Castle "The Final Frontier" Review: Nerdgasm

By Alex Navarro

Nov 06, 2012

Castle S05E06: "The Final Frontier"

I don't know that there are enough nerdy superlatives out there to describe last night's Castle. "The Final Frontier" was pure, unadulterated, in-jokey fan service for sci-fi dorks everywhere. It was 44 minutes of non-stop references, sight gags, nods, winks, and whatever else to whatever cheeseball sci-fi you may have loved growing up. It was also quite possibly the dumbest episode of Castle since last year's zombie fiasco. However, in this case, I mean "dumb" as a compliment.

This is the kind of silly, silly, SILLY stuff I like when I watch Castle. Sure, it's hokey as hell, but now that Stana Katic has finally morphed from gruff straightwoman to willing goofball, the series has effectively become a showcase not just for Nathan Fillion's comedic talents, but for a bonafide comedy duo. My favorite thing by far this season is that Beckett's uber-tragic back story has given way to some honest-to-god quirkiness and a surprisingly game attitude for whatever Castle might be into this week. So when "The Final Frontier" brought Castle and company to a sci-fi convention, Beckett wasn't just standing around, grimacing at all the nerdspeak and cosplay. In fact, we learned that Beckett has her own nerdy history she's been covering up all these years.

Her past nerdiness pertained to a barely-seen fake sci-fi show called Nebula 9, a campy, Farscape-esque space series featuring an adult captain and a crew of cadets gallivanting around the galaxy as the last remaining remnants of humanity. Beckett apparently loved this show in college. So much so, in fact, that she used to dress up as one of the show's sexier stars. You can imagine how Castle might react to such a discovery.

Nebula 9 had been off the air for years, but a small, dedicated fanbase still kept up the cause, even going to the trouble of hiring the show's former captain (Eureka's Ed Quinn, clearly having the time of his life) to do a "fan experience" event, where fans could dress up as the cadets and act out a scene with the actor portraying their hero. Unfortunately, the experience was ruined when the body of the event's organizer was found on the set, with a giant laser hole through her chest.

Yes. A laser. Somebody shot this poor woman with a genuine laser, a revelation that both Castle and Beckett responded to with appropriate levels of confusion. Since when are phasers real? They're not, of course, but in the world of Castle, no nerd fantasy, no matter how ludicrous, can ever be out of the realm of possibility. So as we learned, the real-life phaser came from a local Bronx electrician, played by Star Trek: Deep Space Nine's Armin Shimerman. It turned out the guy had made himself a little business creating real-world versions of sci-fi weaponry. Everything from Klingon bat'leths to lasers that could actually blow a coaster-shaped hole in someone's chest. The liberal inside me was outraged by the thought of this unlicensed weapons manufacturing, but the nerd in me thought it was kind of the coolest thing ever.

Shimerman was just one of a few major sci-fi influences on this particular episode. Most notably Jonathan Frakes, Commander Riker himself, directed it, and even made a near-unrecognizable cameo as Richard Castle's number one fan. And then there was Quinn, hamming it up as actor Gabriel Winters as Captain Whatshisname from Nebula 9. It takes a lot of ham to out-ham Nathan Fillion, but Quinn pretty much did it. He was equal parts Tim Allen in Galaxy Quest and Troy McClure as he smirked his way through smarmy line after smarmy line. That he never broke down into some fit of self-loathing realization made his character even better. By the end of the episode, he was still bragging about threesomes with cosplaying fan girls—even the ones who gave him the clap.

The only knock I have against "The Final Frontier" is that throughout most of it, I could barely remember what was going on with the mystery. The positive side of that is that I was too busy laughing to care. And the ending did wrap things up in a wonderfully stupid way that I certainly was not expecting. And no, I'm not just talking about Stana Katic as the sexy alien cannibal. Though that was pretty good, too.



NOTES


– While Beckett's nerdy past was something of a revelation, I doubt anyone out there was surprised to learn Ryan is a fantasy geek. I bet his D&D; games are hilarious.

– "I played a lawyer in a well-regarded film that never came out. I think I know something about the law." —Ed Quinn, killing it.

Jonathan Frakes has only directed one other episode of Castle, all the way back in 2009. It was called "Kill the Messenger" and I barely remember it. This one I don't think I'll have much trouble remembering.

– Finding out Alexis enjoys cosplaying at sci-fi conventions was funny, but Castle's reaction to her wearing an outfit that highlighted her womanly curves was just about perfect. Their "conversation" about it later was similarly priceless.

– It's terrifying to me that our nation's gun laws haven't caught up with the recent surge in black-market laser pistols being used in violent crime. I urge you on this Election Day to vote for the candidate who will help stem the tide of laser-related violence in our country.

– The Stana Katic grumpy disappointment face (see above) forever. FOREVER.

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  • Draconax Nov 12, 2012

    "Gimme good sci-fi: Star Trek, Battlestar, that Joss Whedon show..."

    Fucking laughed my ass off. So awesome.

  • dee0226 Nov 09, 2012

    Kill the Messenger was kinda awesome. It had the great scene when the guys accidentally broke down the old lady's door and then had to have tea with her and the cats!

  • DavidJackson8 Nov 09, 2012

    Ah! That was Jonathan Frakes?! Jeez, I couldn't even remotely tell that that was him.

  • Shreela Nov 09, 2012

    This was a FUN episode! Now I need to watch Galaxy Quest again.

  • hockeyrick Nov 08, 2012

    This is the true castle!!!!

    So many grins and smirks throughout the entire show!!!!

  • GirishStewart Nov 08, 2012

    The inner geek in me loved this episode!

  • Funktasm Nov 08, 2012

    I loved it when he said "Shiny" when he found out about the murder. Just one of a few Firefly references in this episode. I laughed so hard, I almost didn't care about the plot.

  • Rustie725 Nov 08, 2012

    ''I'm a fan of good sci-fi, Star Trek, Battlestar, that Josh Whedon show...'' I laughed so hard with this line.... lol

  • JT_Kirk Nov 08, 2012

    What amused me most about this one is how it started silly, then got dopier and dopier until the whodunit was the stupidest ever. But it was fun, and Beckett got to have a personality for once, and Nathan Stark from Eureka got to act like a Shatnerian buffoon, and Quark from DS9 was on the scene.

    Nebula 9 seemed more like a cross between all the '90s sci-fi shows, but least like Farscape. I'd argue it was closer to Andromeda (Kevin Sorbo) than anything else.

    I didn't even notice Frakes as the #1 fan, good eye!

  • kanniballl Nov 08, 2012

    By the way, who was the guy asking for Castle's autograph in the beginning? Castle said something like how the mighty have fallen or something.

    From the sounds of it, he was a big-name in either comics, novels, or something sci-fi-y. But I didn't pay that much attention to the face.

  • MamaVanC Nov 08, 2012

    It was mentioned in the first part of the review - it was Riker from ST Next Generation.

  • edge1710 Nov 08, 2012

    Commander Riker

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