(This post contains major spoilers for those watching on Channel 5)
Castle has managed to successfully navigate a step that a number of shows have fallen over entirely at – the moment when two lead characters have to go from sparky banter because they clearly need to get a room to engaging in sparky banter because they actually have got a room.
At the end of Season 4, Kate Beckett, after a supremely bad day (although not quite as bad as the one where she got shot and almost killed at a funeral), decided that she loved Castle and turned up at his apartment with the clear intention of doing something about it. Richard Castle, who had been up for this sort of thing since the day he first met the NYPD detective, wasted no time in doing what a lot of artists do with their muse.
Anyway, Beckett and Castle are now investigating murders by day and each other by night, something that most of their colleagues now know about.
(You done playing euphemism, Silent? – Ed.)
It’s approaching Valentine’s Day. Castle and Beckett are getting gifts for each other, while one of their married colleagues, Ryan, is currently trying for a baby and departing at short notice to well, do the deed, at favourable times for his missus. In the meantime, they have to solve the murder of a reality TV star found stabbed in the back on a bench.
The investigation itself is one of the weakest parts of the episode, although admittedly not what most people watch this show for. Much of the investigation revolves around an uncommon substance found on the victim’s fingernails… a hugely overused trope in crime fiction in the CSI age; where nobody ever gets stabbed by a common-as-muck kitchen knife from Target or IKEA – and a rare knife is the murder weapon.
This is as much an ensemble show – while it’s called Castle, it could equally be called Beckett… or even Gates (hey, it worked for Taggart). Since my review of “Nikki Heat” back in Season 3, Captain Montgomery has left the show in a body bag (yep, the black guy died first), to be replaced by Captain Victoria “Iron” Gates, played by Penny Johnson Jerald – who I’d previously known for her Lady Macbeth-ish role as Sherry Palmer in 24. A stern strict figure who prefers to be called “Sir”, she is the only regular not to know of our leads’ new relationship status – for fear that if she were to find out, they couldn’t work together any longer. In this episode, she reveals a lighter side – she’s a fan of the reality show and her knowledge of it provides a key break.
(I didn’t mention Gates in my review of “The Blue Butterfly” – for one thing, she’s not in that episode)
I’ve recently come up with a new nickname for Det. Beckett – in addition to being “Detective Heels”, she is now “Top-Button Beckett”, on account that she wears the highest necklines of pretty much any female character on television that I’m aware of. We rarely get to see her and Castle in bed together; for one thing, this isn’t HBO – and it’s to the show’s credit that Stana Katic lets her acting do the talking and not her legs.
The primary guest star in this episode aired during the February sweeps is Gina Torres – Zoe in Firefly and now appearing as Jessica Pearson in Suits. Unfortunately (as her presence, she only gets a few scenes, only one of them with Fillion. The rest of the guest cast are rather unspectacular; the murderer in particular – the hammy confession has been overused for many years.
Castle is a dramedy and we get some good comedy here; Castle decides to try to surprise Beckett with her gift (a pair of earrings) by slipping the box into her blazer pocket – only to discover that he’s accidently put it in Gates’ blazer instead! In addition, Beckett, whose usual interrogation technique is quiet steel combined with New Yorker sass, is allowed to flip over a table and get shouty – an unconventional technique that works.
One final note – the “British” billionaire wasn’t needed at all.
While the character stuff is good, this is a poor mystery with the best component of its guest cast highly underused.