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Castle - Witness for the Prosecution / Dead Red - Review: "Back on Track"

This week, ABC decided to bless us with two back-to-back days of new Castle episodes, with Sunday’s episode being “Witness for the Prosecution” and Monday’s being “Dead Red.” With the second portion of the season, with these episodes in particular, I feel like the series is finally getting back on tract, with the characters, with the storyline, and with the general feel to the show. The show still has its flaws, its setbacks, but let’s be real, this show was never perfect, but it’s gotten to the point where it’s enjoyable again, it’s gotten easy to root for it. The show managed to get its Castlesque feel back.

Witness for the Prosecution

The first episode of Castle’s two-episode feature was structured a little differently than the usual murder investigation of the week. It takes place, 5 months after Castle witnessed the murder of a woman in a party he was attending, where he read from his latest novel and where we learned that Nikki Heat has also become Captain of her precinct. “Witness for the Prosecution” as the title could indicate, took place during the case’s hearing, which we rarely see anything of, instead of the investigation. Throughout the episode though, the two become intimately related. The team had to race against a tight deadline to solve the case before an innocent women gets convicted, realising the wrong person was being prosecuted. Ultimately, the investigation ended with a confession in the middle of the court room, in front of the judge. They’re just THAT good, people.

Castle and Beckett’s relationship is still on the down-low, but they seemed to have learned from their previous mistakes and stopped making such a vocal and public thing of it. Why the F is Beckett still wearing her wedding ring, though? Is that normal for separated, but not divorced people? I can’t be the only one to be bothered by it. The major thing that bothered me during this episode though, is that the writers seem to be making a point out of making the secondary characters acknowledge their separation, as to prove that Kate’s shenanigans have worked, but most of the time though, it seems forced. It seems unnatural that the character would have mentioned it in the conversation.

“I know you guys are separated and all, but could you please talk to him?”

It made no sense, she wasn’t talking to him as his wife, but as the Captain. A “Could you please talk to him” would have been equally effective.

Castle and Beckett’s relationship remains secret and, reminiscent of the fifth season’s secret handshakes; the pair (or Castle) has developed a new secret code. The sexual tension filled handshake was traded for an adorably Castle-esque nose rubbing signal. It’s definitely comedic, but the fact that Beckett secretly finds it adorable definitely makes it romantic, makes it them.

“It’s adorable.” -Castle

Lanie has been MIA for the better part of this season, with little mention, and even littler appearances. In Sunday’s episode, she made a short appearance, at the court room, as the ME on the case. Beckett doesn’t seem to be one with a lot of girlfriends, and some effort was put, in the past, to demonstrate the relationship between the two ladies. I think Kate needs that kind of girl friendship. Hell, I think every woman needs that. The girly relationship gossip, as Kate asked the lawyer details about his blossoming relationship with the doctor, was a great way to show how the two are still in contact despite the fact that the show rarely takes the time to visually represent it, rarely shows the two women together, now that Beckett is Captain and doesn’t have reason to visit the morgue during the investigations as much.

“No, you got nuked.” -Marcus

Everyone believes the case is open and shut, that they have the killer, but Caleb Brown comes back, playing the devil’s advocate, to plant doubt in Castle’s mind. I love that his presence had almost no link to the LockSat storyline, that he was just there, doing his job, and being pretty darn good at it. The series continues to push for continuity in the plot, and there is a call back to “I, Witness,” where Castle was too hasty in his presumption of the killer. There was the call back to how 3XK tried to frame him for murder and there was a pin about Castle still not being able to remember what happened to him when he was abducted. Does that mean the new showrunners are going to take their shot at saving the botched and unplausible storyline? Maybe, we’ll see. I kind of want them to see them try. How about you, should they try to salvage it or should that mess stay buried somewhere so we can pretend it never existed?

Castle, and the others, after further investigating start believing in the woman’s innocence, an unlucky person, with bad timing, stuck with a public defender who simply doesn’t give a crap. The displaced basketball hoop tells them that they don’t know the whole story. Armed with typical Castle ingenuity, the novelist gets the hearing reported and manages to interview the suspect, by having himself thrown in jail, thus demonstrating how Castle can still be the funny one, even when he isn’t the butt of the joke, even when he proves his worth, when he proves he’s a great investigator. This episode brought forefront to what made Castle, Castle in its beginning. It brought us back to a writer who has no shame, no boundaries, and who’s ready to do right about anything to get answers.

I laughed way too hard on the quote below… Please share your favorite quote of the episode? There were plenty to choose from here!

“No, not with me. Check my search history.” –Castle

I mentioned previously how Caleb’s return wasn’t Locksat related, but that doesn’t mean the episode didn’t touch on that aspect of the storyline. Beckett and Vikram previously discovered the defense attorney’s involvement with the conspiracy, and have, since then been unable to connect him with Locksat, and unable to identify his weaknesses. The 5 month time jump (at least) and Vikram’s unhealthy relationship with his computer demonstrates it’s been a long while since they’ve gotten anything useful.

In the beginning of the episode, they’re nowhere closer to answers and Kate still hasn’t shared what she has with Castle yet. It’s weird, it’s very weird… They do have healthier boundaries, and Castle seems to trust that she and Vikram can investigate without him giving a hand but… How long will he be satisfied with having no idea what they’re up to? This is Castle we’re talking about. Is he really that more mature that he can just accept that? Has his hero complex suddenly vanished?

In the conclusion to this episode, Caleb Brown’s involvement in the case seemed to point Beckett to the man’s weaknesses, the one she has been searching for, and that is that he’s desperate to do good. I simply can’t see it right now. He’s involved in a plot that caused the death of more than a dozen of people. He can’t be that much of a stand-up good guy, or am I missing something? He’s not involved in drugs for the greater good of the population… I really didn’t get that one, and I have no idea how they’re going to manage to spin that in a plausible storyline, but if they do… well kudos.

“Caleb is a monster, but what we learned today is that he is a monster that is desperate to do good.” –Beckett

Dead Red

“Dead Red” proved to be another solid episode of Castle, as Stana Katic got to show off her Russian skills when the murder of a Russian diplomatic’s son falls on her precinct’s step and the team works together to solve it. The episode was light and funny, while still pulling on the heart strings. “Dead Red” had the two leads working closely together to solve it, just like before. Castle, in case you’ve forgotten, doesn’t work at the 12th anymore, despite his repeated appearances in the investigations. This week, they managed to include Castle in the case in a way that was flawlessly fluent within the storyline, and with Beckett, who’s been a lot more involved, and hands on, in the murder investigations than her predecessors, it made sense to involved her because of the political implications of the case.

“But it cannot be. Beckett without Castle is like Boris without Natasha, is like Starsky without the Hutch. ” - Vasyli

The precinct gets the help from an alleged Russian Security Official, a huge fan of the Nikki Heat books, who’s extremely unhappy to learn that Castle and Beckett don’t work together anymore. The happy, go lucky official possessed a lot of the earlier Castle’s traits, stopping at nothing to use his connections to get what he wants, and having Beckett and Castle work on the case together. Vasyli is funny, intense and spontaneous and he always has more in mind than initially meets the eye, a lot like Castle in many ways, except when it comes to his scary and violent outbursts. The two work together, when Katherine The Great doesn’t want Vasyli in her way during the investigation, and she blackmails her secret husband to take him sight-seeing. The wannabe writer and the mystery writer don’t have the same sights in mind. The officer won’t get booted off the case that easily, and every time Beckett tries to push him away, Castle and Vasyli end up right in the middle of investigation, much like when season 1 Beckett didn’t want Castle working with her.

“Dead Red” had a pretty interesting and entertaining murder plot, but it was expected, nothing I couldn’t have come up with. When you think Russia, where does your mind go? The cold war that’s where, (and The Americans, but that’s a different story!) so of course the episode focused on a covert FBI Operation that flipped Soviet sleeper agents. And, due to the FBI’s archiving system with extremely poor security, Gregory got his hands on classified documents. Really? We even got the classic she faked her own death because she’s scared of her husband "big" reveal. As I said, the murder plot was entertaining, but I have a feeling it has more to do with the characters involved than the plot itself.

“This novel writes itself.” -Castle

In the past, it was possible to predict when an episode was going to be centered on the Johanna Beckett Mythology by the guest stars credited in the episode. In this season, it’s not that easy, and I love that about it. Twice this week, we saw some LockSat player emerge and twice the episode’s focus was on something else entirely. The Locksat Mythology doesn’t seem like a completely unconnected storyline, mentioned in passing, at times, until “THE Episode” which has Beckett running after bad people and getting herself in trouble. With the Johanna Beckett murder, there would be one episode, maybe two if we were lucky, that would touch that storyline, but the rest of the time, there would be no mention of it. I definitely don’t enjoy the Locksat Mythology more than Johanna’s, but I really do think they’re approaching it a lot better. I feel like this season there’s a driving force to the storyline even with the unconnected murder of the week procedural type aspect to the show. What do you think?

The Locksat related player who came back in this week’s second episode was Rita, Castle’s step mother. Summoned by Beckett, she shares a conversation with Vasyli that ultimately meant nothing, and told us nothing. Their conversation, filled with generic terms and descriptive names essentially brought nothing useful to the table, as Beckett was the one to crack the case wide open.

Rita essentially brought nothing to the case, but she did bring about one thing. She caused Castle to vocally express how tired he was of being told nothing “for his own protection.” As they were watching her, in the interrogation room, Kate shared that little bit of information with Castle, that Ritawas his step-mother. Why now was a good time to tell him rather than before, we’ll never really now, because what changed that suddenly not make him in danger for knowing? Not much. At least Beckett’s committed to not lying in his face, a step up if you ask me.

“And at the end of the day, she’s worth it.” -Castle

Castle getting to meet his step-mother proved a touching exchange between the two. If one person can understand having to lie to the people they love to protect them, it’s Rita and Hunt. Their meeting and exchange was handled beautifully, as a grown man meets the woman who’s with the man who didn’t see him grow up, a man who never even mentionned him. Hunt is alive, and that’s all Castle can hope for, all he gets to know, all he should essentially want to know. He’s probably never going to see them again, I highly doubt that, and their goodbye hug was full of emotion, balanced just right.

Castle, as the episode passes, is become more and more vocal with his discontent of being kept in the dark for his own security. How much longer will he stand for it? Being on the sidelines is simply not what he does, he needs answers as much as Beckett does and at one point, telling himself she’s worth it simply won’t be enough anymore. How long do you give it guys?

I also mentioned earlier about characters needing to point out that Beckett and Castle are broken up, and Rita did just that. In her case though, unlike in “Witness for the Prosecution” it worked in the context, but I doubt her spy abilities if she really has been watching them, and she bought it. They aren’t really great at hiding it. Martha and Alexis, on the other hand, are on the verge of figuring out that the two aren’t separated anymore. So I guess that answers my previous interrogation whether they were still living at the loft or not. Seems like they aren’t. That’s probably why they’ve been meeting at Rick’s office rather than at the loft.

On an unrelated note, a bullet proof baby vest is an awesomely inappropriate gift for a baby shower but the baby sized lightsaber though… damn you Alexis! One thing though: why IS it so hard for Castle?

“No!” -Alexis

I know I'm really late on this; I'm a sucky juggler. Two episodes, a midterm, a project due and a hectic work week didn't work well for me!