Henry gets a new client at Shawshank Prison.
At Shawshank State Penitentiary, Officer Dennis Zalewski investigates the prisoner's apparent escape, only to find that everything he saw on the monitors did not happen. There are no bodies, and the prisoner is still in his cell.
A flashback shows a young Lacy building the cell that they would find the prisoner in. Lacy's voiceover narration says that he built it because, "One day, God answered."
Henry goes to visit Lacy's widow, Martha and takes the opportunity to look through Lacy's belongings. He finds prayer cards, news articles, and Verse of the Day calendars that all end on the same page: "Even at that hour of night, the jailer cared for them and washed their wounds. Then he and everyone in his household were immediately baptized." Henry is caught by Martha and ejected from the house, but as he goes, Henry notices that the basement door has a heavy lock on it.
Taking cues from what he found in Lacy's house, he heads to the church where he meets Jackie Torrance. The pastor speaks about Lacy and paints him as a good and God-fearing man.
Warden T. Porter drinks at a hotel, wondering what her predecessor was up to with the prisoner. As she contemplates it, she is joined by Alan Pangborn. They talk, and he relates a story where Lacy told him that he had found out what was causing all of Castle Rock's trouble. As Pangborn leaves, he tells Porter not to "let that fucking kid out." Determined to get answers, she works with her assistant, Reeves and moves the prisoner to share a cell with a swastika-tattooed inmate. The mysterious prisoner warns his new cellmate not to touch him. Shortly after, the tattooed inmate is dead, riddled with cancer.
Flashbacks show a young Molly Strand who is Henry's neighbor. She was mildly obsessed with Henry. She witnessed Henry get into a car late at night, and when Henry's father dies, a deputy questions her. Molly states she knows nothing about his disappearance, but when she is alone, visible breath comes from her mouth as if the room was freezing.
Henry meets Jackie again in a bar. She fills him in on how the town turned what happened to him and his father into an urban legend. The prevailing theory is that Henry pushes his father off a high bluff and then ran away. As Jackie asks him if another rumor is true – that he lost three toes to frostbite – Dennis Zalewski enters the bar. He passes Henry a note to meet him later.
Henry goes home to find Alan digging up a dead dog in the backyard. Ruth Deaver thinks the dog is still alive, and Pangborn is assuring her that it isn't. As they talk, they are watched from across the street by Molly.
Henry and Zalewski stage a scene to get him access to the prisoner. Arranging for a travelling church to set up outside the prison, Henry blends in with the crowd and stands near the fence by the prison yard. Zalewski brings the prisoner out into the yard so that he can meet with Henry.
Elsewhere, a dog digs up Lacy's severed head which was never recovered when they found his corpse.
- André Holland as Henry Deaver
- Melanie Lynskey as Molly Strand
- Bill Skarsgård as "The Kid"
- Jane Levy as Jackie Torrance
- Sissy Spacek as Ruth Deaver
- Scott Glenn as Alan Pangborn
- Allison Tolman as Molly's Sister
- Noel Fisher as Dennis Zalewski
- Frances Conroy as Martha Lacy
- Ann Cusask as Warden T. Porter
- Adam Rothenberg as Reverend Matthew Deaver
- Chris Coy as Boyd
- Josh Cooke as Reeves
- Aaron Staton as Pastor
- Caleel Harris as Young Henry Deaver
- Brionne Davis as Garrett Coyne
- Cassady McClincy as Young Molly Strand
- Audrey Moore as Mrs. Strand
- Terry O'Quinn as Dale Lacy
References to other Stephen King works
- During Warden Lacy's narration, he mentions several plot points drawn from other King novels. "The dog" refers to "Cujo", while "the strangler" is a reference to Frank Dodd from "The Dead Zone".
- Lacy also mentions the events from "The Body" when he says "they found that boy;s body out by the train tracks."
- Newspaper clippings showing article headlines in Lacy's home refer to previous King works. "Shopkeeper Missing After Oddity Store Fire" is a nod towards "Needful Things", "Anonymous Tip Led to ..." again references "The Body", while "Rabid Dog Tears Through Town" is another reference to "Cujo".
- Jackie Torrance's name is both a direct nod to Jack Torrance, main character of "The Shining", and a possible indication towards her being related to the character.
- Alan Pangborn digging up a dead dog that Ruth Deaver believes is alive is a nod towards similar plot elements from "Pet Sematary".
- The bar that Henry meets Jackie in, The Mellow Tiger, was featured in "Needful Things".
- Nan's Luncheonette has appeared in "Needful Things", "The Dark Half", "The Sun Dog", and "IT".