And Then There Were Three: Stana Katic, Nathan Fillion, and Jon Huertos

After two weeks away, Castle‘s back to investigate a supernatural killer in “Scared to Death.” With a nod to the horror genre, the team proceeds to crack a case that leads them from spooky motels to insane asylums.

The Players:

  • Director: Ron Underwood
  • Writer: Salisha Francis
  • Cast:  Nathan Fillion, Stana Katic, Jon Huertas, Seamus Dever, Penny Johnson Gerald, Molly C. Quinn, Arye Gross, Susan Sullivan, Wes Craven, Romy Rosemont, Vivian Kerr

Episode Title: “Scared to Death”

Castle worries he’ll be the next victim of a paranormal killer after watching a film connected to a woman’s death. When their investigation leads them to the deceased serial killer Nigel Malloy, a supernatural element seems plausible. The team pulls together a series of explanations with which to draw a list of suspects. When Beckett watches the film to better understand their evidence, Castle’s afraid she’ll die as well.

The Good:

  • Oh, the Horror!: Poking fun at the genre was a major bright spot. Perhaps most notable was Castle’s call to Wes Craven. The Ring-esque case involving victims dying after watching DVDs combined with a series of mishaps was slightly suspenseful but full of laughs. An episode verging on parody is fine with us–after all, we poke fun at things that deep down, we really like. 
  • Opposites Attract: Again we see the beauty of Castle and Beckett’s relationship when they approach the case from different extremes. Level-headed and smart Beckett is always a step ahead, while Castle is finding proof for his theory that killers are collecting victims from the grave. This opposition suits them.
  • The Resourceful: We’re pleasantly reminded of Castle’s friends and resources when he calls Wes Craven for “advice.” This harkens past seasons of poker night with his writer friends to better understand the motives of criminals. We like that the people he calls are suited for the subject at hand. Would it be too much for poker night to make a comeback?
  • The Unbelivable: We found ourselves doubting the actions of Castle and Beckett. We were frustrated, vocalizing such concerns as “They wouldn’t split up like that in real life!” or “Ah, how convenient. Her cell reception is spotty at the most important part.” Why is this good? Because it captures the exact essence of horror movies. Characters always have a way of making bad split-second decisions in a horror movie.
  • The Tasteful: We’re glad this episode wasn’t overly-gory or scary. After all, that’s not Castle’s style. *SPOILER ALERT* Having a serial killer suspect’s body never be found was a good place to leave it. Some things in life can’t be explained. The team’s exchange of looks regarding this detail gave us a sense of their closeness at the precinct. Anytime one scene can pull together an entire episode is worth noting.

The So-So:

  • All the Things Unsaid: After one of the most hardest-hitting plots that Castle’s ever tackled (Alexis’s kidnapping and Castle’s father reveal).” We jump back into the swing of things? We’re not given a specific time frame from the time of Alexis’ kidnapping until now, so perhaps Castle has had time to get over it and return to his humorous, childish self again. The transition between nerve-wracking to completely fine was noticeable either way.

The Bad:

  • Pick Up the Pace: Our one complaint is that everything progressed slowly. There’s a fine balance in the timing of revealing aspects of the case and sorting through information. Too much info too soon is overwhelming whereas too little allows us to lose interest. This case didn’t find that balance. We can appreciate the homage to horror, but dragging out the details nearly bored us.

Overall:

“Scared to Death” is a playful and fun episode. The horror  references mades for great laughs, but the case was neglected in the process.

Rating: 8/10

Castle airs Mondays at 10 p.m. on ABC.

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Were you full of fear or laughter? Let us know in the comments!