“Castle Rock” is an anthology series on Hulu, currently in its second season. Based on characters and settings created by horror author Stephen King, this season stars Tim Robbins, Barkhad Abdi, and Lizzy Caplan. Caplan plays Annie Wilkes, who was portrayed by Kathy Bates in the 1990 film adaptation of King’s novel “Misery.”
The story itself is frankly a bit of a mess. It tries to tie together too many plot points with tenuous connections to one another, and at times it seems like it would be better served with fewer characters, fewer locales, and fewer flashbacks. It’s only around the fifth episode in the season that some of the plot points seem to merge, and they don’t all do it well.
That said, you should watch this show anyway, for one very good reason – Lizzy Caplan’s performance as Annie Wilkes. It’s simply a wonder to behold and worth the time that it takes for her individual story to reveal itself.
Her portrayal shows notes of Kathy Bates’ performance that fans of “Misery” will recognize. Still, the overall performance is her own, and it never crosses the line that separates homage from imitation.
Caplan has turned in excellent performances before, in everything from “Freaks and Geeks” to “Party Down.” But her work on “Castle Rock” towers above anything else on her resumé. As you watch her, you can see the raw anxiety hover around her, the same way the cloud of dust follows Pigpen in the “Peanuts” cartoons.
The other performances are all solid, and the story remains interesting enough to justify seeing it through, even when it doesn’t pay off as much as it could. But again, the main attraction here is Lizzy Caplan’s performance, and that alone makes season two of “Castle Rock” worth watching.