M: Who watched last night’s Castle?
C: We did. (Together, no less – hooray for the holidays!)
E: And we laughed our backsides off.
M: In my opinion, it may have been the best Castle ever. Um, if I’d seen it, which I haven’t!
C: Very funny, Alexis.
E: Even our Dad, who had never watched the show and was initially put off by the lack of sympathy for the corpse, was won over in the end.
C: They’d teased us before with the idea of a Heat Wave movie about to start production, but I didn’t expect we’d actually get to meet the actress playing Nikki, or see any of the film itself. It was all too delightfully – to snag a word from one of the best lines of the night – meta.
E: Yes, and it was fun trying to explain to Dad why we were on the floor laughing about that one.
M: I loved that that was one of three plots going on in the episode. You started out with the Nikki Heat casting/Beckett shadowing, inserted Ryan preparing to propose to his girlfriend, and mixed in a decent murder investigation.
C: Truth be told, I wasn’t as sold on the episode initially. I know it sounds silly, but as much as I enjoy seeing Castle humbled by Beckett now and then, I found his awkward attempts to impress the very unimpressed actress with his writing ability painful. It was much more entertaining when the tables were turned and he had to fend off her advances!
E: It’s definitely important to find that line between taking the piss out of an overconfident ego, and humiliation. But she certainly did come around.
M: Oh, I agree completely. I felt bad for Castle at times (the “what do you do to hide your celebrity/it doesn’t come up” exchange, for example), but that was part of the brilliance of the episode. It started you out with one impression, and one funny set of circumstances, but turned around as Natalie turned the tables on Castle and Beckett, and became just an utter delight to watch. The minute Natalie started imitating Beckett, the episode popped.
E: Well, right, because we start off seeing her audition tape, and she’s got bottle blond hair, way too much make up, and a resume full of horror movies. If not for her familiar growl, Natalie Rhodes wouldn’t even be recognizable as Laura Prepon (of That ’70s Show fame). At least, at the start. She turns out to not quite be the ditz we expect, however.
C: It was really clever how, over the course of the episode, the initially-skeptical Castle becomes more and more impressed with Natalie’s commitment to the part while the initially-flattered Beckett becomes more and more freaked out. The whole precinct’s response was fabulous, when Natalie takes on Kate’s hair, Kate’s clothes, Kate’s mannerisms and even starts giving orders as Kate. We rewound the scene where Castle, Beckett, and Ryan hide in the next room watching “creepy Beckett” write on the evidence board about six times, we were laughing so hard. “We really should have a code word, so we all know which Beckett to kill when her clone army attacks.” “Unless we make a preemptive strike.”
E: Ryan for the win!
M: That was fantastic, and there were great lines throughout. From Alexis’ line that I stole up above about not having seen the slasher movies Natalie had been in, to Beckett’s crack about the $6000 bag, or Natalie’s questioning of Castle’s sexuality. There were so many laugh out loud moments, it was comedic genius.
C: “She’s just committed to the role. You should be flattered.” “Yeah. Until she steals my boyfriend and kills me in my sleep…”
E: The Millionaire Matchmaker plot was fine, but of course it couldn’t compare to the twists going on in the office.
C: Like the twist of Castle refusing to sleep with Natalie, who wanted to hook up for “character research.” I was impressed. And I’m interested to see if Beckett’s new perspective on her own feelings and Castle’s — illuminated for her by Natalie’s research — leads to changes in the dynamic between our leads. The matchmaker story, meanwhile, was a little confusing at times, but enjoyable.
M: And the exchange between Castle and Ryan — “Like the Millionaire Matchmaker!”/”Except without the reality show.”/”…Or pulse.” — was fantastic.
E: True. As soon as Castle scoffed at the dialog in that audition tape, I had a feeling we’d hear it again – and we did, as Natalie talked the murderer out of shooting himself…
M: …and of course, in classic Castle style, the murderer was the most recognizable suspect, in this case Melrose Place‘s evil Dr. Michael Mancini!
E: I didn’t remotely recognize him – not that I was a total devotee of the first Melrose Place – but I did recognize Randall Batinkoff from relativity as (I think) the matchmaker’s boyfriend. But back to the audition tape ending: very cute, people. Right down to Natalie’s post game analysis of her own line reading.
M: Or Castle’s new-found appreciation for the changes to the script.
C: And speaking of cute, how about Ryan and Jenny? First she catches him in a lie and storms out (“Not to worry, you’ll be laughing about it soon enough,” says Beckett. “We are,” adds Castle), when he was only hiding the fact that he’d gone to ask for her parents’ blessing. Then he proposes in the middle of the police station! That was nothing less that adorable.
M: Not to mention big and dramatic!
E: And intimate. And we got to see Beckett – and Javier – tear up!
M: Enough with the “Javier” thing, though. Next week they need to be back to calling him either Esposito, or Wonder Twin #1.
C: Esposito wiping away tears was a highlight of the season. I have always said those guys deserved more fleshing out, and this episode gave us just that. Ryan’s excitement about the prospect of marriage (how could anyone kill at matchmaker, whose job is to bring happiness?) was a delight. Will we have a peek into Esposito’s personal life next? Here’s hoping!