ONCE UPON A TIME
Season 2, Episode 6 (Tallahassee)
This was probably one of the best episodes so far this season for efficient storytelling. Unfortunately, a large number of characters were left by the wayside or only given small parts – but such is often needed in a short story. This was Emma’s episode.
Basically, the episode featured Emma in two separate adventures: one as a teenage thief in Portland and one as an adult thief-with-a-mission in Fairytale Land. The two adventures were woven together nicely, although neither had a particularly happy ending and there was little to tie them together plot-wise other than they both starred Emma and they both featured thievery with a handsome male companion.
Young Emma ran away from the foster care system and took up petty theft to survive. In Portland, Oregon, she meets up with a roguish young man who also turns out to be a thief. They fall in love, want to get a new start in life together, and unfortunately are separated by circumstance and a certain puppet’s interference. I couldn’t help but notice that the actor playing Neal looked a lot like the actors that have played Rumpelstiltskin’s son in past episodes. That could be a coincidence, but I am still wondering if Neal is in fact the missing Baelfire. What would convince someone who was not from Fairytale Land that a) magic existed and b) that Emma had a destiny to fulfill that was so important that he would have to abandon her? I really have not been able to think of anything. Neal may have been romantic, but he seemed to have suffered plenty of hard knocks in life and certainly would be cynical about magic. But his answer to “Do you believe in magic?” is “I take it you do.” I would have expected a “what the heck?” or, seeing that he was in love, a response to the effect that love was magical. The word magic obviously struck a chord with Neal.
Anyhow, Emma ends up abandoned, imprisoned, and pregnant, which is exactly how the past segment ends. The present-day segment is just as bleak:
Emma and Captain Hook (another handsome rogue who sets off Emma’s alarm bells) climb a beanstalk to find a magic compass in the castle of the last remaining giant. The giant is alone, melancholy, and angry with humans – for good reason, being the last of his kind and all. Many versions of Jack and the Beanstalk have Jack kill the giant’s wife. I could only feel sorry for the giant, and so does Emma. Hook flirts with Emma a lot and Emma tries not to be charmed. In the end, the giant lets Emma go with the compass, Hook is left in the cold, and Emma returns to Snow White, Mulan, and Aurora to continue their journey. (Undoubtedly, Hook will try to get back into Cora’s good graces…) If a happy ending just means that everyone survived, then the episode ended happily.
I found the story to be exciting, if predictable. I am all for lovable rogues. Several mysteries were solved and many more were introduced. Emma has more depth to her, and seeing her relationship with Neal makes her relationship with Henry make all the more sense. It was also great to see Snow and Aurora have some interaction with each other.
Season 5, Episode 6 (The Final Frontier)
I lost count of how many tributes and allusions to past science fiction series and shows were in this episode, but all of them fit seamlessly into the plot at hand. It was a good murder mystery plot set at a sci-fi convention, which is definitely a good place to have a murder mystery, as Castle himself points out. There are all kinds of costumes, role-playing, weird sets, strange weaponry, and people acting out of character from their usual selves – truly a case of “nothing is as it seems.” If anything, it makes for interesting background shots and funny side-scenes. Watching Ryan and Esposito question potential witnesses and suspects was hilarious.
Aside from the setting, there was little unusual about this murder mystery. There was a victim and several suspects with varying kinds of motive for killing her. This episode was really about Kate Beckett and her background. Her relationship with Castle has progressed to a point where she has to consider opening up more about her past to him. Her past includes being a fan of a sci-fi show that was laughably cheesy: she starts off being ashamed and secretive, but by the end of the episode, she has embraced this aspect of her and Castle has accepted it. It was a romantic episode with a murder.
My two favourite scenes have nothing to do with the actual mystery. The scenes just emphasise the humanity of the characters, but do so in a comedic way. The first is when Castle sees his eighteen-year-old daughter dressed in a skimpy costume at the convention: he freaks out and tries to cover her up, embarrassing both her and Beckett, who pulls Castle away and tries to reassure him that it wasn’t all that bad. Even though I am not a parent, I can understand that there comes a moment in a parent’s life when they realise just how others can see their child as a sex object. (I think this is especially true of fathers and daughters.) Daddy’s little girl is now also a sexy woman – probably not something any dad looks forward to! Castle probably saw his daughter out of the corner of his eye and thought she was attractive, then obviously did a double-take. Sadly, a fun aspect of the convention has been lost to him, and now no young woman in a sexy costume will be the same. It is no wonder fathers get upset.
The second scene was when Castle was trying to figure out what the side effect of firing a laser gun was. One of the things he wondered was if he had been sterilized, which caught Beckett off-guard. Obviously, they had not reached the point in their relationship where they were discussing having children, but I think she might have thought that since Castle has a grown daughter, he wouldn’t want to have a second family. That might have been one of the things that she had used against him when she considered whether or not she wanted to be with him – something many people consider when dating (or thinking about dating) a person with existing children. Castle, for his part, seemed to be so concerned with what the side effect was that he didn’t stop to consider who he was posing the question to. His response of “Well, I’d like the option [of more kids]” seemed to be covering for the fact that he only just realised that he’d never talked to Beckett about the subject. It was just such a funny, cute interaction that is rooted in real-life issues. Not something one expects in a show set at a sci-fi convention.
Season 5, Episode 8 (Stroll on the Wild Side – Part II)
The second half of Stroll on the Wild Side resolves all of the plot points opened up in the first installment, which naturally leads to sloppier storytelling, but is still a satisfying conclusion to the mystery.
I admit that I am not the biggest fan of either Dr. Ogden or Dr. Grace, so their subplot felt clunky to me. Because the writers have decided that Dr. Ogden and Det. Murdoch have to be together, Dr. Ogden’s marriage is shown to be difficult. I just feel bad for her husband. He means well. He doesn’t want to stifle her. For her part, Dr. Ogden is unwilling to compromise and seems to want to be married for respectability purposes rather than love. I can see that she also means well, but she made her bed and is refusing to lie in it, and that irks me. It is not an endearing character trait. Dr. Grace is more honest and I am frankly just more annoyed with her. She seems very selfish.
The baseball subplot was the most entertaining aspect of this episode. I especially liked how they incorporated the baseball with the resolution of the mystery.
Unfortunately, Anna is gone again. I liked her a lot. She has great chemistry with Murdoch and I think she would have made a much better partner for him than Dr. Ogden. Obviously, the show could not continue if Murdoch followed Anna, but I chalk that up to the writers. They could have figured out a way to keep her in Toronto alive. As far as I’m concerned, the romance on this show is best portrayed in this season by the Brackenreids and by Inspector Crabtree and Dr. Grace.
But all’s well that ends mostly well.