Castle "Reality Star Struck" Review: Misplaced Affection

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Castle S05E14: "Reality Star Struck"

It's nearly Valentine's Day here in the real world, which means that most of the shows on television right now are fumbling all over themselves trying to offer up the most love-laced plots possible for their viewers. Last night's Castle was no exception. With that most forcibly romantic of days looming, Castle and Beckett were almost assured to get into some kind of hilarious relationship misunderstanding for the sake of thematic appropriateness. Fortunately, that misunderstanding didn't force them to hash out any personal issues or get into any seriously heated arguments. In fact, for the most part, Castle and Beckett just got to enjoy each other's company this week amid a surprising amount of in-house character comedy. So much so, in fact, that I damn near forgot about the mystery for long stretches of the episode.

Granted, the mystery itself wasn't the most well-reasoned thing Castle's ever done. The show opened with one of the more ludicrous scenes I've seen on a police procedural in a while: A reality TV producer, the figurehead behind the enormously popular Financial Channel series The Real Housewives of Wall Street (I know... I know!) was chatting idly with a marketing executive over the show's new opening credit sequence when a sprightly assistant burst in and exclaimed, "Sir, there's been a murder!" with all the shock and dismay of a man forced to report that there's no more coffee in the break room. Things did improve once Castle and Beckett arrived at the murder scene to find the most hated Housewife lying peacefully in a bus stop with an expensive knife in her back. Symbolism, much?

The woman, a former assistant to one of the Housewives who'd recently begun an affair with the Housewife's husband, had apparently come to New York to make it big, a fact that her family did not necessarily approve of. As Castle and Beckett dug deeper and deeper into her life, it became clear that this woman had spent as much time trying to find a way out of the show as she had digging herself deeper into its manufactured drama. Her apparent distaste for the ugliness of it all possibly created several motives for killing her, as did her apparent interest in another cast member.

The details for the mystery were suitably labyrinthine, seemingly disconnected from one another for extending periods of time before finally coming together in a relatively hurried, unsatisfying conclusion. It's safe to say that the harried, utterly spat-out confession from the killer felt like a scene filmed in about 20 minutes as a last minute pick-up shot. I assume the writers always intended make our eventually revealed culprit the killer, but it didn't seem like anyone really felt much like focusing on the reveal.

Maybe that's because so much of "Reality Star Struck" was heavily focused on Castle, Beckett, and the rest of the team at home. Castle and Beckett spent large chunks of the episode musing to one another about how much better each of their Valentine's gifts to the other was going to be. Castle was particularly proud of the expensive earrings he'd bought for Beckett, but was unsure of the best way to give them to her. Leave it to Castle's mother to suggest something a little bit sneaky, like hiding them in her coat pocket and waiting for her to find them. Castle loved the idea... until he mistakenly left the baubles in Captain Gates' coat.

Let's back up a second. One thing that I am beginning to learn now is that any episode in which Captain Gates and Castle connect, even in the most frivolous ways, will end with their relationship further scarred and battered than it was at the outset of the hour. In this case, we learned early on that Gates is an obsessive Real Housewives viewer, and when she discovered that nobody else in the precinct watches the show, she outright demanded that everyone go home and watch it as a sort of horrible homework assignment. Except that Castle loved it. He stayed up all night watching episode after episode, and suddenly he and Gates had something to gab about. Great! Their relationship was saved!

Until, of course, he dropped those earrings into the wrong coat.

After a few failed attempts at taking the earrings back, Castle witheringly confessed his mistake to Beckett. Beckett was less livid than mortified. Did he leave a note? Yes. Was it a romantic note? Oh yes. Did he put her name on it? Castle couldn't recall, but he knew he'd put his own name down. Oh dear.

Eventually, Gates discovered the earrings, read the note, and summoned Castle to her office. Was their cover blown? Would Castle and Beckett never work together again?!?

Of course not. Castle, to his benefit, failed to put Beckett's name on the note, so Gates just thought that Castle was hitting on her! A married woman! Oh, that's much better.

Anyway, he thankfully managed to play it off as just a bad attempt at currying favor with the Captain, while Gates left under a cloud of her usual huffiness. Meanwhile, Castle and Beckett returned home to a glass of wine and Beckett's gift to Castle, which Castle had been giddy to receive all episode. So Beckett had him open up a drawer in her bedroom dresser, and in it he found... nothing! Wait, what? Why an empty drawer? Because it's now Castle's drawer. Beckett has cleared a permanent spot for Castle in her apartment, a sort of solidifying gesture on her behalf to show Castle she's serious.

You know, you can talk all you want about Valentine's Day's crass commercialism and TV's complicit role in it, but that little gesture genuinely brought a little smile out in me. Kudos to the Castle writers for taking what should have been another throwaway holiday-themed episode, and turning it into something honestly sweet. These days, that doesn't happen nearly often enough.



NOTES


– So are we finally pulling the trigger on Esposito and Lanie getting back together? I'm fully okay with that, mind you. I just don't know if I have the stomach for any more will they/won't they out of them.

– Ryan is being called home regularly to attempt to impregnate his wife during ideal breeding hours, and he is apparently exhausted by this. There is a secret hope in me that Ryan's wife will just remain off-camera from now on, and that she will continue to make him do crazier and crazier things, effectively turning her into the show's Maris Crane. Anyone else on board with this?

– Thank you, Castle writers, for resisting the urge to offer up a "He went to Jared!" joke during Castle's earrings unveil. I don't even want to see that godawful advertising campaign made fun of. I just want it to be shunned and ignored until it returns to the grotesque hell-mouth from which it emerged, never to bother us again.

– How weird is it that Castle has been nailing, of all things, the holiday episodes this season? First that great Christmas episode, and now a totally solid Valentine's episode? At this point, I can't WAIT to see what they come up with for Easter!


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