A Castle Community
ABC (ended 2016)
After about two months on hiatus, Castle returned last night with a bang. Or should I say boom? Oftentimes, shows have a bit of a quandary when it comes to jumping back onto our TV screens after being absent for a long time. Should the characters have been doing something else in the meantime like we were? Or should the episode take place just a few seconds after the last one left off? Should it be assumed that the viewers will be loyal enough to remember everything that happened months ago? Or should two characters have a long conversation in which they recap all the important bits? Castle initially sidestepped these questions by throwing us headfirst into danger with one of those beginnings that start in the middle.



That's right, it looked as if Ryan were possibly dead. Or in danger. Or something. The thing is, even with all those endless possibilities, there was never any danger that he was dead, right? I mean, Castle simply isn't that kind of show. This isn't Game of Thrones (R.I.P. all those poor people and pets) or The Walking Dead (R.I.P. all those poor people and their zombie selves) where any main character actually has a chance of dying at any moment. This isn't even Nikita (R.I.P. show) where main characters don't die willy-nilly, but one of them will just straight up have his hand cut off out of the blue. Seriously, did anyone actually think that there was any chance that Ryan was going to die in this episode? Anyone?

Still, this show is rarely fraught with any real danger to the main characters, so it was refreshing to see some stakes reveal themselves early on. Even if it was pretty obvious that Ryan wasn't going to die, it was clear that he was in a bad spot. They obviously weren't going to reveal that he had just stubbed his toe, after all. Something bad had happened to him, and that alone was enough for us to worry, especially with this show.

Another person who had clearly found himself in a bit of bother was this week's victim.


This week's case revolved around a serial arsonist, dubbed the Phantom, who until now hadn't killed anyone. He was an artist among arsonists, capable of using the smallest amount of accelerant to bring a building to its ashy knees. This time, however, he had shot a man in the head before burning the building to the ground.

As with many an episode of Castle, "Under Fire" tended to focus on some aspects of the episode more than others. Chief among these were the characters and the case itself. Let's talk about these characters for a moment. First was Lieutenant Delia Burton (Wendy Davis), an arson investigator with the New York Fire Department. Though she didn't do anything crazy in this episode (like claim that she was a time-traveler, and then actually turn out to be a time-traveler) she had a surprising amount of screen time. She even got a scene all to herself, something which half of the main cast on this show have yet to do.


Okay, so any and all fingerprints made before the fire would probably be unidentifiable at this point, but shouldn't you still use gloves when inside a burned out building? Yes? No? I honestly have no clue.

Anyway, Burton was able to provide our team with the identity of the victim: Blake McCann. He was her partner, and he had been investigating the Phantom. Apparently, though, he had gotten a bit too close to his target. The identification was made, even though he had been burned to a crisp, because Laney discovered a surgical implant on his leg. By the way, isn't it convenient how burned corpses on these kinds of shows tend to have very specific and unique surgeries? On that note, a tip for all killers on these kinds of shows: just remove the implant from the scene of the crime. Trust me, it will do you a world of good.

A review of McCann's notes led the NYPD to this guy.


Our next character was a former arsonist (though I imagine the "former" was soon to be short lived) whom Blake had paid to consult on the Phantom case. This guy oozed "criminal" from every pore, and I'm surprised they didn't just arrest him on the spot for looking creepy. But hey, every case needs a prime suspect that you can easily and instantly dismiss as being too obvious.

Then there was this guy.


Our final character of interest maintained a blog for people with fire fetishes. Don't believe me? Check this out.



Honestly, I found this aspect of "Under Fire" a little confusing. I mean, I get how there are people who really like fire, and happen to get aroused by it. But most of the pictures enticing people into the site were of women. And yet, all of the videos mentioned were entirely of fires. Now, for all I know there could have been a whole slew of videos of all different kinds on that site, with all different combinations of fires and women, or the lack thereof. However, we barely got to step into the world of Pyrolicious.com and the people who receive flames of passion from...flames. I mean, if you're going to go to the trouble of creating this wild and wacky world of fire fetishists who probably exist to a certain degree in real life, then why not let us plunge in there for about ten minutes or so? Why just give us glimpses? Remember the Steampunk episode? Now that was a world we got to dive into.

The thing is, "Under Fire" spent most of its time immersing us in a different, but not unrelated world. In one of the most brilliant instances of things being interpreted literally, the main action of this week was all about being underneath a fire.


You see, Ryan and Esposito had found a building listed in Blake's files, and they thought it might be the Phantom's next target. Upon investigating, though, they realized that it was actually the serial arsonist's lair. And walking around in said lair triggered an explosion which led to them waking up in a pit below the burning building.

This was what "Under Fire" placed most of its focus on, and for good reason. As I mentioned earlier, it's very rare that any of this show's characters are mortally threatened in a significant way, or that any stakes raise their heads for that matter. For a TV show about murderers, murders, and the people who solve them, its characters are surprisingly cavalier in their daily activities.

Not this time though. Half of this episode was spent with half of the Fab Four in a life or death situation, with death seeming to be the more likely route. After waking up in an inescapable room under a fire, with most people thinking they were dead, Esposito discovered that Ryan was trapped, and unable to move. After working through the rudimentary examples of a lever, Esposito was able to spring Ryan free.


But they were still trapped in a sticky situation that was heating up by the minute. And it seemed like no one was going to rescue them any time soon. After banging around and shouting a bunch, it was clear that they couldn't be heard. They needed a way out, and fast. If only there was a way to contact the outside world.


Okay, so this is the second time this season that two characters have been trapped, with seemingly no way of contacting the outside world, only to suddenly be able to make a phone call a few minutes later. Remember that one episode of Stargate where they had to get themselves out of that pit using only a few objects and their wits? Yeah... I'm not saying that I was expecting Ryan and Esposito to fashion an intricate stairway out of metal pipes or anything, but still. Maybe smoke signals? Anything but a phone call. Seriously.

Meanwhile, an until now unmentioned recurring character had been making quite a stir this episode. As we were all aware, Jenny Ryan was pregnant. But now that baby was going to come out any second. In a recurring bit of humor, she had been calling Ryan all episode to make sure that he would be able to rush over at a moment's notice once she was in labor. But seeing as he was in a bit of a no coverage zone, she had lost contact with him. Upon hearing that he was either trapped in a burning building, dead, or facing some other terrible fate, she hurried over to the fire. Even though she was having contractions, and was going to actually give birth any second.

First of all, I haven't pointed out until now that Juliana Dever (Jenny Ryan) and Seamus Dever (Kevin Ryan) are actually married. That's cute. Also, for the first time in the show so far, Juliana Dever was actually called upon to do some acting. Up until now, all she's really had to do is just talk a little while standing. But in this episode she had to appear to be a distraught wife giving birth to a baby who may or may not have a father. And she did a great job of it. So yeah, Juliana Dever can act, in case you were wondering.


While for the first time a bunch of people desperately wanted a baby to be a boy for nonsexist reasons (R.I.P. nonexistent Javier), Castle and Beckett were desperately trying to discover a way out for Ryan and Esposito. After learning from the Pyrolicious.com guy that the Phantom burned down buildings because they were sick and falling apart, they realized that he/she had to be someone who would know whether a building was structurally up to snuff or not. And wouldn't you know it, all of the buildings that had been targeted by the Phantom, including the one that was currently burning to the ground, had the same building inspector.

Now, here are two parts of this week's case that the writers left by the wayside, at least in my opinion. First of all, I never felt like "The Phantom" got the presence that he deserved. For this mysterious arsonist who could enter and leave buildings without being seen, and who knew the weakest point of all of his targets, he only got talked about. We never saw any writings in journals or on the web, no hooded figure stalking buildings and evading the authorities, and no muffled voices taunting the police. Instead, we had some characters talk about how elusive the Phantom was, and we had one character talk about how they had chatted on IM. Oh, and we saw a video he recorded, but that was literally it.

Second of all, the person whom the Phantom actually turned out to be was basically a throwaway. Mark Kimball was only in two scenes, both of them very brief. He also spent most of his screen time being upstaged by the fire chief, who had more lines and would honestly have made a better Phantom. Not that a similarly absent character would have made an ideal phantom, but in my opinion he would have been at least somewhat memorable.

There's also the issue that the NYPD realized that Kimball was the Phantom because he had been the building inspector for every building that the Phantom had targeted. Ummm...I may not be an expert in investigating crimes or anything, but wouldn't that have been a really obvious connection between all of the buildings that had been burned down? One of the major mysteries surrounding the Phantom was that there seemed to be no connection between his targets. They had no idea how he picked them, and a thorough investigation of all of the buildings revealed no evident link or commonality. But...wouldn't a first step in investigating these buildings be to make a list of everyone connected to each of them, and then to cross-reference those lists to see if any of the names were on all of them? And once you had eliminated all of the architects, owners, tenants, etc. from the lists, and the only name on there was that of the building inspector who was the inspector for all the buildings, wouldn't that provide you with an obvious connection? Not to mention a suspect?

I mean, I'm assuming that this is how McCann got on to Kimball's trail in the first place, or at least knew that that building was involved. So, why couldn't the NYPD with their Tory Ellis magic have made this same connection? This was a name that appeared on the basic documentation for every single building involved in this case. A simple search of recurring names would have given anyone investigating this case the name of the perpetrator. But whatever.

Anyway, armed with the name of the Phantom, Castle and Beckett realized that they had just spoken to him. This shadowy arsonist, this shade of a Phantom, was lurking somewhere in the shadows. No doubt he was standing unnoticeably in the crowd, perfectly cloaked in anonymity.


Yeah...I guess that the moment the authorities know that you're in fact that mysterious arsonist, who has eluded capture for months by going about your business completely unnoticed, it suddenly feels natural to act as suspiciously as possible. Also, weren't most of the videos submitted by the Phantom of the fires starting, and not of them just burning? Oh, nevermind.

I did enjoy the way in which Beckett deftly extracted the information she needed from Kimball.



There have been a number of times on this show where I have been surprised at how easily suspects have admitted to murder without being presented with any incriminating evidence, or being offered any deal from the DA of any kind. This was not one of those times.

As it turns out, Kimball did have a secret way out of that room, which happened to be his exit plan in case the police ever discovered that building with him inside it. I'm not sure how he had planned on tearing down a wall, to reveal the tunnel out of there, once inside the room. Or indeed why he had set up explosives that would tear apart the ceiling of the secret room in the first place. But the important thing is that they were able to rescue Ryan and Esposito. And in case you've been suffering from withdrawal because there haven't been any pictures of Nathan Fillion in this review so far, here's one now:


Wow that guy can point epically. I bet that if they wrote a scene in which he wiped some dirt off of his shoe, he would still perform it so that you would contemplate your own existence in relation to nature.

Also, Esposito go reunited with Laney; and of course, Ryan got reunited with his wife and child, the latter of whom he met for the first time. Unfortunately, their child wasn't named Javier. But hey, Sarah Grace isn't all that bad.


Overall, I'd say that "Under Fire" was one of the stronger episodes of Castle. It's been a while since we've seen an episode where any of the main characters have spent a good chunk of the episode in actual danger. And it's episodes when Beckett is standing on a mine, Caskett might get gobbled up by a tiger, or Alexis has been kidnapped by mercenaries, where the characters we love best reveal who they are. Mostly it's been Castle and Beckett who have been thrown into these situations, so it was nice to see Ryan and Esposito have a moment of near death to themselves. And while the writers would never kill off either of those characters in the middle of a season, they are more expendable than either Castle or Beckett, so there was certainly more of an element of danger than normal.

While it is true that this episode was lacking in a number of departments, many of which I have discussed, the strengths of "Under Fire" more than made up for its weaknesses. The increasing anthology feel of Castle, which has not abated since Season 5, has made this show feel more like a collection of short stories, rather than a novel composed of interlocking chapters. However, I felt like something actually happened in this episode, something with lasting effects. Provided that these events are actually brought up again in the future, as they should be, and not instantly forgotten like so many other things on this show (Alexis's kidnapping for one), this episode was a major boon to Ryan and Esposito. Especially considering the fact that Ryan just witnessed the birth of his daughter, an ongoing conversation topic that will no doubt be brought up time and time again, this episode made me feel more like Ryan, at least, is a lovable character who is changing and adapting based on the things that happen to him. This is much more preferable to Ryan, Esposito, and others being unchanging, yet still lovable, characters who always bounce back into their default selves the moment that one episode has ended, and another has begun.

While this season still has yet to provide us with an arc to tie these singular episodes together, its episodes for the most part have been very strong. Exceptional, even. "Under Fire" was an excellent bounce back for Castle after its hiatus. And while, once again, we could have been teased with a season arc other than Beckett and Castle's possibly soon to come wedding, this episode was certainly a reminder of what Castle has to bring to the table.

Notes from the Bloody Fountain Pen:

1. This is the part where I feel obligated to point out that both Alexis and Martha were absent this episode. This is also the part where I feel obligated to point out that Castle has a bad track record of treating its main characters as main characters, and not notably recurring characters at best. At this point though, I'm starting to sound like that guy at a party who wants to complain for hours about how Firefly was cancelled, even though the show was cancelled more than a decade ago and it got a whole movie in which to wrap itself up.

2. Much in the same vein, this is the part where I feel obligated to point out that the 3XK tease of a possible season arc hasn't panned out yet. Nor has anything of the sort. As I mentioned above, we still don't have a season arc. Once again I know I sound like that guy who's still unhappy that Firefly was cancelled. What I'm trying to say is that I'm still unhappy that Firefly was cancelled. Not that anyone who's a fan of Castle would understand.

3. I liked Ryan's little quip about how Castle and Beckett still haven't come up with a date for their wedding. It's refreshing that our two lead characters aren't mired in petty arguments about exactly how they should be married, while constantly threatening to break it off at the smallest semblance of an obstacle. Still though, should we be worried? Are the writers going to throw in some Caskett-wrecking drama in the season finale just to make it feel like it's a season finale? Or are we going to have a surprisingly angst-free wedding in the final hours, much like Beckett's acceptance of Castle's proposal was?

4. This was an especially notable episode of Castle in that the character the show is named after didn't stand out so much. Usually Castle is the focus of every scene that he's in, but the spotlight of this episode obviously went to Ryan and Esposito. I for one am happy that this show is starting to treat its secondary main characters as people in their own right, and not just as Castle and Beckett's posse. There's still a lot that could and should be done, but progress is progress.

5. Was I the only one who was disappointed with how the Phantom was treated? In the past, Castle has demonstrated that it can have memorable villains who show up for more than two scenes before they're unmasked, aren't obviously guilty, and who are clearly formidable opponents for the NYPD. "Disciple" is a recent example of this. I just wish that this would happen more often.

6. What did you think of "Under Fire?" Did it light an inferno in your heart? Or were you shivering because the wood was too damp for the fire to catch?

7. Many of you probably noticed that I didn't write a review of the last episode, "The Good, the Bad & the Baby." I had a lot of family visiting at the time and they annoyingly wanted to spend a lot of time with me. Family, am I right? Anyway, sorry about that. Rest assured, that omission is an anomaly, and will not be the norm.

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Jan 18, 2014
I'm a little surprised no one else thinks it's odd when they make choices to reuse sets or people in ways that don't make sense. For instance, the fire inspector is not a cop, she works for the FDNY, she wouldn't be just walking around the morgue, putting files on people's desks, or drawing a weapon on a suspect. She wouldn't even be at that fire, generally speaking.
A forensic pathologist wouldn't be any more qualified to help Jenny give birth than Castle would, but Laney seemed totally ok with it. Where were the EMTs that come with that ambulance? I'm sure if they were around they would have insisted on taking Jenny to the hospital.
Apparently there are no other detectives in the NYPD when Becket, Ryan, and Esposito are out, so the Chief of Police has to do interrogations.
I understand that a tv show needs to work in a budget, and CGI fire on buildings isn't cheap, but it's starts to move into the ridiculous and when you notice it, I at least am taken out of the show.
I like the show, I just wish they didn't feel it was necessary to force a character into a roll they wouldn't normally do just to give them screen time.
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Jan 18, 2014
Technically you need to go to medical school to be a forensic pathologists, so Laney is actually far more qualified to assist Jenny in giving birth than say, Castle. But other than that, you're right. There were a lot of things about this episode that didn't make sense. The thing is, though, that there are a lot of things in Castle episodes that don't make sense. And I'm pretty sure that a lot of people notice them. It's just that people care enough about the characters, and the show, that they're willing to overlook all the inaccuracies here and there.

For my part, I try and point out some of the main problem points with each episode in my reviews. But if I started listing each and everyone, then it would be too much. People already call my reviews nit-picky as it is. So yeah, Castle has a tendency of allocating its characters in ways that wouldn't make sense in real life. And yeah, the shows tends take a lot of shortcuts with plot creation and character development that pulls many viewers out from being immersed in the show (in this episode a team of fire investigators and NYPD officers couldn't find a single connection between a bunch of buildings that burned down, when all along there was one name that appeared on every single of the buildings' basic paperwork). But as I say a lot, there's usually more good than bad in a given episode. And being able to look over all those inaccuracies is just part of the Castle experience.

Would it be better for the writers of Castle to not put in so many inaccuracies/awkward moments? Of course. That's why I point many of them out in my reviews. But still, the fact that it should have been an EMT, and not Laney, who delivered Jenny's baby shouldn't get in the way of the fact that it would have meant a lot less if some stranger delivered Jenny's baby. Laney and Jenny had a great scene together, inaccuracy aside. Castle could be a great show. At the moment it isn't, for many of the reasons you mentioned. But it's still a good show. And in my opinion it's a show worth watching.
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Jan 10, 2014
So there's an old warehouse burning quite wildly. Nobody can say for certainty how "clean" the place was: were there any chemicals there at one point, any toxic stuff going on.

In other words... a place with great air quality and probably lots of carcinogens.

So... as a 9month pregnant woman, she decided it was best to go stand 15meters from said cancer fire.
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Jan 09, 2014
"this is the part where I feel obligated to point out that the 2XK tease"
I think you're an X short there.

Can't wait for next week and the return of Papa Castle
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Jan 09, 2014
You're right. The killer is 3XK. My bad.
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Jan 10, 2014
If it were revealed that Pi was a participant in a 3XK master plan meant to irritate Castle and ostracize him from Alexis, would that make the character more or less bearable?














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Jan 18, 2014
Much more bearable, because then the chance of him dying painfully would go way up.
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Jan 09, 2014
I really miss Firefly. I still watch the series once a year.
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Jan 09, 2014
Laughed my ass off when Ryan told Jenny he wanted their child to be named Javier, the bullying that child would endure is almost heartbreaking. If she wasn't so distracted she'd probably be laughing with me.
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Jan 08, 2014
From the start I thought that Lieutenant Delia Burton was the Phantom and I enjoyed watching how she deceived the police. But she was less cunning then I thought.

I'm still unhappy that Firefly was cancelled, my son understands me.
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Jan 08, 2014
When Ryan and Esposito were trying to make some noise to get heard I was wondering why didn't they shoot at the walls or something. I'm clearly not an expert on firearms but I'd think that a handgun makes more noise than a fire, albeit for a very short duration.

Though it wouldn't have made the episode that much different as they were still in an unmapped basement and there was "no way" they could get them out of there.

But my small questions aside, I'd say this episode as well as this review were good/great! The villain was kind of... a bore. Not focusing on the villain at all did have its upsides as well! I felt like this episode was more of a Kevin/Espo bromance, Kevin/Jenny/baby family episode and who knows... Maybe Kevin starts to freak out at the possibility of getting killed on duty now that he has a daughter. Or then I just can't remember that he has freaked out about it.
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Jan 08, 2014
I'm still upset that Firefly was cancelled, too! Not that anyone on the internet would understand.
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Jan 09, 2014
If Nathan Fillion had not been in this show, I would never have given Castle any time of day. It's because of getting hooked on Firefly and how good Mel Fillion was in that show that it led me to watch Castle. And I've especially enjoyed trying to puck up on all the Firefly and geek references that I can.
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Jan 17, 2014
That's true of me too! :)
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Jan 09, 2014
Who's Mel ?!
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Jan 09, 2014
Apologies for the mind slip. That should have been "Mal" as in his character Captain Malcolm.
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Jan 09, 2014
Yep. Unfortunately it's just you and me.
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Jan 08, 2014
I love this show, but this episode was somehow disappointing.
What about the team not wearing helmets when the get into the first burned building ? everyone else was using one. Safety first, get realistic.
And what about Ryan not closing the door of the victims car, after they force it open? Shouldn't they have secured the car, for prints or something? They just walk away leaving the car open, in NYC :o
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Jan 08, 2014
It's not often that Castle makes me cry, but it did this time. But, yeah, the fact that nobody noticed the recurring name of the inspector on the reports was annoying. Great episode, overall.
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Jan 10, 2014
That annoyed me too. We've been over these files, there's nothing linking them. Nothing!

Umm, how about that signature on every one?
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Jan 09, 2014
No tears here, but I do admit to damp eyeballs.
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Jan 08, 2014
No Alexis and no Pi! Yay!!!

I also thought the Phantom would turn out to be Wendy Davis.

I actually had a tear in my eye when Ryan saw his daughter. Very good episode.
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Jan 09, 2014
No Firefly remark with an avatar like that?
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Jan 08, 2014
I'm so glad you wrote a review for this episode. I absolutely loved it, and was hoping that you would get around to it. It helps, of course, that Kevin Ryan has always been my favorite side character of the bunch.

My only complaint was that Ryan and Espo were conscious when they were pulled out, which makes no sense. And then the EMTs weren't rushing to put oxygen on them - also no sense.

Oh, and Wendy Davis was great, but I was so distracted by her, believing her to be the villain, that I didn't even notice the real guy. So, yeah, not memorable of a villain. Makes me wonder if Wendy Davis will be showing up in the future, though.

But beyond that, just loved it. What a great emotional ride. I knew nothing was going to happen to our boys. This would have been a scarier episode if it were a midseason finale or a season finale, for sure, and it being the season opener alone told me enough to know not to be too scared. But still, emotional nonetheless.
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Jan 09, 2014
Somebody elsewhere on this site commented about the lack of oxygen tanks. I also added that I was bothered that Ryan and Espo were not immediately met by EMT personnel and were instead escorted to the EMT vehicles by Beckett and Castle.
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Jan 08, 2014
I'm still unhappy that Firefly was cancelled! I think there are a lot of Castle fans who would understand.

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