Castle Review: “Clear & Present Danger”

(Episode 7.03)

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<i>Castle</i> Review: &#8220;Clear & Present Danger&#8221;

And we’re back, baby! While I do love a good, old-fashioned “Who erased Castle’s memory and why?” mystery, I prefer them in small doses. And after two mostly humor-free, deadly serious episodes to start the season, I am overjoyed to have some Caskett hijinks back in my life. Castle up to his old geeky, nerdy, believing-in-ghosts self and Beckett is rolling her eyes. Love it!

I mean, sometimes the murders on Castle are straightforward: Man gets shot, who shot him? Woman falls out of window, was she pushed? Albeit with witty banter and plenty of squad-based bonhomie, of course, but sometimes, and I love these episodes, Castle is all that, plus The X-Files. That’s what we have this week, my friends!

The locked room murder is probably as old as the mystery genre at this point, so there’s really no way to bring a completely new spin to it. Also, since Castle is set solidly in the real world, we know from the get-go that it was neither the Devil, nor a demon, nor The Invisible Man that killed our vic and lest I get too carried away with that X-Files analogy, it weren’t aliens, neither!

While the episode did have a few little twists and turns to it, along with the odd red herring, the murders in Castle are usually the secondary reason to watch. It’s like Moonlighting with a badge. While the mysteries are fun to solve, we really watch for the characters, and this week we got our team back at full speed.

Castle’s superstitions and professed belief in ghosts and demons and the like are at least, in part, a dig at Beckett’s steadfast skepticism. He longs to see a chink in that real world armor of hers, and this week he got one, if only for an instant. When they’re attacked by the “Invisible Man,” even Beckett is shaken and when reporting to Captain Gates, she refuses to admit to her boss that Caskett were attacked by an invisible assailant, as if she herself doesn’t believe it. She’s clearly freaked out, her confidence in the “real” world shaken, if only for a little while.

Of course anyone who’s ever watched TV or movies knew where this was going… straight to a secret government lab, full of guns and scientists who casually drop all kinds of Top Secret knowledge on Caskett without so much as an “If you talk about this, we’ll throw you in SuperMax for the rest of your lives.” Remember what I said about Castle operating in the real world? Well, not all the time. In the real world, the lab bosses would have told Caskett to get lost and the case would have gone unsolved for national security reasons. But that would make for shitty TV, so we suspend disbelief!

The cloaking suit was really the only solution. I mean, a land-dwelling, hyper-intelligent cuttlefish was a bit unlikely, no? Of course, anyone with a rudimentary knowledge of cephalopod chromatophores would have guessed that Donna (she with a cuttlefish in a tank) done it, right? Wait, you don’t all have degrees in teuthology? Tsk tsk….

I was, however, majorly disappointed with the “crazy woman scorned” denouement. There were so many moving parts to this episode, why did Castle ‘s writers feel that they had to fall back on this tired old, misogynist cliché? It’s really disappointing that in 2014, TV writers and producers still rely on such hackneyed premises. Why not, instead, make the gamer a woman and the killer a jealous ex-colleague who had stumbled onto Will’s secret life as a government scientist? After all, adult females now outnumber teenage boys in the gaming world by more than 2-1, and women are 48% of gamers overall. It’s lazy and sexist.

That said, this was a nice return to form for Caskett and crew, and it looks like more of the same next week, as Castle goes to school! I can only imagine how those kids are gonna torture our hero (and how the writers are going to bring up the subject of little Caskett babies)!

Some random thoughts:

• There was some some sloppy police work in the episode. For example, why on earth did the CSU leave Will’s key card in his apartment, instead of collecting it as evidence? Yes, for plot reasons, but I am sure there was a way around that.

• Glad to see Javi and Ryan back to teasing each other, but again, the writers seem intent on being untrue to Jon Huertas’ character. What’s with him immediately jumping to “You stepping out on Jenny?” It’s like he doesn’t know his co-worker anymore.

• Beckett: “You just kinda make nerdy…sexy.” Nathan Fillion’s been doing that for more than a decade.

• I have to say, I love the ADD has-to-touch-everything” Castle. “Excuse me. Cuttlefish don’t like that.”

• I like that it’s taking Caskett some time to get back into the swing of things, relationship-wise. They’re dealing with some big things, and their personal and intimate lives aren’t going to get back to normal overnight.

Mark Rabinowitz is a Nashville-based freelance writer, film producer, and regular contributor to Paste. He is the co-founder of Indiewire.com and a former film critic for CNN.com. He worships at the shrine of swine. Praise the lard. You can follow him on Twitter.