'Castle Rock' Season 2 Episode 6: Books and betrayal form the DNA of Anne Wilkes' villainy
Annie Wilkes inherits a 'laughing place' of fiction from her father that is so meager, so bound in the confines of his book that she feels threatened as she feels her place is usurped by Rita.
Part of what makes Stephen King's Annie Wilkes so fascinating as a villain is that she is a bibliophile. Within the horror canon, her obsession with stories is the toxic inversion of writer Paul Sheldon's craft. She wants to forcefully insert herself into his narrative by forcing him to bend to her will. She wants to control his words as a writer.
Season 2 of Castle Rock that sets out to give Annie (Lizzie Caplain) her origin story has incorporated how Annie developed this twisted and toxic connection with books and stories in episode 5. It delves into the legacy of her father, a failed writer, who made her read and transcribe his never-ending but limiting book. Her father's book is supposed to teach her to read and write but instead of opening up her world through words, it constricts it instead.
She inherits a "laughing place" of fiction from him that is so meager, so bound in the confines of his book that she feels threatened as she feels her place is usurped by Rita (Sarah Gadon). In episode 6 this season, when Rita questions her about her father's dedication in the book, Annie snarls "I felt small."
When she sees her "small" place in her father's story disappearing thanks to Rita, she forcefully reinserts herself back into the narrative by killing him and stabbing Rita. She wants to kill the baby Evangeline too to make a clean getaway. But she makes a clean start instead, renaming the baby "Joy" and becoming a mother to the "little love". In essence, she steals Rita's place in the narrative by telling Joy lies from when she is a baby -- from hiding the fact that she is her half-sister to creating a "hero father".
She takes control of the story so that it can no longer exclude her. Her mother's righteous upbringing, where the world is divvied into black and white, with heroes and villains, completes her claustrophobic parental heritage.
In the first few moments of episode 6, we see Rita has struggled with being pushed out of her own story and had turned to drugs and drinks to cope with the loss of her baby. When she is attending an AA meeting, she talks about the attack by Annie as a "big story", a story that derailed her own narrative as a mother and a wife. When she comes back, she wants to "turn the page" and start afresh until Joy calls and mentions the "Ravening Angel", the manuscript that is behind her tragedy.
When Rita confronts her, Annie is not ready to give up the story she has built with Joy. Her letter to Joy reiterates this when she calls herself Joy's "number 1 fan", words that she later uses on poor Sheldon in Stephen King's book. For Annie, being a "no. 1 fan" is the biggest declaration of love she can make and as one of the most memorable bibliophile villains, it feels quite appropriate.
'Castle Rock' airs on Hulu on Wednesdays at 12 am ET.