"Severance" is the first episode of Castle Rock. It aired on Hulu on July 25, 2018.

The episode was written by Sam Shaw & Dustin Thomason and directed by Michael Uppendahl.


Henry Deaver, a death-row attorney, confronts his dark past when an anonymous call lures him back to his hometown of Castle Rock, Maine.


The episode opens in 1991. Sheriff Alan Pangborn is looking for Henry Deaver, a young boy who has been missing for eleven days. He walks through the snow, using a stick to search for a body. He finds a dead deer but moves on. Pangborn reaches a frozen lake and sits. He hears a noise and finds that Henry has suddenly appeared in the middle of the lake.

In 2018, Warden Dale Lacy makes breakfast for his blind wife, Martha. It is his last day as warden of Shawshank State Penitentiary as it has been sold to a private company. Instead of going to the prison, Dale drives out to a cliff overlooking the same lake where Henry was found. He ties a noose around his neck, attached to tree, then drives off the cliff, decapitating himself.

New Shawshank warden Theresa Porter gets a history lesson about the prison she is taking over. She wants to increase the prison population since it now owned by Northeast Correctional has to turn a profit. Porter wants to reopen one of the disused wings – Block F – which has been closed since the 80s due to a fire that killed a large number of inmates. She dispatches Dennis Zalewski and another guard are sent to check out the wing.

The guards open the wing and find footprints in the ash, and follow them to a sealed metal hatch that opens into a large water cistern. Inside, they find a chair, a can full of smoked cigarette butts, and a cage. Inside the cage is a man. The mysterious prisoner doesn't speak and appears timid. The prisoner is not on any records within the prison, and it is speculated that the prisoner was kept as a sex slave for the warden. Without any identification, it is decided to keep him in the prison. Finally, the prisoner says a name; "Henry Matthew Deaver."

The now grown Henry Deaver works in Texas as a death row lawyer. His client, Leanne is due to be executed for the murder of her husband, Richard Chambers. The appeal fails; Leanne eats her last meal and they talk about their first memories. Henry remembers being found by the sheriff; despite being missing for eleven days in the middle of winter, Henry has no signs of frostbite. Pangborn asks him if he's been inside somewhere. Leanne is executed, but something goes wrong. She is still alive and dies in agony thrashing on the gurney.

At Shawshank, the warden and her staff have discovered who Henry Deaver is, finding the reports of him going missing as a child and being found after eleven days. They also find that his father was found half frozen with a broken back. He died three days later. The staff also finds out that Deaver is a lawyer in Texas, but refuse to call him. Dennis Zalewski places a call to Henry and tells him that they have one of his clients here and outlines the situation. Henry is intrigued enough to go home to Castle Rock. Warden Porter and her staff plan to put the prisoner in a cell with a notoriously violent inmate. Their hope is that the problem will resolve itself.

In Castle Rock, Molly Strand buys drugs off her drug dealer, who refers to her as "the MILF." She needs the drugs to manage a condition she has. As the deal takes place, he sees Henry Deaver step off a bus and begins breathing hard. Henry does not see her, but heads straight to a church. The paved lot next to it appears to upset him. Going inside, he finds a photograph of his father, Reverend Matthew Deaver. Henry has another flashback to the night he was found. Pangborn asks him if he knows what happened to his father. Henry doesn't respond, but is holding a carved white figure in his hands.

Leaving the church, Henry goes home. In the kitchen, he finds a frying pan burning on the stove, and his mother, Ruth Deaver, in a state of confusion in the back garden. She is rambling and doesn't recognize her son, pointing out that she adopted a black son so she can't be a racist. Henry had arranged a nurse to look after his mother, and wants to know where they are. The nurse was fired long ago. To Henry's surprise, he finds that Alan Pangborn is now living with his mother.

Henry asks about the paved lot -- it was the cemetery where his father was buried. Pangborn tells him that the church sold the land and moved the bodies. Henry is angry that he wasn't told. He begins to think that Pangborn is taking advantage of his mother's state.

Henry arrives at Shawshank, asking about the client but he does not know his name. Although Warden Porter knows who he is referring to, they feign ignorance and make him go through a binder of prisoner photos to identify his client. While looking through the binder, Henry mentions that his father used to minister to the inmates in the prison in the eighties. Warden Porter raises the possibility that the call Henry received could have been a prank, pointing out that Maine does not have the death penalty so the chances of him having a client at the prison would be small. Not able to recognise anyone in the binders, Henry leaves. As Henry leaves, he hears Zalewski ordering prisoners around and recognizes the voice. The guard watches him leave but says nothing.

Zalewski is on duty, monitoring television monitors in the prison. The screens begin flickering, and he notices that the mystery prisoner is missing from his cell. Looking at other monitors, he watches as the prisoner walks through the prison. The gates open for him, and in his wake are the bodies of murdered guards. Zalewski activates the alarm.

Henry returns to his childhood home, and reads about Warden Lacy's suicide. Talking with Pangborn, he learns that Lacy committed suicide near Castle Lake where Henry was found.

Molly Strand takes out a box, and sets an hourglass timer. She goes through the contents, which include a missing poster about Henry, and a red sweater.

Henry drives out to Castle Lake, where Lacy committed suicide. He sees it as it was in 1991, as a frozen wasteland. An apparition of his younger self appears behind him. When Henry turns around, the boy is gone and the area returns to the way it looks in the present.

In a flashback, Warden Lacy is with the prisoner in the cistern. Smoking cigarettes, he tells the prisoner "When they find you, ask for Henry Deaver. Henry Matthew Deaver."


Main Cast



Special Guest Star

Guest Starring



References to other Stephen King works