I said a while back that if there were two people who could toss a monkey wrench into the undead cult’s plans, it would be Annie Wilkes and Pop Merrill, but both of them had some problems to potentially overcome first.
We saw Annie go into action last time and she continues that here. But this time, we see Pop Merrill really kicks a lot of ass.
See, Pop managed to get away from the hypnotic statue, and his store is where all the unwanted stuff in town goes. That includes Warden Lacy’s old letters about the history of Castle Rock and the Kid in the basement of Shawshank Prison. So, hey, we get to see Frances Conroy again as the Warden’s blind widow! She’s always awesome!
And then she’s killed within five seconds. Boo!
OK, she comes back as a cultist, but I will reserve the right to boo again.
Point is, Pop, Nadia, and a few other people are still either not a cultist or not in thrall to a statue. One of those is Joy’s teenage friend whose name I never learned, and she warns Pop and Nadia that everyone who isn’t a slave of some kind is being killed, so from there, it’s off to the races. Pop spent time in the army. He’s a good shot, he has guns, and Nadia ain’t too bad herself. Heck, Abdi is also fine and settles some cultists hash with a well-aimed dump truck.
And then it’s into the shop where Pop must have installed every conceivable form of security known to man in case the apocalypse happened and the Four Horsemen showed up at his door without any money or goods to haggle with. And yeah, Annie breaks in later with two people, but Pop being Pop, he knows exactly how to figure out which one was an undercover cultist.
And when Pop isn’t shooting cultists, finding spies, or setting up booby traps while he reads the Warden’s letters, he’s…negotiating with Ace. Seriously. That fits. The Pop Merrill of Stephen King’s writing is known for his tough-as-nails deal-making skills.
If I remember correctly, Leland Gaunt is actually a little disappointed Pop is dead when he shows up in the novel Needful Things because that demon thing figured Pop of all people knew how to haggle.
Now, Pop here isn’t dumb. He’s clearly going for time, and his plans are simple: since he’s dying, he’s going to burn the letters and blow himself up before he can be resurrected as a cultist who will gladly share everything he knows with Ace.
And that is mostly so Annie, Abdi, Nadia, Joy’s friend, and an older woman can escape. That’s where Abdi and Annie show how good they are with guns and killing things for what it’s worth. The only real problem is Pop’s suicide vest is a dud, so it looks like he’ll be joining that cult after all.
Then again, he did pocket those drugs Nadia said hold off the possession.