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.

 

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.