This week, Castle
celebrates its 100th episode in style with a birthday party, an April Fools' prank, and a genius Rear Window
homage. What better present for the writer who has everything than the ability to live in a Hitchcock film for a few days? Beckett is certainly a very thoughtful gift giver.
"How many cases do you think we've solved since we met?" Castle asks at the end of the episode. "I don't know, maybe a hundred or so?" Beckett replies. "Here's to a hundred more." I think we'd all clink glasses with Castle to that. After the fun, mysterious and joyful episode celebrating the show's milestone, fans are probably feeling the same way.
When Castle began, 100 episodes ago, it was sustained mostly by pairing the familiar procedural blueprint with the innumerable charms of Nathan Fillion. But over the past five years, the show has morphed from a pleasant, if unassuming, police procedural into a really strong show.
Just like the main character, Castle
isn't afraid to have fun while solving crimes. And the show isn't afraid to wears its heart on its sleeve, whether in a dramatic episode like this season's Taken two-parter
or in the moment you see how touched Castle is by Beckett's unconventional birthday surprise.
Plus, unlike so many other shows built around a will-they-won't-they pairing, Castle took the plunge with our favorite detectives at exactly the right moment. Rather than the show feeling stale now that Beckett and Castle have finally transformed their flirtation into a relationship, it's actually breathed new life into the show by opening up new story avenues for the main pair to explore.
Many dramas start to show their age by the time they hit 100, but Castle is in the enviable position of getting better as it ages. So it's no surprise that the celebratory episode is classic Castle: fun, charming and full of lovingly specific pop culture references.
The Case of the Week
Since the episode operates at its most fun and inventive peak during Castle's Rear Window experience, the case-of-the-week ends up getting the short shift. But since everything else is so delightful, it's hard to get very up-in-arms about that. As usual, a well-placed phrase solves the case, but thankfully doesn't ruin Castle's surprise birthday dinner.
Clara was an IRS agent trying to get out of dodge, even going so far as to do the taxes of a gangster to raise funds to disappear. But she didn't get the money fast enough, and a security camera catches a faceless killer swinging a bat to murder her.
After a few obviously false leads, the detectives land on Clara's husband. Especially after they find he took out a half million dollar life insurance policy on his dearly departed wife. But he had a rock-solid alibi at the time of the killing. So how did he do it?
A well-placed phrase from Castle jogs something loose for Beckett, who realizes the security camera footage has been altered. A female security guard and Clara's husband worked together to kill Clara and then stage the murder footage, giving them both airtight alibis. It would have been the perfect crime, but Beckett and her boys always solve their cases.
Castle Goes Jimmy Stewart
Meanwhile, Castle is missing out on all of the action because he decided to show off while skiing and broke his kneecap. Yikes! He's confided to a wheelchair (and crutches) for another two weeks and already itching to get back into the field.
With Ryan and Esposito turning down his offer to be Castle's Charlie's Angels, he's even more bored than ever. Although Ryan and Espo do strike a killer angel pose. Seriously, if ABC had put Ryan and Esposito in their failed Angels reboot, maybe it would still be on.
After crashing his toy helicopter ("there are no survivors"), Castle finally starts eyeing Alexis' prank gift: a pair of binoculars. He looks at the building across the street, where he notices a woman obviously having an affair with a dude in a fedora who is disappointingly not Matt Bomer from White Collar. Because the one thing I've learned from White Collar is that the only person able to pull off wearing a modern day fedora without looking like a douche is Matt Bomer.
As Castle watches, the boyfriend appears to fly off into a rage and kill his cheating girlfriend. Although conveniently he does so in the only room in the house in which he bothered to close the blinds. Castle is hysterical and calls Beckett right away, but when Ryan and Espo go over to investigate, Ryan just sort of shrugs at Castle from his neighbor's window. There's no evidence of foul play and they said they even talked to the girlfriend on the telephone.
But Castle is in a Jimmy Stewart spiral and can't let go of the potential murder. Especially when his neighbor keeps doing suspicious stuff like taking seemingly heavy rugs out at 3am. He even ropes Alexis into the spying game, as the two eat popcorn and watch the action through their binoculars. (One of the best moments is Alexis obviously ogling the Magic Mike physique of the killer from her own binoculars.)
Castle is tired of Beckett looking at him like he's crazy, so he grabs his crutches and a walkie talkie and heads over to gather evidence. This sequence is shot with all the suspense of a Hitchcock film and all the humor of a Castle episode, as Castle finds the proof he needs seconds before falling over.
He finally convinces Beckett to go to a storage space with him to check out the rug, where they not only don't find anything but get arrested in the process. This leads to an altercation with Gates which is about as warm and fuzzy as Castle's usual interactions with the chief.
Finally, it's Castle's birthday, and Beckett's all dressed up in a Rear Window-esque black dress and pearls to take Castle out for a night on the town. But Castle is still obsessed and unable to let go of the supposed murder he saw across the street. His newest theory is that the girlfriend's body has actually been stored in the refrigerator.
While Beckett tries to convince Castle to go out, he refuses to budge until he knows the truth. So Beckett offers to go over there and look in the fridge. Castle tells her it's too dangerous, but come on, it's not like Beckett can't handle an Abercrombie model/killer after everything she's tackled in the last 100 episodes. "Not as dangerous as me if you blow off my plans," Beckett warns.
So she stomps over to the stranger's apartment and tries to get into the fridge, but he starts to block her. Soon a fight commences, the Abercrombie killer grabs a knife and the lights go out. Fade to black! Drama!
The Birthday Surprise
Castle, Ryan and Esposito come barging in and the lights go up. Surprise! It was all an elaborate hoax to stage a birthday party. Castle looks shocked. All the main players in Castle's little fantasy were acting students and everyone, right down to Alexis, was in on it. You have to hand it to Martha, she sure knows how to stage a production.
For a second, it looks like Castle is actually angry. After all, he did think Beckett might be dead for a few minutes. Also, I think most normal people would be at least a little weirded out by the whole endeavor. But this is Castle, after all, the guy who gets excited by the possibility that a killer might be a zombie. There's no way he's not going to be into a good Rear Window-ing.
"This is, without a doubt, the greatest birthday gift of my life!" Castle declares.
Looking back, there were a surprising amount of hints this might have been a setup. At times, Ryan and Esposito seem a little too chummy about what is happening, while Beckett seems to wonder if the whole thing is going too far. At the time, we just assume she means Castle's obsession, but it turns out she was just wondering if her own hoax was getting out of hand.
Leave it up to Castle to combine Castle's birthday, a Rear Window homage, a regular case and an April Fools' joke into the show's 100th episode. Much like Castle himself, I raise my glass to the show. Here's to 100 more!
What did you think of the 100th episode of Castle? Did you love the Rear Window homage? Did you catch on to the hoax or were you just as surprised as Castle? Share in the comments!
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(Image courtesy of ABC)