The show has found it's niche and is slowly perfecting the formula. Each episode contains a plot line that could be taken out of any mildly trashy crime novel which Castle can have fun with by parodying himself and the genre in general.
It is a simple but clever idea, in that the audience is treated to a light crime mystery, whilst enjoying genuinely funny dialogue and great characters. That being said, tonight’s episode is a little deeper and some of it’s usual charm and humor is sacrificed to make way for some character development.
At first glance, the episode is built around a rather superficial murder mystery that after a few unexpected twists, turns into an excellent little conspiracy. A body is discovered in a parking lot showing signs of torture and it quickly becomes clear that the murder is linked to a powerful crime boss whom Esposito is all too familiar with. We see a different side to both Esposito and Ryan, who usually play the role of side-kicks, setting up jokes for Castle and operating in the background for comic effect. Personally, I prefer them in that kind of secondary role, although it was nice to get a little insight into Esposito’s background. There is also an endearing moment near the end of the episode where the detective refers to Castle as his other partner, which was an excellent way of highlighting the relationships between the team and confirming that the crime writer has finally been accepted as part of the team.
Ultimately, I saw the conclusion coming, but that was largely a result of characters being slowly removed from the suspect pool. Speaking of characters, is it only me that prefers to see unknown actors within crime shows? As soon as I recognize a face, it’s like shooting a beacon into the actors chest that screams “look at me I’m, fundamental to the story”. Tonight we had a guy from BSG, one of the wives from the Unit and the voice of Sam Fisher (I’m currently playing the new Splinter Cell so this was a little unnerving). Normally it isn’t such a problem because of how the murder mystery tends to act merely as a catalyst for Castle’s one-liners and quirky facial expressions, but tonight saw Castle step out of the spot-light and the episode suffered for it.
Having said that, the latest installment is still extremely enjoyable and there are moments that are both charming and funny, with others being genuinely exciting. The writers are obviously trying to develop the relationship between Castle and Beckett, with both this week and the last containing characters whose only role is really to provoke jealousy. Beckett takes her turn as the focus of attention and Castle is very clearly troubled by his feelings. At one rather poignant moment, Alexis asks her father what’s wrong, as he assumes an extremely solemn expression. “I don’t like to lose” he replies, which although is intended to refer to the game of poker he just lost, it is also very obvious he was thinking about Beckett.
I feel it’s important to express how refreshing it is to have a show that contains a teenage girl that isn’t hormonal and moody. The moments with Castle and both his mother and daughter are some of the most charming on television and bring an excellent dynamic to the show. So easy it would have been to use the household setting as a source of tension or conflict, but the writers have made an intelligent decision and added another layer to the show‘s personality.
Another solid installment to the series, although lacking some of the humor and charm of previous episodes. However, there are certain character developments that are allowed to take place and even the relationship between Castle and Beckett is given a firm nudge. The writers must be careful not to fall into the trap that Bones has and should make a decision early on to whether these characters should ever pursue love. I don’t need to be worrying about it for another five seasons.
The episode plot is intriguing and a little more complex than usual, but it does lose it’s way a little at the end with a process of elimination revealing the killer. I hope they refrain from adding more shallow characters into the main team however, as the field often feels a little too crowded. It’s great to provoke jealousy or the like, but I still want Castle to take center stage and not his feelings.
I'm so glad Nathan Fillion has finally found a show that has managed to last more than one season. He is a fantastic actor with a unique ability to a clown, a ladies man and command respect all at the same time. He makes this show and it's obvious that the writers have created the character for him. It fits like a glove.
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