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I just checked, and it's official. "Limelight" is the best episode of Season 6 yet. Well done, Castle, well done. Pat yourself on the back. Drink some champagne. Have a slice of pie. Stab that pie several times with a fork. You've earned it. Seriously.

Nearly every aspect of this episode was exceptional. The funny thing, though, is that "Limelight" seemed like it was just going to be an average Castle episode. The case itself revolved around an obvious Miley Cyrus metaphor, while the episode on the whole was all about the spotlight of fame, and what it does to people. But while there was the usual Castle twist to shake things up a bit (the person everyone thought was the victim wasn't the victim), early on the episode seemed to me like it was going to be a half-hearted commentary on the not-so-recent-anymore Miley Cyrus "scandal" more than anything. Oh great big helpings of pie was I wrong.

First off, this episode was packed with suspects. Remember how last week's episode, "Deep Cover," didn't really have any suspects? I'm pretty sure that was because James Brolin is a screen hog, but it was still noticeably bare in the guest star department. Well, the writers sure made up for that in this episode. As the opening credits were a clear indication, "Limelight" was packed to the rafters with guest stars. Eight of them, to be precise. And there were no less than nine suspects. Nine of them. That's certainly quite a lot to choose from.

The victim that one of these people murdered was a woman named Claire Samuels. At first the NYPD thought that Mandy Sutton (played by The Lying Game's Alexandra Chando), a famous pop star, had been murdered. But as it turned out, Claire had been hired to be Mandy's look-a-like. She'd go to clubs and events, letting the paparazzi follow her around, so that Mandy could enjoy some privacy. Something that it looked like she had died protecting.



Seeing as Claire's job was to convince everyone around her that she was Mandy, the killer may have been fooled as well; Mandy may have been the intended target. Naturally, the police initially assumed that this was the case. So they looked into everyone involved with Mandy Sutton who may have wanted her dead, or who knew someone that did. Here's a quick rundown of all the suspects that were thrown mercilessly at us.

First off, there were these two people.



Well, technically one of them was Mandy's assistant, but these two basically made up the classic family duo. You know, the two family members who always appear on crime shows like these in order to put up a wall of affection and love. Half of the time, the killer happens to be a family member, because the writers assume most viewers won't suspect them of being capable of killing their own, I suppose. That, and they don't have to come up with a reason for why the police would want to question them. Anyway, these two suspects were pretty standard, as things go. One of them seemed entirely devoted to the "victim," while the other one seemed to have her own agenda.

Next up was arguably the least suspicious suspect: Mandy Sutton herself.



Understandably, much of "Limelight" focused on this pop star/actress/etc. It was painfully obvious that she was supposed to represent Miley Cyrus. When she was younger she had a TV show where she played Mandy Melody, a normal girl by day, and a crime-fighting pop star by night. Now that she was an adult, though, her performances and appearances were becoming far more sexual, something that many people didn't like. And her crazy public outings had labeled her a "hot mess," as Alexis put it. Basically, the writers couldn't have been more clear if they had shown a video of Mandy swinging around naked on a wrecking ball.

There are two things that I'd like to point out about this Mandy character. The first is that I would love to watch a TV show about a crime-fighting, teenage pop star. And the second is that her importance in this episode had almost nothing to do with her being a pop star. And while the episode was called "Limelight," it wasn't so much about Mandy being famous, either. Rather, it boiled down to the choices that she had made in her life, how she regretted many of them, and how much she wanted to lead a "normal" life. Surprisingly enough, this worked pretty well. While we didn't get to see Mandy perform a gig, or be famous in public all that much, we got to see a lot of one on one time between her and Alexis (more on that later), which allowed the two of them to really hash out their lives so far, and discuss what it was they did and didn't want in life.

Anyway, there was never any actual suspicion thrown at Mandy, even though she would have made a great killer. After all, she got a lot of face time, she wasn't an obvious suspect (far from it), and there was not a shred of evidence to prove that she couldn't have killed Claire (Her whole hangover with the wine on the carpet could have been easily faked. After all, she was an actor). Still, as characters on this show go, she was fairly memorable. More memorable than most of the other suspects, at least.

Speaking of suspects, our next one symbolized that "normal life" that Mandy wanted so much.



Zack didn't show up in this episode all that much, though the idea of him played a pretty big role in the grand scheme of things. He had been prepared to give Mandy a normal life, until she was photographed kissing her ex-boyfriend, that is. The NYPD didn't suspect him all that much, considering that he had an airtight alibi. Not that we haven't seen our fair share of airtight alibis springing leaks on this show.

He was helpful in that he alerted the police to this guy.



Jesse Jones spent much of this episode being a visible villain. He had been a bad influence on Mandy since the beginning, he came across as a total asshole in all of his scenes, and he waved a gun around a lot at one point. Basically, there was no way he was our killer. Even though he had been spotted in the alleyway at the time of Claire's death, he was far too obvious for it to be him.

The same could be said for this guy.



I'd like to take this opportunity to give the stalkers of this world a little advice: if you're going to send your stalkee a letter with the intention of making them feel safe, don't start it with "I'm watching you. And I don't like what I see." And don't ever add: "If you continue, there's no telling what might happen to you. I can get to you anytime I want." I mean, come on. Put some support in your creepy letters. Also, don't stalk people.

I will say this in his favor: that stalker was the best witness that our heroes have ever encountered. Not only did he write down everything he saw, but he was able to effortlessly recall everything on the spot. They should just have him stalk all their victims; it would make their job a lot easier.

The next suspect was very incidental.



Other than imparting some information to Mandy and Alexis, this guy didn't do much. He was an excuse to draw Mandy out into the open more than anything. About that, shouldn't a woman who's been hounded by the press all her life know to keep her hood and sunglasses on if she's trying to stay incognito. What was it about making a phone call that made her show her crazy famous face to the entire world? That part seemed very fake to me, is all I'm saying.

Anyway, this guy came out of nowhere.



So, this guy was the one who'd photographed Mandy kissing Jesse. Except, it wasn't Mandy who had posed for the picture; it was Claire. As it turned out, the photographer had been tipped off as to where and when the kiss had taken place. He was tipped off by...

This guy:



Last, and most certainly least, was the reporter/celeb news guy from the beginning of the episode. Even though he was in two scenes before he showed up again at the end (one when "Mandy" stepped out of the car, and another when he tried to interview Castle), he was the most forgettable face from this whole bunch. For me, at least. Even though he went so far as to announce his name, I had forgotten all about him three minutes after his second close-up. And I'm guessing that most of you had forgotten him as well. Especially considering that this episode had so many guest stars.

Here's the thing: it would have been simply horrendous if he'd been the murderer. I mean, on an episode with more characters than Game of Thrones (that's a mammoth of an exaggeration), you'd think they could at least make the killer someone who'd spent more than a minute on screen. Sure, no one would have suspected that it was that one guy who was a reporter or something for a few seconds. But then again, it would have been precisely because he was that one guy who spoke for a few seconds about something for the sake of exposition.

Thankfully though, this guy wasn't the murderer. And while the actual killer turned out to be a family member, which was numbingly cliché, she did appear in several scenes before she was revealed as the murderer. What's more, there was a unique motive that pointed to her, and only her, as the killer, which was fairly accessible to viewers via substantial clues sprinkled throughout the episode. At the same time, it wasn't obvious that she was guilty. So all in all, "Limelight" did a good job with its whodunit portion.

In fact, this episode got a lot of things right. Tying in with the whole theme of fame, the press, and what growing living in that world can do to you, the weekly Caskett issue revolved around the fact that Castle is still famous. As such, the press still write stories about him in the paper, whether they happen to be true or not. Once again, I was very impressed with the maturity of Castle and Beckett's relationship this week. Even though there was a newspaper article that claimed Castle and Meredith were getting back together, Beckett had enough common sense and trust in her fiancé to not give in to doubt and petty bickering. Nor was she frightened away by the limelight that Castle has become so accustomed to. Instead, she disclosed her and Castle's engagement to the press. This made sure that they got the right story this time, and her relatives didn't continue posting false information on Facebook.

It's common sense for the writers to construct a mini-story around Castle and Beckett's relationship each week, one that may or may not plug into the main story of the episode. In which case, I hope that they continue to make them about Beckett and Castle overcoming obstacles together, or finding solutions to problems that leave them both satisfied. This is far better than creating a petty or pointless argument that they mull over throughout the episode, only to hastily revolve it at the very end. I hope that the days of silly secrets and muddled misunderstandings are far behind us. If Castle and Beckett are going to argue or have problems with each other, than let them be real issues that come about for reasons that the audience can understand. Anyway, the writers can certainly pat themselves on the back for how well the Caskett issue of the week fit into the larger story, how well our two main characters handled it, and how well it was resolved. Well done.

Another reason that the writers can pat themselves on the back is the increased roll that Alexis played in "Limelight." As I've said many a time, it's rare on this show for a character other than Castle, Beckett, Ryan, or Esposito to play a significant role in an episode, much less have their own story. For some reason this was the episode that, for the third time in five and a half seasons, Alexis actually got her own story and her own scenes. While there are other so-called main characters on this show who have never gotten their own story (Martha in particular), I'm always a fan of more Alexis. And Martha...is just Martha. So yeah, the writers chose wisely on that one.




I imagine at this point being kidnapped isn't all that scary or exciting for Alexis. She probably has a T-shirt that says: "Kidnap me. I'm used to it," or "I'm with kidnapper." Seriously, at this rate Martha is probably going to have to pay someone to kidnap her in order to feel like she's still part of the family. But I digress.

The bottom line is that the writers actually used Alexis in this episode in multiple ways, and with multiple storylines. As per the usual, she had a bit towards the beginning of the episode that had to do with Pi, and the recommendation that her dad was supposed to write. But then she had several scenes with Mandy, in a number of locations, in which she was the only series regular. Some of these scenes had to do with the case itself, but some of them were just about Alexis and Mandy having a little heart to heart. You know, talking about how similar their lives are. Their regrets, their desires, all that good stuff.

It was nice to see Alexis have time to just talk to someone about her life, without having to throw in silly gags or remind us that she's going to college, or something like that. It was nice to see her get the treatment that Castle, Beckett, Ryan, and Esposito get all the time. Now I'd like to see Laney and Gates get the same treatment. Martha can...just be Martha.

The final thing that "Limelight" really got right had to do with the return of Pi. I'm going to be honest with you, I never thought I'd ever use "right" and "return of Pi" in the same sentence. Unless the sentence was: "It was nice to see the serial killer spend so much time finding the right tools in preparation for the return of Pi." But it's true; I actually enjoyed the fact that he appeared in this episode, as I'm sure many of you did as well. Don't get me wrong, I wasn't thinking this at all when he first showed up.



So at this point the show is fully aware of just how terrible a person Pi is. The first time we see him after several episodes of blissful non-Pi-ness, Castle and Beckett get a visitor at the door at 6:45 in the morning. Did anyone not know that it was going to be Pi? I certainly did. I mean, Castle even had the line about who in the world calls on people at 6:45 and all that. Yeah, I knew it was going to be him a mile away. Still, I nearly got a heart attack. That face...yeah.

At first, it seemed like Pi had resurfaced his hairy head for a usual bout of hilarity and rapscallionism. Castle had promised Alexis that he'd write Pi a letter of recommendation (doesn't the father of the person you're dating have a conflict of interest in this kind of situation?), and he still hadn't written a single word even thought it was due later that day. Since he obviously had nothing good to say about Pi, Alexis came by to give her dad some help.



It certainly seemed like we were going to be treated to yet another painful Pi fest. We even had this imagine gouged into our eyes.


Quick question: are there any Pilexis people out there? If so, why? Why would you do that? Just, why? Anyway, thankfully we were being subjected to a large slice of Pi for a reason. As Alexis revealed to Mandy in a rather triumphant scene, she finally realized that she'd made a mistake on the whole Pi front.




That's right, Alexis wanted to break up with Pi. And I imagine that at that moment cheers were heard round the world. Sixty year old scotch and champagne was popped open in celebration as Castle fans -- united in their hate of Pi -- gazed happily at their screens in childlike wonder and joy. Could this really be? Had the time finally come? Was the darkness that had swallowed up our world for so long be retreating into the evil nether from whence it came? Was Alexis finally going to break up with Pi? Yes, was apparently the answer to that question.




Now, this doesn't exactly mean that we should be jumping for joy just yet. This episode only implied that Alexis was planning on breaking up with Pi. However, 1. we didn't see that happen yet, and 2. just because they're broken up doesn't necessarily mean that he'll be gone forever. I hate to say it, but we might just see that nightmare-inducing smile once again.

After all, this whole Pi thing is new territory for the show. This is the first time that one of Castle's family members has had a romantic interest that wasn't only talked about, shown through one-sided phone calls, or given only a few episodes to actually appear in. If you recall, Ashley only showed up in three episodes, and Chet didn't show up in any. So this is the first time that either of their boyfriends have actually appeared more than most recurring characters. As such, Pi has unfortunately become a character on this show in his own right. Not just as Alexis's boyfriend, but as that really annoying guy that everyone loves to hate and discuss how they would murder him. So even if Alexis actually went through with breaking up with him, I can totally see the writers having him show up at Castle's apartment late at night wanting to get drunk and commiserate with our hero. I mean, there's no way that Pi could actually have anyone else to do that with, right? He doesn't have friends, right? He can't.

But even though Pi may return again, we still have much cause for celebration. Alexis presumably broke up with him, and now no one wants him on the show. Not the audience, not the characters, nobody. Which is how things should be. I mean, he calls Alexis "Al." What? Where does this guy come up with his nicknames? Hell, that's where.

Anyway, now that we've seen the last of Pi -- or will hopefully see the last of him sooner rather than later -- I feel compelled to ask the question: why did the writers subject us to the torture of his creation? I guess his main reason for being on the show was to make Alexis independent. By sticking with Pi she made a decision that her father really didn't like (for good reason), which is something that she hasn't really done before. This led her to being mad at him for one and a half episodes, and to moving out of the apartment and into a place of her own. I can see why this was an important step for her to take at this point in the show. But was Pi really the best way for this to happen? No, obviously.

I'm sure that another reason the writers invented Pi was so that he could be a funny character. Remember all those hijinks he pulled on Castle and company? Yeah, unfortunately I do as well. According to the music in those scenes, we were supposed to be laughing. I wasn't laughing. If the writers had wanted Alexis's boyfriend to provide comic relief, why hasn't she been dating a stand-up comedian this whole time? Better yet, a bad stand-up comedian who insists on trying out all his jokes on Castle. Now that could be funny. Even a sad mime would be funnier than Pi.

The last reason I can think of for why Pi was ever created is that the writers wanted a character that the audience would grow to hate with a passion, which would make them more passionate about Castle, and then they would rejoice once that character had left. Well, if that was intentional, then well done writers. You made us hate Pi. I'm not so sure that you made people more interested in the show, since Castle already has a crazy passionate fan base. But you certainly made people rejoice. Still though, making people suffer through something so that they're happy when it's over is not a kind thing to do. We're throwing up our hats because we're back to the default, not because something has been added to the show or created. I just hope that people celebrate more when Castle and Beckett get married than they are over Pi leaving the show. I also really hope that Pi will still be brutally murdered in some extremely painful manner. Now that would make everything worth it. It actually would.

Overall, I have to say once again that this episode was fantastic. Normally in a Castle episode, the writers will focus on some aspects (the case itself instead of its characters, or a particular guest star instead of the whodunit part of the mystery) and make them really good, while leaving other parts of the episode out to dry. But that didn't happen in "Limelight." Far from it. Every part of the episode was given its fair share of time and attention. A lot of focus was put on the case itself, and the world of Mandy Sutton/fame. We were introduced to several suspects to choose from, and the person who turned out to be the murderer showed up a fair amount and had clues that subtly pointed to her. Castle and Beckett had their own issue to work through that tied in with the theme of their case. The focus of the case, Mandy Sutton, got a lot of screen time and was able to be more than just a suspect/possible victim. The whole Pi arc kind of came to a close. And of course, Alexis got a lot of screen time and was involved in two stories, not just one.

What I find most admirable about this episode is the way in which all of these moving parts meshed together so well. It was one of the suspects that prompted Castle to comment about whether or not he and his ex wife were getting back together. It was Alexis coming to her dad about the whole Pi story that got her involved with Mandy, which is what led her to being involved in Mandy's issues, and led her to dragging Mandy into her own issues. The large pool of suspects represented a nice spectrum of what the limelight can do to people, all of which served as a reminder to Beckett of the world she might soon be stepping into. And finally, it was from Alexis having a heart to heart with Mandy that propelled her into deciding to break up with Pi. Basically, this episode was a complex tapestry that succeeded in creating a whole that was greater than its parts. I didn't enjoy this episode for just one thing, or even a few things. I enjoyed it for everything.

I'm not saying that "Limelight" was the best episode of Castle so far. It didn't have nearly as much impact as a lot of the season premieres and finales have had in the past. Nor was it as epic as one of the great two-parters that I wish the writers would throw at us more often. We didn't even see the return of an important and beloved guest star, like we did with Castle's dad last week. What "Limelight" did was take an average episode of Castle and make it great. And honestly, this kind of treatment of your everyday episode should become the norm on this show. I don't want to explode in praise just because all of the individual parts of an episode were given the treatment they required, and that they flowed together well. I want this to be the rule, not the exception. What "Limelight" offered us was a glaring vision of what Castle could be like on a weekly basis, but currently isn't.

I'm not complaining here; I'm just pointing out a fact. Throughout Season 6 we have been thrown a lot of firsts, we have seen a high level of improvement, and we have consistently been shown a better Castle than I've seen in a long time. It hasn't been perfect (still no long-term season-arcy case to tie everything together), but it's been steadily rising to some spectacular heights for this show. So I'm pretty optimistic from where I'm standing. Hopefully, we'll look back on Season 6 as the one that marked the transition from Castle being a good show, to it being a great one.


Notes From the Bloody Fountain Pen:

1. Those eyes on the elevator doors were really creepy. Were they supposed to be a metaphor for the paparazzi? Or was the art department just having some fun? Or did the place they filmed at actually have doors like that? I really hope the last one isn't true, because then we all officially live in Hell.

2. The best part about Alexis breaking up with Pi is that her appearance on this show will no longer have to involve that demon as well. I like Alexis as a character. I really do. But for most of this season I've had to stifle a groan every time she'd made an appearance, because it was basically a guarantee that the spawn of my nightmares would be showing up as well. I've also had to mentally scold Alexis when it comes to her choice in men. More specifically her choice in one particular man. Now though, all of that bad stuff is gone. So yay for that.

3. We were reminded in this episode that Castle is famous, something which hasn't played much of a part on the show for a while. Personally, I think in reality Castle would be more famous than the show makes him out to be. Sure, most people wouldn't recognize him, but they would recognize his name. The only reason I know what James Patterson looks like is because of this show, but I knew his name long before I read any of his books. Even though Castle said his movie went straight to DVD, James Patterson himself made it seem like Derrick Storm was more popular than Alex Cross. What I'm trying to say here is that Mandy Sutton would probably have heard of Castle in some way. Or at least, most people probably have.

4. As Alexis pointed out, she and Pi still have a lease on their apartment. Does this mean that they'll have to keep on living together? Is this going to be the new bout of Pi "humor" we'll be subjected to? Who knows though, maybe Alexis will do us all a solid by killing Pi and plopping him right in the dumpster that they got their furniture from. No one would miss him, and no one would prosecute that case in a million years. Heck, she'd probably get a medal for public service.

5. I just checked. Tory Ellis still doesn't have her own Castle Wiki page. Somebody fix this.

6. I hate to dredge this up, but a large part of "Limelight" was an attempt at a discourse over this whole Miley Cyrus thing. Where do you fall on that? Do you think that Castle achieved anything by going there? Or was this just a half-hearted attempt at jabbing a really dead horse?

7. What did you think of "Limelight?" Did you find that everything was illuminated? Or was it too bright for you and your eyes hurt? Let me know.
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Jan 27, 2014
I'd like to see Mandy Sutton show up again now and then as a friend to Alexis, especially since ABCF cancelled The Lying Game.
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Jan 26, 2014
It seems to me that Stana Katic is really enjoying those Caskett moments (like the one in the beginning). And so cute to see her reaction when Ryan mentioned in jest that Castle was having dinner with his "other ex-wife". A quick check if he really is in the breakroom ^^

As for the apartment lease. I think, if it means getting rid of Pi, Castle would probably rejoice at taking over the payment (or give the place to his mother, if Alexis chose to move back to the college dorms)
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Jan 26, 2014
Great review. Totally agree about Pi: he was the equivalent of having a mozzie in your room. At first, you can ignore it, optimistically hoping it'll go away. But pretty soon your chasing it down with a shoe to shish the damn thing.

It was also nice to have the Kate/Castle story thread (though I do wish they'd set a date for their wedding already!)
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Jan 25, 2014
Please let Pi die a horrible and grisly death. Please please please.

Strong episode. Probably the best one of the season.
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Jan 25, 2014
"Even though there was a newspaper article that claimed Castle and Meredith were getting back together,"
I think you meant Gina, not Meredith. When Castle reads a bit of the newspaper article out loud he says: "Castle caught cuddling with Ex-wife publisher..", so that's Gina.
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Jan 25, 2014
You're right; my bad.
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Jan 25, 2014
i thought more of amanda bynes than miley cyrus during this episode...
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Jan 24, 2014
Not a Pi hater, but then I think Myko Olivier is drop dead, worth-paying-money-for-gorgeous.
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Jan 24, 2014
great review for a very satisfying episode, and a lot more fun than Murder she wrote too.
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Jan 24, 2014
Awesome review! I completely agree.
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Jan 24, 2014
I have a feeling that Pi was created for the sole purpose of making earlier episodes without him seem a million times better this season by comparison.
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Staff
Jan 23, 2014
Fantastic post! Looks like some words were hyperlinked to an empty link: was that intentional or were you having some trouble with the linking tool? Just promoted this so look for it on the homepage!
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Jan 24, 2014
I just tried the four links that I inserted in the review, and they all went to the pages they're supposed to go to. I don't seem to have the linking issue that you do. Anyway, thanks for promoting it and I'm glad you liked the review. I trust I got the pictures right, right?
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Staff
Jan 24, 2014
I removed the links that were linking to blank pages so it must have just been a mistake.
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Jan 24, 2014
My bad then. Thank you for doing that. I'll be more careful about that in the future.
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