Season 7, Episode 14 (Friday the 13th, 1901)
There are fun Murdoch episodes, there are seriously terrifying Murdoch episodes, and then there is this Murdoch episode. As the name suggests, this episode is a homage to the slasher horror genre such as the Friday the 13th film series. Or rather, half the episode is such a homage. The said A-plot involves Dr. Ogden (who recently turned down Murdoch’s marriage proposal out of fear of Gillies), Dr. Grace (who recently broke up with Crabtree and is now seeing someone else), and four other young women heading out to a cabin on an island in a lake for a “bacheloress” weekend. Unfortunately, the bride is viciously murdered by an axe-wielding assassin, followed soon by a second member of the party, putting our lady doctors in grave danger…
The B-plot of the episode, on the other hand, has nearly equal time as the A-plot. It is a humourous salute to the Olympics and Paralympics wherein a melancholy Crabtree challenges Dr. Grace’s new suitor to a curling match. Crabtree, along with Inspector Brackenreid and Constables Higgins and Jackson, attempt to play for the honour of Stationhouse 4 against a high-class team headed to a “Nordic games” in Sweden. Really, of course, they are playing for Crabtree’s honour, but the rest of the team get into the spirit too. Murdoch eventually puts his energy in figuring out a way to improve the game instead of dwelling on Dr. Ogden’s rejection. Because there is no case, we get a lot more banter and personal conversation between the main characters. This is a fun plot, reminiscent of a sports telefilm or a sitcom. It is more serious than a mere side plot to a main case.
The two plots share the episode in near-equal amounts, allowing for significant mood whiplash as the audience is terrified in the cabin or forest with the women at one moment, only for a direct cut to the men making slapstick attempts to throw curling rocks. As someone who does not like slasher horror, I was personally relieved to have this change of mood and thus able to enjoy both plots. There were also plenty of chuckle-worthy cuts: my favourite was when the women were worried about getting the bodies into the icehouse, only to cut to the men practicing in the curling rink.
Obviously, Drs. Ogden and Grace were not in actual mortal danger. They have their names in the opening credits. However, this made their character development moments more poignant since we knew that they would actually matter. This episode will hopefully drive forward their character arcs for the remainder of the season – which is only a few episodes away. We see how haunted Dr. Ogden is by Gillies. Despite the humourous curling plot, I could feel her terror as she had flashbacks to her being buried alive. Dr. Grace, on the other hand, was her no-nonsense self and is also coming into her own as a character.
Season 6, Episode 17 (In the Belly of the Beast) [NOTE: I have mucked up the numbering somewhere.]
Although not as bad as I thought it would be, this episode of Castle was straight-up terror and suspense. What little levity there was in the opening scene was rapidly sapped out as soon as Beckett – and only Beckett – was called into the station. Even the denouement was thrilling and not much of a relief to anyone except if viewers were expecting this episode to be continued. Thankfully, this was still a standalone episode. However, like Dr. Ogden, Beckett finds herself confronting old demons.
Castle is at its best when its two lead characters are working together. This episode featured Beckett alone, with Castle (and the rest of the team, for that matter) relegated to the sidelines. They might has well have been off curling for all that they seemed to contribute to Beckett’s rescue. This was Beckett’s moment in the spotlight, or rather, being kidnapped and sent deeper and deeper into a criminal organization, waiting for the moment that she would be inevitably found out.
The difference between this episode and many episodes in earlier seasons is that throughout her entire ordeal, Beckett keeps Castle close to her heart and mind. She writes a beautiful letter to him in hopes that it will be found by investigators. She actually has someone to go home to now. While this was not immediately obvious to the audience, Beckett was undoubtedly imagining that Castle was there with her, trying to figure a way out and making jokes to keep her spirits up. Even without him present, they are still a team. This did become apparent toward the end, but it was nonetheless difficult to watch for the first two thirds of the episode as Beckett seemed to be alone in the dark and Castle was helplessly flailing at the station.
There was no real mystery this week – it was primarily the horror of Beckett being kidnapped and an effort to get her back (or, in her case, get out). The worse horror? That this episode was the pretext for digging up demons relating to Beckett’s mother’s death, which we thought were done with last season. Like the episode that hinted that the 3XK killer is not dead, this promises that all might not end up happily ever after for our favourite couple. Can’t they just have a nice, normal wedding?