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Castle - Hell to Pay - Review + POLL: "Marked For Death"

10 May 2016

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In its penultimate episode for Season 8, ABC's Castle took on the just about everything there is to be feared by the more devout, and possibly deluded, God-fearing fraternity. While not as hard-core as the likes of The Da Vinci Code, the aptly named "Hell to Pay" made for a reasonably entertaining hour, with the story and teleplay by Jim Adler, Adam Frost and Nancy Kiu, and direction by John Terlesky.

Martha sat this episode out, which was a tad disappointing because her firmly grounded personality would have added some value to the humor this episode contained. Amid a rampant storm and subsequent blackout, murder victim Gabriel Shaw thrust an axe through the glass door of Richard Castle Investigations just as Hayley and Alexis were about to indulge in a glass of wine. No sooner than Hayley deployed Rick's hidden handgun launcher, Shaw keeled over and hit the ground. The cause of death, according to Lanie, was a stab wound which punctured his subclavian artery, which gave him a final half hour or so before he crossed over to the other side.

What made things even more interesting was the revelation that the guy had escaped from a mental hospital where he had been locked up for two decades. In a nutshell the incompetent staff didn't report him missing, but they did reveal that he was on a mission to rid the world of evil.

Seek the truth and thou shalt be enlightened.
Is that scripture?
From the book of Castle.

Naturally, it wasn't long until ominous biblical terms such as devil and antichrist were being bandied around, with Rick becoming increasingly concerned that he may have been marked for death. Further investigation revealed that the murder victim, Shaw, had turned up at Rick's P.I. office because of a connection he had to a former private investigator who used to do business out of the same office 20 years earlier.

I need 28 minutes and a chocolate milkshake.

That was all Hayley needed to crack a large safe which had been part of the furniture in Rick's office since he moved in. Understandably Alexis and Hayley were amazed to learn Rick had never been curious as to what was inside it, instead falling back on the Schrodinger's cat theory. Hayley got the job done, and a mysterious treasure trove awaited them.

Esposito looks as if he's been possessed, but he is in fact merely rolling his eyes.

We've seen numerous times in the past when the mysterious, mythical, magical or paranormal has ties to a case that Rick and, more recently, Ryan, tend to sway toward all of the above while Kate and Esposito try as best they can to keep themselves in reality. Compared to what we've seen in the past from this series, Rick and Ryan were very sensible indeed. Rick's initial belief that he was marked for death turned out to be nothing more than a reflection from a zipper on his jacket.

I'd have thought Ryan, being Catholic and all, may have kicked up more of a fuss when he saw the suspected demon on the surveillance cameras mid way through the episode. However it was great to see Kate get on board and give her husband a fright or two during a sleepless night.

The case concluded slightly differently to the trend of late, with Rick being left to fend for himself in a factory by Ryan and Esposito went in search of the killer. There's a rule they've broken somewhere there, but Rick went snooping by himself and came across the killer, Oscar, moments before he was about to dispatch another victim to the afterlife. Yet again Rick cheated death when the blade was turned on him, but Oscar was killed by an avalanche of falling pipes before his backup arrived.

Instead of a more romantic conclusion to the episode, like we've seen more readily in the back half of the season, Kate passed on naked twister in favor of giving Hayley and Alexis another scare by hiding in the safe in his office, and opening the door at the perfect moment.

That concluded the penultimate episode of Season 8 of Castle. In all it was a decent watch with a good case that had some material for the actors to work with. The directing and cinematography shone in places, as did a top notch score by Robert Duncan for some of the more intense moments.

Thanks as always for reading! Next week's season - and possibly series - finale is going to be one of the series' most important episodes ever. The synopsis as well as the promotional photos and promo indicate strongly toward a final showdown with the formidable LokSat. With the recent news that Stana Katic and Tamala Jones will not return for a ninth season - a season still yet to receive the green light - next week's finale will define eight years of devotion to an, on the whole, outstanding and entertaining television series, beginning in 2009 and lasting 173 episodes. Poor writing and management of the long term storylines in the past couple of seasons has caused irreparable damage to Castle, and I do not envy the position of the showrunners in producing next week's finale, and have effectively marked the series for death. It's ironic that that very theme featured strongly in tonight's episode.

Hopefully we'll know more about the series' fate this week, but for now tonight's episode opinion poll is below for you to rate the episode, and as always you can share your thoughts and theories in the comments section below - any thoughts on next week's finale are also welcome.

About the Author - Jimmy Ryan
Jimmy Ryan lives in New Zealand, and works in the IT industry. He is an avid follower of drama television and has a keen interest for television ratings and statistics. Some of his favorite shows right now are Person of Interest, Scandal, House of Cards, Orphan Black, Mr. Robot, Suits, The 100, How To Get Away With Murder, Elementary and Castle. You can visit his television ratings website, or follow him on Twitter, @SeriesMonitor.
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