This week on Castle, we learn the price of following your dreams thanks to a look-a-like with Broadway aspirations and a snobby theater critic. Barbara dreamed of being on Broadway and ended up dead, Martha’s dream of getting some positive ink from harsh theater critic Oona Marconi stuck Castle reading chick lit and Ryan’s dream of being irresistible to ladies got Esposito to finally put a ring on it. Needless to say, sometimes dreams just don’t turn out like you imagined.

This season, Castle has really enjoyed tapping into the zeitgeist, especially with the show’s lighter episodes. We’ve already had episodes taking on the hot fairytale trend, an episode spoofing the Kardashian’s and next week looks to bring us an Occupy movement themed installment. This week, the show took on ABC’s Castle lead-in, Dancing with the Stars, although not with the sharp edge used for other reality starlets.

Usually, the lighter episodes are especially fun for the funny Caskett bantering and sexual tension. Unfortunately, the Castle and Beckett dream team seemed to be benched this episode. Despite doing their due diligence in putting together the admittedly twisty central mystery, they didn’t really have many moments. On the plus side, the supporting cast all got time to shine, especially Ryan and Esposito. While more of the supporting cast is always welcome on Castle, I wish the episode hadn’t felt the need to bench the Castle and Beckett dynamic to do it. Still, I’ll never complain about seeing Ryan literally put a ring on Esposito.

Rings and Ringers

So let’s start out with the Ryan and Esposito of it all, shall we? The terrific two-some is all over this case, mostly because it means they get to pay a visit to the strip club. More importantly, however, Ryan is beginning to wonder why the pretty witnesses they’re interviewing are completely ignoring him. Esposito tells him it’s because women see his wedding ring, which placates him until he talks to some of his other married friends.

Turns out, the wedding ring has been a chick magnet for them! So Ryan devises an experiment to put a ring on Esposito and see if women react the same way to him. And by women, I mean strippers. I’m not sure that’s a neutral sample, but I don’t think this is a very scientific experiment. For me, it’s just an excuse to quietly sing Beyonce’s “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)” for the rest of the episode.

Of course, the strippers are all over Esposito while completely ignoring Ryan’s weird, quasi-attempts at flirting. Esposito tells Ryan that the reason is because women are picking up how crazy in love with Jenny he is. Other married guys seem unhappy, which is why women hit on them. Espo then tell Ryan that he’s jealous without saying he’s jealous which is pretty cute. Lanie is looking particularly cute this episode talking about her top heavy ballerina dreams, Espo. Just saying.

Of course, the wedding ring gets stuck on Esposito’s finger. I love that in the middle of this twisty case Ryan and Esposito are starring in their own wacky sitcom. I like to imagine that when we don’t see Ryan and Esposito, they’re always getting themselves into weird Modern Family-esque misunderstandings. The ring finally pops off Esposito’s finger courtesy of Beckett and the most effective lotion of all time. Ryan runs off in search of the aerodynamic ring and Esposito goes off to have a date with a stripper, so it’s happily ever after for both boys.

Everyone’s a Critic

Meanwhile, in the other supporting cast plot of the episode, Martha is trying to garner some positive press for her new acting school. For some reason, she chooses a theater critic that once brutally panned her in a production, because there is only one theater critic in New York. While it does give us an excuse to spend more time with Martha, which is always a treat, it seemed a bit thin as a plotline. I kept going all episode, “how about just trying a critic that likes you?” With a career as illustrious as Martha’s, it seems like she could have chosen a more positive critic to hit up for favors. If there is one thing that New York doesn’t lack, it’s critics.

Also hilarious is watching Castle and Martha switch places. Usually, it’s Martha who breezes into a scene where Castle is trying to solve a difficult case and says something unknowingly brilliant. This time, it’s Castle’s great advice to make Oona an offer she can’t refuse that seals the deal. Of course, it rebounds back on Castle. You know what they say — no good deed goes unpunished.

A Dance with Death

The central case of the episode starts out with the Dancing with the Stars conceit and then gradually puts more and more distance from its reality show send-up. Odette Morton, a contestant on Lanie’s guilty pleasure, Night of Dance, shows up shot dead in her dressing room. This leads the group to first suspect her fellow dancers and the show’s judges, and then gradually realize that the answer lies in Odette’s past. If this is a singing send-up, I’d blame Randy Jackson’s angry bedazzled Betty Boop pin, but since I don’t know much about Dancing with the Stars, I’m not going to do great here, joke wise.

It turns out Odette is a rich heiress who had recently turned her life around after a traumatic train accident she’d survived. Except Odette didn’t actually survive the wreck. Holy Ringer, it was her evil twin! Well, not exactly. At first, I thought this episode was a double send-up, but then I realized that only about three people are still watching the CW’s Ringer. Of course, if Castle ever wanted to get Sarah Michelle Gellar on the show for a former Joss Whedon alum convention, I would not complain. (Hey, if Adam Baldwin is going to guest star, I figure I should start putting in my requests now. What’s Morena Baccarin up to these days?)

It turns out Odette actually did die in the train wreck that “changed” her life. Coming out of the wreck is Barbara Landau, a stripper with big Broadway dreams who shares a more than passing resemblance to Odette. Odette is using her the way you always imagine you’d like to use a double: to do all the things you don’t want to do. In Odette’s case, this mostly involves court-appointed community service. Somewhere out there, Lindsay Lohan is watching this and taking notes.

While Barbara finally gets her chance in the limelight, she learns that Odette’s life isn’t as charmed as it appeared. In point of fact, she has figured out that Odette is keeping a dangerous secret. Turns out the heiress had killed her grandfather for her inheritance, thanks to her besotted money manager. That same number-cruncher, of course, finds out that Barbara was impersonating Odette and killed her for sullying the memory of his murderous party girl love.

As the episode ends, Castle and Beckett muse on the nature of dreams. Castle wonders what Kate was planning before the death of her mother turned her toward police work and Beckett confides that she was pre-law at Stanford. They share a sweet moment and we should probably savor it, because it looks like next week things are about to get more complicated for our favorite unrequited crime solvers.

Next week, the show tackles Occupy Wall Street with a bang, both literal and metaphorical, as a bomb explodes and the bombshell that Beckett remembers her shooting falls on poor Castle. What will this mean for our favorite partners?

What did you think of this week’s episode? Did you love seeing more of Martha, Ryan and Esposito? Or did you miss the focus on Caskett? Sound off in the comments!

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Morgan Glennon
Contributing Writer

(Image courtesy of ABC)

Morgan Glennon

Contributing Writer, BuddyTV