For obvious reasons, this review will focus mostly on the last three minutes of the episode “The Dead Pool”. But before I launch into a discussion of the scene that prompted the titular quotation, “Oh my god what’s happening to my heart??!”, I think it’s only fair to address some of the other good stuff from this episode.
It’s become a familiar device on Castle to have the murder plot mirror the more personal plot (kudos to H for figuring out who the murderer was early on in the episode based on this!). In “The Dead Pool” we see the mentor/mentee relationship played out between the victim and murderer as well as between Castle and the up-and-coming novelist Alex Conrad. Castle quickly realizes that he would rather not have Alex around, and his subsequent reactions to the young writer’s interest in Beckett are lots of fun. I love his response when he discovers the muffin basket was sent to Beckett from Alex: the once-alluring baked goods are suddenly seen for the “grotesque mountain of muffins” that they truly are (thanks to H for the quote). When Castle entices Alex to his mystery writers poker table, the latter becomes the butt of some cutthroat jibes and insults from Michael Connelly and Dennis Lehane…all according to Castle’s plan!
The introduction of Alex also demonstrates that there are plenty of ways for the writers of the show to make Castle jealous without having Josh interrupt yet another important conversation. I actually found it refreshing that Alex was not presented as an overtly romantic rival for Castle. Of course, when it comes to Beckett, everyone is a romantic rival for Castle. You don’t have to scrape very deep beneath the surface of the final scene’s dialogue in order to discover Castle’s true meaning.
Funnily, S, H, and I had just finished agreeing that the episode felt kind of clunky, and then lo and behold! An end scene unfolded that featured the very specific and special brand of Castle magic that makes its fans squeal, cry, collapse, flail, or all of the above. While Castle is apparently venting his feelings about another writer hanging around with Beckett, it’s pretty clear that his expression of jealousy and connection with Beckett applies to their relationship on the whole.
However, what made this scene surprising (and welcome) to me was the level of awareness, acknowledgement, and admission voiced by both Castle and Beckett. Firstly, Beckett rightly identifies that Castle is jealous of Alex spending time with her and talks to Castle about it. This is actually kind of rare for Beckett. Though she likes to tease Castle and sometimes uses other men to do so, she doesn’t often confront him about it. Castle responds with what is tantamount to a declaration of love: he tells Beckett that he is jealous and wants her all to himself. Cue the flailing. As if this isn’t enough, Beckett then tells Castle she’s a “one-writer girl”. I’m sure I’m not the only one who thought of her season 1 declaration that she’s a “one and done” type when it comes to marriage as well. Hint hint.
After the brief and very humourous interruption from Ryan, Esposito, and Alex, Castle thanks Beckett and she responds with, “always”. This line refers back to “Knockdown” and “Countdown”, both times used by Castle in response to Beckett’s appreciation for his being there for her. But the “always” is not just a throwback. The fact that it’s Beckett who says it is significant precisely because it’s become Castle’s personal catchphrase. By assuming it, she is demonstrating not only that she remembers the previous times it was used (both of which involved some pretty close contact between Castle and Beckett), but that she cares deeply for Castle. It’s quite an admission from Beckett, and I love that we see her become bashful and a bit confused in the silence that follows. This is augmented by the ever-wonderful eye communication between Nathan Fillion and Stana Katic. I think Castle is aware of the importance of the exchange, and the way he just sits down and stares adoringly at Beckett in the final seconds of the episode is too cute.
With all this talk of admissions, I feel that I have something I would like to get off my chest. As has probably become quite obvious by now, S was completely correct in her review of last week’s “Slice of Death”: I watch Castle for the relationships as opposed to the murders. That’s probably why last week’s episode wasn’t my favourite. I love the characters and the way they interact, from Castle and Beckett to the 12th precinct characters to Martha and Alexis. What do you think, readers? Why do you tune into Castle each week? The romance? The murder? Or the perfect combination of the two?
Some other favourite moments in “The Dead Pool”:
- The way Beckett stretches when she’s telling Castle about her exciting night with Alex. If anyone can fill the line “we talked about procedure…” with innuendo, it’s her! Beckett certainly knows how to yank Castle’s chain.
- Michael Connelly’s line to Alex Conrad: “You know what I did after I wrote my first novel? I shut up and I wrote 23 more”. Ouch.
- When Ryan and Esposito enter with Alex at the end, they are telling him the story of how they were tortured in “Knockdown”.
- In line with S’s link to Bad Horse from last week, I found myself thinking about Firefly when Castle acknowledges that his jealousy of Alex is probably petty. It reminded me of when Inara calls Mal petty in “Trash”:
INARA: I didn’t mean petty.
MAL: What did you mean?
MAL: That’s Chinese for petty.
Other favourite scenes or moments from “The Dead Pool”? Share them here, we love comments!