This week, Castle investigates the murder of a rock musician documentary-style in “Swan Song.” Castle and Beckett’s crime-solving partnership is highlighted, but everyone wants some screen-time for themselves. How will Beckett and Castle keep their secret from the cameras?

The Players:

  • Director: David M. Barrett
  • Writer: Rob Hanning
  • CastStana KaticNathan Fillion, Jon Huertas, Seamus Dever, Penny Johnson Gerald, Tamala Jones

Episode Title: “Swan Song”

The team investigates the murder of a rock musician whose band is filmed for a documentary. When the investigation also becomes part of the movie, everyone starts acting differently because they’re aware of the cameras. Castle and Beckett plead with the filmmaker to leave them out, but they’re called into Iron Gate’s office anyway.

The Good:

  • The End: We don’t mean the very end, when Kate locks us in a closet (although it’s fun to see her playful side). We’re talking about the team singing with the remaining band members. They all find a way to smile despite everything that’s happened. And who knew Javi could sing like that?
  • Heroes Serve: It’s interesting that a religious cult leader is named John Campbell. Surely it’s a reference to Joseph John Campbell, known for his comparative religion studies. Campbell’s also responsible for introducing the world to the monomyth “The Hero’s Journey.” It’s a pattern he found in narratives worldwide about heroic characters. If we had to guess, we’d say Beckett’s time on Castle probably fits the mold. Having the religious cult interwoven into the story works, adding mystery, such as the Serve tattoos or lack of immunizations.
  • Headliners: “Swan’s Song” is a fitting title for a musician named Jack Swan. When famous rock back Led Zeppelin started a record label, they named it Swan Song Records. It’s even more fitting since Swan is our murder victim. A swan song is, after all, the last performance or final gesture of someone dying or retiring. Knowing this, we love how they ended the show with one.
  • Acting: You know how you act different when you know you’re on camera? We loved seeing actors, pretending to be uncomfortable with the camera. It’s yet another unique and interesting way to highlight the artifice of film (even when filming so-called reality shows). Art has always been self-referential.

The So-So:

  • Documentary: Filming the entire episode documentary-style was an interesting change, and it seemed to work. But we wouldn’t want to spend the whole season that way.
  • Secrets: Now that Castle and Beckett’s relationship is known by all but Gates, we almost forgot it was a secret! We enjoyed the way Beckett and Castle triumphed in the end by keeping it under wraps.

The Quotes:

  • Castle: “You read music?” Esposito: “What? Just because I’m a cop means I can’t sing?”
  • Castle: “She’s got walls. Let’s call them layers. Layers upon layers…of…walls. But once you start climbing over those walls…”
  • Esposito: “I told you I could sing!”
  • Ryan: “That ain’t ketchup.”
  • Ryan: “Your shirt is really tight. Did you change it?” Esposito: “I, uh, spilled something.”
  • Castle: “See what I did there? Use that. Don’t use the part where I said see what I did there. Cut that out. Do a hard fade to black.”


“Swan Song” is a well-made episode with something for everyone. The case was interesting, the team worked in a way that seemed to ensure their bond, and it was filmed in a different way. Best of all, we got a happy ending.

Rating: 9/10

Castle airs Monday nights at 10 p.m. on ABC.

Photo Gallery:

Did you like the documentary-style filming? Let us know in the comments!