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Castle – S04E15 – “Pandora”

ABC's Castle

Castle – S04E15 – “Pandora”

Castle and Beckett track down a murderer, only to have him calmly disappear from their holding cell. The partners soon find themselves in the middle of a conspiracy between the CIA, an ex-operative, and an ex-asset. A solid episode with a few fun quirks but basically it’s a rehash of last season’s “Setup” and “Countdown”, right down to the cliffhanger.

Score: 3 of 5

>Spoilers<

The good parts about this episode are:

Castle – S04E15 – “Pandora”

I hope they cleaned the bag...

  • Alexis interning with Laney and Castle is the last to find out. This is going to add a different dynamic to the situation and I hope it’s not a plot line that will be over quickly or forgotten about in later episodes.
  • Beckett’s jealousy of Castle’s CIA ex-flame (Jennifer Beals). The whole set up is very similar to when the show had Dana Delany’s FBI agent but the CIA agent is actually an ex-flame this time and Beckett is more aware of her feelings for Castle.
  • Drop Dead Diva’s Josh Stamberg’s supporting roll as a CIA agent. Of course, this means he’s instantly the number one suspect in my eyes but I’ll forgive him because he does such a wonderful job on Diva.
  • The bags over Castle and Beckett’s head when they go to the CIA headquarters, but probably only made funnier because of Burn Notice’s Michael Weston’s comment: “The worse thing about going to clandestine meetings… they never wash the bag.”

The bad parts about this episode are:

Castle – S04E15 – “Pandora”

Castle is confronted by his ex-flame, a CIA agent.

  • Everything else.
  • We have a plain murder once again and it all leads to a plot to cause some major damage with global repercussions. A federal agency gets involved, heads are butted, but ultimately Castle and Beckett are two steps ahead. Of course, this gets them into trouble. It’s the same plot as “Setup” so much so that at the end of “Setup” Castle and Beckett were trapped in a freezer, at end of “Pandora” they are trapped in a car that’s been plunged into the water.
  • The second part of this episode should hopefully diverge more from “Countdown” (“Setup”’s second part) because you don’t have the same ‘person is being set up to take the fall’ angle going on (or maybe they do, who knows). However, this isn’t going to distract from the point that “Pandora” is too much a direct rehash of “Setup”. Did they not think we’d notice? It’s pretty insulting actually.

And you know what’s worse, we get an episode named after Pandora and it even mentions the myth… yet not a single comment from Castle that Pandora’s box was actually a jar. Castle. I.am.disappoint.

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Posted by on February 19, 2012 in Television

 

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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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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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Finder – S01E02 – “Bullets”

FOX's The Finder

Finder – S01E02 – “Bullets”

Taking a page from NCIS, Bones regular Dr. Lance Sweets (John Francis Daley) visits the Finder to recertify Walter to work on federal cases. Sweets rides shot gun as Walter attempts to locate evidence to at least stay the execution of a cop accused of killing another cop. A couple of Miami Vice homage’s with Sweets being adorable later and Walter has his man. Well, he’s pretty sure. The B-plot with Willa is kind of dumb but at least shows some character development which isn’t as cliché as the pilot. With the inclusion of several wonderful scenes and The Finder shows marked improvements and a steady gait.

Score: 3 ½ of 5

>Spoilers<

We begin with a rather zealous warden who believes X-Files’ Skinner (Mitch Pileggi) is an innocent man on death row. There’s a reminder that Leo is a full fledge lawyer, in case anyone missed that between the backdoor pilot and first episode, and we’re also treated to an interesting spin on Walter’s irreverence. Walter wears a suit, an honest to goodness suit, with no arguments, no jacket over a shirt, etc. It’s an interesting touch, which may or may not have been deliberate, but it is subtle character development. Of course, as soon as he’s back at the bar he strips down to his usual polo and shorts in front of Sweets.

Finder – S01E02 – “Bullets”

Dr. Lance Sweets accompanies Walter.

Another nice touch is we learn that the bar is actually Leo’s and it runs on the honor system… which is a nice way to address and lampshade the fact that if they are always off finding things then who is watching the bar?

Walter then sets out in search of evidence in the form of a bullet, Sweets in tow. Sweets is a fun character and Bones fans will enjoy this crossover and I think the same is true for non-Bones viewers. Sweets has a certain cute charm which is pretty endearing. His cameo does serve a purpose though, and that is to be the fulcrum in which the missed exposition and background from the first episode is finally lifted out of the way.

Sweets inadvertently gets Leo to admit that his wife and daughter have been killed and that sent him into a very angsty and dark depression. One can guess it was the murderer which Walter stopped Leo from killing, or maybe who Leo thought was the killer. Hopefully we’ll get a little more here and there about this before the inevitable flashback episode because we know one is coming.

Also, best line of the series so far comes from Sweets asking if Walter ever considered committing suicide. His answer: “I can think of at least ten people I’d kill before I’d kill myself.” This really locks in the tone of the series, sharp, witty, and blunt.

Finder – S01E02 – “Bullets”

Possibly one of the funniest gun battles... ever.

The rest of the episode is either a lampoon of 80s cop shows or an overly sardonic and sarcastic treatise on 80s cop shows. I’m not entirely sure what that means but it feels right. Under the obvious Miami Vice pot shots there is the now classic comment “it was a different time in the 80s, a simpler time”. This refers to the concept that before cops became more accountable for their actions, civil liberties were really championed, and a public became more aware of their ability to fight back via video, internet, etc, cops tended to rule as they saw fit. It was the wild west without the tumble weeds in the 80s and cops were on the take, roughed up anyone, and generally acted as seen on tv about the 80s. (How much of this is true and Hollywood hyperbole I really need to look into.) This idea of the 80s has become a fixture in modern procedurals like CSI, Castle, and Cold Case, anytime the leads look into an old case which took place in the 80s.

Walter gets tired of the constant over use of the phrase “it was a different/simpler time” and I’m left wondering just how deliberate this was. Is it a comment on an overused trope or about the misconception of the 80s or a reflection of what the writers think of such an excuse? I might shrug it off it not for Sweet’s later proclaims that the actual murder wasn’t that interesting, it was the finding of the bullet that was fascinating and fun. Could this be reference to the fact that most people don’t watch murder mysteries for the murders themselves but the process in which the detective figures out who the killer is? It’s all about clues that need to be found and pieces together… and what does the Finder do?

Could I be giving the writers too much credit here? Only time will tell.

 
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Posted by on January 22, 2012 in Television

 

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Castle – S04E12 – “Dial M for Mayor”

ABC's Castle

Castle – S04E12 – “Dial M for Mayor”

A pretty plain murder starts off what is a pretty plain episode of Castle. A woman found strangled leads back to the Mayor’s office and Castle doesn’t want to believe that his friend is a murderer, a plot device we’ve seen before. The killer is pretty obvious from the get go if you understand how the series is put together, but there is at least one interesting twist. Unfortunately, there really isn’t much of the wit and zaniness that we’ve all come to know and love from Castle. It continues a trend of blasé episodes which I guess is the Dramady’s attempt to be more Drama, less Comedy. At least the episode leaves us with a very interesting question that needs to be answered about Joanna Beckett’s murder, a story arc that while decidedly interesting, is woefully lacking.

Score: 3 ½ of 5

>Spoilers<

Castle – S04E12 – “Dial M for Mayor”

Castle – S04E12 – “Dial M for Mayor”

A woman is strangled and left in a car. Nothing macabre or remarkable, just plain old murder. The interesting part is that the car belongs to the City Hall motor pool and leads back to an event Mayor Robert Weldon (Derek Webster) was attending. This leads through a typical storyline of the Mayor being a suspect in the crime as evidence points to him but Castle believes he’s innocent. We’ve seen this plot before which was the first clue to the Mayor being innocent. The other was the innocuous placement of Bones semi-regular Michael Grant Terry in the perfect position to be the murderer.

The crime does lead to a sex-talk line which should have been fun, seeing as this is Richard Castle we’re talking about here, but it read almost like an episode of Law & Order. Eventually the trail stumbles upon a plot by persons unknown to ruin the Mayor’s bid for Governor and perhaps later the Presidency.

Castle – S04E12 – “Dial M for Mayor”

Castle and Beckett speak to Mayor.

The twist comes when the mysterious man who previously contacted Castle to tell him to back off of Joanna Beckett’s murder, for the sake of Beckett’s life, contacts him again and gives Castle the vital clue to solve the case. Why did he do it? To keep Castle in the game. If the Mayor is gone, Castle is gone, and there is no one to keep Beckett on a leash and therefore save her life.

So just who is this man? How much power does he hold? Who is this other group who wants to destroy the Mayor and kill Beckett is she gets too close? It’s definitely intriguing to say the least.

It could be nothing, but right before the mysterious man speaks to Castle using a chessboard metaphor, Captain Gates says something similar to Beckett, chess and all. Could be coincidence as it’s a common metaphor… or does it mean something? Gates comes from a family of cops, was in I.A., and says that she likes cops and only wants to look out for them. Could it be she’s in on this game, somewhere? Depending on how that is played out, this could be a fantastic or horrible plot thread.

We’ll just have to see where this leads us.

 
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Posted by on January 17, 2012 in Television

 

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