Castle: The G.D.S. – Total Recall and Blindspot have a Baby (Review)

2016 is the year for Total Recall homages, or at the very least borrowing the “message to yourself” plot device from the film. Castle: The G.D.S. uses the “pre-recorded message” scenario

NATHAN FILLION

2016 is the year for Total Recall homages, or at the very least borrowing the “message to yourself” plot device from the film. Castle: The G.D.S. uses the “pre-recorded message” scenario.  Blindspot has also used the device, something that was absent from the Philip K. Dick book that inspired both the 1990 and 2012 versions of “We Can Remember it For You Wholesale.” It does feel a little like Total Recall and Blindspot had a baby.

Sidenote: To be fair, at the end, just before the “message” part, Rick says that the whole Hayley/LA scenario feels like a Philip K. Dick story. 

While the main storyline of Castle this week is all about Rick trying to “find” his lost time in Los Angles, the serial killer plot line, which allowed one great cameo from Gerald McRaney who is rapidly becoming the face of Gravitas on television and a great guest spot for Summer Glau, Fillion’s former cast-mate from Firefly and Serenity.

Although in the intense of Rick Castle, his message may well contain the information that he has “done this to himself” (wiped his memories) but we find out the reason. (In Blindspot Jaimie Alexander’s character still has no idea why.)  Richard jettisoned his memories because he was investigating LokSat.

Before the revelation that Castle quite probably sentenced Kate’s investigative team to death because of his interference, he has to solve the murder of a deceased D.G.S. member.  The Greatest Detective Society, far from being the myth  that Hayley Vargas declares it to be, is real and its leader (McRaney) has offered Rick and San Francisco P.I. Kendall Frost (Glau) a chance to become members.

The catch is the they must compete to find the killer of former member Phillip Harris.  As Rick, with the assistance of Harley (Toks Olagundoye) investigate both the murder and Castle’s missing time. Alexis (Molly C. Quinn) is along for the ride and she also investigates her father’s  missing time.

Kate Beckett (Stana Katic) is missing from the proceedings, even when Javi and Ryan are called in to help with the investigation (There is a New York connection) the only other member of the 12th to be seen is Lanie (Tamala Jones).  In New York, the two detectives track down the East Coast serial killer in a pretty satisfying stand off with an impressive end. 

The two play a practical joke on Lanie that gets them both in trouble with the M.E. and in Los Angeles, Alexis makes a startling discovery about Hayley.  It turns out that Vargas is a lot more than she appears and that she and Rick have a previous connection.

A deadly one.

Despite the fact that the episode used the Total Recall “message in a video” device (sans wet towel) all the threads were neatly tied at the end. Revealing that, apart from appearances to the contrary, Vargas is a “good guy” and that she has her own reasons for working with Rick and Alexis.

At least according to Hayley she does…

There  is a clever twist  in the end where the Hollywood type who destroyed the Nikki Heat film turns out to be much more, and less, than a top notch studio head.  Interestingly, Castle’s father (played brilliantly by James Brolin, Josh Brolin’s father) is mentioned again in connection to the LokSat issue. Considering the amount of “verbal” airplay “Daddy Castle” has been getting lately it may not be too long before Brolin senior makes another appearance on the show.

After last week’s episode Castle: And Justice for All, where it looked like Alexis may be shoved to the side, Molly C. Quinn got quite a lot to do in this episode. At one point, it did look like Vargas might be a threat to her new chum, but that was soon sorted out.

It does still look like things may turn bleak, if not deadly, for Stana Katic’s character, especially if one reads between the lines and remembers that one year contract

The whole invitation to the “Society” as well as the competition between Glau’s character and Rick, with plenty of screen time for Toks Olagundoye’s character was entertaining and fun.  Any plot that enables the talented Toks to  show off her acting chops is a good one.

While the storyline of solving Harris’ murder was what drove most of the action,  it did allow time for Castle to search for his missing time. On a sidenote, the Lanie practical joke was funny.

Castle: The G.D.S. does two things very well. It ties Rick into the LokSat investigations solidly and implies that he inadvertently put Kate in danger. The plot also allows Fillion to drop the bumbling buffoon that his character has become in this season. A nice reminder that while Rick is not a “tough guy” he is capable of being serious and deadly.

Glancing at the upcoming titles on Castle, the season finale’s Dead Again, is a tad foreboding, but as it was Rick who was presumed dead before it may not indicate a grisly end for Kate Beckett as much as for the series.

Castle airs Mondays on ABC. Tune in and see if there are any clues as to whether Rick and Kate will return for another season.

 

Castle: The G.D.S. (Sneak Peek)

In Castle The G.D.S. (which stands for The Greatest Detective Society) Rick heads to Los Angeles to track down the mystery of his missing time.

NATHAN FILLION, GERALD MCRANEY, SUMMER GLAU
In Castle The G.D.S (which stands for The Greatest Detective Society) Rick heads to Los Angeles to track down the mystery of his missing time. After finding the clue in last week’s episode a’la OldBoy, Castle knows that Korea Town in LA was a clue.

He brings Alexis (Molly C. Quinn) and Hayley Vargas (Toks Olagundoye) with him and as seen in the first sneak peek, the ladies decide to drool over the delivery men while Richard gets an invite to The G.D.S.

Hayley tells Rick that the society is a sort of private detective fairy tale.

http://www.disneyabcpress.com/abc/video/ewssur3tia6_bwtggywfxkbcgkfa76ky/embed

Castle is recruited to help solve a murder and he, along with Hayley begin to follow the trail and Rick meets with an old acquaintance as part of his investigation. Things turn deadly once he agrees to look into the death.

The G.D.S. features Nathan Fillion’s old friend and cast-mate Summer Glau and former Longmire and Agent X actor Gerald McRaney

Summer Glau plays Kendall Frost, a stimulating and exciting private detective fromLos Angeles that tries to beat Rick to the punch at solving the murder. McRaney is Mason Wood, the head of the G.D.S. aka the Greatest Detective Society. Bad Boys II actor Jason Manual Olazabal is Detective Menendez.

In the second sneak peek Desperate Housewives actor Doug Savant appears as the new studio head that Castle has dealt with before; Victor Nigel, the man who brought “Heat Wave” to the screen and in the sneak peek below Nigel tells Rick, and Hayley that their showing up is “fate.”

http://www.disneyabcpress.com/abc/video/1mwgpvvtkiq_nn2jfeqdc6emmvzngu8_/embed?t=89

The G.D.S was written by Alexi Hawley and is directed by John Terlesky. The episode airs Monday on ABC.

Castle: And Justice for All – Shifting Alexis Out? (Review)

Castle: And Justice for All was, in many ways, cleverly done; 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.

KARAN OBEROI, NATHAN FILLION

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.

 

Castle: The Blame Game Episode 12 – Saw Revisited? (Review)

In Castle: The Blame Game, aka episode 12 of season eight, one could be forgiven for expecting Billy the Doll, from the Saw franchise to suddenly roll up in a shot.

 NATHAN FILLION, STANA KATIC

In Castle: The Blame Game, aka episode 12 of season eight, one could be forgiven for expecting Billy the Doll, from the Saw franchise to suddenly roll up in a shot. As this seemed to be Saw revisited, sans the overwhelmingly gore or Danny Glover from the first in the series, or indeed, missing the over the top terror…

This episode, despite being helmed most impressively by director Jessica Yu, felt like a re-tread of sorts.  Another episode where either Rick, or Kate, or  both,  get stuck in an impossible situation and must think their way out…or work together to overcome odds to escape a locked room.

In this case, there were others placed in the looked area for them to play off of and each one was  locked in a separate room with different playmates.  As in at least one Saw plot, one of the other captives was actually the perpetrator, aka “Jigsaw” played in the many film sequels  by Tobin Bell,  but in this episode the baddy was portrayed by Kevin Christy.

The Blame Game also owes a little to the Marvel verse. Specifically Jessica Jones, a hit on Netflix that has been approved for another season, where former Dr. Who star David Tennant played a character whose parents experimented on him as a lad.

During the episode, while the women are trapped in one “kindergarten class room” (and the men in another identical room) a prisoner mentions some sort of study.  Regardless of this misdirection, the plot is pure Saw.  Puzzles to solve, that can be deadly if one does not “think outside the box” and objects that do not act as expected.

(For example, there is a gun rigged to kill the shooter. The weapon was located next to a note that stated, “the last one standing leaves.”)

At the start of the episode, Richard excitedly bursts in on a little tea party between Alexis and Martha to tell them about a meeting with Stephen King to “collaborate” and the two women ask about whether King is still angry with Rick.  This “meeting” is not real, but merely a ploy to trap Castle, along with three other prisoners.

There are some entertaining moments.

Rick standing in a rat infested hallway in a clearly condemned building watching the lights go out, the darkness moving toward him like any number of horror films and his terrified face as the last light goes out is a great moment.  Another impressive moment is the gun, that kills its operator and even without the gore, is entertaining as well as surprising.

One highlight of this episode was the re- appearance of Toks Olagundoye, finally, after being listed on the credits for a number of episodes as a regular.

The plot for this particular episode did feel a little “old-hat.” Whether this was down to the many sequels of Saw or the Netflix series Jessica Jones is not clear but one thing is for certain, Rick and/or Kate being kidnapped is definitely getting old. Even Alexis mentions that her father gets taken hostage on a semi-regular basis.

By the end of the episode, Rick and Kate are working as a team and this enables them to defeat the monumentally screwed up captor who insists that one of them die with him.  Martha, who appears at the start of the show, is not around to comfort Alexis, who actually leads the cops to dad and Kate.

It is Hayley Vargas (Olagundoye) who placates the distraught Castle offspring and the two go out to paint the town pink.

Castle airs Mondays on ABC and still has a few episodes to go for this season. News is not out just yet about the likelihood of another season, but it is to be hoped that if there is another one in the cards, that the plots are that bit more original…

 

 

 

Castle: Dead Red – Review

The second Castle episode in as many days, Dead Red gives Stana Katic a chance to show off her Russian speaking skills and a Red Heat type plot line allows Rick to get close toa Russian Cleaner.

 SEAMUS DEVER, JON HUERTAS, NICK E. TARABAY, NATHAN FILLION, STANA KATIC

The second Castle episode in as many days, Dead Red gives Stana Katic a chance to show off her Russian speaking skills and a Red Heat type plot line allows Rick to get close to a Russian Cleaner.  The dead “red” in this episode is the son of a Russian official and since all staff at the embassy have diplomatic immunity, the killer may well go free.

Sidenote: Is it just me, or does everyone hear Arjen Judd, aka  the actor Joss Ackland sneering “Diplomatic immunity,” from the 1989 film “Lethal Weapon 2?”

A security officer, who is Russian a’la Red Heat, is assigned to Rick and Kate. He is a huge Richard Castle fan, and nothing, in this post cold war mystery is as it seems. Rick gets to meet his stepmother Rita (Ann Cusack) and Nick E. Tarabay guest stars as the “Arnold Schwarzenegger” character for Dead Red, Vasiliy Zhirov.

A young man, Grigory Mishkin is murdered in an abandoned building and as the police begin their investigations Zhriov is assigned to help as a gesture of good will.  The attached red officer is overjoyed to be working with Rick and Kate and later arranges to have the two work as a team again.

This “re-joining” seems to be a flag post of the faux separation soon coming to an end. Even Martha and Alexis have noticed that Richard is no longer distraught at Kate’s leaving. Also, as mentioned in the Castle: Witness for the Prosecution review, Javi and Ryan have completely gotten over their rage at Rick’s “cheating.”

The first suspect in the murder investigation is “diplo-brat” Jurgen Kass, (played with a brilliant comic touch by Luke Stratte-McClure) who makes fun of Javi and Ryan when they attempt to question him. Rick  goes with Vassily to get coffee and they run into Kass at the coffee shop. Kass is terrified by Zhirov’s suggestion that if he does not help, he will lose his feet. 

The dipole-brat then reveals that he did not kill Mishkin but got the dead man to give him a ticket to  a Russian diplomatic party.

As the investigations continue, Vassily is revealed to be a “cleaner” (something much more threatening than a security officer) and the cops learn that  Mishkin’s mother was a “Sleeper” agent. Beckett reveals to Rita that she and Castle are still very much a couple after Rick’s stepmother tells Kate off for allowing loksat to kill her marriage.

Mishkin was trying to find out who killed his mother and it gets him killed. Clues lead back to another Sleeper, Anatoly Arkady, aka Frank Thomas. Vassily picks up the man to question him and Richard helps to do it painlessly.  The two learn that something will happen at the party, as Frank was setting up fake ids in order  to smuggle someone in.

Zhirov vouches for Beckett, Rick, Kevin and Esposito so they can attend the soiree and once inside, Kate saves Oborin’s life but Sergei is shot. After the party, Rita reveals herself to Richard and they share a special moment.

Mishkin’s mother turns up alive, it was she who attempted to kill Sergei (who she knows killed Grigory, her son) and the wounded diplomat is returned to Russia rather than face justice in America.

The episode ends with Kate and Rick learning that Sergei is to be sent to the coldest place on earth and the couple then get up to some “hanky-panky” in “Russia.”

Taraby is brilliant as the Russian cleaner who is also a fan of Castle and Nikky Heat. With his beard and long mustache, the Lebanese-American actor could pass for a younger Sean Connery and his charismatic performance shows why Nick is one of the busier actors in the business.

Dead Red was a splendid mix of mystery, cold war nostalgia and comedy, for instance, Strate-McClure’s performances with Jon Huertas and Seamus Dever was very funny:

Kass: “All right…I confess. I confess that, uh…I am rich…b*tches.”

The touching moment with Rick and Rita was just that.  Taraby got the line of the show with his “Katherine the Great” remark when buttering up Katic outside the above referenced interrogation scene. Although arguably his pleading with the cops, and Castle, to behave since his “street cred” was on the line was pretty funny and came a close second.

While this was another step away from the “big bad” that Kate and Vikram are pursuing, loksat was not left out in the cold as Rita is not only Castle’s stepmom but also the one helping Beckett and Singh to take down the corporate villain.

Castle normally airs Mondays on ABC, the next episode should air on February 22. Tune in and get your Nathan Fillion/Stana Katic fix.