Castle "Murder, He Wrote" Review: Murder in the Hamptons
Every once in a while, the writers of Castle suddenly remember that Castle the character is ludicrously rich. Well, not "James Patterson rich," as Castle himself put it last night, but the guy's got a boatload of money. I think I sometimes become numb to that fact, even when I see him lounging around that massive Manhattan abode of his, mostly because pretty much everyone on New York-based television has an unrealistically huge apartment. But this week, when Castle absconded with Beckett to his gargantuan weekend house in the Hamptons, we all got a healthy reminder that Castle is very much of the 1%.
Considering the current political climate and general opinion of the very wealthy in America today, it's interesting that those in charge of Castle haven't opted to maybe make his wealth a bit more of a modest factor in the show. It's one thing to have him drop a few grand on a storage locker, but watching him give a wide-eyed Beckett a tour of his multimillion dollar Hamptons pad was perhaps the most direct and pointed example of "HEY LOOK HOW RICH THIS GUY IS" we've had in quite a while. Beckett, for her part, seemed about as taken aback by all this luxury as, well, probably anyone who isn't a multimillionaire would be. I couldn't help but wonder whether or not this was going to be a moment where Beckett might suddenly feel wildly out of place in her new relationship, but after a few reassuring statements from Castle, she all but embraced her new lifestyle.
Of course the pair was there for a romantic getaway, with intentions of smooching naked in Castle's pool, but it turned out someone else had gotten there first. Namely, a bleeding, sand-covered gentleman who wandered in from the beach and proceeded to promptly die in the aforementioned pool. In an episode called "Murder, He Wrote" it was inevitable that a death would interrupt the couple's good time. After all, can you ever remember Jessica Fletcher not running into a fresh corpse any time she took a vacation?
The local constabulary promptly scooped up a local meth head—who just happened to be sleeping on the beach with the victim's wallet in-hand—and decided he must be the culprit. Castle wasn't so sure, and despite Beckett's initial pleas to drop it in favor of some sexy times, Castle couldn't, because Castle can't let any murder go unsolved. In any other couple, I'd decry Castle as being kind of selfish and outright mean to his beloved, but considering who he's dating, it was no surprise that later in the episode, Beckett was just as determined to solve the thing as he was.
What made "Murder, He Wrote" such a delight was the way Castle and Beckett went about investigating the mystery while mostly on the sidelines. The local police chief (Eric McCandless, who reminded me an awful lot of Steve Guttenberg) initially couldn't stand the idea of Castle and his "hooker friend" (hilarious misunderstandings!) nosing around his case, even going so far as to arrest them both when they begin grilling the victim's former mistress. But once he realized Beckett was actually a big-city police detective, he practically begged at their feet for some assistance. As he explained, crime isn't exactly frequent in the Hamptons, outside of the occasional drug bust. He'd never even pulled his gun before.
So Beckett and Castle set about finding the real murderer. We learned that the victim was a snitch during the Lehman Brothers scandal, ratting out several coworkers who eventually went to prison, while he got off scot-free. We also found out that he had a dispute with his former neighbor, a scar-faced tank of a man (Don Stark) who was perfectly happy to dine with Castle and Beckett, but became incensed when Castle not-so-subtly asked him where he was at the time of the murder. And not because he was upset about being accused of murder, but because he was upset about being accused of such a sloppy murder. As he put it, if it were his job, they'd never have found the body.
All the while, Esposito and Ryan were in the mix, doing New York City legwork that involved interviewing the victim's wife, investigating his real-estate holdings in the city, and doggedly pursuing the identity of Beckett's secret boyfriend. Esposito in particular can't seem to stomach the idea of a secret being kept from him. He apparently went through the entire list of Beckett's exes over the course of the episode, only to come up empty-handed. Ultimately it was Ryan who inadvertently uncovered Beckett and Castle's secret, when he found himself interrogating a witness who'd previously been questioned by the couple in the Hamptons. Ryan is certainly not known for his "bad cop" routine, but as soon as the suspect let slip that Castle had a "girlfriend" with him, Ryan suddenly morphed into the second coming of Homicide-era Andre Braugher. He eventually wrested Beckett's identity from the suspect, but never revealed the information to Esposito. Either he really likes knowing something that Esposito doesn't, or he has plans to inflict a bit of friendly blackmail on his secretly coupled cohorts. Either way, how great was it to actually see Ryan do something other than play the meek sidekick for once?
Eventually the mystery wound its way to a somewhat convoluted—but genuinely surprising—revelation that the victim had, in fact, been in the meth business himself. Esposito and Ryan raided one of his real-estate holdings only to discover a mini meth lab in the basement. The blame eventually shifted to a local dock worker who'd reportedly been dealing meth himself, with the motive purportedly being that he was upset about being muscled out of his own racket. But even that turned out to be a red herring, a set-up by one of the chief's deputies, who was the other drug dealer all along. In the end, the Hamptons police chief fired his weapon for the first time, got the bust, and finally became a man, or something. As for Castle and Beckett, they finally got their romantic alone time, safe in the knowledge that the bad guys had been bested once again.
Too bad about the promos for next week, though: As great as tonight's episode was, I'm not sure I'm looking forward to the next new episode (which won't be until October 29). Seeing the preview, it looks like the writers are going back to the well with one of those "maybe Castle is the murderer" plots. No he isn't, okay? The show is called Castle. Unless it's suddenly about to turn into a dark series about a murder writer committing the crimes in his own stories, he didn't do it. Stop it, writers.
– Happy 87th birthday to Jessica Fletcher herself, Angela Lansbury. No, she wasn't in this week's episode, but with an episode called "Murder, He Wrote" I felt I'd be remiss not to call this out.
– I'm not sure what was the more bizarre bit of fan pandering last night, Castle's use of the word "serenity" in a sentence, or his name-dropping of the internet's favorite portmanteau for Castle and Beckett, "Caskett."
– That awkward pause where the police chief didn't realize it was time for him to leave Castle's house. We've all been there, right?
– Nathan Fillion moment of the night: two of them, namely each time he tried to subtly bring up the murder in conversation, only to completely bork it up. Fun fact: Writers are not always particularly smooth in conversation.
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