C: Clearly I jinxed something by talking a couple weeks ago about how great this season of Castle was. I’m so sorry, fans! What can I do to appease the small screen gods?
E: Oh, I think you’re overstating that just a tiny bit.
M: Overstating which, the lack of quality of the episode, or her influence over it?
C: It’s not that “After Hours” was a terrible episode. It simply failed to hit any particular note.
M: I think I follow you, as I enjoyed watching the episode, but almost as soon as it ended I’d forgotten most of what happened.
E: I’m so with you on that one. Two days later, it’s a complete mystery.
C: That sounds like it should be a compliment, for a mystery show…
E: I mean, I didn’t think it was necessarily bad – just not, you know, memorable. Or particularly good.
M: Which is what most of this season has been, so it stands out in a bad way by comparison.
C: In some ways the style of the episode resembled those comedies of the Hangover variety, where characters drift from bad situations to worse, scrambling to cope as they mutter some variety of “what can possibly go wrong next?” Only the episode wasn’t particularly funny. Nor, however, was it ever really all that tense.
E: Or perhaps, I don’t know, the lost in New York City cult comedy After Hours? (Which I haven’t seen, by the way, so I can’t really comment on the comparison, but that seems like the obvious parallel.)
C: Never heard of it. But I think part of the problem is that the whos and whys of the investigation were never terribly clear. We begin with the murder of a priest, Father McMurtry, who’s never given much of an identity as a person.
E: Much of an identity? Try any identity!
C: He was… a priest? Yeah, that’s all I’ve got. It’s not really his murder anyone cares about, but rather, figuring out what’s going on with the Irish mobster who may or may not have killed him.
M: Exactly, there was no exploration into the victim at all. They immediately introduced his mobster childhood friend (gee, that’s never been done before, and no one will ever see the life-altering ending coming!), and the dearly departed Father was out the window.
C: Well, Detective Ryan (who looked extra good in this episode, by the way, with some fetching plaid vest action going on) at least has some level of investment in the dead man – I loved that when he saw the body, he did a double-take and then the sign of the cross.
E: Me, too.
M: Yup, a quick Irish-Catholic joke that got a good laugh out of me.
E: Though if you’re going to go by cultural stereotypes, shouldn’t Espo be Catholic too?
M: Probably, yeah, but he comes across as very non-religious, so I didn’t think twice about it.
C: Ryan’s fear of nuns, though, was a little too cliche for me. Most nuns I know of are awesome people. But for him it’s the conventional story: “Catholic school is like combat. Unless you’ve been there, you don’t know.”
E: Yes, and I’m sorry, but Ryan’s a full generation too young for the whole iron-fisted, child-beating nun thing.
M: As someone who’s not even four years older than Ryan, but had memorably bad experiences with nuns that I do not want to divulge the details of (while our mother was teaching in the next room, no less!), I think you’re off on that one, sis.
E: I know who you’re talking about but she was definitely the exception to the rule! And no, dear readers, our mother was not a nun.
M: Yeah, that wasn’t clear, my bad. Let’s move back to Castle, shall we?
C: I did enjoy, though, that Esposito, after talking tough, is also quite intimidated by Sister Mary, the woman they interview who used to work with Father McMurtry and insists she knows who killed him.
M: That was one of the parts of the episode that I thought worked well, and more of where the focus of the episode should have stayed in my opinion.
C: Anyone else find it weird that she referred to the dead priest as “the father”?
E: As opposed to what, just “father”? That’s more normal, right?
C: Exactly. I’ve never heard anyone say of a real priest, “the father always…” or “I told the father…” It sounds like she’s talking about God.
M: I didn’t really notice, I was probably busy racking my brain trying to place her, before I figured out it was General Beckman from Chuck.
C: Shut the front door! I didn’t catch that!
E: Well, speaking of nerd herding – Beckett and Castle end up off the grid, trying to protect the nerdy-looking witness who bragged about seeing the murder in a bar, hiding in the rafters and running through the rain.
M: This was where the episode started losing me. The “witness” was trying too hard, and struck me as a really poor attempt at Leo Getz from the Lethal Weapon movies. Heck, they even named him Leo.
C: I dunno, he did have a few amusing lines, though they were pretty cliche. “This kind of stuff doesn’t happen to me! I’m a paper salesman! I sell paper!” Office reference? But I really want to know, who was that actor? He looked super-duper familiar.
M: That’s because he’s a classic “that guy”. He’s been in episodes of close to a hundred shows, like LOST (one of the Dharma guys), Knots Landing, Veronica Mars, Nash Bridges, Grim, Grey’s Anatomy, and on and on. More annoying than him, they also started having stupid things happen, like Beckett dropping her phone, gun and badge (never happen), them ending up roaming around a part of New York that had no open restaurants or convenience stores (hello? it wasn’t even that late) and arguing with a cabbie without just having him call in to dispatch.
C: Didn’t the mobsters who got the drop on them force her to hand over her badge etc.? It’s not like she accidentally lost it. But yeah, the rest didn’t seem so plausible…
M: Yes, they told her to drop it, but she never would have. And the cabbie? Take-charge Beckett would have pulled the guy out of the cab through the window before letting him drive away. I don’t like when they have them act stupid just to set a stage.
E: And why did she never go back for her phone? Crazy.
M: I thought the same thing, as soon as they heard the car they should have hoped back in the window of Leo Getz’ apartment and grabbed their things from the hallway. Sure, the mob goons probably took them, but they should have at least checked.
E: There’s lots of maneuvering about the O’Reilly mob, the high-up who was Father McMurtry’s best friend, and the chance of a gang war.
M: But, like mentioned above, that never went anywhere, because they didn’t focus on any one thing long enough in this episode. It’s like it had A.D.D.
C: There were a few funny lines. I enjoyed the exchange: “We’re going to be floating in the river with cement shoes!” with Castle’s rebuttal, “Technically, if you have cement shoes you’re not going to be floating…” And of course, “Dude, where’s your car?”
E: More amusing – but sadly, far more predictable – was a really dreadful dinner party where Beckett and Castle introduced their parents. Who of course hate each other. What are the chances that they won’t end up as a couple?
M: I wasn’t actually amused by that at all. I liked that they did weave the issues with that through the episode, and really I think that’s what the point of the episode was. However the argument at dinner was ridiculous, as neither Beckett’s dad or Castle’s mom would have been that rude or tactless when first meeting the other parent.
C: I’m 100% with you, M. Martha can be embarrassing, but somehow I imagine her as brilliant at smalltalk with relative strangers, if a bit over-the-top. Not tactless, though. And Beckett’s dad? He would clearly try to be polite, not make remarks like that of course Martha wouldn’t like baseball, as it “appeals the more serious, more discerning crowd.”
M: Right. The conversation would have been far more like their conversations in the precinct later in the episode. And yeah, with her cradling his face at the end, they are totally headed down the road to creepy couplehood.
C: Man, I hope not! Not so much that it would be “creepy” as incredibly predictable and hammy. I’d really rather the writers did not go there.
M: So say we all.
C: But Kate’s insecurity about being from a “different world” than Castle, him being this big deal rich author and her just a detective – it’s funny, she’s so glamorous and savvy and unimpressed by Castle most of the time, these feelings of inadequacy take me by surprise. Maybe she is fundamentally blue collar, but you’d never know if from her clothes, self-presentation, or lifestyle – her insecurities here don’t seem to jibe with her usual ultraconfidence.
M: Wait who’s Kate? Oh, you mean Beckett!
C: Ha ha.
M: Do we even need to go into the resolution to the episode’s case?
E: What, just because none of us care? Or can remember the details?
C: Let’s not be overly harsh. Take it, M.
M: You’re turning to me for “not overly harsh”? Strange days. Anyway, I’ll give it a try, with a little less snark than what is probably deserved. Father McWhoever’s murder was a deliberate trap to lure out Mob Guy #1, who was going to turn state’s evidence; the Leo-Getz-wannabe “witness” was really a hit man; Castle and Beckett use their knowledge of each other to pass a message, figure out what’s going down, and spoil the bad guy’s plot; and Father McWhoever’s moral impact on Mob Guy #1 inspired him to not kill the baddie in the end, proving he has a soul. Tears of joy all around. Woo.
C: I found it a little bit sadly funny that Castle talks Mickey Dolan (aka Mob Guy #1) out of shooting McMurtry’s killer because of morals and stuff – rather than because, with a cop standing right there, they would finally have a crime to unambiguously pin on him. (Unless he killed them too, of course, he didn’t seem to have any intentions that way.) I know they were going for poignant, but… eh.
M: Bring on next week.
C: Two weeks, bro! Next week’s a rerun.
M: Fine, two weeks. Bring it on, let’s get back to the really good stuff!
C: Yeah, the good stuff, like a dead Santa! (…I’m going on the naughty list for that joke, aren’t I?)
M: You say that as if it wasn’t already determined. 😉