Castle Review: “Knockdown”

E: Can I just say – whoa.  That’s taken me half a week to process and will certainly take more.  It was amazing and also really annoying.

I read an article which confirms it: the “serious” Castle eps are all written by the same guy.  Why do they not have someone join him to add in some actual, you know, jokes?

C: Maybe they feel it would be inappropriate to have jokes in an episode about the protagonist’s mom’s murder?

E: Sure, but still – I don’t see how you can have a comic show and then suddenly say “no one is going to make witty comments this week, okay?”  Not that everyone is equally funny all the time (and I know my writing is inconsistently amusing, certainly) but it bugs me. It’s not like death is something new for the show, and laughing in death’s face is what these people do.  I think there was what, one joke in the whole episode?

C: I think I noted down two funny lines. One was when Ryan and Esposito are watching surveillance photo of the building where the shot came from that killed Raglan, the retired policeman who was going to tell Beckett something important about her mom’s case. They’re looking for someone sneaking in a gun, possibly in a briefcase. “Everyone in that lobby’s carrying a briefcase,” says Esposito. “You should be a detective,” snarks Ryan.

E: Ah, I forgot that one.

C: The other bit I enjoyed came from Castle: “Fear does not exist in this dojo.”

E: Ding ding ding!  That’s the one I meant.  It was pretty dry going the rest of the time, though.

C: But I’m with you, E. You can still include clever lines without ruining the respectful treatment of the murder case. Wit isn’t something these characters do, especially in Castle’s case – it’s who they are.

E: Also, I’m puzzled.  How could Beckett not have noticed that the 3 people killed in a similar way to her mom all happened to be her mom’s colleagues?  That’s preposterous.  I liked the mystery, but that this connection wasn’t apparent from the start beggars belief.

C: Yeah, supposedly no one had noticed the pattern in the murders until Castle unearthed it a season or two ago… but even if the police wrote it off as random, how would the relatives and coworkers of the deceased not notice anything when three people from the same office are all killed by “gang violence” around the same time?!

E: Well, exactly.  I’m not even sold that 17 year old Kate wouldn’t have noticed, let alone the other coworkers and their bosses.  Can you imagine the water cooler conversations?  “Huh.  Beckett, Colt, Smith and Wesson all got shot this week.”  “Well, that’s not weird at all…”

C: And… er… if your goal is to quash a “clean up the neighborhood” campaign, is killing three rich white women there really a great way to make that happen?

E: Snort.   Although that turns out not quite to have been what this was all about.  Also ridiculous?  That the hit man would have gone to all that trouble to kill Raglan publicly.  What the heck?  He couldn’t have found a better place to do the assassination?  Even if Raglan was a regular at this diner, how could the assassin know to shoot the exact second that Raglan was about to own up to his “bad mistake”?  Which doesn’t remotely sound like one bad mistake, does it?

C: It sounded like one of a series of career-long mistakes, actually. But yeah, this brings up a point that really struck me about this episode. Now, it’s not like Castle is a series heavily based in plausibility.

E: No, trafficking in reality is not their trade.

C: In fact, they mostly couldn’t care less if something’s likely or not. But this episode – if this makes any sense – was implausible in a different way. Instead of conveniently allowing for quips or sight gags, the contrivances were used for suspense and to work in various hard-boiled detective genre clichés.

E: Well, yes, and that’s part of why it feels like a different show.  And when you take away the comedy and attitude, it’s not really that impressive of a procedural.  But tell, professor – what Noir conventions are they troping all over the place?

C: For instance, how about the victim’s friend coming out with the unlikely line “you know, I sacrificed my best years and worst marriages to this city”?

E: Yes.

C: Or that hideous smiling baddie they were interviewing, who turned out to have nothing to do with the plot, describing Castle to Beckett: “He’s sweet on you. Makes him brave.” This isn’t the way characters on this show talk.

E: Don’t even get me started on that guy.  I like that actor, but no.

C: And Beckett herself, telling Captain Montgomery “You gotta let me have this, Roy,” and calling Castle “Rick”? (Since when does she do that?) It’s not that I wouldn’t enjoy a film noir send-up if they did one…

E: Oh my God, my brain just stopped.

C: …but playing the clichés straight doesn’t result in good drama or good comedy.

E: Yes.  Exactly.  All that said, I liked seeing the Wonder Twins do some actual investigating.  And I liked getting the chance to see them be badasses under torture.

C: They were fierce. I loved that. And while I don’t think it works when Castle does a heavy episode, I loved a few of the other serious touches.

E: Yeah. It’s a weirdly conflicting episode that way.  Bones – another mostly comic procedural – interweaves personal drama much more successfully: this Will Beall should take tips.

C: Castle being afraid that Beckett was shot, and Martha being afraid for him when she heard about the shooting – coming as serious emotional moments in a lighter episode, they would have been brilliant. And I was happy that someone finally asked Castle the question: do you really still need to be shadowing Beckett? Does the excuse that it’s for your writing still fool anyone? “It’s not about the books anymore,” observes Martha quietly. Castle can’t bring himself to confirm or to deny it.

E: It’s really true that this scene would have been even more impactful when juxtaposed with comic ones.

C: And now shall we talk about the Big Deal of the episode?  By which I mean, of course (SPOILER ALERT!)… the kiss.

E: Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!

C: It was a great kiss for sure, ramping up in intensity as it stopped being even a little bit an act.

E: Oh my gosh.  When they stop and she looks at him in complete shock and then rushes him?  Fanning, fanning, fanning – nope, too hot.  Must faint instead.  Then watch it again.

C: And then how shaken they both look the second the adrenaline rush of knocking out the bad guy passes off. But I have to say, I think my favorite bit was afterward, when, as soon as Beckett’s back is turned, Castle gives a tiny gasp and lifts his fingers up to touch his mouth, as if he’s capturing the sensation or making sure it was real. So precious!

E: And when he exclaims “That was amazing!” and has to backpedal and pretend that he was talking about the way she took out the bad guy.  Which was pretty impressive, actually.

C: I laughed so hard at the fact that the moment the episode ended, the network came on with a commercial saying: “Wanna see the kiss again? Visit abc.com!” It was shameless audience exploitation… and I totally went and did it 🙂

E: That’s the joy of the dvr for you.  Or at least, for me!  Unlimited smooch rewinding. Ah, life is good.

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2 comments on “Castle Review: “Knockdown”

  1. Ole Mo says:

    Actually, it’s Castle that states that “it’s not about the book anymore”, not Martha – did you watch the episode at all..?

  2. […] Castle and Beckett investigate the murder of the lead detective on Beckett’s mother’s homicide case. What the critics say: TV Overmind, Realtively Entertaining. […]

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