E: Castle opens with a gargoyle watching over New York City – and then with another gargoyle falling down on a man’s head as he jiggles his key in the lock. As the stone comes tumbling down, we have a brilliant transition to an adorable Alexis smashing tomatoes for a blood spatter science project. Castle’s sorry she started something so cool without him (“remember that volcano we made? the flatulent robot?”) but is called off to help Beckett instead. The murder victim turns out to be one Will Medina, an archeologist working for the Museum. And we’re off on a tale of Mayan mummies, indigenous rights, cursed tombs, professional and personal jealousy, secret affairs, and marketing strategies. The Writer vest even makes a reappearance! “Wrapped Up In Death” may have been billed as an homage to Indiana Jones, but the real inspiration? A certain cowardly crime fighting cartoon canine.
Off we go to the Museum, which I think is a combination of the Met and New York’s fantastic Natural History Museum. Boy, the producers of Castle really pulled out their checkbooks for the suspects tonight! On some shows you can tell immediately who the killer is because there’s only one person who qualifies as a “hey, it’s that guy!”. Not here, baby. The Castle casting director pulled out at least three really obvious potential killers tonight. Nice. First we have Museum curator Stanford Raynes, played by Currie Graham, who you’ve seen as a recurring character in shows like Desperate Housewives, House and Boston Legal, as well as one off roles on The Mentalist and practically every other show on tv. We have Erick Avari (particularly memorable as Papa Suresh on Heroes) as Rupert Bentley,the money man behind Funky Cold Medina’s expedition (oh, come on, you know I had to go there) which unearthed the remains of the Mayan king and his astonishing tomb, all of which is about to go on display. And finally there’s Numb3rs Navi Rawat (do her friends tease her about Avatar, I wonder?) as Rachel Walters, a mummy expert and Will’s secret girlfriend.
We find out that Will’s the third death from the expedition, including Nicole Graham, a grad student mauled to death by a jaguar (yuck) and one Dr. Fisher, felled by dengue fever. The money man is freaked, but also excited by this. “All who gaze upon the face of the Mayan king shall be struck down by his wrath,” he intones, quoting the inscription on the door of the tomb. He starts an ad campaign featuring the curse, with enormous banners and mummy head shots with the tagline “Do You Dare?”and presales go through the roof – though when Castle wonders aloud whether that wouldn’t make them likely to be sued by every person who encounters bad luck after visiting the exhibit. Nice.
Castle is blown away by the Museum basement lab – “it’s like Indiana Jones with space age technology – which would be such a better movie than the last one!” Snap! So of course Ricky snags himself an adventurers’ hat, fancies himself as the great Dr. Jones, and accidentally opens the sarcophagus and looks on the face of the mummy. For the rest of the episode, he’s tortured by Ryan, Esposito and Beckett, who’re trying to make him think he’s cursed. Events conspire without them to freak him out even more. I don’t know which instance of this was better – the cappuccino maker they rigged to (appear to) explode, the dog that pulled have the butt off his jeans, or the moment when the lights went in the elevator and he threw himself on the floor, thinking it was going to crash. it might be the dog. He was pretty funny dancing on the roof of that car, trying to keep out of the reach of those teeth. “Do you know what kind of hell I’d catch if Castle got eaten on the job,” Captain Montgomery wants to know. Although Castle’s reaction upon getting out of the elevator was pretty great. “I’m going to go splash some water on my face. And throw up a little bit.”
After a brief detour with Mayan death threats sent by Cacaw Te, an indigenous activist, and a theory about drug smuggling, we find out that Funky Cold Medina was selling off antiquities. (C – catching up with the program – has pointed out that this is Gil Birmingham, who should be upgraded to potential killer/well known guest star status for his role as Billy Black in the Twilight Saga.) He was poised to sell “slave girl number 6” (who accompanied the king to his burial) for a quarter mil when it turns out that there’s something funky with the mummy, and that’s the break they’re looking for. They go to investigate the slave girl, only to find her sarcophagus empty. “I’m not saying I believe,” Castle tells Beckett, “but where’s the mummy?”
Castle suggests maybe this is all a plot to sell more tickets to the exhibition. “That would make this Scooby Doo. And I’m not Velma,” Kate says (as if!). “Velma? Are you kidding? You’re Daphne. You’re hot, smart, not aggressively brainy, long legs, short skirt…” “STOP!” “Fine.” “NOW.” “Got it.”
Eventually, the wonder twins find the mummy, hidden in a dark corner of the Museum basement, and it’s clear that one of the staff members did it. Especially when it turns out that the mummy is really Nicole Graham, the dead grad student whose body was never found. Ah ha – they only surmised jaguar attack from her bloody clothes and scalp at the scene! Gross. And is it an accident that her last name is somewhat relevant to the killer? But how much did I love that the killer took off once confronted by Castle and Beckett (“is he actually running away? Should we run after him?”), runs up to a huge poster of the mummy’s face, and slips down a set of stairs. “Ro’t Ro!” growls Beckett. Excellent.
There were lots of little nice moments. “No one’s more superstitious than an actor,” Castle says of his mother, who is tiptoeing around the name of the Scottish play. “What, Macbeth?” Alexis asks. “Macbeth Macbeth Macbeth!” I liked Rick considering his mortality and asking first his mother (“better than you took care of me!” “Oh please, you turned out fine.”) and then Kate (“she looks up to you. And if her boyfriends get frisky, you can shoot them.”) to look after Alexis if he were to croak. I also enjoyed the snark about how the well-worn copy of Eat Pray Love on Medina’s bookshelf indicates a serious girlfriend, because no man would own it – until Ryan comes in, sees it in Castle’s hand and smiles “I love that book!”. I love that Castle brought that back as “Eat Pray Love Kill!” while questioning Rawat. I like Captain Montgomery’s motto, “there’s no upside in screwing with things you can’t explain!” And finally, Reverse the Curse is a cute slogan, but it can only mean one thing to me. Okay, fine, two.