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Maybe it's just because this week's episode came right on the dress train of "Limelight" (it's not), but "Dressed to Kill" seemed like a letdown to me. Now, before you reach for your replica Firefly gun (how many of you have Vera?) and come at me in an angry cosplay mob, I should say that "Dressed to Kill" wasn't a bad episode. I didn't hate it or anything. But it wasn't a great episode. And it was a departure from the kind of quality we've been seeing this season.

The main reason for this was the case of the week. On the surface, it was entertaining enough. The victim, Ella Hayes, was found strangled in a dumpster. Coincidentally (not so much since this was in the garment district) two fashion students found her while competing in a tug of war for the same bit of fabric. Oh the metaphors.


The NYPD soon discovered that Ella had been the assistant for Matilda King (played by Frances Fisher). This larger-than-life fashion empress was the face of a fashion magazine called Modern Fashion. If you feel like I used the word "fashion" too many times in that last sentence, then you know how I felt about this episode. The way it treated Matilda King and her world was more like a spoof of a spoof than just a spoof. It was like the writers got their source material from watching movies about fashion. A list which seemed to include "The Incredibles."


I admit that I enjoyed a lot of the pokes at fashion in this episode, but it felt like I'd seen it all before. One reason for this might be that Castle has already had a fashion episode. Admittedly, "Inventing the Girl" was way back in Season 2, but one of the first thoughts I had during "Dressed to Kill" was: "haven't they already done this?" To be fair, it's not like this is the first time that Castle has used the same theme twice. After all, "Limelight" was about a female teenage rock star, as was "Famous Last Words" (also from Season 2). However, "Limelight" brought a lot of things to the table that "Famous Last Words" didn't. Namely that the rock star in "Limelight" stuck around as a living character throughout the episode, while the other one was the victim in the opening. This allowed for us to see the world through Mandy's eyes, and for her and Alexis to have a little heart to heart.

That didn't really happen in "Dressed to Kill." The episode chose to go through the motions of introducing the kinds of characters and situations you'd expect from a clichéd look at fashion. There was the demanding photographer, the gay male designer, and of course the even more demanding fashion queen. Two models even had a cat fight. It was all very straight forward.

Which was surprising, really, considering how confused everyone seemed to be in a lot of scenes. Like this one.





Now, I know next to nothing about fashion, which might have to do with the fact that I don't wear clothes. But there were three obvious reasons that jumped to my mind about why someone would want to kill Emma. 1. She was using her position as Matilda's assistant to sell secrets to the competition. 2. She saw something she shouldn't have and was killed. And 3. Someone killed her for her designs.

These are all basic motives that have appeared on procedural shows like Castle a hundred times over. They are also all motives that have been behind many of the murders on this show itself. You'd think that Beckett, at least, would have been able to list some of these as obvious reasons for why Emma was murdered. Any obvious reason would have been nice. But unfortunately, the NYPD were bumblers in this episode.

Due purely to the fact that the victim's apartment didn't have cell phone service (a mystery in of itself), Ryan was forced to use the landline, which led to him discovering that Emma had been bugged (why didn't Emma or her roommate notice the weird static every time they used the phone? Or that it would have gotten louder the closer it got to the bug?). This revelation did serve to thicken the plot a little, but it only became translucent at best. Sure, she was about to reveal some dirty secret to Modern Fashion's rival. And the fact that someone had hacked into Matilda's calendar to change some dates and times -- which meant that Emma never made any mistakes -- was a nice touch. But none of these things really twisted us around like Castle normally does. After all, this is the show that has featured zombies, vampires, mummies, treasure hunts, magicians, and pizzerias. But we didn't really get anything all that bizarre in this episode, and we weren't exposed to anything that hasn't already been done countless times in film and television.

There was also that issue with clues in this episode. I realize that it's hard for a TV show to not make it obvious when they're showing you something important. In order for them to give you a good look at something, they usually have to give a clue its own close-up. And that usually pops out at you like it's saying "Look at me! I'm important! I'm the key to everything!" However, Castle has done a pretty good job of sprinkling the clues into the background in the past. The best example I can think of at the moment was the carving in "Get a Clue." What ended up being the doorway to a hidden room was featured in a shot between Beckett and Castle. That way the audience got a good look at the clue, but it wasn't so obviously important as it would have been if it had gotten its own close-up. This episode wasn't nearly as subtle.







And then there was the killer. If you haven't seen "Limelight," you might want to skip to the next paragraph because I'm going to throw in a spoiler in the next sentence. Well, it's the sentence after this, but I just thought I'd give you another chance to look away. Okay, here we go: so do you remember how Mandy's mother was the killer in the last episode? At the time, I thought that the writers could have done better (especially with so many guest stars) in making the killer more of a character, and giving them more screen time. However, what they did succeed in was 1. establishing who she was and what her various relationships were to everyone, and 2. establishing why she would want to murder the victim, before it was revealed that she was the murderer. Unfortunately, this cannot be said for "Dressed to Kill."

While Julian did appear in two scenes before it was revealed that he murdered Emma, I wouldn't consider him to be a character. He was about as much of a character as Alice Clark's assistant Kyle (played by David Blue) was in "A Murder is Forever." Don't remember that guy? I'm not surprised. He was basically a glorified tour guide that appeared in a few scenes. He just showed the NYPD around the victim's apartment and office, and provided a healthy dose of information. He was more of a device for exposition than an actual character. Similarly, Julian spent his two scenes hanging out in the background. It was never made clear exactly what his position was, nor did we learn anything about him other than his name and that he wore gray and pink suits. It would have at least been nice to know that his position in Modern Fashion was such that he could take over Matilda King's job if she was fired, considering that was the actual motive for murder. But instead I felt like the writers had him in the episode solely so that the NYPD would be able to arrest someone at the end. I would have preferred that he at least have a personality. At least Yumi had that.

Overall, I think the main issue with "Dressed to Kill" is that it's beauty was only skin deep (they call me the punster). While we got to meet a lot of characters and see a lot of places, we didn't get to spend a satisfying amount of time with any of them. The photographer guy only had one scene (he was also in that final scene in Matilda's office, but that lasted two seconds so it doesn't count). Yumi (the gay male fashion designer) only had one scene before it became clear that he was an accessory to murder. Even Matilda King, who was the spotlight guest star of this episode, didn't get that much light shone on her character.

Don't get me wrong, Matilda got a lot of screen time. And she did have that touching moment with Beckett. But most of the time she was a caricature rather than an actual person. And when she did have that one moment it was rather vague.



While we eventually learned why Beckett fell into a bit of a funk, Matilda's reason for feeling sad inside was never really explained. Maybe I missed something, but the best that I can come up with is that Matilda felt momentarily sad that she'd never had any children. And Beckett represented the daughter she never had? Or maybe she realized in hindsight that Emma had been like a daughter, and now she was alone again? Regardless of what was going on in Matilda's head, it would have been nice if someone actually said why she was feeling sad. Castle happens to be one of those shows that doesn't have a lot of recurring characters. So guest stars usually have only one shot at imparting everything they want to get across. This doesn't leave a whole lot of room for subtlety, especially when the character is a spoof of the fashion industry. Just like Mandy spelled out a lot of her issues to Alexis, I was hoping that the same would happen between Matilda and Beckett. But instead we were left with a vague notion of sadness as Matilda stared at Beckett in that dress.

Speaking of Beckett in that dress, "Dressed to Kill" wasn't really about the fashion industry. Sure, that's the theme the episode was dressed up in (they still call me the punster). But the heart of the episode had nothing to do with models or magazines. Rather, it was about Castle, Beckett, and their wedding.

This week, the writers took the usual "Castle and Beckett have a minor issue that they need to work out while they're solving their case" thing and blew it up into a B story that was given almost as much time as the A story. It was more of an A- story when all was said and done. At the beginning of the episode, Martha was trying to convince Beckett to crawl through wedding magazines for ideas. In a shocking twist that left me doing five spit-takes in a row, Martha's advice immediately ushered in positive results.


It looked like Castle and Beckett had found the perfect venue for their wedding. But since Beckett actually had to spend most of this episode solving a murder, it was left to Castle and Martha to scope the place out. This episode was a whirlwind of emotions, since Cordova House made Castle and Beckett feel joy, loss, and then happiness again. On Castle and Martha's end, they learned that Cordova House would only be available in the Spring of 2014, and the next openings were in 2015. On Beckett's end, she got to try on the perfect wedding dress, and that made her approaching wedding very real for her.

I'm guessing I wasn't the only person who started to freak out when Beckett looked all somber. Castle has been known to bring up issues for the sake of drama, even if they come out of the blue and make no sense at all (Beckett's reaction at the end of "Hunt" is a perfect example, since she is suddenly all worried about Castle keeping things from her, even though he hasn't indicated that he's holding anything back in any way). So I was genuinely worried for a bit there that Beckett was suddenly going to get cold feet and call the wedding off.

Thankfully, though, the opposite happened. It turned out that Beckett was sad because her mom was dead, which people tell me is a good enough excuse. When she put on that dress Beckett expected her mom to be there, but she wasn't. And Beckett was worried for a moment that she wouldn't be able to go through the wedding without her. You can imagine the relief that flooded through every poor of my body when Castle and Beckett decided to go ahead with the wedding, and to even move it ahead to the Spring.

This new plan sets the wedding squarely on the sights of the season finale, provided that it doesn't get called off before then. This makes a lot of sense than next Fall, and I don't expect many viewers were surprised to see this coming. Other than the 3XK tease, Season 6 hasn't really had a season arc, case wise. Unless you count the much anticipated "Pi gets murdered in an excruciatingly painful way" episode that will bring a satisfying close to the Pi arc, which I do. But in all seriousness, this episode highlighted what I guess is now the official arc of the season: the wedding.

Since the premiere, when Beckett said yes to the proposal, there has been a lot of discussion about the wedding. But until "Dressed to Kill," that's all it was: discussion. Castle and Beckett have talked a lot about dates and planning, but this is the first time we've seen anything concrete. Because the real purpose behind the fashion element of this episode was so that Beckett would try on her wedding dress, and get to keep it. The summary for this episode promised that "access to a very special wedding surprise is provided to Beckett." In the past the teaser would be something like: "Beckett makes a startling revelation about her mother's murder." In this season, though, the writers have started to tease us with elements of the wedding.

What I'm wondering then is: will this become a thing? Will the murder in the next episode take place in a flower shop, and to show his/her gratitude the owner offers to do Castle and Beckett's flower arrangements? Will there be a murder in a cake shop? Will the ring bearer and flower girl be children that they rescue from kidnappers? Are the writers going to sprinkle in bits and pieces of the wedding until the finale?

If this is going to happen, then I suppose I'm fine with it. I don't blame the writers for milking the wedding until the udder runs dry. After all, in many ways this is what the show has been building towards for six seasons now. So they might as well get their money's worth. However, at the same time I don't want these wedding crumbs to get too ridiculous. There's also the issue of milking the drama as well. For a number of seasons now, the writers have felt the need to give Castle and Beckett a steady supply of petty arguments and issues to work through. As I've said before, I like what Season 6 has been doing in making both leading characters mature enough to work through actual issues instead of refusing to talk to each other. This episode happens to be the first time since the premiere that we've seen some actual tension in the Caskett relationship, and that only lasted a few seconds. Thankfully, Beckett was honest with Castle, and they talked through it.

But there is the potential that the writers will throw a lot more ice cubes into the script so that both Beckett and Castle get cold feet here and there before the wedding (they're not calling me the punster so much anymore). Of course, this would be wholly for the sake of keeping us on our toes, and infusing Caskett with the kind of angst that fanfiction writers live on. I, for one, hope this doesn't happen. But I may be in the minority on this one. I mean, there's a lot of Caskett fanfiction out there.

Anyway, if it weren't for all of the wedding solidification in this episode, it would have been very "meh." Even with the wedding stuff, "Dressed to Kill" was just barely a "good" episode, and an overall letdown after "Limelight." It also doesn't help that Castle has been taking hiatuses left and right lately. As such, Caskett won't be returning to your screens until February 17th. I hope this image helps you survive until then.



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Notes From the Bloody Fountain Pen:

1. So, the writers have basically said in this episode that the finale is going to be the wedding, or the lack of one. Do you think that Caskett will be bound in matrimony by the end of this season? Or will a spanner be thrown into the works at the last minute for the sake of a cliffhanger? In my opinion, Caskett seems stronger than ever these days. I mean, Castle made a joke about the high divorce rate and Beckett didn't get needlessly worried that he was implying a divorce, or something. If he had made that joke last season, you know that would have happened.

2. The Most Valuable Side Character award goes to Martha this week. That woman had a number of scenes, and it looks like she actually has a purpose for the rest of this season. While I'm sure that no one would ever want her to be their wedding planner, she fits those shoes better than any of the others that she's worn in the past. Anyway, now that Martha's gotten to glimmer faintly for an episode, let's give Laney or Gates a turn. They deserve it more.

3. So...are we to take it that Alexis actually broke up with Pi? Castle can be annoying in the way that it doesn't follow up on a lot of things from episode to episode. For better or worse, Pi has been the most important recurring character of this season. We need closure, even if it means seeing him again.

4. I suppose I should mention that Stana Katic was a model before becoming an actress. So it's fitting that in the world of Castle she was briefly a model before becoming a cop. Yep, that's all I've got.

5. I was going to call this review "Say Yes to the Dress," but thought the excessive groans would be bad for your health.

6. What did you think about "Dressed to Kill?" What did you think about this review? Feel free to share the answers to either of these questions in the comments. You should feel welcome to share anything in the comments, really. Unless you want everyone to know about how your wife's uncle's cat's neighbor's dentists's spaceship repairwoman just made more money in a year than most millionaires. Keep that stuff to yourself. Because if you think that dentists actually own spaceships, you're probably crazy.

P.S. According to the spell-check on this site, "repairman" is a word, but "repairwoman" isn't. What kind of a world do we live in when inanimate strings of computer code are sexist?


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I was pretty underwhelmed by this episode, but perhaps that was partially because I'd waited longer for it. Having the week hiatus made me await this ep even more eagerly and so maybe the reality fell short of that. Perhaps if I watch it again at the end of the season (which I inevitably will) I'll enjoy it more.

Still won't like the dress though.
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Re #3:
The only place I want to see Pi is in a ...

*wait for it*

Caskett
(See what I did there?)
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I humbly concede my punster crown to you, my liege.
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I can't believe this reviewer spent so much time and so many words on such a lightweight episode! The only part I actually liked about it was when Beckett explained how sad she was not to have her mother there to be involved in her wedding. That was a true-to-life touch. The dress itself was so awful, however. I enjoy seeing Beckett and Castle as an engaged couple--they are sweet.
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That was one of the ugliest wedding dresses I have ever seen, and I watch Say Yes to the Dress, so that is saying something...
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They stuck a tutu onto an "old-lady dress."
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Is too bad that I didn't like the dress? I mean, it was a pretty dress, but it didn't look good in Beckett, IMHO.
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I didn't like it either, mostly because of the contrasting colors. Maybe if it was silver on silver or ivory on ivory instead of ivory/silver, I would like it more.
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For the finale of the season I expect the wedding will come through and then they go on their honeymoon where something happens that will be the cliffhanger.

I just wish they'd stop calling each other by their last names, it creates a distance between them while at the same time they are close. It annoys me.
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The problem with the names is that a lot of shows like this call the main characters by their last names. "Richard" and "Kate" are not as memorable as "Castle" and "Beckett." If you recall, in earlier seasons the beginning sequence had people saying "Castle" three times and "Beckett" three times, just to drill into our heads who the two main characters were. Now that Castle is in its sixth season and has a massive fan base, I agree that they should start calling each other Rick and Kate. Especially since they'll probably be married soon, and then they'll both be "Castle" (unless Beckett keeps her last name, which the writers might have to do for this very reason) Yeah...
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Oh, I'll bet that will come up, by what name will Kate go. At the end of the episode they deal with that she will probably be officially Kate Castle-Becket, but at work she will be Kate Becket.
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Did I care about the case? No. Te banter as always priceless. Isn't that what we watch Castle for? No, for the murder mysteries. You are wrong bro/sis, everyone watches it for the banter!
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The banter is not what it used to be. It was the reason I continued to watch Castle. I hope the writers get it back.
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You're right!!! I enjoy the chemistry between Kate and Castle more than anything else!!
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