Season 4, Episode 4 (The Apprentice)
This week expands the story from a Frozen sequel to introduce the overarching storyline for the season: Mr. Gold/Rumpelstiltskin is still addicted to magic and still trying to find a way to be free of the magic of the Dark One’s dagger while still retaining his powers. Even Belle’s influence and Baelfire’s memory cannot keep him on the straight and narrow. However, Gold probably believes that by freeing himself from the dagger, he will also free himself from his dark impulses. He wants to do this for Belle’s sake, even as it will likely end up destroying her. Unfortunately for Gold, his dark impulses are not caused by the dagger any more than Captain Hook’s dark impulses are caused by his hand. The two men are not that much different in character. They both want to change their ways for love in order to be worthy of Belle and Emma, but neither of them want to give him their ways of life. Gold wants to keep his power while Hook still wants to be a pirate. The big difference? Magic and power are an addiction, not a character flaw. Hook is not an addict like Gold is. Even after all that has happened between them, Gold still sees Hook as an evil man who stole his wife. He desperately wants to be a better man than Hook. He has to keep Hook down in order to feel as though he is doing the good thing, the right thing. He still feels that he is the victim.
Skipping over Emma and Hook’s date and Will Scarlet’s drunken antics, both of which considerably lightened the mood of the episode, Henry decides to get a job working for Mr. Gold. He insists to Gold that he wants to get to know him better and maintain a connection to his father, but he only proves to the viewer that he is as much of a manipulator as his grandfather: he really wants to help Regina get her happy ending. Sweeping the floor of the shop at the end of the episode, it is blatant that we are to wonder if Henry is not setting himself up to follow in Mr. Gold’s footsteps. He may set out to be heroic, but even the most well-intentioned heroes can turn into villains.
After all, evil isn’t born, it is made.
Continuing the Frozen plotline, Anna discovered that her parents were indeed searching for a way to rid Elsa of her powers. Anna is devastated that her parents were so scared of Elsa that they would think of doing such a thing. She outwits Rumpelstiltskin and gets to go home to Kristoff, but her realisation that her parents thought their own daughter monstrous is enough to ruin her happy return. The Snow Queen may have been right after all…or it might all be a ploy by both the Snow Queen and Rumpelstiltskin.
Season 8, Episode 3 (Glory Days)
For being the first episode after the return of the status quo, Glory Days delves into deep topics and controversial issues.
For one, Dr. Ogden decided that since Det. Murdoch’s Catholicism was very important to him, she was going to “marry all of him” and ventured into discussions with the priest despite her convictions that the Church and God were poisonous and cruel. Naturally, this led to the priest having to defend himself and his Church. However, this was done gently. There was no bickering, fighting, or name-calling. Dr. Ogden approached the aptly-named Father Clement calmly and respectfully with an inquiring mind. She did not want to believe that the God whom Murdoch loved was the cruel slave-driver that she thought she knew. Father Clement, for his part, openly engaged her in discussion and allayed her fears. He did not chastise her, but also treated her respectfully and kindly. Was his attitude anachronistic? Perhaps – I rather think that his attitude could easily be accurate, but the attitude of the overall Church would not be so lenient. Dr. Ogden would at the very least have to nominally convert to Catholicism in order to be married in the Church. There would be papers to be signed. Did the show not want to be any more controversial than it already was? Or was this portrayal of the Church rather wishful thinking on the part of the writers – the Church as it ought to be, rather than what it was?
As a Christian, I was pleased at this portrayal of the Church and God. Father Clement is a kind, rational, respectful man who seems to genuinely want to serve Christ. Dr. Ogden is inquiring and her confusion, disbelief, and anti-theism are all shown to stem logically from her mind. She asks questions and gets rational answers from Father Clement. Most importantly, she recognises how much his faith means to Murdoch and is willing to be a part of that faith because she wants to be a part of him.
As for Father Clement’s answers, I only nod my head. There is a difference between God and the Church, and between the Church as God intends and the Church as a human-lead institution with moral failings. The episode comes down on the side of God and faith while still leaving us wondering if Dr. Ogden truly had an epiphany or if she just wanted to keep her man happy.
For another controversial topic, the case of the week involved bank and train robbery possibly perpetrated by American outlaws. The legendary Bat Masterson happened to be in town writing sports columns and decided to go after the outlaws (with the help of Murdoch, Crabtree, and Brackenreid). This would merely be a wild adventure were it not for the blatant contest between the “shoot first, ask questions later” mindset of the American system and the “calmly and rationally solve the case without hurting anyone if possible” of the Canadians. Masterson is embarrassed that the Toronto police don’t carry guns. This contrast is brought up repeatedly. Both methods ultimately solve the case and the audience is generally to conclude that the Canadian values are more just, while the American values are more fun to watch.
Lastly, Masterson is suffering from feeling inadequate in his new career as a sports writer. He misses the old days of hunting down outlaws in the West. Fortunately for him, a bystander remarks that he really loves reading his articles. Masterson leaves Stationhouse 4 with a new appreciation for his abilities, both past and present.
In the end, the episode returns to the status quo by showing a raucous but still proper bachelor party for Murdoch. I do hope the wedding is not too delayed!
Season 7, Episode 4 (Child’s Play)
Losing loved ones is devastating, all the more so when it is sudden and total. Being granted the chance to have a lost loved one back, Alexis is terrified of losing her father again and proceeds to do everything that she can to protect him.
Unfortunately, Castle is an adult who shadows the police for research, thereby naturally being difficult to protect, and Alexis is only twenty. Fortunately, Castle understands her behaviour (because he went through it when she went missing) and is able to reason with her by the end of the episode. Why the end of the episode? Aside from the comedy factor of her being overbearing (as opposed to clingy), Castle himself seemed to be enjoying her indulging him and worrying about him. Much to Beckett’s annoyance, he still needs a bit of a safety net and is clearly happier investigating in a second grade classroom than hunting down Russian gangsters with her.
While the scenes at the school were not very believable – nowadays a grown man would not be allowed to be alone inside during recess with a little girl, for example – they were endearing and refreshing contrasted against scenes of gunfire and torture. Castle enjoys interacting with children and has a chance to fill that void in his life now that Alexis is grown. We get to watch him get down and dirty on the playground, teach children about writing stories, and having fairy princess tea parties. As it turned out, his investigation proved crucial in finding out the identity of the murderer. Without him, Beckett was simply finding corpse after corpse and making little headway.
This episode felt safe. It was lighthearted in the scenes with the children and with Alexis, but it maintained a sense of urgency and suspense common in gang thrillers. It was fun to watch Castle happy in a school setting (as opposed to his dislike of high schools) and makes me wonder if the writers are considering expanding Castle and Beckett’s family. Most of all, it continues a run of episodes that are comedic and childlike in their wonder – toys, invisibility, and now elementary school and ice cream. Is Castle rediscovering the joy of being home and alive?
It seems so.
Meaning, of course, that we must be due for a serious and terrifying episode soon.
Season 6, Episode 2 (No Rest for the Convicted)
Speaking of lost family members, Jake Doyle’s wayward daughter is found again. She is genuinely contrite about the fact that the Doyles couldn’t get insurance to cover her stealing their savings without pressing charges. Jake, for his part, refuses to charge her because he knows that jail would not help Sloan. Despite being devastated at her betrayal, he lets her run away after agreeing to take on her debt to a gangster. Whether or not Sloan will continue to be an important character or whether she disappears for the rest of the series remains to be seen. I would be happy if she did the latter for the sake of the story, but her character likely would end up in a terrible situation if she merely vanished. Character-wise, Sloan needs to find her own path until she (hopefully) realises the error of her ways.
As for Jake himself, a former client of his enlists his services in exchange for posting his bail. Unfortunately, said client is mentally unstable and causes havoc for the desperate Doyles, including setting their van on fire for the second time.
All in all, the mystery in this episode was a fun caper. However, there was just the right mix of despair within the comedy: Leslie is struggling with being back among the living and refuses psychiatric help – even going so far as to push away Jake; Sloan is in mortal peril; Jake finally confronts Sloan about how much she hurt him; and there is a general sense that being in dire financial straits has put a strain on all of the relationships within the Doyle family. The comedy has a darker edge to it than usual, and we are left with the uneasy sense that all of the characters are frustrated and sad as the screen fades to black.
Hopefully, they are only eight episodes away from a more satisfying ending.