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: 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: 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.