Episode Review: Castle 1×08 – "Ghosts"

Of course, this new situation was made even better when Castle wimped out in going head-to-head with Beckett, even though he had the better hand. That this one-upmanship becomes a gag throughout the show is possibly predictable, but also enjoyable. It’s great to see Beckett and Castle go toe-to-toe, neither intimidated by the other. To me, it puts the characters on even footing, something often lacking in the male-female relationships of primetime dramas.

The episode itself had a few interesting twists and a few shortcomings. The idea of a “cold case” – a fugitive on the run for twenty years has been murdered and drowned in motor oil, is new for this show, although not for the police drama itself. Castle brings his lighthearted nature to the precinct—a common occurrence, of course—while Beckett continues to do the “hard work,” tracking down leads, assembling clues and interrogating the bad guys. Castle tags along as normal. I’m waiting for the opportunity for him to use his “Writer” bulletproof vest again. (Can I get one?)

For me, the biggest bump in the episode had to do with the final reveal of the murderer. While the character, Susan Mailer, had supposedly died years ago in an explosion, it is discovered she stole someone’s identity and has been in hiding for those two decades. Now, that’s a great plot point, but why did it take Beckett and Castle until the end of act three to figure out that this woman might be alive? Their victim had already been revealed as a successful identity-stealer; that would have immediately made me suspicious of any of her known associates. The fact that Castle and Beckett just accepted for over two-thirds of the show that this woman was dead, seemed out of character for them both.

Castle was given another hard-nosed female to challenge this week in true crime author, Lee Wax. While it’s obvious the writers were playing their relationship for sexual tension, I also think it was pretty obvious that there was no way Castle would ever be interested. Despite his many foibles, he’s pretty honorable. When it’s uncovered that Lee Wax basically alerted all of the victim’s former associates to her whereabouts, thereby enabling her killer to find her, Castle dismisses the author as “slimy.” Amen, brother.

A few other inconsistencies revolved around details in the police procedural: would Castle and Beckett really enter the apartment of a suspect without guns raised?; despite the often tense world of publishing, I don’t think a book publisher would be cutthroat enough to commission a murder in order to sell more books. In the end, these are minor issues, but when the show is building a solid base and growing week after week, it’s the little things that people will notice—for the worse.

“Castle” is still an enjoyable distraction and a nice way to end my Mondays. The ratings aren’t stellar (5.8 million viewers for this past Monday, tying it for 8th in the timeslot) and the show will truly be tested once it loses its “Dancing With the Stars” lead-in. But for now, I’m pretty positive we’ll be seeing more of Castle and Beckett in the fall.

And I really hope we all get to read a little bit from the first Nikki Heat novel. Something tells me, it’ll be fun.

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