Home Featured TV Shows All TV Shows Movie Reviews Book Reviews Articles Frequently Asked Questions About Us

Castle: Nanny McDead

“Richard Castle. Just NY.”

The case of the week is about a nanny who has been found in one of the dryers in the building in which she worked. It is not one of the most interesting or fun the show has ever done, but what I loved about this episode was learning about Castle the man and watching the beginnings of his partnership with Beckett.

So, who is Castle, really? Truly a member of the sandwich generation, he shares his apartment with both his mother and his daughter. Through rather banal conversations about dinner and bedspreads we learn some very important things. The first is that Castle has raised Alexis more or less on his own, but won’t take credit for it. Castle adores his daughter and is very proud of her. The shot at the end where he is looking at a photo of her as a child is heartwarming.

The second is that this wanting to raise his child probably comes from the fact that he was not that well parented by his mother. Raised by a series of “alcoholic… raving lunatic“ nannies, one gets the impression that Castle raised himself. He and Martha seem to have an uneasy relationship at best. They throw pointed barbs at each other every chance they get, each obviously knowing the other’s buttons and pushing them at will. Martha, without irony, takes credit for how well Castle has turned out and Alexis as well. Castle’s response is our first hint that his paternity is a bit of a mystery. But, underneath all these bards appears to be love, if not necessarily a whole lot of respect. This relationship is a real insight into why Castle behaves the way he does.

Not above pulling strings and using his friendship with the mayor, Castle is now shadowing Beckett as research for his next book. She makes no secret that she finds him annoying and wants no part of this little arrangement. Even the NYPD seems reluctant, forcing him to sign a waiver that releases them from any liability at all should he come to any harm. But Castle is now a man on a mission and nothing is going to stop him, not the legalities and certainly not Beckett’s glee at being able to ditch him because he has not yet signed the waiver, “I have a case. You have paperwork.”

As the case progresses, hints of a great professional partnership between Castle and Beckett come out. At the beginning of the case, Castle is a classic case of “a little learning” and is still all about the story. There is a brilliant scene in the precinct where Castle spins a tale about the tenant in apartment 8B. Montgomery, Esposito and Ryan are all entranced; even Beckett gets caught up a bit, although she would never admit it. Her smile at the end is a bit of a giveaway. Too bad Castle misses it. What I thought was really well done by the writers is that, from this point until the end of the first season, we rarely see Ryan without a copy of one of Castle’s books tucked under his arm.

Castle, to his credit, is not afraid to watch and learn. As the case progresses, Castle realizes how good a detective Beckett is and begins to defer to her judgement -- at least some of the time. Castle, however, proves his worth as a member of this partnership. It is he who figures out where and with whom Sara was immediately before she died.

What was also interesting to watch was Castle slowly learning that reality is not as clean or as nice as fiction. The look on his face when he realizes that Beckett will have to inform Sara’s parents that she is dead and the way he looks at Sara’s body in the morgue both point to someone who is coming face to face with a less than pretty situation. As Beckett says, it is “easier to write about than to live through.”

In addition to the partnership with Beckett, we see the beginnings of Castle’s friendship with both Esposito and Ryan. He jokes with them; he defers to them; but, best of all he sides with them to tease Beckett -- something that has most likely not happened in the past. The two detectives take their cue from him and we see them joining in to give Beckett a hard time.

We begin to see a glimmer that Castle and Beckett may become friends outside of their professional relationship. They have a conversation about marriage. Castle tells Beckett that he has been married twice; Beckett responds that she never has. She actually opens up a bit to him, telling him that, for her, marriage is a one time thing. When he begins to probe a bit, she shuts down almost as though she regrets being even that open with him.

Both Castle and Beckett are people who wear a mask in public, hiding a lot of whom they really are. During the course of the episode, both of these masks slip a bit and the other gets a glimpse of the much deeper person hidden behind them. In Beckett’s case, she listens to Castle tell her about going to the park every day with Alexis. She is surprised by the fact that he was Mr. Mom, but is obviously charmed by it -- that is, until Castle snaps his mask into place by commenting on all the single mothers at the park. In Castle’s case, on the other hand, he watches almost in awe as Beckett talks so warmly to Chloe at the end. But again, when he comments to her about it, she snaps her mask back into place by commenting on how men get away with things. This doesn’t stop Castle who goes home to write about it over Tommy Fields’s “Come On In,” the lyrics of which are perfect for where we are in the Castle/Beckett partnership.

Three out of four dryer sheets.

Tidbits:

-- There is such a thing as dryer etiquette. As anyone who has ever had to suffer the indignities of a laundromat knows, the rule is that if the clothes are dry, you may take them out and put them in a basket. But, you never, ever fold them.

-- I love the little character beat of Castle holding Sara’s purse while Beckett roots through it looking for the cellphone. They look like a couple.

-- Molly Quinn is left handed. My family is one of those rare ones where more are left handed than right (which I am), so it something we have discussed a lot. Quite a few actors are left handed, which is not surprising as left handed people are meant to be more creative.

-- Cheetah condoms? Say no more.

-- Sara’s ringtone is Pink’s “So What.” Interesting choice.

Soundbites:

Beckett: “Do I have to wait for him to sign, or can I shoot him now?” Off a look from Castle, “No? OK.”

Castle: “Detective Beckett, did you miss me already?” … “I’m just… I’m just touched that you thought of me. Oh, ordered to call me. I see.”

Castle: “‘Don’t leave town?’ Don’t you need probable cause for something like that?”
Beckett: “Only he doesn’t know that, does he?”
Castle: “You can lie like that? That is so coooool!”

Beckett: “Don’t move unless I tell you.”
Castle: “Hope to die.” Off glowers from the three detectives, “You know what I mean.”

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.

4 comments:

Matthew L said...

I'm suprised you didn't have the following conversation in the soundbites section :D

Lanie: "What I thought you might find really interesting is the fact that she had sex within the hours right before her death."
Beckett: "Sex?"
Castle: "I'll explain how that works later."

and

Beckett: "So what's the evidence of sex?"
Lanie: "Traces of spermicide." (pause) "The guy wore a condom."
(Beckett still looks puzzled)
Castle: "Boy it really has been a long time for you, hasn't it?"

Another example of how much Castle likes annoying and teasing Beckett. :)

ChrisB said...

Matthew -- that's one of my favourite scenes as well, especially the look of irritation on Beckett's face and the look of amusement on Lanie's. I find, however, that if I put in all the quotes I like, the Soundbites section becomes as long as the review! :-)

Matthew L said...

Chris, that's probably true considering all the fun quotes there are in each episode. Reminds me of Joss Whedon shows.


I don't remember if it was ever mentioned, but I gotta imagine there's ties between Marlowe and Whedon through Fillion, considering all the Firefly homages that have popped up in episodes through the years (Castle's initial Halloween costume in Vamipre Weekend, Castle's line in Boom after he shoots the gun out of the serial killer's hand, Castle's explanation of why he can speak Chinese in Close Encounters of the Murderous Kind, and others).

Notice that your reviews of the earlier episodes are coming out faster, do you think you're going to catch up by the time the summer hiatus is over?

ChrisB said...

Matthew -- you're probably right about the Marlowe/Whedon connection. Either that, or Nathan Fillion (who still says that Firefly is the best show he's ever been involved with) just has the writers drop the references in when they can. So glad you're a fan as well. You can help me catch the references I miss!

Although I would love to have the entire backlog cleared by the end of the summer, with 73 shows to do and six books, I'm not sure that will happen. My goal is to have it cleared by the end of the year.

Thank you, Matthew, for your comments. I really enjoy reading them.