Cast: Lizzie Caplan, Tim Robbins, Paul Sparks
Release Date: July 21, 2020
A Review By: Kevin Lovell
Disc Rating: 7/10
Stephen King’s multiverse, Castle Rock, is a place which combines the mythological scale and intimate character storytelling of the best-selling author’s best-loved works. In season two, a feud between warring clans comes to a boil when budding psychopath Annie Wilkes (Lizzie Caplan, Masters of Sex), Stephen King’s nurse from hell, gets waylaid in the small town of Castle Rock. Local businessman Reginald “Pop” Merrill (played by Academy® Award-winning actor Tim Robbins – Mystic River) is dragged into the fight, when Pop’s nephew, legendary bully John “Ace” Merrill (Paul Sparks, House of Cards), stirs up trouble. It’s another eerily unforgettable season of Castle Rock, as the mysterious town’s ongoing epic saga continues to unfold.
Please Note: Warner Bros. Home Entertainment provided me with a free copy of the Blu-ray I reviewed in this Post. The opinions I share are my own.
While ‘Castle Rock’ is an anthology series with a different storyline and cast each season, it does borrow some minor elements and character references from the previous season, much like many of Stephen King’s novels themselves. While it may not be necessary for newcomers to the series to start from the beginning, it is recommended. You can also find my review of the Season One Blu-ray release below!
The second season of ‘Castle Rock’ focuses primarily on a younger Annie Wilkes (from Stephen King’s novel ‘Misery’ and the famous film adaptation of the same name starring Kathy Bates) who we join on the run for unknown reasons with her daughter Joy. After making their way through various states and cities while struggling to get by and finding ways for Annie to pilfer the medication she needs to remain sane, the pair end up in ‘Castle Rock’ and soon find the mysterious town more welcoming than they had anticipated. As they temporarily settle in to begin refueling their necessities, one incident, misfortune or strange occurrence after another somehow manages to keep them around and before long accidentally lands them on the radar of one of the town’s more powerful families, headed by businessman Reginald “Pop” Merrill.
The sophomore season of the Hulu original series ‘Castle Rock’ (inspired by the infamous town where so many of Stephen King’s novels are centered) alters its key focus to a new set of interesting (and in some cases familiar) characters and a new central storyline with its share of twists, turns and surprises along the way. It utilizes a slow burn approach to keep the uncertainty and tension consistently building throughout while employing plenty of shocks and unexpected changes in direction to keep you constantly guessing. With various dark subjects and curious individuals populating the new tale, it comes together into a clever and well-constructed new story that if anything only surpasses the show’s debut season. Anyone who enjoyed the first season yet hasn’t had the opportunity to check out this one will probably want to make a point of doing so sooner than later. The second season of the anthology series naturally also comes with a new key cast which this time around features Lizzie Caplan, Tim Robbins, Paul Sparks, Yusra Warsama, Barkhad Abdi, Elsie Fisher and more, with the majority each offering quite capable performances in their respective roles for the most part, and Caplan in particular is nothing short of phenomenal as Annie, delivering what’s almost surely one of her best performances to date.
Overall, season two of ‘Castle Rock’ takes viewers back into the eerie and uncertain town where so many of Stephen King’s popular stories take place, this time focusing largely on a young (and on the run) Annie Wilkes from King’s popular novel ‘Misery’ as she and her daughter end up in the town and promptly find themselves mixed up in a heap of new trouble they can’t seem to escape. Warner Bros. Home Entertainment’s 2-disc Blu-ray release of ‘Castle Rock: The Complete Second Season’ brings all ten episodes home with solid high definition video and audio presentations on each, along with one behind the scenes featurette. Even while the set may be somewhat light in regard to bonus content (and some fans will be disappointed that the latest season isn’t getting the 4K Ultra HD disc treatment like its predecessor), the video and audio presentations don’t disappoint and the Blu-ray release is definitely recommended to series fans and anyone already considering a purchase.
The Blu-ray release of ‘Castle Rock: The Complete Second Season’ features a full 1080p High Definition presentation with the show’s original 2.00:1 Aspect Ratio on all of the sophomore season’s episodes. The video presentations look pretty great as a whole and deliver generally smooth, sharp and detailed presentations on every episode that don’t suffer from any notable faults or issues along the way. They hold up admirably even during the numerous darkly lit sequences, never causing anything occurring onscreen to become noticeably affected, let alone rendered indiscernible. Overall, these are solid high definition video presentations that shouldn’t have any problem satisfying the fans, especially those who were pleased with the first season’s Blu-ray offering.
The Blu-ray release features a lossless 5.1 channel DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack on all 10 Season Two episodes. These multichannel soundtracks make a great compliment to the onscreen activity, providing clean, crisp and often rather aggressive audio presentations on each episode. They regularly take advantage of all five available channels in order to send the music, creepy sound effects, nature elements and bits of dialogue along with plenty more whipping throughout the various speakers whenever appropriate and never allowing any dialogue or other audio elements that might be occurring simultaneously to become distorted or rendered inaudible in the process. Overall, these are great 5.1 DTS-HD MA soundtracks that deliver nicely on all fronts and should not disappoint.
The Blu-ray release of ‘Castle Rock: The Complete Second Season’ includes one extra in the way of a Behind the Scenes Featurette ‘Annie Wilkes – Mother of Sorrow’ (running approximately 17 minutes in length) which features interviews/comments with members of the cast and crew discussing the inclusion of the famous character in season two.