Bright Colours and Dueling Divas: J on Castle 4×18 “A Dance with Death”

It was nice to have Castle back after a three-week hiatus, especially because this season seems to be flying by. While I could have done with a slightly more engaging plot, I will let that slide given the big things that seem to be in store for our favourite crime-fighting pair in the episodes to come this season. “A Dance with Death” was light and not particularly memorable, but had some small moments and side storylines that definitely deserve a mention. And so. To begin.

Beckett in blue

For the most part, I was digging Beckett’s brightly-coloured wardrobe this episode. She’s definitely much more casual this season (and has been following an ever-increasing casual trajectory throughout the show) but we don’t often see her in those popping colours. From bright orange to electric blue to berry pink, this says a lot about what she as a character is comfortable with. Often when Beckett feels unsafe, threatened, or vulnerable, the dark colours and turtlenecks come out in great abundance. Here her wardrobe tells us that she is totally comfortable with herself, her job, her relationship with her co-workers, and her relationship with Castle. This might be lulling both Kate and the viewer into a false sense of security since I have a feeling one or both of the big secrets being kept by Castle and Beckett are going to come out before the end of season 4. But for now, hooray for colour!

It would be impossible to neglect Martha in a discussion about bright colours, and she certainly had some fluorescent stunners in “A Dance with Death”. Martha Rodgers has been consistently amazing from day one, and the fact that she is just as fabulous as ever is definitely a credit to Susan Sullivan. She plays Martha with just the right combination of dramatic flair and loopy impulsiveness, all the while maintaining her heart of gold. Martha is protective of her family, kind to friends (and falsely kind to some frenemies), and, as it turns out, incredibly discerning when it comes to Richard Castle’s love life. I know I’ve gushed about how wonderful Martha is before, but it bears repeating.

The indomitable Martha Rodgers

This week saw Martha facing off against an old rival – a theatre critic who lambasted her 1980’s performance in “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof”. It turns out under all that leopard print and gold lamé, Martha has a pretty thin skin when it comes to reviews. Trying to let bygones be bygones, she invites the theatre critic Oona Marconi to dinner chez Castle, but the evening doesn’t go entirely as planned. When Oona brings up the infamous Tennessee Williams debacle, Martha takes great umbrage and rescinds her request for a write-up of the Martha Rodgers Drama School in Oona’s column. Oona storms out and it seems that this is one fence that cannot be mended. However, in typical Martha fashion, she takes advantage of her son’s fame to sweeten the deal for Oona. If Castle promises to read and review Oona’s unpublished novel, Oona will look with a more favourable eye upon Martha’s drama school. Everything works out swimmingly and Castle, being the good son that he is, consents to do his mother this favour.

While the Martha storyline was my favourite of this week’s episode, I also must mention the little exchange between Castle and Beckett after they have solved their case. Castle, knowing that Beckett became a cop because of her mother’s death, asks her what the child Kate wanted to be when she grew up (I couldn’t help but picture a cute little mini-Beckett, all precocious and ambitious even as a kid). Beckett reveals that she had dreams of becoming a lawyer and eventually, America’s first female Chief Justice. Castle is suitably impressed by this, and they spend some time looking adoringly at each other…which I don’t mind at all! I only hope for more to come in the next few episodes.

Other things:

  • It was nice to see that Alexis’s smarts served her well in the morgue. Sure, she’s Castle’s daughter, but she got the internship with Lanie because she is a driven, intelligent, capable young woman. And of course, I loved Castle’s pride when Alexis cracked the case wide open.
  • When they came up with a sketch of their suspect, describing him only as a white male, handsome, with dark hair, I couldn’t help thinking that the description and the picture kind of matched Detective Ryan. Especially when he held up the sketch next to his face.
  • Ryan and Esposito’s plotline provided some laughs, especially after Ryan’s wedding ring got stuck on Esposito’s finger. The problem-solving and ever-resourceful Beckett was the one who eventually came up with a way to get it off: hand lotion!
  • I love Lanie. Her story about wanting to be a ballerina was so sweet.

What are your thoughts on “A Dance with Death”? Did it live up to your expectations after the long Castle drought? And what are you looking forward to most about the upcoming episodes? Feel free to share thoughts and feelings below!


3 thoughts on “Bright Colours and Dueling Divas: J on Castle 4×18 “A Dance with Death”

  1. At first I wasn’t sure (Anything that resembles Dancing with the Stars is a turn off) but I enjoyed the episode. I definitely noticed the whole vibe was more easy going (and colourful!) Maybe that little hand holding released some serious tension in the station. Jo – I love that you touched on the colour and wardrobe patterns this episode. When Luke Reichle isn’t making Beckett look boxy and weird he does an amazing job of reflecting her emotional state in her wardrobe. The effect was amplified this episode with colours everywhere!!!

    Crazy look alike plot aside, I love how Castle and Beckett’s relationship has progressed since their little date to Martha’s performance. It’s not a romance yet but the little knowing exchanges about family life feel more personal and easy than before without the required wit to shake off the intimacy.

    The wedding ring b-story was both conventional and hilarious. Jon Huertas and Seamus Dever play off each other so well. Ryan is an old softie and if Espo can’t be with Lanie I’m glad he’s working it as a ladies man. Bonus: they didn’t want Castle to come in case the ladies flocked to him.

    Love the weird Diva-Cougar dueling, Love Alexis rocking the medical examiner thing, and LOVE that Lanie was a ballerina.

  2. I agree with you, Sara! Going into the episode I was very wary of the entire dancing premise. Like I said, there were some good moments but I don’t think “A Dance with Death” is going on my list of favourite episodes any time soon.

    But still, I like how you pointed out those little glances, nods, or nudges between Castle and Beckett that show how their relationship is progressing more subtly (especially after the hand-holding of the previous ep). It doesn’t always have to be a grand gesture with them; it can be something as simple as an open smile when one brings the other coffee, or a sharing of complaints about one’s family life. These are the things that really do bring them closer. Even though Beckett doesn’t spend that much time with Martha and Alexis, she knows a lot about them through discussions with Castle – he treats Beckett as a trusted confidant. It’ll be really interesting to see how that deep-seated trust is tested when each of their secrets come out! Bring on Monday!

  3. Do you have a photo or information about that gorgeous a green/blue “peacock” dress worn by Martha Rodgers in the beginning of “A Dance with Death”? The dress appeared during a conversation between Martha and Castle about past reviews.

    That dress is gorgeous – A must have! Love it!

    Thank you,


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