Episode Two - "Habeas Corpus"
Now that audiences have become familiar with the environment, characters, and budding plot, the second episode of Castle Rock has room to feature a significantly larger amount of King references - the first of which directly link the series to classic King stories. When Henry Deaver is flipping through old newspaper clippings, a number of headlines are revealed that reference The Body (later adapted into the Rob Reiner movie Stand by Me), Cujo, and Needful Things.
The headline for The Body reads: "Anonymous Tip Leads to Boy's Body;" the headline for Cujo reads: "Rabid Dog Tears Through Town" (with another smaller headline right beside it that reads: "Rabies Vaccines at an All Time High"); and the headline for Needful Things reads: "Shopkeeper Missing After Oddity Store Fire" (with the words "Leland Gaunt" and "missing" underlined in the body of the article).
The Shining also gets a nod when the last name of Jane Levy's character Jackie is revealed to be Torrance. This is a fairly blatant reference to one of the novel's main characters Jack Torrance (played by Jack Nicholson in the Stanley Kubrick adaptation and Steven Weber in Mick Garris' adapted-for-TV adaptation), though it's unclear whether or not the two are related.
The episode then introduces two locations featured in King's novels: the Yarn Mill and the Mellow Tiger Bar. The former is featured in the short story Graveyard Shift (which is simply referred to as a textile mill in the story, but specified as a Yarn Mill in the feature-length adaptation - which itself pays homage to King by changing the original name of the mill [Bartlett] to Bachman, the surname of King's pseudonym). The latter is a bar introduced in Needful Things, in which two of Castle Rock's residents murdered each other.
When Bill Skarsgård's mysterious inmate is moved to a new cell, his cellmate is reading William Golding's Lord of the Flies. And while this clearly isn't a direct King reference, King based the name Castle Rock off of the mountain featured in the book - where some of the most horrific moments in the story take place. In fact, Lord of the Flies is one of King's favorite books, and he once wrote a introduction in the novel's centenary edition, saying that it's "not just entertainment; it’s life-or-death." What's more is that even though this cell is numbered nine, some markings on the wall next to the number make it appear to read nineteen. Nineteen is a prominent number in King's stories; and though its appearance is most prominent in the Dark Tower series, it also shows up in The Dead Zone, Under the Dome, and the novella N., among others.
Later in the episode, as the character Molly Strand is further explored, it's revealed that she has the ability (or curse) to be psychically linked to other people. This is a clear reference to the Castle Rock-set novel The Dead Zone, in which the main character Johnny Smith (played by Christopher Walker in David Cronenberg's adaptation) has the ability to see into people's future by simply touching them. The ability also has links to the psychic ability King refers to as "shining," which has been featured in several King stories like The Stand, the Dark Tower series, and, of course, The Shining.
Finally, the last King reference in this episode comes courtesy of Jackie Torrance, who refers to the storm in which a young Henry Deaver got himself lost in as "a mega snowstorm; Guinness Book s***" - which may be referencing Stephen King's written-for-TV miniseries Storm of the Century. This one may not be quite as concrete as the other references, but given that the miniseries gets a subtle shout-out in the opening credits, it's clearly on the minds of Castle Rock's creators.
Episode Three - "Local Color"
Similar to Episode One, the third episode of Castle Rock is fairly light on the King references. That said, there are still some fun callbacks - the most notable being the slogan for Molly Strand's real estate company: "Live like a King!"
In fact, speaking of Molly, she plans on proposing plans for revitalizing downtown Castle Rock. And at the center of these plans is a gazebo, which she explains to Jackie Torrance is meant for "peaceful contemplation." Ironically, the town's gazebo featured in The Dead Zone is actually the scene of a grisly crime, where serial killer Frank Dodd confronts and kills one of his many victims.
Another scene in the episode (which is more of an homage than a reference) might be nodding to a scene from King's short story Cycle of the Werewolf (which was adapted into the movie Silver Bullet with the late Corey Haim). In Castle Rock, Molly Strand has a nightmare that takes place inside a church in which all of the parishioners, as well as the priest (who is meant to represent Henry Deaver's late father) have bandages covering their faces. Visually and thematically, it's extremely similar to a scene from Silver Bullet, wherein all of the parishioners transform into werewolves. In fact, both scenes involve the priest asking God for mercy (though in very different contexts).
Finally, there is a scene that is both an homage to Stephen King's short story Children of the Corn and William Golding's Lord of the Flies. While Molly is in pursuit of a drug dealer, she happens upon a group of children wearing paper mâché masks who are in the middle of a makeshift courtroom trial. The scene is reminiscent of both stories, in which children form their own hierarchy and govern with appointed leaders.
The rest of the series will no doubt include even more Stephen King references in the span of its ten-episode run, so audiences will do well to keep their eyes peeled on everything else Castle Rock's creators might have snuck in. After all - and this has never been more appropriate - the Devil's in the details.