This week on Castle,
a Saved by the Bell
-style show turns out to be a cover for the Russian mob. Screech as a CIA spy, who would have thought? Of course, the spy life gets this '90s mash-up of Screech and Urkel impaled on a crane for his troubles. But this week, there's certainly enough trouble to go around.
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Beckett Gets Fired
Despite only using Stana Katic sporadically throughout the episode, every scene she's in is quietly important. She manages to convey Beckett's unease with the way things are done in Washington perfectly, and mostly without words.
Beckett isn't the kind of person who can sit back and watch people be taken advantage of, and she's certainly not one to give up a case just because she's told it's for the greater good. Despite her very obvious skills, it's equally obvious Beckett isn't up to the task of blindly following orders like the competent but coolly detached Agent McCord.
So I guess the question I posed last week
about just how long the show could split focus between DC and New York just got answered. Three episodes it is! If this had happened after the season premiere, I might have been disappointed the show shuttled aside this chance to mix things up a bit so soon. But after last week's snoozy misfire, I can't be entirely sad to see Beckett back in the New York precinct.
While there would have been interesting stories to tell with Beckett in Washington, I'm not sure the show knew how to juggle characters all over the map. And while the scope of the DC stories allowed for bigger stakes, it also sapped the show of its sense of humor and joy.
Thankfully, moving Beckett back to New York at least makes sense from a character perspective. Beckett has always been all about, as Castle noted, "honoring the victim" instead of just following orders. It's a tough sell to imagine Beckett enjoying the kind of high-level Washington politics that went into her new job. So it only makes sense that she would end up losing her job to protect Svetlana from government bullying.
It'll be interesting to see what happens with Beckett now that she's unemployed. Will she be able to immediately resume her job in New York and rescue her desk from the disgustingly messy Sully? Or will the road back be more complicated?
At this point, we know it's only a matter of time before the status quo is resumed, so I wouldn't mind the show taking a small detour before moving her right back where she belongs.
Not Quite Saved by the Bell
With all the national security woes behind us last week, this episode returns to some of the stuff Castle does best: funny homages. This time, it's early '90s sitcoms, most notably Saved by the Bell. It's pretty obvious the fake 2 Cool for School is a send-up of those irony-free early '90s classics we all love. Dewey seems to be a cross between Screech and Steve Urkel, what with his nerdy shtick, suspenders and irritating catchphrase.
What makes these gags work so well on Castle is that they always seem to be written by someone who is passingly familiar with what they're making fun of. From the amazing '90s wardrobe on "Lisa" to the over reliance on neon, it's obvious someone on the writing staff is a fan of Zach Morris and company.
Anytime a case like this pops up, Castle needs to be in on the action. even more so now that Pi has taken over his kitchen to make smoothies and turn his daughter into a dirty hippie. But things are a little more complicated now that Beckett isn't at the precinct anymore. In fact, Espo even ignores his call on national television, which seems like something very much against the Bro Code.
Of course, Castle manages to sweet talk his way onto the case, but he's not the only one honing in on Ryan and Esposito's homicide. Agent McCord and Beckett soon turn up to work the case, although they can't explain why a former child star whose catchphrase was "Hubba hubba!" would be a matter of national security.
Like Hasselhoff in Germany
Using some good ol' detective work, they actually crack the case before the feds and their fancy surveillance technology. It turns out Dewey was working for the CIA, since 2 Cool for School is huge with the Russian mob. The CIA tries to shut down the case in order to track the shipment of weapons, but our favorite members of the New York precinct don't give up that easily.
Not only does Beckett defy orders, she actually defies them multiple times this episode in order to help her old team uncover Charlie's real murderer. It turns out it was Antonio Sabato Jr., essentially playing AC Slater here. He was mad Charlie was going to leave the reunion movie and take off with his hot Russian girlfriend, leaving the washed-up actor once again without a career.
As with most Castle cases, there are plenty of twists and turns along the way, but perhaps the most fun is watching Ryan and Espo get territorial. Obviously, trying to turn Castle into a double agent is a bad idea, though. Even while trying to bribe with lattes, Castle has a pretty terrible poker face.
Elsewhere in the City That Never Stops Making Smoothies...
-- Ryan is a huge fan of 2 Cool for School and Dewey, which becomes a running joke for the episode. The best moment is when Ryan decides to take a production hat, for "evidence."
-- Castle and Beckett are still adorable, even long distance, while they FaceTime in bed together. But perhaps Castle might have jumped the gun getting them an apartment in DC. The show finally does address the huge elephant in the long-distance room, which is that there is really no reason Castle couldn't have lived with Beckett in Washington in the first place.
-- Speaking of Beckett's living arrangements, did she sell her place in New York? Because if so, it's about to get even more crowded in Casa de Castle. I hope Beckett likes youth rejuvenating smoothies and hacky sack.
What did you think of the episode? Were you happy for a more lighthearted hour after the two-part premiere? Sound off in the comments!
Castle airs Mondays at 10pm on ABC.