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Castle: Scared To Death

“You saw. Midnight on the third day, you die.”

It was only a matter of time before Castle, a show that taken off just about every other genre one can think of, did a horror film homage. Maybe I was still riding the high from the previous two episodes or maybe it’s because I hate horror films, but this episode fell flat and I was bored through most of it.

Normally in an episode that involves the supernatural, the battle lines are drawn between Castle/Ryan and Beckett/Esposito. This time around, however, Esposito was more willing to believe that something otherworldly was going on, leaving Beckett as the sole voice of reason. One of my biggest problems with this episode was that, throughout, I knew she would end up being right and I became impatient to get through all the tropes to get to the end.

Unfortunately, that’s what this episode was. A long list of horror movie tropes that began to feel as though the writers had that long list and were just checking things off. Rather than bore you with writing about them, I have simply listed them all below. I’m sure I missed some, so please comment to fill in whatever is missing.

The case was ridiculous. A simple scan through any reputable search engine would have discovered what the connection between the three victims was. No one in either of the first two victim’s friends and family recognized the other. Where were all these people during the trial?

Wouldn’t the detectives have done just a small bit of follow-up on the roommate? Surely, someone with such a mental health challenge would have been flagged relatively quickly. The victims were killed by a taser; how did Perlmutter miss the burn marks that would have been on the victims? Why were Beckett and Castle told not to hand anything or take anything from Leopold when there was a thick pane of glass between them?

Another thing that really bothered me was Esposito trying to determine if he is in Castle’s will. For a guy who is usually so upstanding, it felt grasping and materialistic. Ryan is absolutely right, it is “uncool” and “bad karma.”

Finally, there is the Wes Craven cameo in which he mentions Stephen King. Not only was it forced into the episode, but Craven’s comment about the story being “derivative” not only shone a light on the problem with this episode, another author, Stephen Cannell, made an almost identical comment to Castle back in the pilot.

There were a couple of things that I liked. I am always pleased when Perlmutter turns up. His snark and his complete disdain for “Defective Castle” always make me smile. The Caskett moment at the end was great. I liked the fact that Beckett was number one on Castle’s bucket list and the look on her face when she read that was sweet. The ice cubes are a direct callback to “Poof! You’re Dead” from the third season, one of the funniest scenes this show has ever done.

Overall, however, this episode bored me. One (OK, one and half because of the final minute) out of four creepy nurses in the fog.


-- Horror movie tropes that were too obvious to miss:
  • the haunted DVD (which, although I have never seen it, I understand is a direct steal from The Ring)
  • the lights go out
  • the creepy inn
  • the insane asylum
  • cell phones lose reception
  • the cabin in the woods
  • a body dug up from its grave
  • two of the main characters split up

-- Movies that were referenced:
  • The Ring
  • The Shining
  • Child’s Play
  • Silence of the Lambs
  • Friday the 13th (the first victim’s name is Jason)
  • A Cabin in the Woods (you just knew Fillion would get that in!)

-- Castle’s weapons:
  • in the Philippines, palaspas are palm leaves, blessed by a priest on Palm Sunday, said to ward off evil spirits
  • a bagua mirror, used in feng shui, is hung outdoors to ward off bad outside energies
  • do I really need to go into holy water?

-- In case you didn’t recognize the reference, here is Edvard Munch’s The Scream.

-- Meeting William Shatner is on Castle’s bucket list. While I do not know if Nathan Fillion has ever met William Shatner, there was a lovely Twitter exchange between the two of them a couple of weeks ago: @NathanFillion Who is your favorite Canadian? @WilliamShatner. Hands down.

-- Speaking of Twitter, there is a @bedazzlecats39.


Castle: “These are things used to ward off evil spirits. Like Perlmutter.”
Perlmutter: “I heard that.”

Castle: “You wanna hold my hand?”
Beckett: “Castle, I’m not scared.”
Castle: “I wasn’t asking for you…”

Ryan: “An affair would’ve been…“
Castle: “Gross.”
Ryan: “I was going to say, ‘unlikely’.”

Castle: “You’re a cop! I’m a cop… helper.”

Castle: “I don’t think I need to tell you what kind of chances the comic relief guy has.”

Beckett: "Evil spirits don't kill. People do."

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.


  1. For someone who got bored, you've nonetheless made a thorough analysis of this eppy.

    I was rather...amused. Also happy to see Perlmutter, he has such good sarcasm.

    "Crazy" 5th season : some awesome and spectacular episodes with some very average ones.

  2. Chris, why must you analyze everything with your relentless logic!? That's a Futurama ref, btw.

    I liked it. I liked the Wes Craven bit because it pointed out what a rip off their plot was.

    As for Espo, I don't think he 100% believed in the curse, which is why he didn't mind wondering aloud about Castle's Ferrari. If he really thought his friend was going to die, he never would have said that.

    It wasn't fabulously intriguing crime solving fare, but that's not why I watch Castle. I watch it because Nathan Fillion is adorable and the interactions between the cast are fun and sweet. This episode delivered everything I wanted it to, so I'm happy. :)

  3. I think Castle was way too serious about the superstitions. There was an episode last season (or the one before), when he admitted to Ryan that he exaggerates his crazy ideas to be playful with Beckett. There should have been more of that in this episode, with only the occasional moment where he wonders if it is crazy enough to be real.

    Agree that snarky Perlmutter is fun to have around. Also wondered how he missed the burn marks.

    They did mention that the identities of the witnesses were hidden during the trial (or the trial notes were sealed), so a simple search engine would not have worked. (Is there some procedure to protect a witnesses identity, and still allow them testify?)

  4. sunbunny -- it's a hangover from the days when I was a lawyer. :-)

    Mark -- when did they mention about the witnesses being hidden? i did a quick rematch of the second half of the show and missed it again.

  5. Hmm... Found tbe scene (at the 31 min mark), and Castle says, "The court records were sealed. How would the killer know who the other witnesses were?" If there was a big media circus around the initial crime, I guess the court could have been cleared of everyone beyond the participants.

    Let's just agree that this case (and episode) didn't work as well as we would have wanted.

  6. Mark -- I went back and this is crazy! I know exactly where you're talking about, but the line isn't there. The version I watched was on hulu and there is a rough cut between Esposito telling Caskett what the connection is between the victims and that Mark Heller is "lucky number three." For some reason, the line you are referring to was cut.

    How bizarre is that??

  7. Actually, the scene I'm thinking of has does not have Esposito, and only two victims so far. (I'm watching using the ABC Player. Something is odd. It lists the show as being 51 minutes long, but the episodes are only 42 minutes long. Maybe it is including the 90 second commercial breaks?)

    After Castle says that Nigel imprinted himself on the DVD, Beckett says that it isn't a ghost but someone else targeting the witnesses, then Castle gives the line. Then Ryan goes to a computer and mentions the insane brother. (The next scene is what you are using for the screenshot.)

  8. OMG, Mark, I found it!! It shows up at minute 24 for me, but that's beside the point. I have now watched that scene four times and it was the first time I caught that line. This episode really did not resonate with me at all.

    Well done, you! Guess I should remove that line of snark from my review, but it would't really change the sentiment...

  9. I liked it a lot. I, too, hate horror movies (with "Cabin in the woods" being an only exception), but it's always fun when "Castle" makes a trip to another genre.

  10. migmit -- you are not alone! A lot of other reviewers and a lot of commenters on other sites liked it as well. One of the great things about this show, or any show, really, is how different episodes speak to different people.

    Marc -- you are so right about this season. Some of the best ever done with some of the worst.

  11. Chris,

    I love your "turning 50" post on your own blog so good that I've added it as a bookmark !

    Do NOT change !!!

  12. Thanks, Marc! What a lovely comment. You made my day.

  13. Bored. Yup, that about describes how I felt about this episode too! :o(

  14. I love horror movies but this was way too cliched to work. After the last episode which was pretty riveting this felt like a letdown..so cute Wes Craven cameo, more tributes to old horror movies than you can imagine..still pretty ok. Castle is the Mulder of the duo, and Beckett brought her best Scully to the table.
    Next week should be better right?


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