Never Take Advice from a Potential Mass Murderer: J on the Dos and Don’ts of Castle 4×16 “Linchpin”

The plot thickens in "Linchpin"

Like last week, this review is mostly going to focus on characters and relationships because to be honest I wasn’t particularly interested in the whole double-agent, CIA, massive conspiracy, WWIII plot line.  Of course, that’s kind of the norm for me when I watch Castle; I’m much more invested in Rick and Kate’s romance than in any of the cases that they solve.  There were definitely some moments I liked in this week’s conclusion to the two-parter, but on the whole I don’t think either “Pandora” or “Linchpin” will break any records for favourite Castle episode.

My main criticism (I’ll get it out of the way now, and then move on to the fun stuff) is that the episode itself was, well, a little bit boring.  As far as Castle’s two-part cliff-hangers go, I didn’t like this year’s installment nearly as much as the ones that preceded it.  The stakes just didn’t seem as high (or I wasn’t made to feel they were as high), and I know that’s really weird to say given that World War Three was the potential outcome of this episode.  I guess what I mean is that a stronger impression is made when the characters’ lives are more directly involved in the case…like the crazy guy murdering people in the name of Nikki Heat, stalking Beckett, and blowing up her apartment in season 2.  Even last year’s two-parter felt more personal (though on a much larger scale), perhaps because Castle and Beckett were locked together in a freezer and then faced with a dirty bomb about to blow up in their faces.  But mainly I think those episodes worked really well because it was all up to Castle and Beckett to solve the case and save everyone.  Here, there were too many double-agents and shifting allegiances to keep track of; Castle and Beckett could barely do anything but observe and get carried along by the CIA.  If they have absolutely no clue what’s going on (which they didn’t until the very end of “Linchpin”), then neither do we, and I think that’s what diluted the episode’s overall impact.

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A Tense (and Somewhat Confusing) Cliff-hanger: J on Castle 4×15 “Pandora”

Stana Katic, talking about the end of this week’s episode “Pandora”, joked that the creators of Castle are forcing Rick and Kate to face each of the elements to see if they survive.  So far we’ve had fire (in 2×17/2×18 when Kate’s apartment blows up), ice (3×16/3×17 when they get locked in a freezer) and now water as their car plunges down toward Davy Jones’s Locker at the end of 4×15.  And of course, in true cliff-hanger form, that’s how the episode ends.  I can only imagine that next season’s two-parter will involve them being buried underground but narrowly escaping (as they always do).

Actually, in a lot of ways “Pandora” reminded me of the previous Castle two-parters, and not just because it concluded with the same nerve-wracking “to be continued” ending.  Plot-wise, I sort of saw it as a combination of the double episodes of season 2 and season 3 as well.  There’s definitely a Jordan Shaw-esque quality to Sophia Turner, the bedroom-voiced CIA agent who has a history with Castle.  Beckett’s jealousy over Castle bonding with Jordan and being impressed with her cool gadgets in “Tick Tick Tick” and “Boom” is definitely reflected again here: she’s just oozing with jealousy!  And the broader themes of terrorism and national security in “Pandora” bring to mind last year’s two-parter in which a dirty bomb threatens the city of New York.  However I also found that I wasn’t quite as invested in the plotline as I was during either of those two stories.

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