Tuesday, September 29, 2009

"Castle" Recap - Episode 2: "The Double Down"

Spoiler Alert: While I don’t name names, I give away plot points. Be warned.

If I had to select one of my favorite scenes from the sitcom “Friends,” it would have to be the one where Joey, of all people, corrects one of his co-stars on the correct usage of the word “whom.” In that scene, Joey merely states “whom” and all the cast members look at him in disbelief. As a writer, this one always gets me.

Last night on the second episode of “Castle,” "whom" made a cameo. At the crime scene, the dead therapist had words written on her face. Castle, ever the grammarian, noted the incorrect use of the word “you’re.” A few scenes later, Castle and Detective Beckett interview the dead woman’s BFF. The BFF mentions that the dead woman needed her help as a lawyer. Beckett presses the BFF to name the person “Against who” the dead woman needed a lawyer. Castle, unperturbed, utters “whom.” I cracked a smile. That would be the winner of the Best Quip Award for the episode, an understated one, but much preferable to Castle’s groaning on about the killer murdering the English language.

“The Double Down,” may have taken some of its humor from grammar, but it started as far from a textbook as possible. The opening scene had Beckett at her desk, doing paperwork. Castle sat next to her, eating popcorn, while a general melee erupted around them. Ever the horn dog, Castle took particular interest in one suspect's, uh, cleavage as it banged across Beckett’s desk, giving the writer an eyeful. A bit later, as the coroner arrives at the crime scene decked out in fancy clothes (“Unlike you, Beckett,” the coroner said, “I don’t wait around the station waiting for the call.”) she chastises Castle to “quit looking at the girls.” Castle complies, then falters, then complies again.

The humor that drove last night’s episode was the wager. Castle, unbeknownst to Beckett, bet Detectives Esposito and Ryan that he and Beckett could solve their case before they could crack theirs. We got to see lots of little scenes of other folks in the squad room exchanging money and quickly looking away from Beckett. Now, as any reader of mystery fiction or watcher of innumerable crime shows could tell you right then and there, the cases would be linked. Robert Downey, Jr. even riffed on that theme in the movie “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang.” But our detectives couldn’t figure out how.

As usual, Castle’s daughter provided the key. In a recurring theme, Alexis’s teenage troubles help Castle provide the nugget he needs to solve the case. Is it me or can Molly C. Quinn say so much more with her facial expressions that dialogue can express? The scene where she tells Castle about Owen getting all googly-eyed at a prettier (and bustier) girl was heartbreaking and elegant. Now, as much as I love the chemistry Castle has with Alexis and his mother, I certainly hope future episodes give them something more to do. They are part of why this show is so utterly charming. So far this season, it’s been a little scant with them. Nevertheless, Castle rushes back to headquarters and does the thing so many of his literary and television ancestors do: have the big reveal on how the crimes were perpetrated. He poses the question that gets the real detectives thinking…and they nab the perps.

I enjoy every episode of Castle, from season 1 through last night. Of all the shows so far (ten last year, two this year), this episode was the one that felt most like a cop show. Castle and Beckett had less chemistry-building scenes together. I know you can’t have every scene with the two of them bantering wittily as that would dilute the good ju-ju the show thrives on. However, I would hope the writers don’t move “Castle” to being just another cop show. It would lose that special something that makes “Castle” so watchable and enjoyable.

Beckett is clearly a great detective so she deduced the wager before the halfway mark. That was a given. However, as various leads sprang up, she started betting on her and Castle as well. One of the highlights of the show was when Beckett and Castle are in the interview room, grilling a suspect. You see Castle writing something on a notepad. Cut to the exterior of the interview room: Esposito and Ryan are there, looking in. We see what Castle wrote (paraphrased): “Beckett knows about the bet. You’re toast.” Made me laugh out loud.

Beckett’s Mom Case Watch: there was a reference by Beckett to her mom’s murder. I hope this means the writers will give us a special episode later in the season but not focus on it week-to-week.

What did you think of the episode?

And don’t forget to check out these sites for other takes on last night’s episode:
EW.com's Popwatch (not posted yet)
Bookspotcentral.com (not posted yet
And, for some great exclusives, I recommend the great exclusives at CastleTV.net for some behind-the-scenes news and interviews.


Randy Johnson said...

I enjoyed it though it wasn't a terribly original plot. That's not why I like it.
I do because of all the things you mention: the banter, Castle's family(yes, we need to see a bit more).
My guilty pleasure is that I like Patterson's Alex Cross books precisely because he has a family and is devoted to them. For that reason, I refuse to watch the two Morgan Freeman Cross movies(he's a single man in them I've heard).

pattinase (abbott) said...

Why the heck is ABC not ON DEMAND. I missed this.

Barrie said...

I haven't been watching any TV. And I'm obviously missing out.

Anonymous said...

Absolutley love Castle and hope it doesn't become another hack cop series. As for you refusing to see the Alex Cross movies Randy, you should, because they are good movies. It's like watching vs reading the Lord of the Rings Trilogy. The movies suck if you try to compare them to the books, but they are good movies if you disassociate the two.

Scott Parker said...

Randy - I have not see but one of the Cross movies. Entertaining but I didn't see the other one. Now that I know the books are different, I might give them a try.

Patti - Who the heck knows. Hulu has them.

Barrie - I think these shows are right up your alley. You'll especially like the daughter, Alexis, and might even get some ideas for Sherry.

Anon - Good point. It's like when people were amazed at me for loving "The Dark Knight" movie last year but also the fun, campy Brave and the Bold Batman cartoon. Same character, different takes, both good. Thanks for stopping by.