06 September 2015

Sometimes a serial killer story is good (Review: 'Castle' 7.15, "Reckoning")

After over six years of locking up bad guys with her, Richard Castle has locked himself into a relationship with Kate Beckett by actually marrying her. On the second attempt. The first didn't quite work out due to him disappearing on their wedding day and turning up two months later with amnesia, a gunshot injury and signs of having dengue fever. What exactly happened there is still to be determined.

The shippers' dreams have come true, although it has to be said the way it did could have been handled quite a bit better by the writers. The episode in which they actually marry featured an interesting idea (namely what would happened if Castle and Beckett had never met) that was not very well executed and made the actual wedding at the end feel tacked on, not to mention tacky - an adjective that could also be applied to Beckett's "wedding dress" and I ring bells at weddings in what is culturally Essex. Castle does still have a lot of charm about it, but that was a serious misstep.

Another thing has sort of changed - Castle, after being barred from directly working with his missus, is now a private investigator, which allows for him to do his own investigating... but the cases tend to involve the 12th Precinct in some form. It's worked a lot better than it had any right to...

This review contains some spoilers.


There are two distinct types of Castle - "comedic" Castle and "dramatic" Castle. You can usually tell by the lighting - the latter is far darker. In any event, this is definitely the latter.

In fact, this in fact the second part of a two-parter, so I'm breaking my usual rules in reviewing this as one episode rather than in combination, but I can break them if I want them.

In the previous episode, the team discovered that the recurring serial killer 3XK aka Jerry Tyson (he's known as 3XK because he kills three women in short succession then takes a rather long break), who was last seen falling into a river after being shot by Castle was in fact alive, having killed another  victim. Owing to nearly all of the evidence against him having been stolen, making a case against him will be much harder. The 12th Precinct found someone who they thought was him... but was in fact someone who had been given cosmetic surgery by evil plastic surgeon Kelly Neiman to look like him... or is he?

Then Det. Beckett gets jabbed in the shoulder with the old needle of instant sedation and ends up on the long list of female coppers who have been abducted by serial killers... although she might already be on it.


Nathan Fillion has won awards for this show and you can see why: he can convincingly play both the usual happy-go-lucky wild theorising Richard Castle and the on the edge, do not mess with him, Richard Castle. Here he breaks out a gun and beats up a guy who he thinks knows where his missus is; you know that he's not the sort of character that would kill an unarmed man, but we certainly see him going to the sort of things that would get most police officers (which of course he is not) in serious trouble. It is also refreshing to know at the end of the episode that he is not a complete idiot who lets himself end up alone with a serial killer, via some Leverage-style flashbacks.

Beckett (as Castle still generally calls her - the rule on this show is that if the couple start calling each other "Rick" and "Kate" things are deadly serious) spends most of her episode strapped to a gurney and gagged. This isn't a tremendous problem as Stana Katic can do more acting with her eyes than some actors do with their entire bodies. It's also notable that Beckett isn't a damsel in distress; she in fact could have extricated herself from the situation - and pretty much does - without any of her guys.

Martha and Alexis get two scenes in this episode before being packed off to Europe for their own protection, so there's little to say there about them. A pity, as Molly C. Quinn is really good and more screen time for her would be much appreciated.

The rest of the 12th Precinct do a good job. Captain Gates in particular has a strong episode, acting as a voice of reason and trying to stop Castle from doing something stupid. Esposito's military service comes into handy and it's clear the entire group still work well together.

3XK aka Jerry Tyson is one of those twisted serial killers who instead of just killing their target decide to make them suffer first. Here he makes a drug addict woman resemble Beckett and then blow her brains out via remote-control shotgun. He's a master manipulator, but he meets his match in Richard Castle, who has managed to manipulate millions into buying his novels after all.

Kelly Neiman is played by Annie Wersching, perhaps best known as Renee Walker in 24, who delivers a suitably creepy performance. It's a pity that what would have been a rather awesome fight scene between Neiman and Beckett doesn't actually feature in the episode.

The end of the episode sees Castle end up getting the sort of punishment for assaulting a guy that Captain Kirk got at the end of Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home. If you've seen that film, you know what I mean. At any rate, the show's strength in that it knows when not to beat an idea into the ground... including this 3XK arc, which I am really glad is now concluded.


I have to say that this was an engaging episode of Castle; I didn't clock watch and the performances were overall very good. It's nice to know that the show can still do both drama and comedy at a high quality.

Also, while I am still deeply tired of the entire serial killer sub-genre (it needs a serious break)


Castle was renewed for an eighth season in the May up-fronts, but not after some quite major issues getting Fillion and Katic to sign new contracts; its Season 7 finale was written as a possible show ender. That's a sign of a show on its way out; another is that the ratings have dropped significantly from the Season 6 peak (I think the botched wedding might have played a part in that). I would not be surprised if Season 8 (which I will be reviewing an episode for) proves to be its last.

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