In an alternate world, you’re a happier person than you are in this one. That was the reality Melanie Lynskey’s Molly Strand was forced to face in Castle Rock’s ninth episode, “Henry Deaver.” In this other reality, Molly isn’t beleaguered by visions of other people’s pain and doesn’t hide behind hangover sunglasses and opioids. Her life is simpler.
The Season 1 finale, Episode 10, “Romans,” will wrap up this section of the Castle Rock story. Hulu greenlit Season 2 of the Sam Shaw and Dustin Thomason-created series in August, and Thomason told The Hollywood Reporter in July that “each season is going to be its own self-contained story: beginning, middle and end.” This choice will result in Castle Rock falling more in line with anthology series such as American Horror Story rather than more narrative shows. And, just like AHS, there’s a good likelihood each season of Castle Rock will be interconnected. There is, after all, a lot to unpack in this cursed town.
SYFY WIRE spoke with Lynskey ahead of Castle Rock’s Season 1 finale to discuss Molly’s heartbreaking journey thus far, the two sides to her character, and the future of the series.
Lynskey says she didn’t initially know too much about Molly going into the show. She was given the scripts to the first two episode and had a few discussions with Shaw and Thomason about where Molly’s story might go, but really all the actress knew was that she'd be playing a hard-pressed drug addict, leaving her almost as in the dark as the audience at home.
Episode 9 changed everything, not just for the world of Castle Rock and its interconnective Stephen King-verse potential, but for Molly, as well. Lynskey says she and the rest of the cast were shocked when they were given the script for the episode. Lynskey and her co-star Bill Skarsgård, who portrays the mysterious Kid, were especially excited to play a different take on their characters.
“Bill has, y'know, spent eight episodes looking spooky and wondering ‘why am I being kept in a cage?’ and he was like, ‘Oh my God. Dialogue and a personality!’,” Lynskey says, laughing. “And it was nice to play a version of [Molly] that was just open to everyone and everything. My face felt more relaxed. It was a nice break for all of us. We were very happy.”
Relaxing Molly’s face from that now-familiar grimace was Lynskey’s choice — she decided to play the other universe’s Molly as a happier, truly healthier version of the Molly we’ve all come to know.
“She does have the same [abilities] but she's just looking at it differently,” Lynskey says of the other Molly. “So she's kind of like, ‘Oh, I have this cool thing where I'm able to be very empathetic and understand and hear people and know what they want,’ but she's just kind of managed it. She's using it to benefit herself and to move ahead in life instead of being like, ‘Oh God, make it stop.’”
Lynskey says the original Molly will always be haunted by the ghosts of her past. Growing up in a “depressed” version of Castle Rock and killing Henry’s father was, understandably, formative. “She just doesn't trust herself. She doesn't trust her feelings. She's depressed, she's guilty, she's a drug addict, you know, she's just really, really struggling.”
Episode 10 will wrap up Molly’s story and still manage to present audiences with a potentially ongoing narrative. But Episode 9 still remains the season’s most paramount. That such an important episode came so close to the finale was a concern for Lynskey and much of the cast.
“There was a lot of shuffling around,” Lynskey admits. “Like I think we thought that we were going to have two more episodes and then it ended up just being Episode 9 and then there’s one more episode. So we were all kind of concerned because a lot of stuff is unpacked in Episode 9 and we were just like, ‘How’s this going to be resolved? What are they going to do in one episode?’ And [Shaw and Thomason] were like, ‘Don’t worry, don’t worry.’
“There was a lot of trust in the whole process because it was very secret and scripts would come in very last minute sometimes and you just have to kind of go with that.”
As far as Lynskey knows, none of the rest of the Season 1 cast has been asked to return for Season 2. She certainly hasn’t. Though given the chance, she seems likely to return given how much love she has for Molly, a character she describes as deeply empathetic, a rare breed to find on television and the kind of strong woman King is known to write.
“I love playing someone where so much happened to them at all times,” she says. “It was a really interesting experience and to me, she felt like a heroine... a Stephen King woman. I felt really proud of such a fascinating, complicated character. I think he writes such good women and Sam and Dusty really did him justice.”
Castle Rock Season 1, Episode 10 premieres tonight on Hulu.