C: So I’ve been doing a bit of research on what makes detective stories appealing, and one thing most people seem to agree on is that a great detective should always be one step ahead of the audience. They have the facts, and you have the facts, but they put them together just a little bit faster – leaving you impressed and satisfied, like a magic show or any demonstration of talent.
This week’s Castle, “Love Me Dead,” tells the story of a D.A. thrown off a building, a prostitution ring, and in the B-plot, a mysterious secret Alexis is hiding from her family… but telling Beckett. Which makes Castle a grouch! The problem with this episode’s A-plot, though, is that the detectives take a lot longer to catch onto a major plot point than it takes the audience. You’d think this would make us feel impressed with ourselves, but all it really does is make us impatient with our heroes. Wasn’t it obvious…?
C: …that Scarlett was double-dealing in some way? I didn’t suspect her of being the pimp herself (though it seemed likely she was working with him, as turned out to be sort of correct), but it was clear from pretty early on – even before her flimsily-excused appearance at Castle’s door – that she was playing on his sympathies for some manipulative purpose.
E: We did think she was the pimp, though not immediately. I was sure when she shot what’s-his-face, though. Knox, that’s it. In some ways, I think the tip-off didn’t come from her, but from Castle’s excessive sympathy. It’s one of those detective story tropes – if the detective likes someone related to the case too much, clearly they’re the guilty party. Perhaps this is more Inspectors Morse and Lewis than your average Castle, but it’s a handy rule to follow. I thought there was a nice noir vibe in the whole hooker with the heart of gold/fragile damsel in distress/double crossing femme fatale plotline, however. No?
C: Yes! She was totally a femme fatale, which is fun even though it also gave the plot away. You’re absolutely right – you can spot a woman who’s going to turn out villainous when the detective has a weakness for her.
E: I have to tell you, even though it’s completely unrelated and largely irrelevant, I liked Jessup a lot. He was a fun little tangent.
C: The “wordsmith” locksmith? He was highly entertaining. One could imagine him and Castle having buddy-cop adventures on their own.
E: I’d be completely psyched if they kept him around. The whole scene with the handcuffs was highly entertaining. Overall, it was an okay episode. Granted I can’t think of a deliciously brilliant line off the top of my head, but the Writer vest got to make an appearance, and you have to love that! And, as noted above, I thought some of the characters we met along the way were more than usually memorable. Elliot Spitzer not withstanding, I don’t know if I buy the squeaky clean DA becoming a pimp, though. Maybe thinking he was above the law, maybe meeting up with an escort, but pimping? I dunno. Not that it wasn’t an interesting – and in Castle’s hands a somewhat plausible – idea, but still.
C: I didn’t think it was plausible, and for a practical reason – I’m pretty sure D.A.s are madly busy folk, and I don’t think one could handle running a major prostitution ring “on the side.” And while you know anyone described as a great person at the beginning of the episode will turn out to be not so great, it’s going a little far to imagine a particularly above-board and justice-loving public attorney turning to something so sordid.
E: Not that people don’t do stupid things when they desperately need money, but yeah. That’s kind of what I mean – it’s better as a plot for one of Castle’s books than it was for this show after the set up with the super DA. But – hmm – were they implying that SHE was the one really running the business? And he was just a figurehead until Knox muscled him out?
C: Though it was necessary for the payoff that we, like Castle, were kept in suspense about why Alexis talked to Beckett (when Beckett first got the phone call, I thought maybe she was pretending the whole thing just to torment Castle), I would have liked to have seen some of her conversation with Alexis. I can’t recall any scenes of the two of them alone, but I imagine they’d have an excellent vibe.
E: No, we’ve never seen them one-on-one. I’d have loved to see them together! That’d be fascinating.