Season 8, Episode 11 (All That Glitters)
In a misdirected promotional campaign, the network aired the climax of this episode in its 15-second trailer. As a result, what viewers expected and what viewers got were vastly different! Also, there was no mystery to solve if one had seen the promo – as the hour ticked on and that scene failed to take place, it became fairly clear what had happened and who the murderer was.
If one had not seen the promo, the episode unfolds with a man staggering into Constables Crabtree and Higgins, seemingly drunk, only to fall down dead at their feet. Before dying, he utters a strange phrase that seems to be resolved when they find out what type of whisky he was drinking. Nonetheless, the murder is highly suspicious and Murdoch and Crabtree end up on a trek to mining country in northern Ontario. It is a whodunit mystery with lots of available suspects and many clues, both genuine and false. I would have appreciated it a lot more if I had not been able to easily guess the outcome.
I admit that I love spoilers. I don’t mind rewatching a good episode of any show. I don’t mind reading reviews or synopses of episodes/movies that I have yet to see. I don’t mind if someone tells me the ending of a story if that is necessary to share their thoughts and feelings about it. However, I am also aware that I have somewhat cheated myself. I can’t really complain that I already know who a murderer is if I have deliberately sought out a review post-airing or post-release. However, if I have not done so, it is quite annoying of the network to do so for me.
What also annoys me is the reason that they did so. While I have no idea what actually went through the minds of the marketers, it is clear that they thought “controversy with the rights of aboriginal peoples” would sell the episode. Not “great murder mystery”, not “hilarious misadventures of a city constable in the wilderness”, not “handsome city detective reveals rugged side,” and definitely not the charming B-plot of “Dr. Ogden secretly enters Inspector Brackenreid’s painting into a contest”!
That they explored the aboriginal issue is not a problem either – except that they hardly did so. It was more of a an afterthought. It was a perfectly valid afterthought considering the type of show. It even fit that the murderer was trying to make a last-ditch attempt to save his people’s land. However, this cheapened the episode. Was the network trying to score political points? There was not even a mention of the fact that this land was in Northern Ontario, not the outskirts of Toronto.
In other words, this episode was funny, poignant, and exciting, but it was ruined as a mystery.
Season 7, Episode 12 (Private Eye Caramba!)
From political points to purely camp comedy stemming from a mix of telenovela with film noir! This episode of Castle continued the plot of Castle being a private investigator. He is not getting much work, and certainly none that is meaningful. (However, he does enjoy this new branching of his career.) To help him out, Beckett refers one of the witnesses in her murder case to him.
Castle’s big task? Find an expensive clutch purse that the victim lost.
What seems like a fool’s errand out of pity turns out to be key to solving the murder of the week – the murder of a rising telenovela star. As a result, we are treated to lots of overacting, diva-esque behaviour, zany plots, and sexy interludes. We also learn that Esposito is a telenovela fan, much to his embarrassment.
Like last week’s episode, Castle no longer working with Beckett and the NYPD has brought back some of the sparks from earlier seasons. He is not trusted by the police, he has to work at getting to spend time with Beckett (although now, she is also working to spend time with him, rather than avoiding him), and his theories are considered outlandish and he has to struggle much harder to prove them. However, we cannot go back in time and now their relationship has changed. Much like a marriage can never go back to the early dating phase, a show about a power couple who solves crimes cannot go back to being about two individuals who solve crimes. (Seriously, why would anyone want to go back to the early dating phase? Sure, you may have done a lot of fun things, but you also have lots of uncertainty in the relationship.) Naturally, this means that Castle is still about a power couple solving crimes regardless of whether they are doing so together or apart.
Eventually, the status quo will be restored so that we can have Castle back at the precinct making wisecracks and reviewing evidence. In the meantime, the change is refreshing.
It is also humourous – which can only mean one thing: in the next episode or two, the tone of the story will take a dark turn.
Can’t say I’m looking forward to that.