Episode Review: Castle 1×05 – "A Chill Goes Through Her Veins"

The episode begins with a quick montage of Beckett getting ready for the day: dressing, putting on a necklace, holstering her gun, which immediately signals we’re going to learn something about Kate Beckett before the episode is over. And we did.

Apparently, Castle’s assumption in the pilot that Beckett is a cop due to a personal loss was spot-on. Beckett’s mother was the victim of a brutal, fatal stabbing and her killer was never found. This need for justice is a common theme in the current episode, as it appears that almost everyone involved in the Jane Doe disappearance case either withheld or didn’t share all information.

This sloppy police work leads to a multitude of red herrings including the original cop on the case, the missing woman’s husband’s mistress, the missing woman’s husband, the husband’s best friend and maybe even the missing woman’s parents. It also leads to Beckett’s outrage at people’s reliance on placing crimes in neat “boxes” so that everything ends in a tidy package and no one has to do any real thinking. Beckett’s mother’s case was attributed to gang violence, and because of this pat answer, no attempt was made to find the actual killer.

The intricacies of the case are not the reason we watch “Castle,” but unfortunately they were about all we had in this episode. The banter between Castle and Beckett, as well as the scenes between Castle and his daughter, were severely lacking, which made for a bit of a boring hour. Granted, the scene with Castle and Alexis playing laser tag in their apartment was hysterical and Beckett and Castle’s reenactment at the crime scene had the kind of manic energy that makes us laugh.

However, there wasn’t enough in this episode and it showed.

Revealing Beckett’s character motivation for becoming a cop was meant to lend a more dramatic tone, but I’m not sure it succeeded. While it is tragic that her mother was brutally murdered and for no apparent reason, Stana Katic’s delivery was lacking. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but I don’t think she conveyed the tortured aspect of this unsolved mystery properly.

Of course, what made the episode was Castle finding the mother’s case file and sitting down to do his own research. And this reinforces my theory that I, at least, am watching this show because of Nathan. It’s one of the same reasons I watch “Chuck” (for Zachary Levi). It’s not the case or the fact that they catch the killer—it’s the characters and how engaging they are. Castle is charming and endearing and as long as he stays that way, I don’t see a reason why I would stop watching the show. However, last night’s episode will not go down as one of my favorites, because the humor we’ve grown accustomed to in the first four weeks was lacking. I’m crossing my fingers it picks up again in next week’s ep.

My hope is that the creators of “Castle” will continue to infuse the show with wit, humor and charm. And leave the “serious” stuff to their more dramatic counterparts on NBC.

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