When Castle is light, it is very, very light; when it is dark, it is better.
When this show deals with a freak of the week, it can be fun, it can be funny, it can be irreverent. What it is usually not is full of character development or inventive plotting. When, however, the show goes to one of its two major mythology arcs, it becomes another show entirely. This episode, dealing with the 3XK arc, gave us both great plotting and great character development.
Right from the start, we knew this episode would be different. Although Lanie and the rest of the crew try to dismiss the resemblance between Pam and Lanie, we as viewers were put on notice that this story was going to a dark place. And, while seeing “Lanie” in a body bag was difficult enough, seeing “Esposito,” eyes clouded, hanging like that unnerved me as much as it did Ryan. Clearly, someone is targeting this group.
One of my recurring complaints about this show is that, more often than not, the first person interrogated is the guilty party. Once we discover who it is our team will be arresting at the end of the hour, we simply sit back and let the story unfold until we learn why he or she committed the crime being portrayed. In this episode, however, the interrogation of Dr. Nieman was a perfect red herring.
It was obvious that something was going on. The good doctor’s demeanor with Beckett boarded on the sexual and, for once, Beckett was completely out-gunned by a suspect. Nieman has the upper hand, and she knows it. The second time through, this scene is even creepier. Nieman is, in fact, taunting Beckett. She tells the detective that she is “not perfect,” but that she can be fixed. With the benefit of hindsight, when she tells Beckett that when she is ready to “take this to the next level,” she should call, I cringed. It is rare to see Beckett so unnerved by someone she is interrogating. It was a stellar character beat.
One character aspect the writers have only grazed is Castle’s dark side. We have seen glimpses of it, and Meredith warned Beckett that there are many layers to the Castle onion. Here, we got to see it; but, again, only a snippet of it. It has always been obvious that Castle blames himself for the fact that Tyson got away the first time, but his guilt is what put the team on the right track this time through. Castle has a violent streak as well. His tackle of Carl was a serious takedown.
While Beckett’s and Castle's characters were explored a bit, this episode was all about Esplanie. Until now, Lanie and Esposito have been portrayed as Beckett’s sister and brother. They are the ones she turns to for advice and for help, the rocks in Beckett’s often shaky life.
This time, however, the rocks are shaky -- and understandably so. The scene where Lanie calls Beckett to the morgue is telling. She is scared, but doesn’t want anyone else, not even Castle, to witness that fear.
Yet, when it comes time for Lanie to be interviewed, she asks for Esposito. For the first time ever, Lanie is emotionally raw and she does not want to share that with anyone. I get the impression that, although Lanie is sleeping with Esposito, she has kept an emotional distance from him, as he has with her. We learn, however, that she has been monogamous and Esposito’s pushing her to tell him the truth sounds more like a jealous lover than a supportive friend or colleague. I got the distinct impression that the non-exclusive aspect of their relationship was not his idea.
Similarly, the scene where the two of them are standing behind the glass waiting for Carl to be interrogated feels raw. These two guarded people are reaching out to each other. Their relationship, which until now has been primarily physical, now becomes emotional. The blocking of this scene was fantastic. These two people, clearly reaching out to each other in a new way, do not touch each other. It’s almost as if these two cannot bear to completely alter the status quo -- at least not yet.
At the end, the only thing that has changed is the people this case touched. Dr. Nieman is gone and Carl is in prison. What exactly was the doctor’s relationship with Tyson? Is Carl, thanks to the brilliant plastic surgeon and voice coach we met, actually Tyson? Like Beckett, there is part of us that wanted to believe that Tyson was dead. That final scene, which scared me a great deal, leaves us all in no doubt that the man is alive. Finally, what does that song mean to Beckett? Her reaction was chilling.
This was, by far, the best episode yet this season. Three and a half out four cool pens hiding songs.
-- The only places Castle has not visited are Albania and Finland. As someone who has traveled extensively, this is impressive! I have been to Finland and would recommend it.
-- As I re-watched the episode, I noticed that it was Esposito standing with and trying to calm Lanie at the first crime scene. Subtle clue, easily missed, that their relationship is more than they have admitted to recently.
-- No Martha or Alexis this week. There was no need for them. Gates, on the other hand, was fantastic. The change in her character has also been interesting to watch. She calls the group “our family” and she tells Beckett to watch her back. It is clear this woman is now invested in her team.
-- The limousine company was called Blue Moon Limos, a nice salute to the infamous curse that this show seems to have broken.
-- The version of “We’ll Meet Again” is sung by Vera Lynn.
Beckett: “Castle, are you using our honeymoon as an excuse to go and tour Middle Earth?”
Castle: “I’m game if you are.”
Castle: “An M.E. investigates the murder of her own doppelganger. It'd be a great story if Lanie weren't living it.”
Beckett: “Don't chase ghosts, Castle. It's not worth it. Trust me.”
Carl: “You broke three of my ribs.”
Castle: “I'm sorry. I was going for double digits.”
ChrisB is a freelance writer who spends more time than she ought in front of a television screen or with a book in her hand.