Castle: The Final Finale (Nice Twist, Shame About the End) Review

 STANA KATIC, NATHAN FILLION
Castle: The Final Finale (Nice Twist, Shame About the End) Review

‘Castle’ had their last ever season finale, a final one if you will, and it had a nice twist that was slightly ruined by the shameful add-on at the end. After an eight season run it would have been nice for the series to go out on a high and not the “behind the scenes” low it slumped out on.

As endings go, it was not bad. The finale obviously was meant to end very differently with a massive cliff hanger (Although…Did anyone else almost expect a ‘The War of the Roses‘ moment?) All joking aside, the final finale was  pretty damn good in terms of twists and dead ends being turned into clues.

The episode starts with a nondescript man driving a car and listening to the The Brady Bunch song ‘Sunshine Day’ while a thumping sound is heard from elsewhere in the car. The driver puts the vehicle behind an abandoned building and begins pouring gasoline in the car.

Opening the trunk he tells the very much alive man there, “Don’t you just love that song?” He then pours gas on the man and sets the car on fire.

The plot is all about  the big bad that has plagued Castle and Beckett for ages; LokSat.

After Caleb Brown (Kristoffer Polaha) sold out his boss LokSat last week, the L-gang, Shipton, Vikram, Rick and Kate head down to the drop-off point. They wait for Caleb to turn up and make his drop.  A car arrives and “Caleb” gets out. It is not Brown at all. 

It is a trap.

They end up being attacked by superior numbers and only Hayley’s sniper rifle keeps this from turning into a bloodbath, that and Mason Wood (Gerald McRaney) turning up with a Korean Taco/BBQ van. Wood spirits Kate and Rick away and tells them Castle’s step-mother sent him.

GERALD MCRANEY
Mason Wood to the rescue.

What follows is an abduction,  Ryan and Esposito getting involved, Rick being given a truth serum, we learn who LokSat really is (nice twist) and there is another great shootout. Rick almost saves Kate who then saves herself and Castle.

After LokSat is captured, Rick and Kate go home to celebrate and the last twist in the episode appears, armed with a silenced pistol and an attitude.

Without going into specifics, which would be spoiler city, the last ever episode of ‘Castle’ was a good one. It tied up the biggest loose end and had at least one “plot-hole” in that whole “It’s a black site all the signals are jammed,” revelation which they later tried to fix.

Too late.

Then there is that clearly tacked on ending, since we cannot have a cliffhanger ending leading to nowhere, that was a nice thought but… It would have made more sense as a dream than a peek into the future of Rick and Kate with four kids and happy breakfast time.

‘Castle’ had a good run. Eight seasons, not all were spectacular but being Nathan Fillion and Stana Katic we were forgiving, that entertained and kept the viewer wanting more.  Even with the sad news that Katic and Jones would not be back for a ninth season (although the writing was on the wall people) we wanted more.

The splendid chemistry between the two lead characters, the plot lines and the fact that Nathan Fillion has never been better made this must watch TV. (Except maybe for seasons four and five…Just saying.) Fillion is always good value for money and one hopes that this long run made up for the ‘Firefly’ network “stab in the back.”

Kudos to Gerald McRaney, the man gives great bad guy.

Jed Rees was splendid as Mr. Flynn, a man who loves The Brady Bunch music.  Polaha’s great shocked expression at the end was also noteworthy.

Sadly there will never be a do-over for ‘Castle.’ Clearly Stana Katic was fed up with the show last year, hence her one year contract, and without its co-star ‘Castle’ would not have fared well in a ninth season.  Beckett made Castle fun, even marrying the characters did not detract too much from the series dynamic and they still had a great give and take.

When it was confirmed that Katic was leaving, never to return, the news that there would be no ninth season of ‘Castle’ followed.   The fact that Kate Beckett was leaving was a wound that the series could not recover from.  One can quite imagine ongoing talks throughout the last season  to bring Stana back but it is clear the “lady was not for turning.”

STANA KATIC
Stana Katic

So long ‘Castle’ you kept us entertained for quite some time and despite that tacked-on ending, we still love you and will miss you.

 

Castle: Death Wish – Rick Dreams of Genie (Review)

NATHAN FILLION , JON HUERTAS, STANA KATIC, TAMALA JONES

A man is tortured and decapitated by a Turkish scimitar  in Castle: Death Wish and the dead man is a smuggler of antiquities. The “tomb raider’s” latest find includes “Aladdin’s lamp” and Rick dreams of genies and is apparently  helped  by one to solve the crime.

This episode was a return to the tried and true formula of Castle.  Rick following his flights of fancy, which ultimately leads to a solid conclusion and Kate exasperated with her fella’s vivid imagination.

After finding photos of the dead man holding a lamp with the “seal of David” on the side, Rick believes that the victim awakened the genie in the lamp and it is now roaming free, “like a samurai ronin” as he says to  professor Baker.

Baker wrote a book, “Unlocking the Mysteries of 1001 Arabian Nights” and Rick goes to see her about the missing lamp. The object is part of an entire shipment missing from a dig at King Solomon’s tomb.

Throughout the episode Castle has help from a mysterious, and beautiful, blonde who Rick believes is the released genie from the lamp. Genevieve (Carolyn Stotesbery) has a habit of suddenly appearing and handing out helpful information (or knocking out a gun-wielding female villain)  and then apparently vanishing.  

Despite the warning from Baker, Rick believes in the more benevolent type Genie, and it does seem that Genevieve is a friendly entity. Although later it is revealed that Castle’s magical pal is a real person who is helping the country of origin to reclaim their national treasures.

(Or is she? Clock that wink that Genevieve gives Rick as they leave, and this is the one time that the woman does not vanish after her interaction with Castle. On a sidenote, Stotesbery, as the neighbor/journalist/security freelancing agent/genie comes over much better than her Pamela Richardson in Agent X;  must have been the dialogue…)

The “Kate moment”  of the episode had her moaning about feeling more like a kindergarten teacher than a police precinct captain. Immediately after,  Javi and Ryan come in competing, and bickering, over who will present their findings to Beckett first:

“Guys? Play nice…indoor voices…Espo goes first.”

The line of the episode goes to Lanie (Tamala Jones) who encapsulates “1001 Arabian Nights” and its story of Scheherazade as a book about:

“A misogynistic serial killer.”

The entire fanciful episode, with a genie who saves not only Rick’s bacon but Kevin Ryan’s wife and baby is well written. The first suspect, Mark Harlin describes his interaction with the genie as a malevolent creature. She, says Harlin, ruined his life.  It is not interesting  to note that both genies, Rick’s and Mark’s are female.

Each time Rick meets with Genevieve she vanishes, except for the end, and at one meeting, where Castle tumbles through the warehouse window and finds Aladdin’s lamp,  the woman arrives in a puff of smoke (clutching a two by six).

This episode allows Javi (Jon Huertas) and Ryan (Seamus Deaver) the chance to reveal their secret dreams. Kevin wants to be a Broadway star and Espo an MME star who “dates a different hot chick  every night.”  Interesting choices, one would wear tights and the other speedos “while grappling with men,”  says Kevin.

“Don’t forget the different hot chick every night,” responds Javi plaintively.  

Everything about this episode works, the Greg Edmondson type score; the man who worked on all the “Uncharted” video games which feature a “tomb raider” type in the guise of Nathan Drake (who Fillion was tipped to play in a movie version of the game  a million years ago…). The pipes are missing but the texture of the music feels very Edmondson.

Castle wants to believe in the genie and  even Alexis warns him about being careful what he wishes for.  In the end it is Dr. Baker who is revealed to be the murderer of  the tomb raider and Ryan’s wife delivers their baby amidst some pretty serious medical problems, after a heartfelt wish from Rick to his “genie.”

The show  is getting very good at surprising schmaltzy tears out of its viewers while working the storyline for a healthy number of laughs. Well done. Death Wish was more about Nathan Fillion and less about Stana Katic and sadly, Toks Olagundoye was nowhere to be seen.

It is almost fait accompli that LokSat will rear its nefarious head before the season finishes. This will undoubtably damped the tone, in terms of laughs, and with five episodes left in the season it may well be sooner than later.

Castle airs Mondays on ABC.

Castle: Heartbreaker – Sharks (Review)

 JON HUERTAS, ANGELICA CELAYA

Castle: Heartbreakers spends little time on Kate moving back in with Rick full time and moves straight into the storyline. The theme is sharks and ex loves.  Javi’s former fiancee is a thief and the two reunite after the episode begins with an armored car  heist that ends in murder.

Lucy, Rick and Kate are having breakfast and just as the A.I. shows signs of jealousy Beckett’s phone rings and the reunited couple have their first murder. It is the aforementioned  murderous heist and before Kate leaves Lucy refuses to make coffee and orders her out.

At the crime scene Rick spots a glob of perfumed jello on the floor and Esposito recognizes it as the M.O. of his one-time fiancee Sonia (Angélica Celaya). The mess dripping from an air duct is used to by-pass the security system.  Sonia is in prison with three months left in her sentence. 

Javi confesses that he was engaged to Sonia who was sent down for stealing gold bullion. Esposito arrested his fiancee and broke up with her, but the flame lives on. Sonia is volunteered, by Kate,  to help and Esposito has to look after his old love.

Rick is delighted at this turn of events and asks if Esposito let Sonia keep the engagement ring to trade for cigarettes in the prison. Javi is not amused.  As the cop and his former lover spend time together, Sonia works Esposito and escapes.

Prior to Sonia scarpering,  Rick’s obvious amusement at Javi’s backstory allows him to make a few jokes at his pal’s expense although Ryan does save him from getting into trouble. The two monitor Esposito and his old flame through the tracker on her ankle which she removes prior to leaving through a bathroom window.

 SEAMUS DEVER, NATHAN FILLION
SEAMUS DEVER, NATHAN FILLION

It is revealed that Sonia was in on the armored car robbery and she used the crime to get out of prison early, even though she was “locked in” to get parole in three months. Her share of the bullion was hidden by her father who had a stroke. Panicking Sonia had to get out or she might lose access to her gold.

Javi and Ryan rush to get Sonia back before Kate can learn of the escape.  Back at the Castle abode, Lucy is acting oddly at the welcome home party Beckett has with Alexis and Martha. (This is the second time that the A.I. uses music to comic effect. This time playing the violin Psycho theme at an ear splitting decibel level.)

Esposito tracks down Sonia, she is at her dying father’s side and Javi is kidnapped by Sonia’s business partner. Ryan rushes to save his partner but is too late.  As Kate, Ryan and Rick rush to find where the gold must be hidden, Javi’s time runs out when Sonia’s partner proposes killing the detective.

Sonia saves Javi and reveals that she still loves him and Esposito gets loose. He reveals that nine years ago he almost ran away with her rather than arrest the love of his life.

The episode ends with Sonia cutting a deal and Javi promising to visit her in prison, while Lucy is now Linus and the male A.I. goes all “2001: A Space Odyssey” on Rick.

Standout Moments: 

Javi’s five finger knife game a’la Aliens.

Lucy.

Linus.

Final Thoughts:

Not a bad episode this one. A gang of thieves who use shark names to identify themselves and a former love who Javi still carries a torch for.  Jon Huertas getting the spotlight and Stana Katic taking the back burner…again  works just fine as Katic’s character does get some comedic moments of her own. 

Overall there were enough comic touches to make the show fun and enough “drama” to keep things interesting.  LokSat has been shoved to the side, for the time being, but the smart money is on it showing up in a big way in the upcoming (remaining) episodes.

Kudos to Constantine actress Celaya for a great guest spot.

Castle airs Mondays on ABC.

 

Castle: Fidelis Ad Mortem – Welcome Back Kate (Review)

Castle: Fidelis Ad Mortem (which is “faithful unto death” in Latin) gave fans the welcome return of Kate Beckett as she is now moving back into Rick’s life properly. In other words, it looks like the captain will no longer be sneaking out of bedroom doors to avoid Martha.

 MICHAEL BOWEN, STANA KATIC

Castle: Fidelis Ad Mortem (which is “faithful unto death” in Latin) gave fans the welcome return of Kate Beckett as she is now moving back into Rick’s life properly. In other words, it looks like the captain will no longer be sneaking out of bedroom doors to avoid Martha.

Rick’s mother almost catches Kate having an early morning breakfast when she brings a copy of her  just published “agony aunt” book around for her son to see.   Despite Castle revealing that he caused Beckett’s team to be murdered and the whole “How is Kate going to react to this latest lie” plot, this episode was all about Beckett.

In case we needed reminding, Kate is a strong, capable woman who takes no prisoners.  The murder, that she and her team investigate this week (without any help from Rick for a change),  is that of Officer Bardot a recruit at the police academy.

Not surprisingly, a young Beckett was an overachiever when she went through the system and a current female recruit, Officer Decker (Ellen Woglom) is the new version of Kate.  Instructor Fitz (Michael Bowen)  takes Beckett through the academy and to the suspects, fellow classmates of the murdered cop.

The episode showcased Stana Katic as the uber cop Beckett, even Javi and Ryan took the back seat to proceedings doing little more than backup, and catching a fleeing suspect, than doing any real police work. Granted there were moments when both men did a little bit, but, it was a very little bit of detection.

Kate shows that not only is she the ultimate interrogation “bad a**” at the precinct, but the captain can also question multiple suspects and still winnow out the truth.  The scene was impressive. It felt a bit like speed-dating without the timer, so “speed interrogating” is the newest revealed skill of Captain Beckett.

Rick Castle shows up a couple of times throughout the episode, usually with Toks Olagundoye (who is now Hayley Shipton and no longer Hayley Vargas, perhaps Kate can figure that one out) who provides him with motivation.

 

NATHAN FILLION, TOKS OLAGUNDOYE
NATHAN FILLION, TOKS OLAGUNDOYE

Woglom plays Officer Decker; girlfriend of the murdered recruit officer and illegitimate daughter of the local Irish mafia boss.  She becomes a suspect but is later cleared after Beckett has a heart to heart with the new recruit.  The two women have a short “sparring” match of sorts when Kate shows Decker some moves on the mat.

Before the episode is over, Beckett’s “tough love” instructor is shot and Bardot’s murderer is caught. The head of the police academy is revealed  to be the killer.  There is a shoot out, in the academy’s Hogan’s Alley course,  where the murderer uses night vision glasses a’la Buffalo Bill in The Silence of the Lambs and Kate proves she don’t need no stinkin’ glasses to best a baddie.

(Sorry.)

Kate and Rick get back together to work LokSat as a team.  Cue confetti and a popping of champagne corks.  Now, apparently, the two can move back in together and stop the charade of being separated.

There is one bone of contention  with this episode. (Actually there are several but only this one bears mentioning.) At the academy where Kate is speaking with Fitz outside Hogan’s Alley, she gets a hunch.  Asking where Bardot’s locker is and finding it,  she reaches in and with her bare hand grabs a blue index card with a threat written on it.

The camera even zooms in for a close look of Kate’s (or a hand actress’s) bare fingers clutching the card.

Oops.

Captain Kate Beckett is a super cop. That she would mishandle evidence is criminal enough that this particular moment should not have happened.  Are things getting sloppy in season eight of Castle?  Perhaps we should ask Ms. Shipton.

Still, Castle is retaining its charm, even without the presence of Molly C. Quinn this week and a split second view of Susan Sullivan.  There was a slightly longer look at Olagundoye’s Hayley which is always a good thing.

With this focus on Kate Beckett (Katic) one wonders if another yearly contract has been signed…

Fidelis Ad Mortem ends with “Casket” back together (properly it seems) so the title appears to imply that the two will be faithful until death which, if the upcoming titles are any clue, may be how the eighth season ends.

Castle airs Mondays on ABC.

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.