Up to the present day with my random trawl through mystery television. Castle is a favourite watch of mine – it features Nathan Fillion as Richard Castle, a crime author who, desperate for a new muse, latches himself onto Detective Kate Beckett (Stana Katic) of the NYPD. At least that’s the set-up initially – by this episode, it’s just sort of accepted that Castle follows them around on investigations.
In this investigation – I presume a Hallowe’en episode – Jack Sinclair, a TV “Ghostbuster” type, is recording alone in a house with a bloody history. You’ve guessed it – he ends up dead, viciously stabbed. But when the forensic evidence points to the fact that nobody could have been near him when he died (there’s a lot of blood-splatter in all directions, but no break in the pattern where it would have hit the murderer), Castle decides that there must be a supernatural explanation.
As I said above, I love Castle. The cast is wonderful – Nathan Fillion may not be exactly stretching himself playing someone you can’t help but like despite the fact that he ought to be irritating as hell, and Stana Katic’s Beckett is a perfect character to play off of him. Actually, that’s not fair because she has plenty to do without Castle – in fact, the main ongoing plot across the series so far (I’m at the end of season six, so no recent spoilers please) is the murder of Beckett’s mother. Oh, and the will-they-won’t-they story between the leads. Actually, the chemistry between them is so evident, it’s much more of a when-will-they. Across the first seasons, the writers do a good job of delaying the inevitable and credit as well in the later seasons for, once they do get together, no throwing artificial barriers in the way of the relationship. Well, apart from Eddie McClintock in the season six finale, but that’s played for laughs.
Speaking of Beckett – oh, and why don’t people use forenames in these shows – the writers of The Mentalist should take notes about how to have a female lead that actually contributes to the plot. Some of the time she gets to the truth before Castle’s flights of fancy do. In some ways, it’s a bit of a shame that the show isn’t called Castle & Beckett, because she’s just as important as he is. Unlike poor old Lisbon…
The rest of the cast is ridiculously strong as well, especially Susan Sullivan as Castle’s mother. The reason I single her out is that the role could easily degenerate into the stereotypical mad woman in the attic, but that’s never the case. The Ryan-Esposito double act is a joy to watch as well. There’s that feeling you get from a show where you feel that the cast are enjoying themselves and that enjoyment transfers itself to the show.
So, mystery-wise? Well, it’s not a play along mystery. The general Castle plot – they get a suspect, eliminate them and find a new lead, repeat several times and then usually arrest one of the people they spoke to towards the beginning of the tale who you may have forgotten about, often revealing a chunk of useful evidence that they ought to have found out at the start to make things easier for them. It’s no different here. In fact, when the murderer is caught red-handed in this episode, it’s not the person who they expected to catch. There’s absolutely no way that the viewer could have worked out who the killer was – it’s even unlikely that they would guess it either. So basically, Noir.
That doesn’t stop it from being a entertaining watch – there are some lovely moments, such as Beckett’s confession to Castle about a ghostly encounter from her past (and Castle’s reaction to it). And it’s just fun guessing which obscure character will be the murderer.
Oh, quick question for other Castle fans – does Beckett outrank Ryan and Esposito? They all have the rank of Detective, but are there levels or is she just bossier than them?