There is a lot of mystery surrounding Pop Merrill’s death in Hulu’s ‘Castle Rock’.

By Lakshana Palat | Published on 8:31 PM PST, Dec 6, 2019

                            'Castle Rock' Season 2 Episode 9: Pop Merrill dies a lonely and broken man after failing to mend relationship with his children

The beauty of Hulu’s ‘Castle Rock’ is when it peels off the layers of each character and exposes their raw vulnerabilities and their constant tussle with their raging demons. Ironically, this psychological torment is more engaging than the horror elements itself. The mastery of the show lies in its craft to build flawed and twisted characters, who are desperately seeking some form of redemption or relief, which remains frustratingly just out of their reach. It’s a Stephen King universe, there are clearly no easily-happy endings or instant solutions. 

While Annie Wilkes (Lizzy Caplan) is turning wild after her daughter Joy (Elsie Fisher) has become part of the possessed town following the Angel, Pop Merrill (Tim Robbins) is not having it easy with his kids Nadia (Yusra Warsima) and Abdi (Barkhad Abdi) either.

Yet, unfortunately for the Merrill family, they all need to stay together and figure out a way of survival as the populace of Castle Rock wants them dead, and possibly as vessels for their rituals. Pop Merrill tries healing the relationship between him and his children for one last time. But Nadia won’t make it clear that she is not going to even think about him if she survives this apocalyptic night. The guilt tour for Pop doesn’t end there, as Augustine, the man possessing Ace Merrill (Paul Sparks), reminds him that he had not been good to Ace as a child either. ‘You beat him,’ Augustine tells Pop. Pop tries to defend himself, but Augustine tells Pop that Ace that he had always loved and respected Pop. This form of emotional torture is enough for Pop. 

Ace Merrill (Dana Starbard/Hulu)

The tough gangster avatar image of Pop breaks into a million pieces, and we see a frail, broken and helpless man in this episode. He’s a man, who knows that he ‘ruined’ the lives of four children, Abdi, Nadia, as well as his nephews Chris (Matthew Alan) and Ace. He has had corrupt business practices and committed crimes. However, he has innumerable shades of grey, making it difficult for one to wish for his downfall, as well as completely empathize with him. He is not wicked at heart, but sadly, that’s not enough for those around him, and for good reason. 

He tries desperately to redeem himself by making sure that Abdi and Nadia escape the town, with his life on the line, in the process. He tries to blow himself up, but even that does not work. Till his last moment, things don’t turn out the way he planned and life is determined to punish him for all his mistakes. 

And so Augustine kills him upfront, and in all probability, Pop will become the next vessel.

Yet Pop’s death has more nuances than we think it does. Could the failed explosion be all part of a ruse, and did Pop want some chance at immortality, the way Ace does? His soul would still exist, he just won’t be the one in charge. Is he afraid of death?

‘Castle Rock’ is all ready for an apocalyptic finale on December 11, Hulu.