Take a deep breath, because it’s over. Castle has finally left behind its taut two-part offering and dives back into the lighter side of the series in this week’s episode, “The Wrong Stuff.”
Penned by Terri Edda Miller, she brings in all the elements that have allowed Castle to last for seven seasons. The episode is quintessential Castle with moments of humor, heart, and fun. It truly seems like a treat after wading through some of the more mundane and tiresome Castle episodes and arcs this season, including the “Where Is Castle” and “PI Castle” debacle.
This week’s case brings about a murder in a Mars simulation.
Prior to diving into the case the “at home” moment gives the audience a bit of a bait and switch. After showing the murder, the episode turns to the Castle loft where two people are playing laser tag. The lights are off and all the audience can see are two individuals playing laser tag. I admit for a moment I thought we were getting to see Richard Castle and Kate Beckett playing laser tag — but it wasn’t them.
Castle and Beckett come home from a hard day at the precinct to find Alexis playing laser tag with what it seems is her new boyfriend. The married couple were looking forward to a quiet evening at home with Beckett admitting she would love to just take her shoes off and relax — but that will not be the case. Not only does Alexis have a guest, who is wearing Castle’s laser tag equipment, Martha also has a male guest who it turns out is wearing Castle’s pajamas.
This issue of Castle’s nicely sized loft becoming increasingly small goes back to older Castle episodes that would weave certain elements of Castle’s home life to the case. In this instance, the close quarters of a spacecraft, even if it is a simulation, is reminiscence of the crowded feeling in Castle’s loft.
The case is pretty interesting — with the victim killed in a simulation pod that doesn’t seem like it has been tampered with. The individuals in the simulation have been locked in the pod for months. Castle, Beckett and Esposito have to don space suits to enter the simulation, which delights Castle to no end.
The audience learns again how similar Castle and Beckett can be. First, Castle admits he applied to the Mars program almost two years ago — wanting to be one of the first to travel to the red planet. Beckett huffs “what about me” and he informs her at that moment they were fighting. Later in the episode, Beckett admits she also applied to the Mars program and when Castle asks the same question “what about me” she quickly replies in-kind to his “we were fighting.”
Let’s talk about the pacing of this episode. It was perfectly proportioned between the case and Castle and Beckett’s home life. There were three home life scenes. After the opening scene, the middle scene was again Castle and Beckett dealing with a full house, Alexis and Martha’s friends visiting — which caused them to realize how the loft is so crowded.
This pushes Castle to call a family meeting between himself, Beckett, Martha and Alexis about the high traffic in the loft.
As for the case, there were some really nice twists and turns that included a solid mystery, a computer that could think for itself, and a few awesome revelations.
It was nice to see Castle and Beckett share the screen and have Esposito and Ryan do what they are supposed to do — support Castle and Beckett. In the end, it is revealed three of the people in the simulation killed the victim by manipulating the computer and making her believe the victim was jeopardizing the experiment.
The episode closes with the third home life scene of the episode. After talking over the case, Beckett notes she thought there was supposed to be a family meeting — but no one seems to be there but them.
Martha breezes in and says she has told Alexis not to come to the family meeting because she wants to talk to Castle and Beckett alone. In a twist, Martha informs them she is going to move out. She adds that it won’t be right away, but it is her plan because she knows the loft will get even more crowded when more little Castles join the family.
Note that this is at least the third or fourth mention, off-hand or not, of children for Castle and Beckett. If that isn’t foreshadowing, then I don’t know what is.
After Martha drops her bombshell, she breezes out as quickly as she breezed in. After she leaves, Castle and Beckett note how quiet it is. After complaining about how loud and crowded the loft seemed, neither of them can stand the silence. So, they leave the loft set on grabbing a bite to eat at a new Indian restaurant. It is a case of careful what you wish for, I guess.
This episode was a great way to cap off February sweeps and send the series into a two-week break. The moments of inconsistency this season become frustrating when the show presents lackluster episodes, but “The Wrong Stuff” showed just how brilliant this series can be after all these years.