Castle: And Justice for All was, in many ways, cleverly done; borrowing bits from Good Morning Vietnam, Hot Fuzz and Oldboy, and The Equalizer but the plot was flawed in that the killer was easily guessed in the first act. However, leaving all that aside one cannot help but feel that Castle is shifting Alexis (Molly C. Quinn) out.
In this episode, a group of “English as a second language” students are being extorted and one of them, Eddie; a former El Salvadoran “corrupt cop,” is murdered. Rick is suffering from writer’s block, since he cannot openly consort with his muse, Kate. Eddie, the Equalizer of the English class is murdered savagely at the zoo and his body put in with the poisonous snakes.
Castle goes to his P.I. office for inspiration and while complaining that the cases Hayley Vargas and Alexis are working equals boring, he sees the news item on Eddie’s murder. Rick wants to get involved and learns, to his surprise, that Perlmutter really does not like him.
Ryan and Javi go to speak to the fellow students of the murdered man, one of whom sent him a threatening text, with garbled syntax, using the school’s wireless network. None of the students will speak with the police, due to corruption issues in their home countries, and Rick goes undercover.
Ryan and Javi’s entrance to the classroom sets up the Good Morning Vietnam reference where the students all repeat, by rote, the two cops’ opening statements to the teacher. Later, Hot Fuzz was given a nod and a wink with the “Geordie” translation scene where Toks Olagundoye‘s Hayley Vargas translates the Newcastle enforcers almost incomprehensible accent.
Sidenote I: While the whole thing was funny, it really made no practical sense for a Geordie to be taking an English class, never mind that the chap was a enforcer from England…
While the “Geordie” accent, which featured quite a lot of mumbled “street” slang on top of the Newcastle patter, was a bit “dodgy” the Rick Castle Canadian-French accent was a kissing cousin in terms of “not quite there.” Still, for comic effect alone, it worked.
The next film to be referenced was Oldboy (although to be fair, it was done very well) where Rick eats a bite of kimchee noodles and has a highly visual flashback to some of his “missing time.” Granted, the food ingested is not dim-sum or even a Korean version of it but the reference is clear. All the more so when he tries to replicate the sensation by trying a plethora of Korean kimchee noodles, a’ la Dae-su Oh.
Sidenote II: Anyone remember the missing time bit? That was pushed to the back burner with Kate’s mission, and own disappearance, re: LokSat. This episode’s plot devices feel a little “kitchen-sink-ish.” N’est-ce pas? (And for the record, Rick does not say “J’accuse” despite his excitement at the prospect.)
During the investigation, Javi and Ryan go to a bus station locker after finding a key to said locker in a suspect’s wallet. The two are arrested by the FBI after Ryan says he really cannot take any further excitement after such a busy day. The bus station locker and the FBI connection could be seen as a nod to Get Shorty, but honestly this scenario has been done so often that is surpasses cliche status.
The ruthless FBI agent blusters and threatens initially but finally, after a great little scene where the English class members, Castle and Vargas attempt to get information from a judge the Feds want to bust, gives in to make it a joint NYPD and FBI operation.
In all honesty, the scene with the judge, where the FBI agents tailing the suspect are repeatedly interfered with by the students felt maddeningly familiar. Anyone with suggestions as to what film that may be “homaging” please feel free to share.
The episode continues with a false lead, corruption uncovered in high places and a Kate’s LokSat partner Vikram Singh (Sunkrish Bala) gets to have a moment…or two. Beckett’s case is solved, once again with the help of Rick Castle, and another sub-plot dredged back up.
Rick now realizes that the kimchee flashback revealed that he was in Korea Town in Los Angeles and not the actual country and he feels the need to investigate.
This ending was the kitchen-sink icing on the cake for this episode and it is a great way to tie back into the previous subplot from earlier. However, what may be the most important part of the whole segment was neatly and, almost unobtrusively, slipped into the English class party scene.
After the class learn that their teacher was arrested for Eddie’s murder they query who the new instructor may be. One of the students reveals that the electronic ledger for the class says “Castle.” Rick goes on to say there must be some mistake and Hayley interrupts to say that it is another Castle; Alexis, who will be teaching the class.
When season eight began, Molly C. Quinn had moved up in terms of plot involvement and screen time. As the season progressed, however, Alexis has spent less time on the show, as has Susan Sullivan. Is the move of Alexis to English teacher for immigrants a shift to move her character out of the show?
Certainly there has been less father/daughter time, and father/mother time, while Rick and Kate go through their pretend separation for his safety. There are three episodes left in season eight. The final one, the finale, is titled Heartbreaker.
Could this be a sign that a major character will be signing off?
In the meantime, Castle airs Mondays on ABC. Fans of Firefly and Serenity should tune in to see an old friend of Nathan Fillion’s turn up in an upcoming episode.