Castle, “And Justice for All” Does a Slithery Two-Step Dance

Castle season 8 episode 13

Castle season 8 episode 13 is an episode that goes two steps forward and then takes one step back.   Yes, there are some truly positive things in it (Caskett!) – and then there’s stuff that is more of the same problems that have been going on all season.  What’s it all add up to…that’s for the viewer to decide.

The Set Up

This is one time I’m not going to discuss whether the opening murder scene was good or bad because I hate snakes, which means there’s no way I can be objective about it.  Moving on.

What Worked

1. In the first scene with Captain Kate Beckett (Stana Katic) and writer Richard Castle (Nathan Fillion) the sense of playful banter has returned.

2. Castle is actually trying to write something, which is great!  (I think every writer got the truth behind the cursor joke. Yes, sometimes you do just want to slam the laptop shut!)

3. The fact that Beckett is Castle’s muse gets mentioned is a win.  Yay, they’ve remembered the show’s premise!

4. The bit about Castle casting himself as Sherlock and Beckett correcting him as being Watson is funny and on point.  He is not the detective, something that, along with his writing, seems to have been forgotten.

What Didn’t Work

1. The moment LokSat is brought up things start to disintegrate.

Castle: We have to maintain the ruse of our separation until you capture LokSat. I know, I know.

Most viewers have discerned that this entire LokSat setup is a bunch of nonsense designed to force an onscreen separation between Castle and Beckett.  Now every time it’s mentioned it feels like hearing nails on a blackboard.  Meanwhile, Beckett appears to be living at the loft again.  Doesn’t his daughter Alexis (Molly Quinn) still live there?  She could walk in at any moment.

2. Beckett sending Castle to the P.I. office is infuriating!

Beckett: Why don’t you just go to your P.I. office if you’re so desperate for a case to solve. Maybe Alexis and Hayley have something that’s worthy of inspiration.

Darn it, couldn’t they have just let Beckett walk out of there? It’s amazing how two sentences can screw up what feels like a good scene.  We’d just heard Castle say he needed Beckett – his muse – for inspiration.  Then the writers do this huge U-turn.  Now, it’s not Beckett that’s needed, it’s a case.

Also, for a show that has forever loved to use words and phrases with double meanings, suggesting Alexis and Hayley Shipton (Toks Olagundoye) have something worthy of inspiration is just wrong.  Sorry, writers, but they are not muse worthy.  More importantly, Alexis should not be associated as being Castle’s muse.  It’s his daughter, guys. Come on!  The father-daughter dynamic seems to get something icky done to it at least once an episode this season.  (Last season was every few episodes….)

The Case Issues

Beckett

It’s the second week in a row that Kate Beckett has felt more like the character we’ve known, rooted for, and loved through most of the series.  The crime scene with detectives Kevin Ryan (Seamus Dever) and Javier Esposito (Jon Huertas) and her is good.  It’s straightforward, but with an undertone of  wry amusement.  This is also the second episode in a row where Ryan and Esposito react to Beckett like a boss they respect.  It hasn’t always been the case this season, so it’s worth noting. Beckett’s reaction to the body being in with the snakes is priceless!

We get to see a lot of Beckett being observant and authoritative – like when she notices the bartender wants to tell her something and her dealings with Agent Napier.  These are good things.  What’s not so good is that she doesn’t seem to really put any of the pieces together, which is odd.  Where are all the scenes where she and Castle are thinking the same thing at the same time?  In particular this scene with the coffee feels like it should have been an, “I know who the killer is” moment between them.

 

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IsCmQAZnryY?rel=0&showinfo=0]

 

Beckett looking expectantly for Castle to give her the answer – what a way to kill a coffee and theory-building moment.

The way Castle is able to break open the case by realizing that there was a linguistic pattern to the text message and being able to pick it out feels so absolutely right – a very Castle-like contribution. However, this thing where Castle figures out everything all the time doesn’t work. It’s nice that they are at least showing Beckett acting more like a woman in command of things, but historically once given the puzzle pieces she’s just as good at putting the case together as he is.

Hayley Problems

If you want my initial reaction to when Castle initially goes to his P.I.  office and is met by Hayley and Alexis you can read it in my Castle, “And Justice for All” spoiler review.  Here’s the short version:

  1. I really hope this Hayley and this P.I. thing disappears soon.
  2. Considering the way she’s dressed and how she’s walking around that office, Alexis is the last person to be criticizing anyone about 1940’s gumshoe novels.

Hayley’s in a number of scenes in this episode, and rather than keep bringing it up, here’s the general problem with Hayley’s placement in the episode and on the show.   Alexis looking up to Hayley I can buy because she is supposedly what, 21 or 22?  Contrary to the whole, “she’s a total grownup now” scenario we’re being told in interview after interview at that age a person is still green and naive.  It’s easy to see her being taken in by Hayley’s “cool girl” vibe – but everyone else?  It shouldn’t be happening.

Sure, Castle is gullible and owns a strong pair of rose-colored glasses, but the way he’s given this disgraced former cop access to his life, finances and his only daughter is still a hard thing to swallow.  Her behavior was akin to Agent Slaughter (I’m sorry, but “Cool Boys” did not rehabilitate him.)  Is this the person he wants to endorse as a “role model”?  Considering the kind of trouble he got into with Slaughter, how is he fine with Hayley being so connected to his family?  The way everyone else treats Hayley is even worse.  Hayley was thrown off the force.  How many cops do you know who are fine hanging out with former officers that have disgraced the badge, and how many implicitly trust that former cop?  No matter how fun and sassy the actress makes the character, Hayley Shipton’s position of total acceptance in Castle’s world makes no sense.

Of course, this is the season of LokSat and of Beckett slapping Castle in the office one week and being perfectly fine with him hanging around at precinct the next.  Making sense and having continuity is not the strong suit of Castle season 8.  It’s too bad, because Olagundoye does have great comic timing as well as the innate screen presence to play a strong and fierce woman – like she does in the fake hold-up of the judge later in the episode.  The actress is not the problem – the writing is.

As a side note, I’m sure it’s not a coincidence that the victim, Eddie Ramirez, is said to have been a corrupt cop but then is painted as a nice guy trying to start over and do the right thing.  The whole, it’s the American dream to come here and start over is a pretty speech.  However, we didn’t see or hear about Eddie coming to America and telling people that in order to do his job one must be willing to lie to and betray your friends.  That philosophy was Hayley’s advice to Castle and it doesn’t fit the model of one starting over and changing her ways.

Beckett, Perlmutter, and Castle

The scene in the morgue was funny and disturbing – which is what it feels like they were going for.  I’m not sure how I feel about medical examiner Perlmutter (Arye Grossgoing from having total disdain for Castle to someone who’s been secretly jealous of him the entire time.  Also, the thing about the twin brother, was I the only one who felt like Perlmutter was making that up so that he could go out with Beckett?  Like I said, it was a disturbing scene.  The reactions from Beckett were appropriately creeped out – which she tried to hide, which is what made it a humorous scene.  However, everything starts to go over-the-top when Castle walks in.  It pushes Perlmutter’s character into the realm of crazy rather than just strange and anti-social.  In terms of the how this scene changes Perlmutter character…the jury’s still out.

Once Perlmutter leaves though, the Castle and Beckett banter is back!  Here’s what I loved and that felt reminiscent of earlier seasons.

  1. Beckett pretending to be mad, but secretly smiling
  2. Castle noticing the language issue in the writing and trying to talk his way into the case
  3. Beckett wanting to kiss him and Castle thwarting her by saying not in front of the dead body

Let’s just assume there are no security cameras in the morgue and not think about how easily someone could walk in there, because, you know, they need to be so careful to maintain the idea they’re split up. That’s the problem with this whole LokSat thing.  Even in scenes that are technically working it has a way of creeping in and sullying the moments.

Vikram Problems

The problems with Vikram (Sunkrish Bala) are similar to Hayley’s, only they stem mostly from LokSat and his connection to Beckett.

  1. How is he not her first suspect?
  2. How does LokSat not notice that a former analyst for the group of people he-she-it got killed is now working for the one person on the list that survived?
  3. How can Beckett think hiring Vikram won’t look suspicious to LokSat and thus decide to hire him in the first place?

There’s only one answer to these questions: because the writers say so.  If you’re looking for a plausible reason, good luck.  Castle season 8 is not the season for plausible logic.

Then there’s the weird focus on Vikram being a loser when it comes to women and constantly seeking attention in that realm. Hence the “secret” office he’s picked for him and Beckett to work out of is a strip club.  It makes him an annoying presence.  From other episodes there have been signs that Vikram isn’t the lost puppy he pretends to be.  He’s most likely connected to LokSat.  Being that the LokSat plot is so contrived in general and its main purpose is to keep the leads apart as much as possible, it’s difficult to like or care about Vikram.  Maybe if he were just a new tech analyst and wasn’t hanging out with Beckett in a strip club it’d be easier to tolerate him and possibly even develop some sympathy for the guy.  That’s not the scenario we’re dealing with though.  For viewers that are just waiting for LokSat to be over, we’re also just waiting for Vikram to be gone.

The Heart of the Case

For the most part, the case that unfolds is a good one, and it has a traditional hallmark of Castle episodes choosing to comment on current events.  Granted, I knew the killer as soon as he hit the screen.  Like many Castle episodes in the past the who did it is far less interesting than finding out why they did.

The introduction to the group of ESL students had issues. Having the students repeat Ryan and Esposito’s words when they walked in was too cartoon-like for the situation and the joke fell flat.   However Beckett calling Castle for help and him being on the drums totally worked.

I covered most about what I didn’t like about the scene when Castle goes undercover in the spoiler review, but here are some basics.  The stereotyping are flying about in the meet and greet, and it goes on too long as a scene.  I assume Castle’s accent going in and out is part of the joke, but it ends up being more annoying than funny.  That CGI – or whatever process they did with English guy’s face during his conversation with Castle – is very annoying, and feels mean.  I’m not a tech expert, but he’s not filmed the same way as everyone else in the sequence.  Had they just stuck with the man having a Geordie accent  it would have been fine – and it would have been funny.  This pushing a joke a bit too far is a theme this season.  (To a lesser extent it was last season as well.) As for Hayley being able to “translate” the accent, it seems odd, but I’ll leave that to those whom are British to say if it’s a normal thing or not.

Luckily, once we get past these scenes the story begins to shape up nicely.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tzNlPWKreyE?rel=0&showinfo=0]

 

“He was the ESL Equalizer” is definitely my favorite line in the episode! Castle making clever quips like this are pure Castle gold!

Politically this story is explosive and the writers have a definitive point of view, as have a number of Castle episodes in the past.  It’s one of the things I have liked about the series over the years, the willingness to risk having an opinion about current events. The story of Eddie and his fellow students was an enjoyable one to watch unfold, and the commentary about how often the immigrants we see doing menial jobs are actually highly educated people is a good one.   Viewers are also steered towards feeling bad for the hardships we see Ida (Nondumiso Tempe) has endured – although I’m sure some would consider it the cost of not having a green card.

The human Rube Goldberg machine set up to divert the judge is cute, and Castle’s plan is just the kind of thing we’d expect from him.  Sadly, a corrupt judge receiving kickbacks for sending illegals down to a jail does seem plausible.  Beckett working with the FBI agent feels right and the role that the ESL teacher plays is a perfect tie in.  This was a good case.

Castle’s Missing Time

I’m really trying to be patient here…but why the heck are we going back to this?  It was bad enough the first time around! Now we’ve got LokSat and redoing a plot that, as awful as it was, at least was over.

The real problem with the Castle gone missing plot was that there never really was a well-planned plot as to why it happened.  It started out as a reason to blow up the wedding in the infamous Castle season six finale.

As of December 2015 showrunner Alexi Hawley told TVLine that they hadn’t “nailed down” what they were going to do with it this time.  Great….

Honestly, I’m worried about what else Hawley will mess up in this series.  He’s managed to render the character growth in the phenomenal Castle season 4 finale irrelevant, and smash apart what was a well-done closure to the Johanna Beckett murder.  Maybe if the new showrunners tried to build on what has been instead of trying to erase and replace it, LokSat could have been an interesting story.  Unfortunately, much of this season has been about trying to rewrite the past, and since most of the past in this series was pretty darn good, it’s been a depressing thing to watch.  The only small consolation in them going after the missing time story is that, unlike the episodes “Always” and “Veritas,”  it’s unlikely there’s much they can do to make the Castle episode, “Sleeper”  worse. (I hope.)

In terms of how they are reintroducing this storyline, it’s not bad.  The way they used the international food night and the obscure food dish to trigger Castle’s memory is clever.  However, I could have done without the scene discussing Asian food and the bathroom humor.  Go through the first five or six seasons of Castle and see how many times those kinds of jokes happen.  If any, it’s pretty rare.  Castle season 8 has more crude jokes like this than the entire series.

The Wrap Up

Castle, along with his mother, Martha Rodgers (Susan Sullivan) give a party at the loft to celebrate getting Eddie’s killer, and the release of Anita Rodriguez.

 

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dnC-Ft-1M0M?rel=0&showinfo=0]

 

Sullivan is our quintessential Martha here, and the speech about American food being international and how it’s our differences that have made this country great is appropriate to the moment and the episode’s overall theme. Lovely! What’s even more lovely? They gave Alexis a job! God knows she’s needed to be doing something other than working for her father. (I know, she’s also supposedly in college. Baby steps!) Whether the show will follow through on Alexis working at the school is another story. We’ll have to wait and see.

I did have a giggle at the jacket they have Alexis in because it finally hit me what may be the style thing going on with her lately. Alexis is dressing like Martha! It makes sense, right? Her grandmother is the woman who’s been in her life consistently the longest. Let me know what you think about this!

The very last scene of the episode is Castle realizing he has to go to L.A. because of his dream. This is what we’ll be dealing with next week. I wish I could say the events in “And Justice for All” made me feel better about Castle season 8 episode 14, but because of what we already know about it (that’s in an earlier spoiler roundup ) it simply doesn’t. I’m looking forward to next week the way one looks forward to root canal. It has to be done, but joyful anticipation is not the feeling.

Final Thoughts

Considering all the handicaps the show is dealing with (like LokSat) Castle season 8 episode 13 isn’t a bad one.  It does have several Caskett moments where Castle and Beckett feel more connected than just the words they’re saying.  There’s a solid enough case with a nice theme to it.  Beckett seems more like a police captain than a prop.  However, the need to make Castle have all the answers, starting us back on Castle’s missing time, Hayley, Vikram, and the Lokstat complications make this less enjoyable than, “The Blame Game.”  At least then the focus was on Castle and Beckett getting out of that place – and they both were shown to be capable of figuring things out.

  • Castle Season 8 Episode 13 Review
3.3

Summary

Considering all the handicaps the show is dealing with (like LokSat) Castle season 8 episode 13 isn’t a bad hour of television.


One Response

  1. Joseph Marks March 3, 2016

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