Pizza Wars, Girl Fights, Film Noir & The White Whale – S on Castle 3×20 “The Slice of Death

Here at The Viewing Party we spend most of our time discussing the relationships on Castle mostly because it’s the most important part of the show. This week the focus was actually on the case of the week, strangely enough. Like many of the cases on Castle the slice of death was a little odd, sort of funny and had some great twists. I loved to relish in its terrifically inauthentic cheesiness!

When we were first introduced to the idea of pizza sabotage and all the different Nick’s all the same neighbourhood it seemed almost cartoonish reminding me of the dear departed series Pushing Daisies as they dealt with crazy names and candy store sabotage in “Bitter Sweets” (1×08).  I did a little research and realized that the Authentic/Original/Terrific Nick mess is actually based on the variety of Ray’s pizza joints in NYC all claiming to be the original Rays. I discovered there is actually a Nick’s Pizza in NYC… and a Big Nick’s too!

I’ve divided this review into two parts; one part will cover the fantastic journey into the seedy underbelly of pizza and heroin in New York City. The other will focus on Alexis, the real challenges she is facing as a teenage girl despite being smart, beautiful, exceptionally kind and well intentioned, and how Beckett’s influence on her life is invaluable.

It was fun bouncing around figuring out what the deal was between all the pizzerias who all decided to situate within a block of each other.  As if New York has a shortage of people who need pizza. Either way the look on Ryan’s face when he was tasked with interviewing each shop owner to get the downlow on the pizza wars was priceless.

I loved diving into the obsessive world of George Burns, the hero of the pizza noir. A former war reporter who had spent time in the Middle East, who had become obsessed with a white whale who had a shared affinity for pop culture and literary references. Burns himself checking into his hotel under the name Melville as he chased the whale who dropped references to characters from film noir as her calling card.

Burns’ character came to life both through the telling of his tragic story starting with him catching a whiff of a drug king pin years ago. He got hot on the heels of this mythic drug lord to the point he was targeted in an attack that killed his daughter. Burns fell into alcoholism and then happened upon the case while writing a fluff piece, the work that his editor still afforded him allowing him to keep his insurance and some food on the table. That Castle had a personal connection to Burns made him all the more interesting, not just some fellow writer Castle played poker with, Burns was someone Castle admired, and felt a connection to. Castle had even lined up to meet the writer, and had seen his daughter sweetly colouring next to him, surely reminded him of Alexis.

Monica was the Keyser Soze of the whole tale, the Femme Fatale of the modern noir; a story with enough twists, turns and false identities to warrant itself a true noir. A drug kingpin disguising herself behind a myth and laundering money as a successful real estate agent who sometimes complained too much about the commissions. Her downfall was that she had a brilliant detective working the case, paired with a crime novelist who (excuse me) knows all the tricks in the book.

You had a lot of imaginary friends growing up didn’t you?
Still do

This wasn’t a Castle/Beckett-centric episode, I’m making the assumption that it is for that reason that this didn’t rank among J’s favourites of the season, perhaps there are more of you out there that feel the same way?

Despite the focus being primarily on the case of the week, Alexis’s high school drama was an important part of this week’s episode. We were given our beautiful Father-Daughter moments, as well as Grandmother-Granddaughter moments. It is when Alexis struggles (rarely) that we get to see how much her family loves her and how well they work as a unit, we also see that despite that there is a real absence of a mother.  I’m not rushing to put Beckett into the mother role full time, but Alexis looks up to her. Beckett has a significant influence both direct and through her relationship with Castle on Alexis’ life.

There were a few moments in “Slice of Death” that draw on the real depth of the Castle/Beckett dynamic that goes deeper than romance and witty banter, that is how Beckett’s keen insights into actually have been a teenage girl, and her smart rationality have helped Castle guide his daughter in her times of need.

Beckett is an exceptional balance to Castle. She keeps a cool head and will hold her ground steadfastly against his craziness when she feels it to be appropriate. More importantly is the affect this has on Alexis. When Castle impulsively thought it would be okay to track his daughter through her cell phone in “Law & Murder” Beckett quickly explained how this was a breach of trust and Alexis would feel violated. This week when Alexis was faced with a backstabbing best friend Beckett gave Castle some solid advice, which he in turn repeated to Alexis almost word for word.

Well did you kick her ass?
I kinda did

Alexis faced a very difficult situation this week, her (former?)  friend, filled with envy attempted to steal Ashley right under her nose. It was hurtful, mean and everything that is to be expected of a teenage girl. I was proud and surprised to hear how Alexis fought back. She was hurt and acted in the moment. Crashed the party under some bad advice from Martha and witnessed her friend’s betrayal. Of course though, Alexis as the strong smart young lady that she is ended up going back to her good girl roots and calling for a mediation session with the school councilor. That girl’s going to be okay, especially with her Dad, Grandmother and Beckett on her side.

I’ve always loved the dynamic Kate Beckett has with Alexis and would love to see this continue to be explored as the series continues.  This show doesn’t deal in simple relationships, the whole family gets involved.

  • Other Little Things I love:
  • What episode of Castle would be complete without several pop culture and literary references, last week we travelled back to Leslie Neilson’s early work in Forbidden Planet, while this week we are catapulted into the seedy underworld of Noir taking pages out of The Maltese Falcon.
  • Alexis said the “bitch” word
  • Even Capt. Montgomery gets in a jab in response to discovering which Nick’s pizza joint was the scene of the initial crime “Good, my wife loves Terrific Nick’s I wouldn’t have the heart to tell her it comes in full body flavor”
  • I may be making a huge leap here, but when the villain Cavallo is being discussed, Castle is the first to translate it to horse. My mind completely went to “Dr. Horrible” where Bad Horse is the lead villain and Fillion plays Captain Hammer, the lead…good guy.
  • Castle making breakfast in his awesome checkered shirt – of course Alexis’ favourite would be turkey bacon, too cute
  • I love how the writers played with our expectations (and Beckett & Lanie’s) when we discover that the victim who had been badly burned in a pizza oven was in fact named George Burns, when the pair looked at him to make a joke out of an easy set up his reaction was unexpected, he knew the man. It was Lanie who took a hit at it and make a “half baked” joke
  • Esposito’s impression of the Nick with the fake fat-free cheese “If you print that – I‘m going to kill you”

– S

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One thought on “Pizza Wars, Girl Fights, Film Noir & The White Whale – S on Castle 3×20 “The Slice of Death

  1. Pingback: Grotesque Mountain of Muffins: Or, Oh My God What’s Happening to My Heart??! – J on Castle 3×21 “The Dead Pool” | The Viewing Party

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