Castle: Sibling Musings on “Number One Fan” and “Time Will Tell”

M: So, schedules got in the way of us being able to really tear into the past two episodes (6×04 and 6×05) in a timely manner. So, as dutiful bloggers, we decided that rather than putting very late, standard recaps that match what you could find elsewhere, we’d discuss the bigger issues of the two episodes. We’ll throw in some recap/review, but that’s not the overall focus here.

C: No, we have a really big quibble.

E: And not with each other, for once.

M: We really need to start out by discussing what we all consider to be the heart of the show… the Castle/Rodgers family. Right now there are two things at play there, Castle and Beckett’s engagement, and… well… Pi.

E: Actually, I’d rather chatter about the small stuff first.

M: Of course you do.  Well, Mom and Dad taught us to respect our elders, so you, my elderly sister, can go first.

E: (Groan.) Let’s just get this out of the way. I thought both of the last episodes were serviceable and well constructed, but I didn’t think they brought the ease and humor I’ve come to expect from Castle.  Oh, there were funny lines (“I can play Richard Castle trivia with you all day,” “Dude, they’re donuts. You’re either in or you’re out,” “murderer isn’t an adjective” and “she dotted the I!” from “Number One Fan), but Castle himself seems off his game.

M: Really, you thought that about both of them? I thought that “Number One Fan” was still missing the mark a little, but I thought that the Morgan-Grimes-driven “Time Will Tell” was classic fun Castle!

C: Me too. “Time Will Tell” may have taken a place among my favorite episodes of Castle. I mean, I can’t say for sure yet. Need a little time…

E: Wait, really?  Not just because of the subject matter and guest star?  Maybe I need to rewatch it, then.

M: Not shockingly, I’m with C here, I am leaning toward it being one of my favorites.

C: Because of the subject matter, the guest star, the twist and turns, the sheer fun of the premise — it was awesome! How can you not have loved it??

E: Okay, I adored the plot of “Time Will Tell” – particularly the Connie Willis/Terminator-style time travel plot.  That was awesomeness. Just not so much the writing.

M: Bah. There were sooooo many things to love in it. How instantly Castle took to the time travel plot. How everyone mocked him. How the pieces fit together. How inexplicable things kept happening. That for the second episode in a row it was NOT the most recognizable guest star, who had been discarded as a suspect earlier in the episode. Heck, it wasn’t even the second most recognizable, Tuvok from Star Trek: Voyager.

C: Oh, that’s who he was! Thank you.

M: And, spoiler alert, the stain on the note! I noticed that during the episode, and LOVED when it was Beckett that created, and noticed, it in the end!

E: Agreed, I liked all of those things.  I’m a little embarrassed that I didn’t remember at the time why I knew Tim Russ, though.

M: Well, after not being able to place Antonio Sabato the other week, I can hardly throw stones.

C: And of course Morgan from Chuck, aka Joshua Gomez. He was 100% committed to his role, and surprisingly convincing as a badass hero from another time. About halfway through the episode I said “I’m going to be so sad when they reveal all the time travel is a fake.” But Castle served us better — we get a realistic/skeptical and a science fiction explanation for everything, so in the end, you can believe what you like.

M: I loved that so much. I kept trying to figure out how they were going to explain it away in the “real world” way, and they half did, but kept the whole 12 Monkeys/Terminator plot plausible. So great. Now, what else should we discuss before getting to Alexis?

C: Well, for starters, I thought “Number One Fan” was actually a good episode too. Castle plays hostage negotiator to a woman who distrusts cops, has heard about him working with the police, and believes he can prove she was framed for the murder of her boyfriend. Of course she’s come to the right place — Castle is always ready to believe there’s a conspiracy at work!

E: Oh, I think it was a really good episode.

M: Yeah, I think we all liked it, I think it’s just a question of how much.

E: I think it counters all the criticism M had about the lazy episodes before; the plotting was quite nice.  I just missed the wit I expect from Castle, his characteristic enthusiasm.  And, sure, a hostage situation would make Castle pretty serious, but isn’t the thing we love about him that he can’t help himself?  That his boyishness always shines through?

C: I guess I thought it did, in a few moments. I would maybe have to rewatch it to decide if I think your criticism is just.

M: The humor peeked in with some of the lines you mentioned already, especially the “Richard Castle trivia” one. And it was definitely not lazy, like the Beckett-the-Fed episodes were. But to recap, it wasn’t amazing, and after all the DC upheaval I think we were all looking for amazing. C and I think we got it from “Time,” but you were less enthused, E. We about done with the fluff now sis?

E: Yes, I’m good with moving on.  M, you may proceed.

C: I don’t think the 90% of these episodes that was very good qualifies as “fluff,” but I know you’re dying to rip into the Alexis terribleness, so fire away.

M: The set up, for those who need a recap, is that Alexis went to Costa Rica on a summer trip, and brought home a drifter. Okay, drifter may not be completely fair, he’s a hippie vegan who she claims is brilliant. However, he’s stranded in NY because he has “passport issues” (how he got back in from Costa Rica is a major plot hole), and thus has been staying on Castle’s couch for a month.

C: I think “drifter” is fair, since he has no home and no job. Plenty of nineteen-year-olds move in with a boyfriend, in some cases for very rational reasons.

E: Yes, but college sophomores at prestigious colleges?

M: And I don’t think I’m ready to concede “plenty” to you.

C: It’s pretty common, especially in cities with high rent. But moving in with a guy you’ve been dating for just a couple months? Rarely wise no matter your age. Moving in with a guy to support him because he has no money for his own place, when you’re a sophomore at a very demanding school, and will have to take on a job and who knows, may end up having to drop out for the sake of your loafer boyfriend who seems to have no skills and no life goals — nope, sorry, can’t call that anything but stupid.

M: The most frustrating moment of “Time Will Tell” for me was when Castle and Alexis are discussing her getting an apartment with Pi, and she shuts him down by saying “who are you always saying is the smart one in the family,” to which he has no reply. Seriously, if she were still the smart one, they wouldn’t be having that conversation. Smart ones can make dumb mistakes, too. Ugh.

E: Okay, here’s my deal. We can debate all day whether some random Columbia University sophomore might do this,  but I don’t in the smallest bit buy that Alexis would do this.

M: I know, right? Completely out of character!

E: We’re talking about the girl who obsesses over every little choice, who cares so passionately about being the good girl and doing the right thing, teasing out how she feels and second guessing herself.  This is the girl who agonized over Avery and Stanford and the time difference and every little piece of that relationship. There is no WAY she’d be so cavalier about moving in with someone, about giving up her life in the dorm and all her friends.

C: The whole thing is just maddeningly out of character. Having been smart, serious, anxious-to-please, weight-of-the-world-on-our-shoulders teenage girls, both E and I can attest that no, you don’t have to go through a phase where to compensate, you suddenly make a lot of spectacularly terrible life choices in a very cavalier way. (Regular dumb life choices, yes of course… but even then, you angst over them!) They’ve just started writing Alexis in the past year or so like she is an average TV “teenage daughter” — while the fact that she wasn’t one was the only reason I once liked her as a character so much.

M: I can see that they’re trying to have her shifting from that good-girl persona, with the ComiCon thing last season and now this, but it’s too big a jump and with too little segue.

E: Wearing a sexy costume to a con is the kind of rebellion I would expect Alexis to have, actually.  This is a whole other level of magnitude.

M: Agreed, which is why last season’s costume didn’t draw this level of reaction from us. Now, I could see them explaining this by using the kidnapping thing from last season and such, but back to E’s point about her college life: she’d be itching to get back to campus. She loves school.

C: They could have used the kidnapping to cause a change in her personality… but they didn’t, since they’ve never mentioned it again.

E: Sure — they could have done a whole plot about how it made her reckless or gave her a desire to seize the day — either of those things would have been plausible. But this?  How is it “smart” to move in with someone who’s probably in the country illegally?  Who will just drift away eventually, leaving her broken-hearted?  Alexis would worry about that.

M: Well, illegal is totally nouveau-chic…

E: For who?  Nice try, but you can’t justify it.

M: Fine, continue.

E: If they wanted to show Alexis angsting about whether or not her lover would be deported, and if she should let go and fall for him or not, I’d buy that.  But Alexis so utterly, blindly confident, not thinking ahead at all, and Castle paying for her love nest (or whatever it is)?  No.  Sorry.

M: She did say she was going to pay for “her half” with work-study (must be one heck of a work study job!) and that Castle wouldn’t have to pay for her dorm this year, so that part’s out, but otherwise, you’re dead on.

E: First, she wasn’t expecting Pi to be able to pay, I thought?  Wasn’t that the point, that he couldn’t pay so she would?

C: Yes, that was said.

E: Second, work study jobs get you beer and clothes and pizza money, not rent money.  Heck, it wouldn’t even buy the type of clothes Alexis is used to wearing. Not only that, but you have to QUALIFY for a work study job because you need moneyBecause your family doesn’t have it.   And having a millionaire dad?  Kind of disqualifies you.

C: Yeah, she’d end up waitressing or something. Castle did foot the bill for the guy staying on his couch for a month though, which is maybe what you were thinking of, E. That was absurd. Any decently intelligent parent would say “you’ve got three days to find somewhere to live” and stick to it.

E: How much of a bill is there?  He already has the couch, and all the guy eats is fruit.

M: Well, fresh fruit can be pretty expensive, especially in a place like New York.

E: Considering all the friends who’ve crashed with our family long term, I have no problem with that part of it.  I’ve got much bigger fish to fry – like why Castle can’t have a serious talk with her about her finances.

C: It sure wasn’t boyfriends or girlfriends crashing with our family, though!

M: Finances aside, I think that part of my problem with the whole Alexis-Pi storyline is that to this point Pi has been given very little screen time, and ALL of that time has been used to make him look like a total stooge, or to have him annoy Castle. If they had at least given us the slightest morsel of a reason that Alexis would be committing herself him, it might be at least a little more palatable.

C: I hadn’t thought of it that way, but yeah, why does she even like him? Other than that he’s “great” for some vague reasons?

M: I’m drawing a blank.

E: Exactly.  We haven’t been given any reason to think that Pi is a good investment of Alexis’s time, so we’re really set up to react like Castle does.  And honestly, they haven’t done a good job of convincing me that Alexis is hot for Pi.  She thinks he’s “great”, sure, but she doesn’t seems swoony about him to me. And for this, she’s upending her entire life?

M: Exactly! I mean, she’s talked him up a little, but have we even seen them hold hands?

E: No. But on the other hand, the show makes it clear Castle needs to let Alexis make this choice, which seems a little insane to me.

M: Can I just say how much I despise the whole “if you tell your child not to do something they’ll just want to do it more, so you should never actually parent them” theme?

E: You may.

M: Cannot stand it! Might they rebel with some things? Yes. Might the rebelling be worse, temporarily, than what you are trying to stop them from doing? Yes. However, will they rebel every time? Heck no! And will you at least be setting the right expectations and boundaries if you, you know, do your job as a parent? YES!

C: Frankly, what annoys me the most about this entirely plotline is that Castle is being set up as the unreasonable, overprotective one. Beckett, supposedly the voice of wisdom, and Martha, who as crazy as she is does often rein Castle in, are both telling him to just be cool about it.

E: Martha I can see being fine with that, but Beckett? That’s why you know the show thinks he should just let her do it.

M: And not for nothing, but Castle has raised Alexis mostly on his own to this point. Should he be shutting down his own instincts based on parenting advice from Beckett?

E: Fair point again.

C: In the end he can’t “let” or “stop” Alexis doing anything, but he CAN have a real, full, honest conversation with her about it — which he never does.

M: Exactly! This whole situation is crying out for that heartfelt discussion, and they keep glossing over it.

C: For instance, when she points out that he lived with his girlfriend at her age, how about a serious talk about why that did not work out well for him at all? Younger Alexis was smart enough not to want to imitate her dad’s reckless, shallow past. This Alexis could apparently use the idea of “consequences” explained to her.

E: That’s right.  Because moving in with Pi is only going to create more problems, not fewer ones.  And not even in the long term, in the short term.

M: Okay, let’s move to one quick point that bridges the episode plot with this discussion… I thought they missed a genuine opportunity in “Time Will Tell.” When they mentioned the name of the student that attended the conference and wrote the soon-to-be coffee stained letter to Tuvok, and the name started with a “P,” I was CERTAIN that it was going to end up being Pi!

C: Whoa. Didn’t even occur to me.

E: I did not think of that either, but you’re right, that would have been very cool.

M: Much to my disappointment, it was some schlep. To me, that would have at least made Pi worth while, given him some value. In the end, though, the whole situation just makes me sad.

C: We’re sad right there with you, bro. Like Castle at the end of “Time Will Tell,” we will end this recap with exaggerated faces of woe… in close-up. 😦 😦 😦

5 comments on “Castle: Sibling Musings on “Number One Fan” and “Time Will Tell”

  1. lizteabee says:

    I agree that the way Castle has handled Alexis has been poorly written and I agree that they’ve done a poor job of showing that Alexis is infatuated. The work study thing is hilarious but not the most egregious thing they’ve done with Alexis college career.

    I disagree that 19 year old girls like Alexis don’t do stupid things. I knew a girl like Alexis who went out one day and married a guy like Pi that she had been dating for less than 6 weeks. I’ve known plenty of Ivy League girls who got to college and lost all sense over a boy. To me, this is the most realistic part of the story. It makes sense that Alexis, who never makes mistakes, would be overconfident about her ability to make adult decisions.

    • E says:

      You’re certainly thinking along the same lines as the writers! If they’d presented us with a boy who had even a single redeeming characteristic, this would have felt less ridiculous, but maybe that was the point? I get what you’re saying, I really do, but for her to be so serene about a choice that’s so big, so poorly thought through and so unusual? I can’t buy it.

  2. Gina says:

    Oh boy, I can’t WAIT to see what you guys have to say about her this week! I think we’ve crossed the line into full-on obnoxious brat territory!

  3. Gina says:

    Forgot to mention, I liked that they made the time traveler real (that’s how I interpreted it, anyway) and I really liked the actor. I had a hunch as soon as he told Castle and Beckett about their future that they were going to have him be a real time traveler. They wanted to leave us all excited about the three kids and the senatorial seat and all the rest of it. 🙂

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