This week on Castle
, the show stages a Firefly
reunion with the fantastic Gina Torres, features a pitch-perfect Real Housewives
parody and peppers in plenty of great character moments.
With all the great stuff packed into this installment, this episode has become one of my hands-down favorites of the whole season. But that's probably because, like Gates, I'm a huge sucker for the Real Housewives
franchise on Bravo.Castle Exclusive Interview: Guest Star Gail O'Grady Dishes on "Reality Star Struck" >>>
While your enjoyment of the episode probably won't hinge on your knowledge of Bravo's flagship franchise, a good base of Housewives
knowledge certainly makes the episode more enjoyable. Like 30 Rock
's spot-on Housewives
send-up, "Queen of Jordan," you could really tell someone on the Castle
writing staff was at least passably familiar with the table-flipping troublemakers over on Bravo.
In general, Castle
is a big fan of using pop cultural touchstones as jumping-off points for their case-of-the-week, whether it's zombies, comic book conventions or Dancing with the Stars
. What makes most of these parodies work is the writing team's seemingly encyclopedic knowledge of the pop culture landscape.
What separates a poor parody from a great one is specificity. So referencing little moments like the hilariously over-the-top Housewives
opening credits or RHONJ
's infamous Teresa Giudice table flip really puts this ahead of the game.
But it also takes a stab at the seedy underbelly lying just beneath the glamorous veneer of these shows. Ethical questions have popped up since almost the beginning of reality television. In the last few years, the debate intensified after the suicide of Real Housewives of Beverly Hills
husband Russell Armstrong.
And obviously, the "reality" in reality is certainly more suspect, and often uncovered, than ever. After all, most of the cast members from Breaking Amish
hadn't been Amish for years, and even House Hunters
stages their home-owner drama. If we can't even count on HGTV to tell us the truth, what hope do we have left for reality television?
The episode pokes fun at the fundamental unreality of reality television, while giving us some bonus Gina Torres to boot! You can never accuse Castle
of ignoring its Browncoat fans, whether it's a special appearance by first mate Zoe, a Comic-Con themed Firefly shout-out
or Adam Baldwin popping by
for an appearance.
So I'm putting in my special requests now: let's get Morena Baccarin, Jewel Staite, Alan Tudyk, Sean Maher, Ron Glass and Summer Glau to guest. I won't be happy until literally every member of Serenity
traipses through Beckett's precinct. Gates' Reality Addiction
First of all, I have to be honest: if the Wives of Wall Street
was real, I would watch the crap out of that show. And I would totally have opinions on Team Penelope versus Team Hannah. I can't be too proud about my affinity for mindless reality television.
I've watched a ton of The Real Housewives of New Jersey
. I say it's because it's from my home state, but mostly I want to see if Melissa Gorga will write another song with one lyric like "On Display." These shows are trashy, terrible and ruining our brain cells. But they're also impossible to turn off.
That's certainly what Castle discovers when Gates gives the crew the assignment to watch a few episodes of Wives of Wall Street
in order to crack the case. First, he's scoffing at the manufactured drama, but soon he's watched the series all night and can accurately quote lines by the episode back to Margo.
Perhaps the best part of the episode, aside from everything about this episode that is amazing, is seeing Gates geek out with Castle. Since they brought on Gates last year, they've mostly used her character to be the tough boss who's immune to the charms of Castle and Beckett. She's the lieutenant in every good buddy cop movie who yells at our rebels when they step outside the lines. Since getting cuddly with the gang would defeat her purpose, we've learned scant about her.
So it's nice whenever we get a glimpse of a softer side of Gates. And the idea that Gates is hopelessly addicted to this reality show, and her addiction actually pays off for the case, is hilarious. Perhaps one day my useless RHONJ
knowledge will pay off!
The Wives of Wall Street
The case-of-the-week is a twisty one: Wives of Wall Street
cast member Hannah Green is literally stabbed in the back with a fancy kitchen knife. But who could have killed her? Considering everyone on these reality shows inevitably ends up hating one another, it seems like it could be anyone.
The top suspect is Penelope, played by the indomitable Gina Torres, who would make a more terrifying Real Housewife
than even Caroline Manzo. Hannah was having an affair with Penelope's husband ... or was she? After Beckett goes full table-flipping New Jersey on him, he reveals the affair was staged for more screen time.
Perhaps the best part of this episode is how brazenly all the characters talk about their reality show screen time. If you've ever watched one of these shows, everyone is always and obviously concerned about their storylines and screen time. But because of the nature of the show having at least a veneer of reality, no one can really say screen time is the thing they're upset about. So they make up stupid reasons like cookbooks and store-bought cookies in order to hide the fact that they're really upset someone is getting more camera time than they are.
It turns out Hannah wanted off the show, and was even willing to go see the star of fake Shark Tank
in order to do it. But she wanted cast member Stone to go with her. The only problem? Stone was engaged to another cast member and they were just about to get a spin-off. So fiancee Ashley killed Hannah in a fit of rage (and with an expensive registry knife) after seeing Stone and Hannah kiss. That's pretty real.Valentine's Day Troubles
The secondary plot in the episode revolves around Valentine's Day. We get some nice little moments with the rest of the cast, even if they don't play a huge part in the episode's action. Ryan is, in fact, getting a little too much action, since he and Jenny are trying for a baby. He feels like he's on a schedule and it's tiring him out. By the end of the episode, he's excited by the prospect of a more romantic evening with Jenny.
Meanwhile, Esposito has a mysterious Valentine's date, but is mum on the details. Why? Because the mysterious lady is Lanie!
I knew it was only a matter of time before those two mismatched lovebirds gave it a second try. How will their relationship go the second time around? It'll be interesting to see if they get a little more screen time than the relationship did last time. Is That a Pair of Earrings in Your Pocket or Are You Just Happy to See Me?
Meanwhile, both Beckett and Castle are huge dorks about Valentine's Day. Both think they've gotten the ultimate present for the other. In a rare bit of bad Martha advice, Castle decides to slip the earrings he got for Beckett into her coat pocket. Only problem? He accidentally drops them into Gates' coat instead!
Both realize this might be it for their work partnership if Gates finds out they're dating. There's a lot of farcical moments where Castle tries to unsuccessful lift the earrings out of Gates' pocket. Castle could never start a life of crime because he is a terrible pick-pocket.
Thankfully for him, it turns out he didn't put Beckett's name on the card and manages to play off the earrings as an unwise peace offering.
Back in Beckett's place, she finally gives him the great Valentine's gift she dreamed up: a drawer in her apartment to call his own. It's really wonderful to see great little moments like this between the two and to see how their relationship is progressing.
Far from giving into the lame Moonlighting
curse, watching Castle and Beckett together is actually more enjoyable than watching them pine for each other. After all, what's cuter than Nathan Fillion's school boy smile when Beckett tells Castle to meet her in the bedroom?
The clock is ticking on how much longer the two can keep their relationship a secret from Gates, and eventually that discovery will have vast repercussions for their work partnership. But for the moment, watching their relationship grow is almost as sweet as a Valentine's chocolate. And almost as exciting as watching a Housewife
flip over a table.
Next week, it's Neeson season on Castle
when the show does Taken
What did you think of this week's episode of Castle
? Did you the Real Housewives
send-up? Did you catch any Housewives
references I might have missed? Share in the comments! Don't miss the next episode of Castle by adding it to your very own watch-list! Download the BuddyTV Guide app for free for your phone.
(Image courtesy of ABC)