Castle Review: “Murder, He Wrote”

C: What an episode this was! Castle and Beckett go off for a getaway weekend to the Hamptons and stumble on a murder (or rather, a murder victim stumbles on them), and the Wonder Twins decide to find out who Beckett’s mystery boyfriend is!

M: I have to say, I think this might have been my favorite episode of the entire run of the show. It had everything we love about Castle, was fun and funny, and the killer wasn’t even obvious! Loved it!

C: You know, that’s a point in its favor I hadn’t even thought of: I genuinely had no idea who did it.

E: Yep!  The most recognizable guest star rule was definitely not in play, which is a rare and beautiful thing.

C: But that’s for later. First off, I loved Alexis and Martha giving Castle advice as he gets ready to leave for the weekend. They’re appalled that he has absolutely nothing planned. “When a man says, ‘So what are we gonna do for dinner?’” chides Martha, “thbbpt! He’s dead to me.”

E: That seemed very Martha, although I was surprised by Alexis agreeing with that annoyingly shallow assessment.  Beckett doesn’t need to be wined and dined!  There’s no need for razzle dazzle; she’s already impressed by his true self. Of course I don’t suppose he could really say to his mother and precious baby girl that they weren’t planning on leaving the house!

M: Since they were going away, I knew that was going to be the only bit of Castle family that we got, and while I didn’t think it was their best, it was fun.

C: When they first arrive at Castle’s house in the Hamptons, Kate just gazes around in happiness…

M: Wait, who’s Kate? You mean Beckett, right?

C: No, somehow I’m thinking of her as Kate, she’s so determinedly off-duty here, with her relaxed body language and her cute sundresses. Adorable.

E: Not to sound shallow (especially after making a big deal about it), but those sundresses were so ridiculously cute.  I enjoyed seeing her in vacation mode, wearing bright colors and short flirty hemlines.

C: But as they go to the house, a look of unease settles on her. Is it the opulence of the atmosphere? Castle’s “cottage” certainly does look like it could be a hotel. Is it a doubt as to the wisdom of this risky getaway?

E: I assumed she was finally feeling what a different world he lived in, that he could afford that spectacular house, and it was making her feel odd.

M: That was my exact thought.

E: Oh, I’m glad it wasn’t just me, because I was shocked that wasn’t where they went.

C: That too, I’m sure, but what she vocalizes is the realization that, historically, this has been not just Castle’s writing retreat but also his love nest. She can’t help thinking of all the other women he’s brought here. He won’t deny there have been others, he tells her – “But they weren’t you.” Aw.

E: Really excellent line – mostly because it wasn’t a line.

M: Agreed, that was the perfect reply.

C: But right before that conversation was the shout-out that caused everyone in my living room to squeal. What does Castle love about his back lawn that leads right down to the sea? The breeze, the beauty, and oh yes… “The serenity!”

E: Bwah!  I didn’t even get that!  Now I love this episode even more.

M: Wow, I missed that, too. There were shout-outs to the fans all over this episode. Love it!

C: Of course we know that Castle and Beckett’s lazy romantic weekend is bound to become a busman’s holiday (or a Busman’s Honeymoon)…

E: Ooooh, excellent classic mystery reference!

M: Yeah, but no points for guessing that, since they showed it in the previews from last week…

C: Like we needed that tip-off! The dying man who stumbles in the back gate and plummets into the pool just as Kate has stripped off for a skinny dip is no surprise to the audience. The funny part is that Castle is the one desperate to investigate the murder; Kate, being a professional (though not the kind of professional the police assume she is!) can turn off her detective impulses.

E:  Wallander he isn’t!  But her desire to keep things on the down low creates the most excellent misunderstanding. When she wants her name kept out of the paper, the Hamptons police chief assumes she’s a lady of the night!  You’d think he’d assume she was a celebrity or married, but okay.  I loved when he slipped and called her “Madam” instead of Ma’am.

M: Oh, that was absolutely fantastic. The jokes, the facial expressions, just great. As for Castle not being able to shut off his curiosity, not buying it. Here’s a guy (point one!) who has been pining for Beckett for a while, and finally has a weekend alone with her? I think he’d shut it off with NO problems. Just saying.

C: Oh, I thought it was perfectly in character. Well… maybe he’d get a night of romance in, and then wake up with investigative fever. But in any case – it’s when Castle calls the boys back home at the station to tell them about his dead gate-crasher that we get the official episode title shout-out, as well as an acknowledgment of the utter clichedness of the situation our heroes are in: “Seriously, Castle? Like you’re in an episode of Murder, She Wrote?” “More like Murder, He Wrote!” says Castle, giddy.

M: Yup, another of the excellent winks to the fans.

E: Well, mystery fans in general, I guess. Someone ought to do a Venn diagram showing the intersection of Castle, Murder She Wrote and Firefly fans…

C: In the meantime, Ryan and Esposito are hot on the trail of all Beckett’s exes.

M: Which, of course, is her own fault for telling them she’s going away for the weekend with her new boyfriend.

E: Rookie mistake.

C: Not that I think a complete lie would have been easier to carry off…

M: Since Castle unwisely decided to show up right at quitting time to see her face when the clock strikes 5:00 (ridiculous!), he wisely jumped in on the Wonder Twins speculation as to who the new man was.

E: So great.  At least he can lie convincingly some of the time.

C: I love that. The boys start assuming she’s keeping her new man quiet because he is not, in fact, a new man. I was hoping for a Demming cameo.

E: You and me both (although I didn’t agree with their logic).

M: No such luck, I think he was busy being written out of How I Met Your Mother.

C: Grrr, don’t remind me of how pathetically they’re handling that. Back to the show that’s in top form: Beckett can’t understand why the guys are so damn interested in her personal life, but Castle assures her that it’s because they both loom so large in the minds of the people around her–”We’re like Brangelina.” Then, of course, Castle has to cast around for a couple nickname for them, until he comes up–of course–with Caskett.

E: I squealed the moment he started naming them (Ricketts!) because it was obvious where they were going.  I’m a total sucker for those kind of shout outs.

M: The best of the nods to the fans, in my opinion!

C: ABC has been lobbying hard for “Caskett” one on their website. I must say, it does have a certain on-the-nose appeal.

M: Hmmm, I didn’t know that, and somehow that cheapens it a little for me. Boo.

E: That’s them?  Funny, I’ve only seen other fans use it; I thought it was organic.  It’s so apt!  Of course, I don’t go looking for much on the official website.

C: I’m not saying fans didn’t start it, just that ABC pounced on it; their website puts up little “Caskett” clip shows and stuff. Anyway, as the investigations goes on, Kate finds it harder and harder to keep her presence off the New York precinct’s radar. When the Wonder Twins assert that they’re not afraid of Beckett, she snatches for the phone to given them a piece of her mind; Castle only nabs it back in the nick of time.

M: That whole interchange with her trying to stay quiet while he’s on the phone with them was great.

E: Also excellent?  Castle’s utter inability to question people without tipping his hand.

C: Okay, I know Castle’s investigative style could use subtlety, but their asking a few questions down at the local watering hole could not be construed as interfering with the investigation. You cannot arrest people for harmlessly talking! I’m pretty sure there’s a whole amendment about it, even. That was absurd.

E: Well, police can get a bit persnickety about anything they consider obstruction of justice – which seems to stretch in surprising ways.  I’m not saying it’s right, but I can see why he’d be extra nervous about pissing off his powerful constituents.

C: And yet, Castle is a very rich member of his neighborhood too!

M: Well, I think we have to give them the artistic license on that one. They needed to create conflict, and make the local cops look like neophytes, and they succeeded, while also having Castle humorously display his incompetence at interrogation. The casual discussion with the mistress was funny, but the dinner with the mob boss neighbor? That was fantastic! Vinnie the Scar (with appropriate facial scar) hitting on Beckett, Castle getting offended, then botching the “banter” so badly that he offended The Scar? So bad… so good.

E: I know it’s not a mob movie, but that had a real “write us out of this one, Joan Wilder” feel to it.

C: We haven’t even talked yet about the fact that the local chief was played by David Burke, one of those actors whose faces I seem to know from several dozen little things and no one thing in particular. Familiar enough, though, that he was my number one suspect until he enlisted their help on the case.

E: Just as I said, he’s the most recognizable guest star/suspect.  Well, him or Lerner, whom I’m sure we’ll get to in a minute.

C: One thing that struck me as odd was how inexperienced the local police were made out to be. I assumed a lot of crime probably went down around there. Have I been watching too much Revenge?

E: Probably.  It’s a vacation spot.  I doubt a lot of people get killed there.

C: Not murder, fine, but drugs and drunken shenanigans I do imagine are a problem.

M: Well, yeah, but that’s an entirely different level of police work. I mean, cleaning up rich kids who’re sloshed and PDiddy having too many people over for his White Party is different, no?

E: Agreed, I’d guess their expertise runs more to providing security for the fancy parties than investigating murders.

C: Also: “It’s the Hamptons. We don’t have a lot of resources.” How does that make sense?

M: I’m sure their equipment and stations would be very nice, but man power is a different story. My guess is those local towns don’t have a lot of deputies.

E:  Oh, I don’t know.  I’m with C on this one.

C: Well, in spite of their insufficiencies, they eventually chase down one of the victim’s former co-workers, Lerner, who he ratted out. Obviously the guy has motive, and his boat proves to be the site of the crime. Conveniently, the suspect turns up on the spot, allowing Castle to greet him: “Hey Lerner. Killer boat.”

E: And that’s after he called his neighbor to say: “Hey, heard you had a killer party last night.”  This leads the Wonder Twins to  properties the victim bought up, allegedly to renovate as condos.  I loved the X-Files feel of the pair walking through the wet, creepy warehouse with only their flashlights to guide the way.

C: Oh I know! So good! That was genuinely super tense!

E: And, boom!  What do they find?  A meth lab!  Turns out the vic was running drugs out to the Hamptons along with the former coworker.

M: I have to say, gladly, that they threw me with him! He was the prototypical Castle villain. He was the most recognizable guest star (not that I can remember off hand what I know him from, but it’s many things), they lingered on his picture when they announced that the victim had ratted out coworkers, and then they came back to him late in the episode (but not late enough). I loved that it wasn’t him, though!

C: Totally! And I loved the moment when Ryan’s interrogation of him turned from being about the murder case to being about his and Esposito’s “case,” with poor Lerner totally confused about what’s going on. So, Castle had a woman with him when he interviewed Lerner in the Hamptons? Ryan’s in top cop form, shouting and pounding on the table: what did she look like? hair color, eye color? Lerner’s starting to freak out. “Body type?” demands Ryan. “Awesome!” shouts Lerner. So hysterical.

E: The absolute high point of an excellent episode.  Totally fantastic, particularly seeing mild-mannered Ryan so crazed.    And the way the scene ends with Ryan gasping “Son of a ….”?  Loved it!  (You should have seen Mr. E pounding on our coffee table with both fists in imitation. “I’ll ask the questions!!!!”)

M: I would have loved to see that! And I totally agree, Ryan going into bad cop mode was hilarious, definite highlight of the episode.

C: Even more, though, I love that Ryan doesn’t tell Castle, but torments him instead. Oh yes, Lerner told him everything… But he’s not confirming Castle’s fears, just leaving him to squirm.

E: Even more impressive, Ryan doesn’t tell Esposito!  Get out of town!

M: He handled both brilliantly. He left Castle, and an eavesdropping Beckett, cringing and in the lurch with his veiled comments to them, but then turned around and shut things down with his fellow Wonder Twin to keep their secret. So great.

C: Finally, of course, the case is closed, and Beckett and Castle get to have one romantic evening to themselves.

E: Where Beckett writes up the ending to Hampton’s Heat, Castle’s newest book idea.  Nothing will stop Nikki Heat from getting what she wants…

C: And at the very end, we pan up to a night sky and—a shooting star. Really? 

E: Isn’t that a Murder, She Wrote thing?

M: Yup, the last wink to the audience.

C: Oh, if that’s the case then I totally change my vote to strong approval. But, while I loved watching that show with our Jessica Fletcher-fangirling grandmother back in its day, I must admit I don’t remember.

M: Remember it or not, this was a Castle episode that we won’t soon forget.

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3 comments on “Castle Review: “Murder, He Wrote”

  1. The Presidentrix says:

    I think if I hadn’t read your review, I would probably be off Castle for the season, but now I think I might have to catch up. I just got so uncomfortable last year with the way the romantic element and the Very Special Episodes were risking the show becoming joyless, even unrecognizable. I wanted to put it away while my memory of its sublime silliness would still remain intact. But it certainly sounds like they’re back on their game!

    • M says:

      I know how you feel, Chuck was ruined for me by the crappy last three seasons. It was so bad that I remember watching an episode in the last season trying to remember why I liked the show in the first place, but not being able to.

      Castle, however, has definitely not lost it. The last two episodes have been classic funny Castle, and it’s definitely worth keeping up with!

  2. Gina says:

    I totally missed “The serenity” too! *facepalm*

    Hurray for “Busman’s Honeymoon” shoutouts! 🙂

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