Castle: Witness for the Prosecution (Review)

Castle: Witness for the Prosecution is one of two back-to-back episodes of the series, amazingly this is not a two-night two-parter.

NATHAN FILLION

Castle: Witness for the Prosecution is one of two back-to-back episodes of the series, amazingly this is not a two-night  two-parter. This episode deals with a crime that Rick sees five months previously and as the eye witness, he is due to testify against the alleged murderer Nina O’Keefe (Clare Grant). 

At a charity auction book reading for the Masters family, news correspondent  Sadie Beakman appears to be stabbed to death by Nina, “caught in the act” by Rick and now he is a witness for the prosecution in O’Keefe’s murder trial. The case appears to be open and shut until the new public defender Caleb Brown (Kristopher Polaha) “nukes” Castle’s testimony setting up justifiable doubt in the jury’s minds.

Rather interestingly, Brown is a “loksat” baddy, as in he has a direct connection to the “big bad” of the season. Vikram Singh (Sunkrish Bala) Kate’s partner in her secondary storyline of hunting down loksat, aka the reason that she and Castle are separated, is looking at Brown as the episode begins. 

Later, the public defender shows up as Nina’s attorney and Beckett is surprised.  Brown questions Rick on the witness stand and rips his testimony to shreds.  This sets up doubt in Castle’s mind as to what he really saw and he, along with the 12th precinct ‘A’ team re-investigate the murder.

While Rick sets out to initially prove that he was right about Nina murdering Beakman, he ends up believing in her innocence. By the end of the episode, Beckett, Rick, Javi and Ryan all go that extra mile to prove O’Keefe’s innocence.  Kate also has ends up with a grudging respect for Caleb, who initially appeared in the episode Mr. and Mrs. Castle.

Brown is obviously going to be the joker in this season’s storyline.  As Kate tells Vikram, the public defender is a monster, but one with what could be seen as a fatal weakness; he craves justice for his clients.

Overall, Witness for the Prosecution feels a little like Perry Mason, sans a charismatic lawyer who rules the courtroom and stops proceedings with last minute information.  In this episode it is Castle and Kate who interrupt the trial to present information that will, ultimately, prove Nina’s innocence.

CLARE GRANT, KRISTOFFER POLAHA, NATHAN FILLION, CHRISTOPHER B. DUNCAN, ANNA GRACE BARLOW
(l to r) CLARE GRANT, KRISTOFFER POLAHA, NATHAN FILLION, CHRISTOPHER B. DUNCAN, ANNA GRACE BARLOW

Despite the fact that Brown’s character is clearly a new recurring one, not a lot of time is spent on the man’s attachment to loksat.  Instead the episode allows Richard to set up another of his cockeyed  plans, which ultimately always work out, where he gets the judge to jail him for contempt giving him access to Nina.

This storyline has Nina as the lesbian lover of the news correspondent and the dead woman’s cameraman as kidnapper.  Included in this mystery is a duffel bag with $5 million that was stolen by the deceased and then split with her “loyal” cameraman.

At the end of the episode, the woman’s killer turns out to be her husband, who Castle also saw the night of the murder.  Keeping with its Perry Mason overtones, Beakman not only confesses to killing his wife at the trial, but Kate arrests him there as well. Richard solves the crime during the dramatic moment where he and Beckett interrupt the trial.

Comically, Nathan Fillion manages to raise a few chuckles, although the Svetlana outrage from last week were Javi and Ryan are furious with Rick was dropped this week.  The three worked very well as a trio of interrogators when they questioned Mr. Masters, the first suspect aside from Nina.

While it is annoying that in terms of character arc, Rick Castle seems to have taken a giant step backward, there is a hint in the episode that Kate is tiring of the charade that she and Richard are separated. She tells Vikram, in an amusing scene where she learns the IT expert has named his computer “Cee Cee,” that she is ready to get her life back.

It is still interesting to see that new cast member Toks Olagundoye as Hayley Vargas  is still missing from the show.  In terms of “new characters” this episode does  more properly get into introducing Caleb Brown as a bit more than shadowy loksat villain.  

Witness for the Prosecution was amusing enough, even going so far as one character getting an offer to be in Castle’s next book if she forced her husband into giving up evidence without a search warrant.  The next episode, airing February 15, the day after “Witness” is Dead Red in this back-to-back double-header that seemingly has no connection.

Castle normally airs Mondays on ABC.

Castle: Tone Death – Carrie, Reality TV and Secrets (Recap/Review)

Castle returns with Tone Death, where Beckett and Rick are carrying on a secret dating relationship, mainly to keep Castle safe from Kate’s “extra curricular” investigations, and having a wonderful time.

NATHAN FILLION, STANA KATIC

Castle returns with Tone Death, where Beckett and Rick are carrying on a  secret dating relationship, mainly to keep Castle safe from Kate’s “extra curricular” investigations, and having a wonderful time.  Before the couple begin their day though Martha is rehearsing her show and as she begins “The Things We Do For Love” a stage hand starts the snow machine and a “Carrie” style blood shower hits the backup singers.

A human corpse is the source of this blood “bath” and she was part of a reality TV musical contest. The victim was also an ex con. Castle’s mother is very upset by the death of the girl, whom she met the day before. She asks Richard to personally look into who murdered the young performer.

The dead girl’s name is Robyn King and it looks initially like her mother may have something to do with her death until Ryan discovers that King’s mom died when she was a child. So the woman who turned up and argued with the girl, whom she called “momma” is a stranger.

Kate and Rick have a fake argument in front of Ryan and Esposito tells the three who “mamma” is, a drug dealer that Robyn worked for back before the girl’s prison sentence.  The cops also learn that King was going up to Spanish Harlem regularly. Mamma’s alibi is tight and as Rick and Kate talk, she slaps him when Ryan turns up to maintain their “cover.”

Martha wants to help Rick to find Robyn’s killer and he reveals the emoji message on the dead girls cell phone  that he took a picture of.  Alexis has to help translate the text as neither Castle nor Martha “speak” emoji.  The three solve the puzzle and learn where in Spanish Harlem Robyn was going. Alexis and Rick head down to investigate.

MOLLY C. QUINN, NATHAN FILLION
Alexis and Rick investigate…

Castle gets rattled and texts “911!!!!” to Espo just before finding a group of young people rehearsing musical numbers which segways into a “riff-off.”  After Ryan and Javi turn up with the cavalry, Alexis and Rick learn that Robyn belonged to an ex-con group of singers, the ACA Cons, who are competing in the AAC (All American A cappella  competition) and that one of the group was angry with the dead girl after being kicked out.

The kicked out singer, Agnes Malina becomes a new suspect and while the cops look for the missing woman Kate speaks to the sponsors of the ex-con group to get more background on the singers and the dead girl.

During the investigation, since Ryan saw Kate slap Rick, he and Javi decide that Castle has been cheating. To get the guys off his back (or chest) Richard lies and says he is having an affair with a Russian fashion model.

The three men find Agnes at boyfriend Dexter’s apartment (a pretty funny scene where Rick keeps looking in the wrong spot for the hiding girl) and  when she is questioned about Robyn it turns out that she is innocent. Later, Javi and Ryan sympathize with Kate about Svetlana, and offer to throw Rick down the stairs.

The investigation takes Esposito, Ryan, Beckett and Castle to the competition rehearsals where they speak to the head of the singing reality TV contest, Dr. Larson (John Billingsley)  and then Javi (Jon Huertas) gets into a sing-off with Hunter (Corbin Bleu) which Castle messes up. 

Kate hears Rick in the next room and it turns out that Hunter, who initially runs until Kate stops him mid-flight with a clothesline maneuver, paid off Dr. Larson to fix the competition so that Robyn’s group would not win.  As Larson is questioned by Ryan and Esposito he reveals that the ACA Cons  intro video upset the victim and she cut short the meeting with the head of the competition.

STANA KATIC, CORBIN BLEU
Kate clotheslines Hunter…

This last bit of evidence leads the detectives and Castle to the killer as they track down what happened the night that Robyn was arrested. Evidence showed that the dead girl was innocent and when she went to confront the real culprit she was murdered.

Tone Death allows for some nice bits of comedy with Ryan and Espo telling Kate that in the  break up Beckett “gets them.” It also allows Jon Huertas to show off his “pipes” in the mini sing off.  Seamus Dever proves that he is still adept at comedy with his various reactions to the Kate and Rick separation.

The entire “secret dating” schtick cannot last long, however, as it requires too much stupidity on the part of Kevin and Javi.  Although Beckett’s fake boyfriend “Doctor Livingstone” provides a cute ending to the episode.

Susan Sullivan (Martha) gets a chance to make up for her lack of time on the new season thus far and in this episode, Molly C. Quinn also gets a fair amount of screen time as her character Alexis helps out dad and grandma.

Sadly, the newest addition to the Castle family Toks Olagundoye (who plays Hayley Vargas) gets credit but no screen time, hopefully this will change in upcoming episodes. It also appears that Kate’s investigations have been put on hold for the time being. 

One item of complaint has to be that Nathan Fillion is playing his character of Richard Castle increasing for laughs, losing that “cop by osmosis” plot thread that had appeared. Surely there must be a happy medium where the actor does not feel compelled to constantly engage in prat falls and silliness.

Kudos to John Billingsley (who this writer watched in action on another set, woking on another show; Stitchers) who managed to make his cameo a masterpiece performance  despite having little screen time. What a consummate actor.

JON HUERTAS, SEAMUS DEVER
Javi and Kevin upset at “mommy and daddy” splitting up…

Castle airs Mondays on ABC.  Tune in and see where Rick and Kate are headed next in their relationship while they solve crimes together…Like the good old days.

 

Castle: The Nose – Hayley Vargas Returns: Sic Transit Kate Mundi?

SUSAN SULLIVAN, MOLLY QUINN, NATHAN FILLION

In Castle this week the plot thickens. Not the main one, where Stephnie Weir plays hyperosmia perfume specialist and murder witness Mia and helps Rick through the episode. The one where it looks like Kate Beckett, aka Stana Katic  will go on a long hiatus and Hayley Vargas may be an interim (?) replacement as cool strong female character. (Think this generation’s Emma Peel here, gorgeous and talented but oh so cool with it.)

In other words a perfect co-star for Nathan Fillion and more than capable replacement for Stana. After all, “Mrs. Castle” has only signed up for one more season (one year) contractually. While there has been no official word about the talented Katic leaving, the presence of Toks Olagundoye as uber cool insurance fraud investigator Hayley Vargas for four of the first five episodes of season eight (and billing on a fifth) makes it seem the actress may be here to stay.

Granted, neither actress had too much screen time although there was a rather telling scene where the two characters question a suspect. Vargas and Kate compliment each other; recognizing equals in the battle for justice. Almost like Beckett handing over the reins to her replacement…Later in the episode, Kate takes Rick’s jacket, after inhaling his aroma from the collar and replaces it with a NYPD T-shirt.

In The Nose a transporter is murdered for a Van Gough he is carrying and the act is witnessed by Mia (Weir) who is pressed into helping Rick solve the murder to impress Kate. Javi and Ryan are thrown into turmoil when Esposito passes the sergeant’s exam and Kevin does not.

As investigations get into full swing, Harley Vargas drops in to assist as she is after the painting, listed as stolen since WWII.

The episode is heavy on comedy. Example: Kate is bent over and looking into the murder victims car. Ryan says, about the vehicle’s interior, that the back end is too small for a man to get into. Splendid bit of comedy and it appears that bums are a theme in this installment as Javi is shot in the a** later by Ryan.  Once Espo returns to work everyone, it seems cannot wait to mention his a** wound.

STEPHNIE WEIR
Mia aka Stephnie Weir

Weir (The Comedians, Big Day) gives a brilliant performance as the prickly smell expert who finds other’s odors so offensive that she lives in a giant humidor. She also gets some of the best lines. When asked if she would like Ryan and Espo to drive her home, her response is:

“I’d rather french-kiss a corpse.”

The plot was apparently inspired  by The Transporter Refueled a “reboot” of the popular franchise that opened this year, with Camden born actor Ed Skrein replacing Jason Statham as Frank Martin.  With the stolen painting as the show’s McGuffin, it also looks like the show’s writers were giving  a nod to the 2014 film The Monuments Men.

Lucy, Rick’s home device made another appearance and this week saw Molly C.Quinn in a teeny cameo while her “grandmother” Martha (Susan Sullivan) had much more to do in terms of screen time. Mia meets Martha when she cooks a super bland meal for Castle’s human bloodhound.

The underlying storyline, of Kate’s leaving Rick and stopping by to collect the rest of there things, reeks of a Stana Katic exit scene.  A lot of time was spent, via  olfactory clues from Mia, relaying to the viewer just how much Beckett loves Rick and, of course, vice versa.  So it looks like Kate is leaving for an indefinite amount of time. (Remember that one year contract?)

Replacing Katic with Toks Olagundoye, even if it is only for season eight, is a good move. Fans will come closer to accepting this strong character, that Toks brings to life brilliantly, as a good substitute for  strong positive female role model Kate. While there are no clear signs that Hayley might become more than an investigative partner for Rick to work with;  the two actors do have splendid chemistry when on screen together.

TOKS OLAGUNDOYE, STANA KATIC
Kate and Hayley work together

There have been hints that Olagundoye could become a “regular” and all that remains is for the show’s runner to make an official announcement.  MikesFilmTalk has stated once before that Toks could well be “the new” Dame Diana Rigg. She exudes that aura of sophisticated charisma and cool sexiness that Rigg, in the guise of Emma Peel and many of her other roles, could have invented.

The Nose as an exit episode for Kate, who looks to be disappearing again,  worked brilliantly. As was typical of any good Castle episode there were enough comedic moments to keep the viewer smiling and laughing and just enough pathos to prompt a tear, or two, from the same viewer.

Stand out moment award goes  to Nathan Fillon for his “John Wayne/Harrison Ford” screen punch that knocks out the baddy and also breaks Mia’s nose. Great stuff and one more reason why “Fillion Rules.”

Castle airs Mondays on ABC and is still addictive viewing. Tune in and be captivated.

 

 

Castle: What Lies Beneath (Review)

)MOLLY QUINN, NATHAN FILLION

Last week’s episode of Castle had a much more comic touch and focussed more on Rick and Alexis.  What Lies Beneath continues the new formula (of Castle and Daughter P.I. LLC) and while Molly C. Quinn does have much more to do, (and please let this continue) there is more Javi, Ryan and Kate interaction, although Stana Katic’s is quite minimal. This segment dealt with a pathological liar who was murdered as he prayed.

What made this installment that bit more clever was that, like the title, most of the main characters were actively lying.  Of course that could be the theme of the entire season. Kate is, after all, telling a lie of omission to her husband. Her lack of explanation for leaving  Rick, which has him trying to “win her back” is still a type of lying.

In the show, Ryan lies, first to Javi about the sergeant’s exam, then to the entire precinct when he agrees to work for Castle as a mole, for $500 per week.  The victim, Dave Johnson; who was a pathological liar,  had “fallen off the wagon” (the dead man was a member of PLA “Pathological Liars Anonymous”) and was telling tales to everyone.

To Johnson’s wife and his priest  he was the elusive, and eccentric author PJ Moffet ( a favorite of both Rick and Alexis), to a local “mobbed up” sanitation magnate he was Jimmy “Two Guns” O’Malley. In reality he was a former accountant whose lies got him fired and he worked as a janitor at City Hall. The deceased was then fired from his post at City Hall after an “incident.”

The man’s blind priest, also lies to everyone; the “Father” pretended to be blind to have his choice of parish and to get away from Tampa.   As Rick and the guys explore the case, they find out about the priest, who then tells the three men what Dave was really up to at City Hall.

Johnson hacked into the the city’s financial data base to falsify records saying  the priest had paid his parish’s bill. While inside the system, Dave found a hidden slush fund.  Before the man could reveal what he learned, he was murdered.

Once all the clues are put together, Rick, Javi, Ryan and Alexis plan to capture the city official who set up the illegal slush fund using the “Midnight Run” ruse. (Another lie.) The ruse, based on the 1988  film’s plot, the team, sans Kate who would be in trouble if she was connected to the scheme,  is to tell their suspect that the jig is up and all the proof is on a thumb-drive.

SEAMUS DEVER, NATHAN FILLION, JON HUERTAS
The Midnight Run strategy…

The suspect falls for the scam, goes to steal the thumb-drive  and is caught. At the end of the episode, Kate is given a coffee made by Rick. She takes a sip and tells him that she cannot make her coffee taste that good, even though Rick showed her how. Castle reveals that he lied about the recipe, because if he told her the “secret ingredient” she would no longer need him.

What Lies Beneath still had some comic moments, but not many that can be classed as overly funny and at least one touching moment. Susan Sullivan again made a very short appearance as Martha, and it was her scene with Kate that was offered some lovely sentimentality.

Ryan and Javi have a falling out that is stopped short by Captain Beckett revealing that she put both her detectives in for the sergeant’s exam.   The only main characters who do not lie in this episode are Lanie, Javi, Martha and the “Irish hit-man” who Rick is having breakfast with.  (Arguably Alexis is also “lie free” as the referenced untruth that Castle mentions in the show happened before the episode.)

By the time the end credits roll, a plethora of leads have been followed and disregarded and lot of lies have been told and the revealed. It turns out that the pathological liar’s wife did him in and Castle and Kate are a little closer to working out a solution where they can at least work together…maybe…

Beckett is still chasing the case that she and Vikram Singh started back in the first episode of the season.  This plot line took back seat in this episode with just enough of a presence to remind the viewer that Kate is not leaving this one alone.

Alexis is still proving to be the adult in the partnership with her father and the show allowed Nathan Fillion to do what he does best, be Rick Castle.  Stana Katic had very little screen time, but it is a testament to her chops that she consistently delivers with  minimal effort.

Castle airs Mondays on ABC, tune in and get your Caskett fix.

Castle: A Blip on the Internet Continuum (Review)

Castle: A Blip on the Internet Continuum (Review)

Castle this week looks at Internet celebrity and how fleeting any event is on the web “continuum.” Season seven of this popular Nathan Fillion and Stana Katic double act, along with the ensemble cast of Molly C. Quinn, Susan Sullivan, Jon Huertas, Seamus Dever, Penny Johnson and Tamala Jones has moved on from the wedding that never was in the beginning and has gotten back to making pertinent statements about society. The power of the writing and the show’s deft humor still delivers. When a web star from “Snappamatic” is murdered by “netslayer,” who then posts a photo of the dead celeb on his account – with the caption, “This star’s 15 seconds are over,” Team Castle and Beckett, or Caskett have to solve the crime before the killer can strike again. In this instance, however, they fail at first.