castle-episode 4-WRITER

“Number One Fan” hits the reset button on Castle — if only for a day. A hostage-taker refuses to talk to anyone but Richard, and subsequently demands he prove her innocence in her boyfriend’s murder. So while the girl hangs out with a handgun and three trapped civilians, Castle and Beckett are on the case.

The Players:

Director: John Terlesky
Writer: Terence Paul Winter
Cast: Nathan Fillion, Stana Katic, Jon Huertas, Seamus Dever, Molly Quinn, Susan Sullivan,

Episode Title: “Number One Fan”

Fleeing the murder scene of her boyfriend, an unstable character named Emma Riggs takes a dentist office hostage and demands Castle. He and Beckett arrive on the scene, both as civilians, but Captain Gates isn’t fussed about their working the case. Emma believes she’s being framed for a murder and demands Castle prove it. Initially, Esposito and Ryan are working the angle that she’s an unstable killer trying to play them while Beckett and Sully follow Castle’s hunch. Unfortunately, their dynamic collapses pretty quickly. It’s too much fun for the show to go The Gang’s All Here. Emma’s boyfriend, a former burglar, had stolen the file containing who her biological parents were. He meant to surprise her with the information on her birthday. But the father is a big, rich muckity-muck, and his son-in-law wants no other surprise heirs. Hence, the frame-job. They catch the shyster, Beckett’s reinstated as a detective, and she and Castle make out in the middle of the office. The end.

The Good

  • Writer Going In: How good was it to see Castle back in the ‘Writer’ vest? Fillion does a great job at physically selling discomfort or nervousness even as a situation requires him to play other beats. All the work between him and Emma inside the hostage zone was quite good. It did a better job of selling the investigation than most of the evidence beats. Even if the gunshot to the chest was slightly unnecessary. Now the ‘WRITER’ has a lowercase ‘i’. Touche, WRiTERS. Touche.
  • Stage Combat Class in the Living Room: Susan Sullivan and her headbands both continue to make the most out of the limited screentime she’s gotten this season. Everybody loves chaos if there are rapiers!
  • Trivia Night: Even though the Nikki Heat books are now a real series you can buy, Fillion was at his most adorable proving his identity through fake facts about them. Can Castle Trivia be a thing during the commercials or something? That ‘vow of silence’ trick question was pretty fun.

The So-So

  • “That Was Once a Bagel”: Easily the line-delivery of the night. Sully continues to be short and inelegantly messy. It’s not like Ryan and Esposito are deeply nuanced characters. But these beats smell of the writers trying to establish Sully’s character traits.
  • “Dude, They’re Donuts”: The uppity hostage guy was a cartoon jerk. We liked how the other two hostages tried to shut down his Die Hard ambitions. “That’s a terrible plan” “That’s the worst plan I’ve ever heard.” Less easy to be a hero when you haven’t already blocked the confrontation.

The Bad

  • Emma, Dearie: Let’s just list all the adjectives used to describe Emma. She’s a Scotch-drinking, manic, bipolar, dangerous orphan who killed a man. Even though it was in self-defense. She also hates cops and loves Richard Castle. If you were ever to stop and think about this person, she sounds a little ridiculous. Her fannish quality dies almost immediately when Castle enters the office; the pall of her mental instability threatens only so long as the detectives are considering the angle she may’ve killed the boyfriend and not remember. There’s the real sense her personality waxes and wanes based on the turns of plot, rather than the other way around.
  • Our Lips Are Sealed: That plot unfolds at a good pace, but almost entirely on the back of ‘sealed records’ which get opened. Emma, even at one point comments, “What’s the point if anyone can open them?” The records lead us to the real murderer. But seeing the guys wave around files they’re calling ‘sealed records’ slightly punctures the fiction.
  • Badges? Badges?: The real 180 for the hour is that rich (terrible, cheating, abandoning-his-child) father is buddies with the police commissioner and gets Beckett her job back. The speed with which this is accomplished – it takes maybe 45 seconds – is staggering. Even if we’re sad this kills the dream of a McCord-Castle-Beckett PI firm, Captain Gates had already given the latter two carte blanche. If the change had taken slightly longer to occur, it wouldn’t smack so hard of wish-fulfillment.

Overall

The ‘number one fan’ isn’t really Emma. The show itself, fittingly, is the biggest supporter of Castle and Beckett, and their dynamic. The series may flirt with exciting changes, like moving to DC, but it’s always going to come back to what it loves. Season six went ruby slippers fast, with Beckett and Castle back in homicide at the behest of a rich benefactor, four hours in. “Number One Fan” strains its own logic to execute that reset. But that’s okay. This kind of thing can happen when you’re a bit too excited.

Rating: 6/10

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

What did you think of last night’s episode?