Castle Review: “Need to Know”

E: Now that is more like it!  I have to say, it was a profound relief to be back where we belong.  Castle with Martha, with Alexis, with Ryan and Esposito.  Being funny.  I almost cried.

C: After 3 episodes, Season 6 finally feels like Castle again. Whew. It wasn’t a phenomenal episode but it was a familiar one, and when you enjoy a show’s formula as much as I like this one’s, that’s good news.

M: Interesting. I was not nearly as enamored as E was, though I found parts of it to be quite fun and enjoyable. I agree with C that the formula we enjoy so much was back, but I kind of despised some of what they did. Most of all, I felt like it was really, really lazy.

E: I wouldn’t say I was enamored (more like relieved to find they could still execute their formula), but isn’t lazy Castle still an enormous improvement over Castle trying to be Homeland Security?

M: Well, that’s certainly a fair point.

C: I’m curious to know what you despised, M. And what you liked so much, E. Most of it was good enough to me. There was just one thing that annoyed, which I’ll save to mention later.

E: Okay, then, let’s break it down.  First off, a casual jogger (played by James Patrick Stuart of Supernatural, The Closer and CSI, which means he can’t possibly be a casual jogger) finds a body impaled on the hook of a crane.

C: The typical moment of glamorizing the corpse. At least, being a man, he had all his clothes on.

M: Yeah, they definitely have a double standard there. However, the jogger was SOOOOOO not casual. The way he was running, especially when the construction workers told him to leave, was screaming “I’m involved somehow.” Lazy.

E: Fair enough. The body turns out to be Charlie Reynolds, the former star of 2 Cool for School — the Castle world’s equivalent of Saved By The Bell‘s beloved nerd Screech.  Of course Ryan is a big fan of the inexplicably popular show, and of course Espo derides it but turns out to have a little bit of expertise as well.

C: It’s “a timeless gem!” says Ryan. His nerding out was probably my favorite thing in this episode.

M: Espo’s pretending that he didn’t like the show (and at one point being called Mario Lopez) were up there with it for me, but yeah, good stuff, Ryan! Especially when he wore the hat!

E: By the way, I love that Castle sees this happening on TV (Martha by his side recognizing Charlie because she’d done a guest spot on 2 Cool For School), calls Esposito to join in the investigation, and sees Espo refuse his call.  On camera.

C: I don’t know why Castle doesn’t just use his trump card, and say he’s starting a spin-off Nikki Heat series about her charming and badass male detective friends.

M: Exactly! And that leads to one of the things I despised. Castle has proven to be an invaluable resource to the NYPD, and to this precinct in particular. He’s even made the Ice Queen come around on his involvement. He still has his friendship with the mayor, and strings he can pull. He would not be persona non grata just because Beckett left. Lazy.

E: Fine, fine, that’s all fair enough.  But who cares?  We got to hear Castle’s characteristic enthusiasm for the first time all season. “If by gruesome you mean awesome!”

M: His boyish excitement never ceases to amuse, does it?

E: No, it most certainly does not. We meet Beckett’s replacement, a slob newbie named Sully; Ryan and Espo relish having someone to order around for once.

C: We also see medical examiner Perlmutter, who delivers one of the best lines of the night: “Mr. Castle, you’re back! …but not by popular demand.”

M: I have to say, as much as Lanie brings to the show, I have always enjoyed Perlmutter’s appearances. And I loved that line.

E: Also fun: the first suspect, who left threatening messages on the victim’s phone.  Castle theorizes she’s a fan with a creepy shrine to the actor in her apartment, and it turns out that there IS a shrine — because she’s his manager.

C: That seemed like a big stretch to me. I mean, if you’re a talent manager shouldn’t you have more than one client? And since she implied she started representing him after he started on 2 Cool for School, and he hadn’t done any significant acting work since the mid-90s, what was she even doing?

M: Right? I mean, how ridiculous was that? She has a shrine to her washed up client? Why would anyone that came into that office sign with her? If you were an aspiring actor and went to a perspective agent’s office, only to find it covered with posters of Dustin Diamond (and no one else), would you sign on the dotted line?

E: Maybe if you were desperate enough.  Speaking of desperate, I just don’t think you get how pathetically grateful I feel that they’re not trying to be serious anymore.

M: That is clear, but it doesn’t excuse lazy writing.

E: Of course right around this point Beckett and Cuddy show up, demanding access and oversight.  Javi and Ryan, as is their wont, turn this into an us-versus-them war with Castle in between.

M: Which is soooo tired and overdone. Lazy.

C: I hope everyone who’s reading this notes that I am not the negative one today! Thank you.

M: I’ll wear that crown, despite, like I said, enjoying a lot of the episode. Anyway, E, crank it up again so I can insult the show some more, would you?

E: Almost as quickly, we find out that the Beckett and her new partner don’t even know why they’re there or why they’re involved in the case.

M: But continuing the lazy writing, they refuse to share WHAT THEY DON’T EVEN KNOW! Seriously? Come on.

C: Well you know, it has to be a big secret, in case we had forgotten that government agencies designed to fight crime are actually an elaborate obfuscation machine! I can’t believe I’m saying this, but sometimes I wonder if it’s really such a great thing that Castle inherited a producer from The X-Files.

M: Whoa whoa whoa, slow down there. Let’s move on before you say something you regret.

C: Whew. You’re right, you’re right.

E: On a more positive note, how much did I love seeing Castle try to find out what Beckett knew, and immediately getting caught at it?  “Castle, you’re not going to Castle me about this.”

M: That was fun, but she was being ridiculous. She would have been pissed to high hell that they weren’t sharing anything with the Wonder Twins and Castle, having been in their position just a matter of months before. Yet there she is smiling away each time Cuddy tells them to buzz off. That’s not even lazy, that’s just poor.

E: At least you must have enjoyed Esposito’s snarky “Not so fast, Clarisse.”

M: Hmm, missed that one.

C: I didn’t, and I loved it.

E: Then they discover the vic was secretly working on a movie version of the show, 2 Cool for School: Those Who Can’t, Teach.  Why isn’t it 2 Cool 4 School?  Am just wondering.

C: Yeah, doesn’t that seem like the obvious way to go? I wondered too.

M: Because the writers were trying to be 2 cool, obvi.

C: But my other question is, who is paying for this movie sequel and why do they think they should throw away their money?

M: Turned out to be the Russian mob, as a front for arms dealing, but we’ll get to that.

E: For the movie, Charles’s Dewey was reunited with his television costar, with Antonio Sabato Jr. playing Ramone, the Mario Lopez role.  I can’t help it, that was pretty damn delightful casting. Or at least in theory.

M: Okay, I’m going to dock myself some Sibling Points… I couldn’t place Sabato Jr. I knew I knew him, but it just didn’t come to mind.

E: Actually, seeing that you’re a straight male, I’m not surprised he didn’t make as much of an impression on you as he did on me back in the day. I’d be willing to let that slide if you stopped this merciless vitriol against an innocent episode.

M: You used the word “innocent.” I do not think it means what you think it means.

C: For those who are straight females but were too young “back in the day,” I’ll spare you the trouble of Googling as I did: he’s an erstwhile soap opera heartthrob.

M: He was in some other stuff, like the immortal Earth 2, and I definitely knew him. I’m losing more points the deeper into this conversation we get. Let’s move on.

E: After some evidence involving a very self-congratulatory Perlmutter (still no Lanie?  Boo!) and chicken poop…

M: The chicken poop was one of my favorite parts! As was Castle telling Beckett they tracked down info without her help using said poop.

E: …we find out that the jogger was actually Charlie’s CIA handler Ethan Wright…

M: SHOCKER!

E: Stop interrup ting! We also found out that the film was being made by the Russian mob, as M said, not only because 2 Cool for School is huge in Russia (“Dewey is to Russia what David Hasselhoff is to Germany”), but also as a front for running guns, and that Charlie was a CIA asset tasked with hunting down those guns.  Which are hilariously abandoned in the middle of a warehouse in Brooklyn.

M: Because, you know, those are the kind of things you leave just hanging around.

E: I know, right?

C: Wow, I totally missed that the mob was funding the movie. Glad I have you guys.

M: You’re welcome, but, um, were you actually watching? That was kind of a major point.

E: In the end, what really got to Dewey was his involvement with the mobster’s niece.  “Nerdy Romeo, Smokin’ hot Juliet,” on one last mission before they disappeared.

C: That was such a cliched story that I was sure she was lying. “Really guys, you’re buying this?” I scoffed at the screen. But… no.

M: E, want to extoll its “innocence” again?

E: Ignoring you. All the CIA cares about is making sure that Charlie’s cover wasn’t compromised.  They realize that Ramone is actually the killer (how can they keep making sequels if Charlie selfishly disappears?).

M: Recognizable guest star laziness. Can you not see why I had issues with this episode? We haven’t even gotten to the biggest yet.

E: Ignoring you!!! Realizing that Charlie’s cover is still good, Agent Wright leans heavily on fearful Juliet (er, Svetlana), hoping to turn her into an asset and have her spy on her uncle, the Russian mob boss. Hoping to save her life, Beckett tips the press to her identity, making her no longer valuable to the CIA.  For which Beckett — huzzah! — gets fired.  So much for changing federal law enforcement from within!  But honestly? THANK GOD.

C: I have to say, if she can’t tip the media untraceably, she really doesn’t have the chops for national-level law enforcement. Come on, Beckett.

M: No no no….

C: Hold on, let’s back up to the murder solution, which is the thing that really annoyed me in the episode.

M: Okay, we’ll come back to this though. Shoot.

C: We’re supposed to believe that not-Slater killed not-Screech because he was running away with his girlfriend in the middle of the movie shoot. Now, 1) as we saw, the filmmakers were perfectly happy to go ahead with another actor in the Dewey role, and 2) how does it make any sense to kill someone so they won’t quit your movie??! What did Ramone imagine, 2 Cool for School: Weekend at Bernie’s?

M: Ooooh, can iPad-Marshpillow play Bernie? That’d be awesome! But alas, you’re right, all they did was  brake out the old “How can we continue to make money working together if you disappear? Okay, I’ll kill you instead, because we can definitely work together when you’re dead!” routine. Makes so much sense. Not lazy at all.

E: Okay, first of all, the murder of the week plots in Castle are never perfect.  Second, it’s made pretty clear this was a crime of passion, not premeditation.

C: That could have been a lot clearer, since they emphasized the motive, not the anger.

E: Says the girl who missed the entire mob subplot.

M: I’m still with her on this.

E: SHOCKER!

M: And while the murder or the week episodes may not be “perfect”, they at least usually have some level of cohesion. Now back to Beckett, the tip off, and the firing.

E: That’s right.  Bring it on.

M: We’re supposed to believe that the Attorney General’s office has recruited Beckett, deemed her to be the best candidate for their exclusive, elite force, and invested several months into training her, during which time she has done a kick ass job and saved the life of the Secretary of Defense’s wife, and yet they’re going to flush that all down the drain and kick her to the curb because they THINK she tipped off a reporter about a woman the CIA is TRYING to turn into an asset? Not their own asset, but one for an agency they don’t like to play nice with? REALLY?

E: Not that any of us have any idea what would really get a federal agent fired, but do you come to this show for realistic plotting?

M: I’m honestly struggling to think of something that I think was a worse way to wrap up the Beckett-to-DC storyline.

E: I’m not: it’s better than making her quit because she couldn’t hack it, or quit because of Castle, or even because she couldn’t deal with the ridiculous bureaucratic crap like not knowing why you’re pursuing a case or not being able to press charges because the perpetrators are too important.

M: Look, like C said, Beckett would know how to leak something and not get caught. More so, it’s not like leaks are anything new in DC. They could have at least had her take on someone too powerful that pulled strings to get her fired, or have it be something like that, something that wasn’t just arbitrary and worthy of a slap on the wrist at best.

E: They set this up as a problem with no good solution.  Sure, it was abrupt, but I thought it was a fairly neat solution to a stupid, stupid, intractable problem.

C: It might have worked better if the moral dilemma hadn’t been shoehorned in at the end of the episode.

E: Now that I agree with.  Clearly, Kate thought it wasn’t going to be a big deal even if she did get caught.

M: So, so true. And to boot, they had just had Castle finally realize that he “can write from anywhere” and get an apartment in DC. ARGH!!!!!

C: Three months too late!

E: Hey, let’s congratulate him for eventually getting to the most obvious solution to their problem, but I don’t understand what you’re getting at here.  Did you WANT them to move to D.C.?  Dodged that bullet. BE HAPPY ABOUT IT.

M: Look, I am. I’m happy that we’ll get back to fun Castle, and that they’re putting the band back together, just like you are. It’s just that for you, that allowed you to gloss over all the lazy junk that got them there, for me it didn’t. I cared about how they got there, and they botched it badly.

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