CASTLE ROCK Boss on Crafting 'The Laughing Place'—and Its Twists - Give Me My Remote : Give Me My Remote

CASTLE ROCK Boss on Crafting ‘The Laughing Place’—and Its Twists

November 8, 2019 by  

Castle Rock season 2 spoilers

CASTLE ROCK — “The Laughing Place” – Episode 205 — In the beginning…. Teen Annie (Ruby Cruz) and Tall Man (John Hoogenakker), shown. (Photo by: Dana Starbard/Hulu)

[Warning: This post contains spoilers for CASTLE ROCK’s “The Laughing Place.”]

CASTLE ROCK season 2 may be an origin story for MISERY’s Annie Wilkes (Lizzy Caplan), but episode 5 took it one step further—exploring teen Annie’s life and how she came to raise Joy.

In “The Laughing Place,” young Annie (played by Ruby Cruz) had her family life fractured after her parents split—which, she was informed (after her mother’s death) was caused by her father’s affair and child with Annie’s beloved tutor, Rita (Sarah Gadon).

Of course, Annie didn’t handle it well. And when she realized her father dedicated his book to his new girlfriend, their fight turned fatal, when a shove lead to a grisly impalement. Annie then stabbed Rita…and kidnapped her young half-sister.

Initially, Annie planned on drowning the girl, but she ultimately ended up keeping her—and raised her as Joy.


The hour was an ambitious one, as much of it depended on flashing back to Annie even earlier in her journey. “Ruby Cruz, as far as I know, this was with her first like really big role,” showrunner Dustin Thomason says. “And she, no pun intended, killed it.”

“Part of what felt so amazing and, honestly, nerve-wracking was when you have someone as magical as Lizzie playing Annie, and then you put that much story—and that much screen time—on to [another actor] who needs to imbue and and inform and deepen Annie’s character,” he continues. “It was an incredibly daunting thing for us as writers, for Anne Sewitsky, the amazing director of that episode, and then most of all for Ruby.”

Cruz “eerily looked and matched Lizzie,” Thomason notes, crediting their casting director Jeanie Bacharach, but, most importantly, she “could embrace and and bring the spirit of younger, slightly less damaged, Annie, and make you love her the way that I hope that people do, and then ultimately come to understand some of [her past] that really led us to the place of where we find ourselves in CASTLE ROCK.”

Though different in their subject matter and the presentation, the hour felt thematically related to season 1’s “The Queen.” While “Laughing Place” was a straight-up flashback, “The Queen” found Ruth Deaver (Sissy Spacek) stumbling through her own past—figuratively, thanks to her disorientated state of mind, but with Spacek portraying the character through all time eras as she struggled to ground herself in the present.

“When we started talking about ‘The Queen’ last year, it was actually borne out a great love—besides [co-creator] Sam [Shaw]’s own connection to the material and that story—of some of the things that that Damon [Lindelof] and J.J. [Abrams] had done on LOST, and ultimately Damon had done on THE LEFTOVERS,” Thomason says. “Where you have these intense, almost single point of view, episodes that really, either go deep into backstory, or this or that really advanced front story in a powerful way and where you get to really live the consciousness of a single character.”

“That was the goal of Sissy’s episode last year and of episode five this year,” he continues. “There’s another episode, episode nine, that really goes deep in sort of the same way with Tim Robbins’ character [Pop]. And so I think that there’s something about these episodes that really punctuate the action. You can’t do it in every episode, but I think it can be incredibly rewarding.”


And with the final moments setting the stage for Joy (Elsie Fisher) learning the truth about her twisted history—thanks to her unknowingly calling her birth mother—the series will dive into nature versus nurture and the impact of what growing up with Annie has done to the young woman.

“We come to understand that she has really been in this Annie-shaped prison for quite a long time,” Thomason teases. “As truths to start to bubble over and and reveal themselves to her, the question of what she’s going to do with those truths and who she’s going to become [pop up]—is her childhood going to have defined her in the same way that Annie’s childhood has defined Annie?”

“In a way, Joy’s really our point of view in the season,” he continues. “Joy is the one who is watching Annie in the same way that we’re watching her: with one eye open and always kind of wondering what comes next. Joy is us, in a way, and I think we both sympathize with Annie and ultimately fear her. Watching that evolution over the course of the season is going to be central to her journey.”

But in Castle Rock, traumatizing families are no rarity, and Joy isn’t alone: Nadia (Yusra Warsama) recently discovered that her adopted father, Pop, was responsible for the death of her biological mother.

“‘What happens when you suddenly start to see your own childhood in a very different light?’ is a really important theme on both sides of the story this season,” Thomason says. “That parallel, and that kinship that Nadia and Joy develop as a result of that, is a really important part of what we’re doing this season.”

What did you think of “The Laughing Place”?

CASTLE ROCK, Wednesdays, Hulu

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