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Castle – S04E14 – “The Blue Butterfly”

ABC's Castle

Castle – S04E14 – “The Blue Butterfly”

A man is found murdered in the remains of an old nightclub and at the center of his death, a sixty-five year old mystery. Castle is on the case, his imaginative mind dreaming up a film noir world in which those closest to him take on the visages of the past. It starts out feeling like high school dinner theatre but ends up as a hilarious trip down a classic trope which has been turned up on its head. However, “Blue Butterfly” ultimately leaves too much unanswered.

Score: 3 ½ of 5 (4 ½ if you can get past the plot holes)

>Spoilers<

Castle – S04E14 – “The Blue Butterfly”

Castle and Beckett as Jerry and Viola circa 1947

“Blue Butterfly” starts out with a tease. Castle, sporting a horrible 40s New York accent and dressed up in whatever the wardrobe dept could borrow from Boardwalk Empire, is grabbing a drink at a classic nightclub set. He turns, sees Beckett dressed with whatever could be snatched from Mad Men and he utters the line “Where have you been all my life?” Instant groan. My heart literally sank because seriously, that’s where they want to take this?

Flashing to real time, Castle and Beckett arrive in an old building, the same nightclub as it is today, and find Laney over another plain jane murdered body. Some quick exposition and the victim is Stan, an amateur treasure hunter looking for “The Blue Butterfly” with creditors on his back and nothing to show for it. Castle finds an old P.I.’s diary amongst his things and can’t help but want to explore it.

As he reads the journal the images come to life. Castle takes the role of Jerry, a P.I. from 1947 and his mom becomes his secretary. (I love Nathan to death, I really do, but that outfit did nothing for his figure.) A young woman, played by Alexis, comes in and asks for Joe’s help in finding her sister. Jerry agrees and we end up back at the beginning, Castle standing at a bar, seeing Beckett as the beautiful Viola. The scene continues from there and it’s revealed that the “Blue Butterfly” is a necklace.

Instant pop back to the real world where Castle proceeds to explain what is going on and what it all means. He promptly finishes the scene with the words, “And why am I narrating?”

Okay… this I can do.

Castle – S04E14 – “The Blue Butterfly”

The Blue Butterfly is a diamond necklace.

Taking a page from the right book, “Blue Butterfly” knows what it is and has fun with the trope, lampshading and lampooning it at every turn. Castle asks Ryan to say Irish words since he sees the detective as an Irish gangster who is Lucky Charms incarnate. The writer even accidently calls Viola, Kate, and she calls him on the fact he is imaging her in his head. It’s lots of little moments like this which really pull the episode up into 4-4 ½ territory.

However, the show leaves too many nagging questions that need to be answered:

  • What was the daughter/Alexis’ game plan? Did she expect Jerry to fall for Viola and vice versa? You can’t exactly predict that. And as soon as he mentioned a sister Viola would have known something was up like she did when he finally got around to it. Jerry came up with the go-between plan that stalled Viola finding out. Was the daughter going to set Viola up, kill her at a meet? How? Viola would never go because she knows she doesn’t have a sister, so did the daughter not know that? A quick throwaway line explanation would have been nice.
  • You’re telling me that it has been suspected for over fifty years that the necklace is in that building and no one thought to check behind the wall panels? Seriously? That would be the second place I’d look right after ripping up all the floor boards. Hello, metal detectors people!
  • As far as I could tell there was no door/hatch in the basement to get outside, only the entrance. So if Stan went down and came up with the necklace it must have been in the safe. How did it get there when Jerry stashed it in a very good hiding place and Dempsey died only months later? Why didn’t Castle go back to the alley and look, you know, just to see if the hole was there, just because he could and it’s part of the story? /headdesk

Castle has been doing a lot of this lately, focusing on the theme and forgetting that this is still a detective show. It’s really starting to get on my nerves but my parents found the episode absolutely entertaining and said I think too much into things. They are probably right… but still… I don’t remember it being this bad in the first few seasons. Rose colored glasses? I think a Castle marathon is in order. Don’t mind if I do…

The cast of ABC's Castle does film noir.

The cast of ABC's Castle does film noir.

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Posted by on February 9, 2012 in Television

 

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The Finder – S01E04 – “Swing and a Miss”

Fox's The Finder

The Finder – S01E04 – “Swing and a Miss”

When Isabel’s new boyfriend gets robbed, she convinces Walter to take the case. Walter knows that the boyfriend is hiding something and warns her that he always finds more than what he is looking for. The Finder ends up discovering more than anyone bargained for and this time it’s all about his relationship with Isabel. While it’s a small dip in quality from the first three, Finder continues to perform well with snappy humor to spare.

Score: 3 ½ of 5

>Spoilers<

The Finder – S01E04 – “Swing and a Miss”

Isabel askes Walter to help retrieve her boyfriend's stolen goods.

Isabel is dating a famous baseball player, Frankie, and he gets robbed of many valuables, including his luck. He’s reluctant to admit this so Walter refuses to take the case. Isabel persuades him to do so as a personal favor. Walter warns her that, as always, he finds more than the item lost and she’s willing to take the risk.

Some great moments in this episode, especially with the un-aptly named Twins. This really showcases the episode’s quick witted humor. You can’t look away but you’re so busy laughing it’s hard not to.

The bad part though is that you knew Frankie’s catcher was in on it as soon as you met him. It was pretty obvious and another ‘swing and a miss’ for Finder in the detective element of the show. It’s possible that they are focusing so much on the humor and characters that they are letting this lapse. It’s not enough to harm the show as said elements are more than enough to keep watchers interested, but it’s something to consider this early in the series as they find their legs.

Willa edges dangerously closer to Wesley Crusher territory though at least this was somewhat reasonable in that her Uncle Shad helped the guy set up the business (dues ex anyone?). The gun battle was weird as well, kinda stupid actually, but I’m sure that was the point as Walter makes the gun comment right afterwards. Don’t bring a gun to a fight if you don’t know how to use one properly I say.

As for Walter, he does find more than Frankie’s luck. In the episode we discover that he and Isabel have a ‘friend with benefits’ structured relationship with rules and sub-paragraphs and everything. Walter realizes his jealousy and Isabel realizes she thinks a lot more about Walter than decent for a casual relationship. It’s different to see the two leads start to get together so soon in a show. Moonlighting-curse aside, it just makes literary sense to drag it on a little bit so that the payout is bigger for the audience.

So far this show has shown an irreverence for convention, so I’m betting this is another nod at that. We really don’t get a successful conclusion in “Swing and a Miss” so it’s possible they will weave in some obstacles. It’s dangerous territory though, so much can go so wrong, but if they get through successfully then it will be totally worth it.

 
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Posted by on February 3, 2012 in Television

 

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White Collar – S03E13 – “Neighborhood Watch”

USA's White Collar

White Collar – S03E13 – “Neighborhood Watch”

White Collar meets Rear Window in this tale of suspicious neighbors. Elizabeth overhears something that makes her suspicious and after a little investigation she’s convinced her new neighbors are criminals. Enlisting the help of Mozzie and Neal, can Elizabeth prove that she’s not being paranoid since her experience with Keller… or is she really being paranoid? A fun, simple caper with a lot of laughs but not enough pizzazz.

Score: 3 1/2 of 5

>Spoilers<

Peter happens to leave some scanning devices at home and Elizabeth manages to overhear two men talking about what sounds like a heist. She tells Peter and he checks out the date, time and location of the supposed crime but nothing happens. Elizabeth is convinced she’s not being paranoid and enlists Mozzie and Neal to help prove her neighbor is up to something. (Nice though to see that Peter and Neal didn’t just completely write her off at the beginning as being paranoid.)

White Collar – S03E13 – “Neighborhood Watch”

Neal and Mozzie do recon for Elizabeth.

Casing the neighbor’s residence, Neal spies an illegal lock pick kit and while it’s against the law, it’s not solid proof of heinous wrong doings. Meanwhile, Jones and Diana do their due diligence in checking out Elizabeth’s lead but ultimately they admit that nothing is amiss and their own significant others have had their moments of paranoid delusion.

Tricking her way into a dinner with the neighbors, Ben (Joe Manganiello) and his wife, Elizabeth hopes to get Peter to see the lock picks. Instead she gets herself locked in a room with no way out. Neal has to talk her through picking a lock, another nod towards the blurring lines between the good guys and criminals. Neal is also having second thoughts about his impending freedom. In a ‘grass is always greener’ moment, Neal misses going on stakeouts with Peter, even if it’s nothing but potted meat and the game on the radio the whole time. As Neal leans towards good guy, the line is slowly disappearing.

Of course, Peter finds out what’s going on and he’s not happy, at all. However, when Elizabeth mentions a phone company uniform that she found, he’s able to put two and two together from an earlier report by Jones and Diana about phones going out during the time Elizabeth though a crime was going to occur. Ben and his partner went through a dry run.

Needing more evidence, and to find out who Ben’s partner is, Neal goes undercover as another ‘ex-con who is getting the shaft by the system’. It’s enough to get Ben to trust him to the point of Neal getting close enough to discover a clue that will later tell them exactly how the crime is going to go down, but not exactly where. They figure it out but get there in time to find a missing safe and the robbers getting out of Dodge via a hail of bullets.

White Collar – S03E13 – “Neighborhood Watch”

"Isn't impersonating a Federal Agent a crime?" "Spousal immunity?"

Elizabeth, who is keeping eyes on Ben’s wife, decides to follow her when she leaves and they all end up at a club where the money is being divvied up. Fearing the group will be scattered and gone before Peter can get there, Elizabeth and Mozzie storm in, pretending to be Feds. This is possibly the most awkwardly painful but hilariously awesome moment of the entire show.

Successfully stalled, Peter gets there in time to arrest the felons and all is right with the world. We get another ‘on the nose’ moment when Neal has this exchange with Ben.

Ben: I thought you were one of us.
Neal: I used to be.

Yeah, we get it, leading up to Neal going legit. But hey, at least it wasn’t a long speech so that’s something.

Overall an enjoyable episode and great to see more Mozzie and Elizabeth, but it was soft with no real twists. Definitely worth watching but you could literally stick it anywhere in the last three seasons and it would work. Still, let’s hope this is only the beginning of Mrs. Suit going slightly-rouge. It suits her. (pun intended)

 
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Posted by on February 1, 2012 in Television

 

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Fringe – S04E10 – “Forced Perspective”

FOX's Fringe

Fringe – S04E10 – “Forced Perspective”

As Olivia looks into the Observer, haunted by his foretelling of her impending doom, a young woman with precognitive abilities appears on her radar. What could have been a cheap ‘on-the-nose’ episode is faced head on and turned just enough on its head to be interesting. Props go to the writers but in the end, “Forced Perspective” is an average episode that while entertaining, gets us almost nowhere.

Score: 3 1/2 of 5

>Spoilers<

Fringe – S04E10 – “Forced Perspective”

Olivia and Broyles study the Observers.

In some ways this episode is rather brilliant. The writers recognized that having a precog episode so soon after Olivia being told she ‘has to die’ was a receipt for triteness and smackatude (yes, I just made that word up, it is wanting to smack a character continuously).  So the show takes the high route and embraces the connection, heading it straight on.

They start with Olivia specifically mentioning how finding a precognitive girl cannot be a coincidence. There are no long speeches except for one which is scene appropriate, Broyles giving Olivia the look that the audience is giving the screen. There is a wonderful level of self-awareness throughout the episode which lends to softening the blow of groan-worthy tropes.

What also helps is that we have a family fully aware of their daughter’s ability from the get go and are completely on board with doing whatever it takes to keep her out of the hands of scientists and the government. Gone are the awkward learning curves and angry siblings clichés. This is a real family helping each other.

Fringe – S04E10 – “Forced Perspective”

A spectacular effect and highlight of the episode.

But all this does is make a bad episode good. The plot was thin as its only purpose was to further along the Observers ominous warning, Nina’s secret agenda, and reuse old material from previous seasons. Other than learning that the future can be changed and some really good effects regarding the explosion, there isn’t much to take away from this episode.

A drop in form for Fringe but still, only they could pull this episode off and make it work.

 
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Posted by on January 31, 2012 in Television

 

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Finder – S01E03 – “A Cinderella Story”

FOX's The Finder

Finder – S01E03 – “A Cinderella Story”

A figurative ‘Prince Charming’ asks Walter to look into the disappearance of the woman of his dreams who rushed out of a night club leaving nothing but one shoe and a smudged clue behind. Nothing is as it seems in this episode and Walter gets in a bit over his head as all the evidence points to a serial killer on the loose. Meanwhile, Willa upsets Leo and her idea of making it up to him, well, it’s not strictly speaking legal. Another solid episode leaving The Finder’s track record 3-0.

Score: 3 ½ of 5

>Spoilers<

Finder – S01E03 – “A Cinderella Story”

Walter examines 'Cinderella's' shoe.

Even NASA scientists need a little… recreation. Ira Messing (Ian Reed Kessler) meets Lisa (Jodi Lyn O’Keefe) in a bar and the two hit it off. A disturbing phone call later and she’s running from the night club, one shoe left behind with a garbled message. Ira goes to Walter and asks for his help in finding her because he just knows something bad has happened. Well, he isn’t exactly wrong there.

The Walter storyline, while it’s the A-Plot, is overshadowed by the B-Plot which is the story of Leo’s family and Willa. We discover that Leo’s wife and child weren’t murdered in the traditional sense but ate tainted meat which the company owner knew was bad but sold it anyway. I guess he got off scott-free because he was walking around as a wealthy man. What Leo needs is the Leverage team…

Anyway, Willa discovers this by sneaking into Leo’s computer, though it’s not exactly hacking when he says his password out loud as he types it. (It’s Asamandious, at least I think that’s the spelling, I can’t find the word anywhere) So, Leo is all manner of upset with Willa and considers firing her. Willa asks Walter what to do and he says “make it up to him”. He says this to a Romani, he really should have seen this coming.

Willa manipulates her cousin into helping her roll a guy, the guy being the CEO. Several whacks with a baseball bat later and the man is in the hospital. As Walter points out “I meant bake him a cake”.

Finder – S01E03 – “A Cinderella Story”

Walter gets 'caught up' in the case.

Leo doesn’t approve but he does understand the sentiment behind it. A little rocky this relationship but it’s definitely better than the other routes they could have gone with Willa. If they can continue to give her meaty stuff like this rather than typical teen crap then I’ll retract my earlier statements of her being a completely useless character.

As for the A-plot, turns out there is a serial killer on the loose abducting women. No, not really, the missing ‘Cinderella’ is abducting her ‘Prince Charmings’. I’m kinda disappointed in Walter in this episode, his ‘deduction’ was pretty simple because, duh, all the shoes belong to the same person. It would take a crime lab like twenty minutes to figure that out. Oh well, him being tasered is quite funny.

Shows usually try to put their strongest episodes first in order to catch the audience so I hope this isn’t the cream of the crop as right now they’ve been pretty steady and consistent. Episodes Four and Five will be telling.

 
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Posted by on January 28, 2012 in Television

 

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Castle – S04E13 – “An Embarrassment of Bitches”

ABC's Castle

Castle – S04E13 – “An Embarrassment of Bitches”

Dogs are big business and when a famous dog trainer is killed the suspect pool includes everything from dog owners to drug dealers to a reality TV star. Moving back to the wit and charm of first and second season Castle, “An Embarrassment of Bitches” is no slight on the show. An adorable golden retriever steals the show and Esposito tries desperately to get over Laney.

Score: 3 ½ of 5

>Spoilers<

Castle – S04E13 – “An Embarrassment of Bitches”

Castle and Beckett share a moment.

Again we are treated to a rather plain murder with only a small twist, victim was strangled with a dog collar at a dog show. Still not up to par but at least this was a more enjoyable episode getting back to the fun of the first two seasons. The main suspect turns out to be Kim Kardashian and is it sad that I could spell that without looking it up? Yes, yes it is. But actually, it’s an analogue for Kim named Kay Cappuccio played by someone who actually has talent, actress Hilarie Burton.

Esposito is smitten for Kay while the rest wander around trying to figure out how Kay can be so popular without seemingly having a single talent. The episode gets a bit on the nose and that drags it down, especially when they go the ‘popular girl is actually miserable’ shtick route.

Thankfully it rises again with the inclusion of Royal, a golden retriever who is just so darn cute. So cute that both Castle and Beckett want to take him home and so they decide on a split custody arrangement. Casket’s are going to fawning over this episode for weeks as the romance angle between them are sweetly played, just the right level of tension and awkwardness. It was also good to see Beckett loosen up and smile, the drama angle simply doesn’t work for her.

Castle – S04E13 – “An Embarrassment of Bitches”

Beckett loosens up around Royal.

Btw… who is designing her hair and wardrobe? At least the clothes are better than the atrocities she wore last season but seriously people? If this is your take on a ‘battle scarred Beckett’ then you’ve only succeeded in making her look like my grandmother… would she still be alive god rest her.

Nathan, thankfully, looks yummy as always.

Lastly, I want to point out the wonderfully hilarious cameo from DS9 alum Nana Visitor as a dog therapist. This is the second DS9 actor to be on the show as a therapist, one more and it’s officially a running gag. I’m voting for Armin Shimerman as a sex therapist… what? It would be hilarious!

 
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Posted by on January 24, 2012 in Television

 

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Alcatraz – S01E03 – “Kit Nelson”

FOX's Alcatraz

Alcatraz – S01E03 – “Kit Nelson”

There is a pecking order in prisons and at the bottom of the rung is the child molester and child killer. Kit Nelson (Michael Eklund) is a child killer and he’s back. If he follows pattern then Madsen and Soto have 48 hours to find him and save the life of the child he’s kidnapped. “Kit Nelson” is a much more concrete episode than the first two, a tad preachy in the middle, but definitely finding that sweet spot between cop drama and supernatural thriller. We may not be any closer to discovering the secret of Alcatraz but the ride has gotten way more interesting.

Score: 3 ½ of 5

>Spoilers<

Alcatraz – S01E03 – “Kit Nelson”

Soto tracks down Kit Nelson.

A touchy subject in film and television is the unfortunate reality of the child molester and child killer, the lowest of the low. Kit Nelson, the latest Alcatraz escapee, is one of these and he’s struck again… and apparently a cord in Dr. Soto. Garcia is given plenty to work with as his character figures out Kit is responsible and then sets out to find him, with or without Madsen’s help. Kit, for his part, is downright creepy, hitting all the right (or wrong?) notes.

What really makes this episode better than the last two is that the Alcatraz story takes a bit of a back seat. Sure, you have the flashbacks but that in itself is not unique. This could be any other procedural cop drama with a cop and civilian going after a bad guy. Hell, it could be an episode of Cold Case or Criminal Minds… but it’s not… it’s much more and it’s going to sit back and let that sink in a bit.

Among the chilling chase is a side story still trying to play Hauser as both sympathetic and a grade A a-hole. Still unsure what they are doing with his character and the episode dipped into the melodramatic towards the middle when he got into an argument with Madsen but quickly dug itself back out of that hole. I have a feeling a flashback of Hauser’s character post-disappearance is coming soon and hopefully this will clear things up for us.

Alcatraz – S01E03 – “Kit Nelson”

Kit Nelson (Eklund) holds his victim hostage.

I won’t go through the details of the plot but Soto does end up going it on his own and finding Kit and the missing kid but he’s not exactly the kind of person to take on a psychopathic killer. He is able to impart some hope into the kid to ‘stay strong’ and the boy does manage a pretty smart escape attempt. Of course the plot dictated that he get caught and a standoff occur in which Hauser pulls a Mal and shoots Kit in the head as he’s holding the kid hostage… omg… that was an almost perfectly replicated scene from Firefly “Serenity”.

I don’t know what to think of that…

Okay, mind blown, but let’s move on to the important facts we discovered from the episode. The blood is apparently not a red herring, the warden has kids (will these guys become plot points?), the doctor returned same as the psychologist, and apparently something happened to Soto in the past which made for a very non sequitur moment. What can I say, the clinical description of ‘arrested development’ was not the first thing that came to mind.

Overall a great improvement from the first two episodes so let’s hope this is a trend and not a one-off.

 
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Posted by on January 24, 2012 in Television

 

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