CS Scene of the Week: Annie Wilkes’ origin story stuns Castle Rock
Welcome to ComingSoon.net’s newest column, CS Scene of the Week, where we dive into the best scenes and performances television has to offer. For the week of November 4 to November 10, Annie Wilkes’ past is revealed in bloody, surprising fashion as we learn exactly why Annie and Joy have been on the run for so many years in last week’s episode of Castle Rock.
Read below to see why Castle Rock claimed our Scene of the Week, and find out who also earned our runner-up pick! Major Spoiler Warnings Ahead.
MVP of the Week
The fifth episode of the second season of the Stephen King-inspired series is a work of art. Functioning as the origin story of one of our favorite King antagonists, fans learn throughout the episode, titled “The Laughing Place,” exactly what Annie (the adult version played by the wonderful Lizzy Caplan) did that sent her fleeing with her daughter, Joy (Elsie Fisher), years ago. Except, as we learn, Joy isn’t actually her daughter but her half-sister, sharing Annie’s father, Carl, and born to Rita Green, Annie’s former tutor.
Ruby Cruz’s performance along with the number of surprising twists and turns in the episode makes it hard to focus on only one scene, but a sequence that stands out is the first time Annie spilled blood. After establishing Annie’s history of being bullied in school and transferred into home-schooling in addition to her complex history with her parents as a young child and through her teenage years, we learned three key facts: Annie helped her father write his novel throughout her young life, something they bonded over; Annie’s mother nearly killed Annie when her mom suddenly took her own life by driving their car into a lake; and Carl had an affair as his marriage began to crumble and impregnated Rita, who was initially hired to help Annie learn how to read, before Annie’s mother’s death.
When Annie finds out that Rita’s child is actually her father’s and puts two-and-two together, she snaps, reaching for a knife (eventually dropping it), full of rage at the amount of betrayal from the adults and parental figures in her life. The moment alters her view of Carl and Rita, especially as someone who was taught her whole life by her mother that people are only all good or all bad, and bad people deserve to be punished.
Annie’s father finally publishes his book after over a decade, and when Annie reads that he has dedicated the book to Rita, referring to her as his Laughing Place, Annie is fractured beyond repair. The phrase was first mentioned at the beginning of the season with Annie and Joy constantly driving across the country in search of their laughing place, supposedly in search of a permanent home to be happy (with Joy unaware of Annie’s fugitive status). Annie’s Laughing Place was initially tied directly to her relationship with her father, but in Annie’s betrayed and enraged mind, Rita and the new baby, Evangeline, have replaced her (and to an extent, her mother) as a new source of happiness for Carl.
In the final few minutes of the episode, Annie confronts her father in an intense scene that leads to Annie angrily shoving her dad down the stairs, only for him to be impaled on the banister. Annie is shocked and holds her dying father as he tries to tell her it’s okay before he dies. Rita then comes into the room after the crying baby wakes her up, and Annie, covered in her father’s blood, charges at her with a pair of scissors after telling Rita, “I thought you were good.” Annie stabs Rita in the stomach, leaving her for dead (though, as we discover later, Rita survives) as she takes her half-sister out of the crib. Annie then runs through the woods, bloody and carrying a box with Evangeline inside, before bringing her to a river. Ready to drown the baby and murmuring how she’s “on her side,” as Annie’s mother once told her before trying to drown Annie in a lake, she holds Evangeline over the water and only chooses to spare the child and keep her as her own when the baby giggles. At the end of the chilling sequence, Annie clutches the baby, smiling and still covered in her dead father’s blood, perhaps having found a new Laughing Place of her own. She did change her name to Joy, after all.
Cruz as a teenaged Annie is something to behold. Her ability to highlight every facet of Annie’s character, from a teen girl struggling with growing up, bonding with the adult figures in her life and discovering the joy of stories and fictional worlds, to moments of sheer wide-eyed madness and rage and brutality, showcased a gripping, disturbing, and heartbreaking performance. With the help of careful editing moving the story back and forth through time as Joy attempts to learn the truth about Annie’s past in the present along with a perfect score, the ending of “The Laughing Place” will stick with your for a long, long time.
Runner-Up of the Week
The final season of The CW’s long-running hit sci-fi series Supernatural is well underway and leaving fans an emotional mess with each new episode as the series counts down to the end.
An area the show has always excelled at is maintaining its very human and relatable character component, making it easy for fans to become invested and to connect with those characters. A prime example comes from episode 15.04, titled “Atomic Monsters,” that ends with a very vulnerable and depressed Sam Winchester (Jared Padalecki) revealing to his older brother, Dean (Jensen Ackles), that he’s struggling. It’s common for the brothers to simply say, “I’m fine,” in moments where they’re clearly not, which makes honest heart-to-heart scenes like this even more powerful when one of them finally admits they are having a difficult time.
During the final scene of the episode, Sam sheds some light on how he’s been feeling lately, telling Dean that he can’t stop thinking about those they’ve lost, including his first love, Jessica, who was killed in the Pilot episode. He admits that he doesn’t feel free, even though freedom from God and his cruel mazes were what the Winchesters were hoping for when the season began after Chuck seemingly disappeared. With tears filling his eyes, Sam says, “What we’ve done, what we’ve lost, right now that is what I’m feeling and sometimes… Sometimes it’s like I can’t even breathe.” After a moment, Sam tries to check his emotions, relenting before continuing: “Maybe tomorrow, you know, maybe I’ll feel better in the morning.”
Dean asks, “And what if you don’t?” to which Sam responds that he doesn’t know. Padalecki is a talented actor in general, but these dramatic, emotional scenes are arguably where he shines the brightest. Not only is the scene moving and painful because so many people can relate to what Sam is feeling — being overwhelmed, suffocating, clinging to wishful thinking or trying to soothe others as you suffer — but Sam’s own pain bleeds out heavily into the Impala as the brothers drive through the night and through the screen, breaking hearts in ways only this show and these actors can.
What did you think of our CS Scene of the Week choices? Are there other television scenes from last week you feel deserve a shout-out? Sound off in the comments below!