracy, but she also somehow makes this character real and sympathetic, as you start to root for her as an anti-hero on the show.

Annie’s darkness comes in and out, but her daughter, Joy, is her one shining light, constantly motivating her to be good and to be better.  While Annie may not be able to overcome the darkness within her ultimately, she continues to fight and struggle, which is no easy task, especially after we are introduced to a Salem’s Lot inspired group to shake things up.

I thought that from start to finish, Annie was such an intriguing character with many layers.  My favorite episode was “The Laughing Place” (season 2, episode 5).  I thought this particular episode was so interesting because we got to explore Annie’s past to understand her a little bit more, but her younger self was played by another actress, who somehow managed to be just as brilliant as Lizzy Caplan.  This really elevated her character that much more for me, as we continued with the rest of the season.

While the show started to get off track with some of the Salem’s Lot drama in later episodes, the end of the season was able to come full circle, allowing us to truly see Annie’s character development toward the character we all know in Misery, but the writers didn’t hit us over the head with this, which I appreciated.

Everything was subtle and well done, which really made me want to re-watch Misery that much more, but I also felt like I was introduced to a completely new side of Annie Wilkes, as her character came alive across the screen.

What’s next for Annie?  Well, it looks like we will be closing the book on her chapter for season 2, as we will most likely explore a new character/plot if Castle Rock is renewed for season 3, but I may have just become Lizzy Caplan’s “number one fan.”  She immersed herself into this role with disturbing perfection and I loved every minute of it!

Stay tuned for a recognized performance on TV each week!

Best,

Amy Koto, TV Fanatic Girl

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Spoiler-Free Review of “Castle Rock” Season 2 on Hulu: Lizzy Caplan as Annie Wilkes gets this Slow-Burning Horror off to a Chilling Start

**This is a spoiler-free review so feel free to read on!**

Just in time for Halloween, Hulu has released the first three episodes of Castle Rock season 2.  I loved season 1 so much and it featured some of the most brilliant episodes on television that I have ever witnessed.

Seriously, if you haven’t seen season 1, episode 7 (The Queen) yet, I highly recommend it.  So that being said, Castle Rock season 2 has a lot to live up to, but I am excited that they are taking the anthology approach, as we get a new story with different characters.

Castle Rock is a psychological horror series on Hulu based on the characters and setting of Stephen King.  There will be 10 episodes for season 2.  Similar to the format with season 1, Hulu has released the first 3 episodes as of October 23rd 2019 and it will continue to run weekly episodes on Wednesdays.  Season 2 stars Lizzy Caplan, Tim Robbins, and Elsie Fisher.  

Season 2 follows a nurse named Annie Wilkes, based on the character of the same name in Misery.  While Castle Rock is not necessarily a prequel, it does bring us familiar elements from both Misery and Salem’s Lot

Annie has a lot of psychological issues and she is on the run with her teenage daughter when she arrives in Castle Rock.  Annie mostly keeps to herself, but when she goes through withdrawal from her medication, her hallucinations start to become all too real, as she finds herself doing some very bad things. 

The plot and characters certainly have a lot of potential, but will season 2 be able to hold its own?  Let’s find out!

The Pros:

Castle Rock season 2 1
Images courtesy of Hulu

Lizzy Caplan is beyond captivating as Annie Wilkes.  

Her performance will chill you to your core, disturbing you in just the right way.  Caplan absolutely nails the role and is the best part of the show so far.  She immerses herself completely in this role, bringing you wild eye stares and horrifying reactions that are so real and terrifying.

The perfect dose of psychological horror.

I love that this show brings you along for the ride, unfolding the mystery with its audience.  While a lot of the scares are psychological, there are some edge of your seat moments that remind us just how deadly an unhinged paranoid person can be.

I think it also works to the show’s advantage not following a specific plot from Stephen King, allowing familiar characters and settings to take on a life of their own, which makes this show unique and original.

The Cons:

Castle Rock season 2 2
Images courtesy of Hulu

A lot of setup.

There are a lot of elements to digest after watching the first three episodes of season 2.  You may find yourself slightly overwhelmed by this, but I had the same issue with season 1 and it ended up paying off, as other elements were revealed later on.

Slow moving at times.

Each episode is about 50-55 minutes in length and the show does move at a slow pace from time to time.  The show is more of a slow-burning psychological horror, so it’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it does make it difficult to binge-watch all at once.  You may want to try one episode at a time, but I thought that there were enough things going on to keep your attention.

So am I in or out? 

Castle Rock season 2 3
Images courtesy of Hulu

I am in 100 percent!  Lizzy Caplan’s performance is enough to keep me invested, but I love the intertwining between the two works from Stephen King, while creating a new story that branches off into something completely different. 

After watching the first three episodes, I am excited to continue watching weekly and I think this will actually make the watch that much more entertaining, as bits and pieces of the mystery are presented.  If you haven’t started watching yet, I highly recommend it, especially if you are a Stephen King fan.

I hope you enjoyed the review and feel free to post your own thoughts and theories on Castle Rock in the comments section below.  Thanks so much for reading and happy viewing!

Best,

Amy Koto, TV Fanatic Girl

**Do you love television shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Once Upon a Time, Lost, Charmed, The Vampire Diaries, and Supernatural?  Do you enjoy dark fantasy, fairy-tale retellings, paranormal romance, horror, and mystery?  Then you may like my book series, Dreaming of Wonderland…available on Amazon!  Thank you for taking the time to check it out and I appreciate any feedback as well.  I really hope you enjoy!

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5 Reasons why you should watch “Castle Rock” on Hulu: “It wasn’t me…it was this place.”

“It wasn’t me…it was this place.”  If you are a devoted television fan like me, then I’m sure you have heard of the Hulu show Castle Rock, which premiered earlier this summer on July 25, 2018.  While the episodes aired each week, all episodes have now officially been added for season one so this is the perfect time to binge-watch the entire season.

The season features 10 episodes and it has been confirmed that the series has already been renewed for season 2.  To give you some background, the series can best be categorized as a psychological horror show with just the right amount of mystery mixed in.  The series is based on the settings and characters from Stephen King and the executive producer of the show is J.J.Abrams. 

The show focuses primarily on the small fictional town of Castle Rock, Maine, emerging us into a dark world filled with unexplained deaths, paranormal occurrences, and the elaborate intertwining of characters.  From the moment you watch the first few minutes of episode 1, you are completely hooked and drawn in to the masterful storytelling, which will have you on the edge of your seat at all times.

While there is quite a bit of set up, the episodes are fast paced and move the plot along seamlessly.  The acting and writing is so real and moving that you will find yourself contemplating the moments you see portrayed even after you are done watching.  This is a must watch show and I have quickly become a big fan.  Please note some spoilers are ahead, but major ones have been left out for your convenience.  My top 5 reasons to check out Castle Rock season 1 are: 

5

Stephen King & J.J. Abrams.

Stephen King is a master at creating a story that is so real and haunting that you find yourself walking along the same path as the characters you are reading about.  King is wonderful at creating vivid images that you can visualize across the page, proving that words can be just as compelling as anything we see on the big or small screen.

Sold already?  So am I.  However, let’s combine that with executive producer, J.J. Abrams, who brought us my favorite show in the world, Lost The world we see on television is so convincing and intricate, which really does King’s stories justice, giving us the chance to get to see these characters and setting come to life right before our eyes.

4

Episode 9:  “Henry Deaver.”

While every episode stands out in its own way, episode 9 did the unthinkable.  It completely blew my mind and immersed me into something so mysterious and compelling.  While I had questions the entire time I watched this episode, I refused to pause it for even a moment.  It’s that good.  I don’t want to give anything away because I want you to truly enjoy the experience for yourself, but episode 9 basically takes everything you think you know about Castle Rock and throws it out the window.

You are basically left in a whirlwind of confusion that will have you glued to the television screen, unblinking.  While it may seem that I am going overboard, this episode truly captured what it means to give the audience answers without every really answering anything concretely.  Sure it sounds confusing, but there is something so magnetic about this episode in particular that it will have you completely mesmerized.

3

The twist and mystery is not completely obvious.

Even though I love a good twist or mystery, I always find myself trying to figure it out the entire time.  Whether it is from a book, movie, or television series, I really enjoy playing Nancy Drew.  In Castle Rock, we are presented with several mysteries and you can’t help trying to put the pieces of the puzzle together.  However, I never saw the twist in this show coming.

While I came close with some theories, the show does an excellent job of keeping you in the dark for just the right amount of time, while sending clues your way to keep your interest.  If you are able to figure out what’s going on, I absolutely commend you because I was shocked and that much more intrigued once it was revealed.  Even with the twist revealed, there are still so many questions left unanswered.  I’m assuming we will get to this in season 2 so that is even more of a reason why I appreciated it so much.

2

The cast.

The acting on this show is so incredible.  The regular cast stands out on its own with amazing performances from André Holland, Melanie Lynskey, Bill Skarsgård, Jane Levy, and Sissy Spacek.  While I expected the main cast to be great, I didn’t expect for every single guest star to be unbelievably amazing as well.  In particular, the performances by Terry O’Quinn, Scott Glenn, Noel Fisher, Chosen Jacobs, and Lauren Bowles were outstanding.

Every performance is so real and believable that you really think these people are the very characters they are portraying.  You find yourself sympathizing with them and wanting to know everything about them.  Even characters that show up later in the series still spark an interest, as you find yourself trying to figure out how they come into play.  The intertwining of characters is absolutely spell-binding, bringing Stephen King’s creations to life with new vigor.

1

Episode 7:  “The Queen.”

While I would normally focus on a season finale for my top reason to watch a show, episode 7 is something so incredibly powerful and it deserves every amount of praise possible.  This episode would not have been so amazing without the talented Sissy Spacek, who gave us a performance that was so incredibly heartbreaking that you could almost feel your own heart beat out of its chest just from watching.

During the series, we learn that Sissy Spacek’s character, Ruth, suffers from dementia.  The earlier episodes allowed us to see her from the perspectives of other characters, but in episode 7, everything we see is completely from Ruth’s perspective.  Timelines shift around and we see Ruth combining the past and present, but the episode is executed so well that you don’t lose track of what is happening.  The ending moments of this episode are so heart wrenching.

This episode in particular was probably one of the most incredible episodes I have ever seen on television.  I’m ranking it up there with “The Constant” from Lost, “Salud” from Breaking Bad, and “Becoming Part II” from Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  If you have seen any of these episodes, then you know that I am not giving out this title lightly.  “The Queen” is out of this world and it elevated Castle Rock to an entirely new level.  Ready to watch? Stay tuned!

I hope you enjoyed the list and feel free to post your own theories and thoughts on Castle Rock in the comments section below.  Thanks so much for reading and happy viewing!

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Best,

Amy Koto, TV Fanatic Girl

@TV_Fanatic_Girl

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When Kallie Bennett, a jaded teenage girl plagued by her alcoholic mother and her peers molded out of sheer bubble gum perfection, chases after Alice in Wonderland herself, she ends up lost in her own version of Wonderland, which forces her to face her utmost fears and introduces her to familiar characters with a dark twist. Among these characters is Ches, a gorgeous vampire with a conflicted conscience, who becomes Kallie’s guide and blossoming love interest. She also crosses paths with Queen Hartley, a manipulative witch who has the power to strip away one’s memories and imagination, which brings a bone chilling new meaning to “off with their heads.” In The Search for Alice, Kallie starts to realize that her Wonderland is just as frightening as her own reality and that she cannot always run away from her problems. She must figure out a way to defeat Queen Hartley and return home before it is too late, but she soon learns that escaping Wonderland means leaving Ches behind forever.

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