Castle "The Final Frontier" Review: Nerdgasm

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.

Castle "The Final Frontier" Photos

Comments (70)
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"Gimme good sci-fi: Star Trek, Battlestar, that Joss Whedon show..."

Fucking laughed my ass off. So awesome.
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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!
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Ah! That was Jonathan Frakes?! Jeez, I couldn't even remotely tell that that was him.
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This was a FUN episode! Now I need to watch Galaxy Quest again.
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This is the true castle!!!!

So many grins and smirks throughout the entire show!!!!
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The inner geek in me loved this episode!
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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.
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''I'm a fan of good sci-fi, Star Trek, Battlestar, that Josh Whedon show...'' I laughed so hard with this line.... lol
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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!
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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.

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It was mentioned in the first part of the review - it was Riker from ST Next Generation.
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Commander Riker
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I loved that Ed Quinn's name was Max Reynard (or something) which nicely parallels Mal Reynolds. And also, "Shiny". And than again about how he loved Joss show. And about how it was silly that people were still holding on to a show that was cancelled a decade ago after a 12 episode run. LOVED this episode.
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I also loved that the bad guys in Nebula 9 were called Creevers, which seemed like a shout out to Firefly's Reevers - especially since they were described as liking to eat people's faces off. So many great references!
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At the end I was thinking what is that god awful song couldn't they find anything better than I realized it was William Shatner. Glad his singing career didn't take of.
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they made firefly references ... they talked about planet Ariel which is the title of the 9th episode of firefly. (Ariel is a central world)
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And also the reference was when Castle said that he loved the show created by Joss Whedon who was the director of Firefly.
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Full of geeky goodness.
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Great fun and they missed a chance to put in some Firefly references.
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Guess you missed the murder at scifi-con being "Shiny" or the Castle prefered darker sci-fi shows like "Battlestar Galactica or that Joss Whedon show".

So absolutely no references at all.
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Also not to mention the fact that Castle talks about how Nebula 9 "was cancelled a decade ago, and after only 12 episodes. TWELVE." There was probably at least a half dozens references to firefly alone in this episode, as well as a bunch of other sci-fi shows.
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And the Aliens from Nebula 9 had some Reaper-like habits (like eaten and wearing their enemies).
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Ever more of a clear reference, since the Firefly bad guys were called Reevers (maybe Reavers?) and Nebula 9's were Creevers.
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Aside from the Creavers (Reavers), I don't think I'm stretching it to also suggest Chloe (Zoe) and Max (Mal).
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Castle is one of my favourite shows...This episode was stupid...
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Did anyone get a final count on how many times they said "Nebula-9"? I think it warrants a drinking game during the rewatch.
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What? No screen caps of Alexis in her cosplay outfit. We need them now! Meooow...
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you didn't hear this from me but .... http://imgbox.com/adpRwPpq
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Agree!
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This review would have been much better if we talked about how Nubula 9 was basically FireFly .. I mean there was even a shout out to Josh Whedon!
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It shared Fireflies dismal fate, but the premise was nothing of the sort. Much more Star Trek spoofing.
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I got a strong Star Trek vibe too. Nothing really similar to Firefly.
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Loved the episode and the reference to Firefly as "That Joss Whedon Show" instead of by name as the other sci fi shows he pointed out :)



I got my geek on watching this episode. I want a real life phaser
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Im not a Sci-fi fan but i ADORED this episode. It was one of the best on the show ever. Everything from Stana's amazing geeky acting through it all and Nathan adorable geeky self it was, as you described, a nerdgasm.

I love Stana and Nathan chemestry They've made the show work even after the "sexual tension" was supposed to be gone. They brought it back.
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I'm a staunch supporter of the second amendment, and the thought of him making and selling those lasers unregulated made me cringe!
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Best episode in quite some time, hadn't laughed so hard and so often while watching Castle in ages. Shiny indeed!
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Loved Fillions kirk and Picard impression!
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To quote: "Shiny!" *_*
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I haven't completely agreed with your reviews, but you have valid points so I can go along with them. But how you managed to go through this entire review without once mentioning "Firefly" is quite inattentive and honestly very surprising. That said, I agree with most of your points here for this episode. Ed Quinn, in particular, was awesome.
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They did mention it. In fact, the way they did was priceless as Castle was listing the "good" sci-fi shows and said something like "Star Trek, Battlestar, and that series by Joss Whedon".
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pcsjunior002 was talking about this review...not the episode itself.
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I think Ed Quinn upstaged everybody! He was absolutely brilliant!

" He was equal parts Tim Allen in Galaxy Quest and Troy McClure as he smirked his way through smarmy line after smarmy line.

I think he was part William Shatner as well! LMAOROFL!!!

Nobody's pointed out Mr. Shimerman's fantastic shirt: "HAN SHOT FIRST" I couldn't stop laughing!! PLUS I want one!

Great Ep no doubts! Even if they just ignored the phaser at the end LOL! It just existed and that was that!
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I have to admit I do enjoy Castle but this episode brill.

I did like the hint on firefly even though he did not say firefly but we all know what he meant.

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Armin Shimerman is the principal from Buffy's high school and will never be anything else to me. And, BTW, nods to Firefly, anyone? 10 years of being cancelled still with a fan-base? Castle enjoying Joss Whedon shows? I miss Firefly.
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"I Love Lucy" sees your 10 years of being cancelled still with a fan-base and raises you 40 more.
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I love all the references Fillion made about his own sci-fi show. This line from him was priceless as he is essentially complaining about Firefly while promoting it at the same time: "How is Nebula-9 worthy of all this? They were cancelled over a decade ago, after 12 episodes, which was 12 episodes too many. I'm a fan of good sci-fi: Star Trek, Battlestar, that Joss Whedon show"
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That Joss Whedon show,lol.
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This comment has been removed.
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Or "It was canceled over a decade ago, after 12 episodes--which was 12 episodes too many."

I mean, Firefly got canceled after 11, but I'm pretty sure that was the reference.

I bet they had a blast filming this episode.
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"I mean, Firefly got canceled after 11, but I'm pretty sure that was the reference."


Obviously
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Best episode of Castle yet! Love this show!
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I might have missed it but I believe they never explained the laser gun. They just found the guy who made it. I'm wondering if that kind of laser gun is even plausible? Anyone? This really annoyed me a lot because I thought they were going to explain it, even if it was a bit science fiction.



Loved the scifi references. From "that Joss Whedon" show, and the fact that Nebula 9 was a show that was cancelled a decade ago but fans still go crazy for it.
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Here's the explanation: You take an ordinary laser pointer, only instead of hooking it up to a couple of 1.5V watch batteries, you hook it up to about 50 kV.



Or, you refer to Dave Barry:

"The laser is a remarkable tool. You can use it for vaporizing a bulldozer or you can use it to perform delicate surgery on the human eyeball. As long as you remember to change the setting from "vaporize bulldozer" to "eyeball surgery"...
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Great episode, loved the review but I'm still bummed you didn't do a review of last week's episode that involved 3XK. I'm not 100% sure, but I don't think I missed it. So, what happened with it?
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Unfortunately, Sandy was my undoing last week. Didn't have a chance to catch the episode until later in the week, and by then, I had other editorial assignments piling up. Apologies for that.
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I figured it had something to do with Sandy. No problem.
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If I would wanna write what made me laugh in this episode, I would just end up recaping the whole episode. best comedical episode of Castle yet and top 5 in series rank.

LOVE;LOVE;LOVE IT!!!!
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Absolutely going down as one of the all time best ever episodes of Castle! Loved, loved, loved it!
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Great episode, though I don't know if any one scene trumped the whole "space cowboy" intro in the other Halloween episode. Though there were great scenes and Firefly references galore... him suiting up as (psuedo) Mal was hilarious.
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I counted no less than 5 Firefly references in this awesomely fun ep of Castle.
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Undoubtably the funniest episode of Castle thus far. They are really just hitting their stride and having fun with the show. Also I have to commend the writers for the relationship between Castle and Beckett. Most shows die when the sexual tension of the two main characters cross that line into relationships. For a perfect example of that, see Bones. But the writers have written their relationship amazingly well. I have no complaints for this episode, or this show for that matter. It is just well done tv.



And Castle's reaction to Alexis was fantastic.
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These are the episodes that make me adore Castle. Winking at the audience constantly, silly characters doing silly things...plus Ed Quinn absolutely crushed it!
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I like how Castle can be serious, but it's definitely the light heart eps that I enjoy more. If I wanted dark and gritty all the time I would just watch L&O or something.
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Oh my gosh, I didn't recognize Jonathan Frakes at all. This could be one of my favourite Castle eps of all times. Def top 5. After the 3XK episode last week something light hearted was nice. The inner nerd in me also love all the nods and winks.
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Shiny (LOL, about time he exclaimed that)

Cancelled 10 years ago after 12 episodes

I liked that Joss Whedon show

A couple of other bits.

I was half expecting the big white-fur-suit guy to take off his mask and reveal himself to be Alan Tudyk or something.
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Yeah all the Firefly references were awesome!
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I knew within the first 5 minutes when we had already had like 3 Firefly references that I was going to be laughing my ass off the whole time. But I would have to say my absolutely favorite part was Castle reaction to Alexis's costume. Had to rewind and watch it a couple of times.
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I'm always amazed by how you are able to insult Castle at the same time as you supposedly compliment it.
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No picture of Alexis in that assassin costume? For shame.
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For SHAME, Alex.
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Molly C. Quinn is so pretty it's kind of ridiculous. Also, how was she not approached to play MJ.
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