Castle mixes wedding-themed mystery with a seemingly genuine case of Carrie telekinesis. But despite the writers’ suggestion, neither one of “Smells Like Teen Spirit”’s answers has to do with Nirvana.
- Director: Kevin Hooks
- Writers: Chad Gomez Creasey & Dara Resnik Creasey
- Cast: Nathan Fillion, Stana Katic, Jon Huertas, Seamus Dever, Molly Quinn, Susan Sullivan
Episode Title: “Smells Like Teen Spirit”
A snotty teenager is killed by seemingly supernatural forces, according to her friends who saw the murder. Apparently at Castle’s alma mater there’s a pasty, long-haired Carrie surrogate who channeled her raw and untapped power at the local Mean Girls. Castle is gleeful with the possibilities, while Beckett is more than happy to play Scully. Yet, the believers chalk up a victory when it turns out the bullied student, Jordan, may have made tables in the cafeteria move of their own accord. More stimulating than this perhaps, is Rick’s mild awkwardness around his former headmaster and the revelation he took a cow up 12 stories into the building as senior prank.
The tale only gets stranger when Beckett finds over two million in German bearer bonds stuffed into a hollowed-out version of War and Peace. It turns out the victim, Madison, when she wasn’t planning prom, was stealing and fencing jewelry from the parents of students and clients of her defense-attorney father. The bonds were a score too far. But good old fashioned forensics led them to a teenaged amateur FX wiz, who put together the supernatural murder video as a prank. It was a great cover for murder, until it wasn’t. Case solved, Castle and Beckett, who both missed their Senior Prom, head to the school dance for a bit of nostalgia and sweetness. While trying to figure out “their song,” serendipitously, Andrew Belle’s “In My Veins” comes on and they’re both pleased with it enough to dance.
- Plausible Deniability: The episode hinges on the tension of a supernatural explanation for a murder, and the show does a great job of complicating and reinforcing that tension. Seeing Beckett speechless on several occasions in one hour was pretty great.
- Love Story: The unintended consequences of the murder investigation, and the saving grace of Castle and Beckett’s dance are the feelings that seemingly super powered-girl and the young Harryhausen realize for each other. It’s the kind of detail that proves Castle isn’t on cruise control to a resolution for the case. The show can do depth for others.
- Bling: The Ring: Even as influenced as the precinct’s been by Castle over the years, it was fairly suspect how quickly these experts got on board with the Carrie theory. When Castle picks a theme – and you will always find the analog named in the episode – it really sticks to it. So the hour’s early goings are on the nose even for this show. Hence, the odd aside to the Brooklyn doctor who can levitate using mindfulness. But the storyline stays healthy, evolving from a murderer’s horror tale to the victim’s Bling Ring cautionary one; the combination becomes interesting in its own right, not just as a reference.
- Our Song: The prom scene was sweet, but the choice feels a little dated for Beckett and Castle. It was a little too conspicuously off Grey’s Anatomy ‘s Spotify playlist. Both Frank Sinatra’s “Witchcraft” and Springstein’s “Dancing in the Dark,” have more character to them.
- I (Don’t) Want to Believe: The nugget Beckett gives Castle at the end, that no wires or magnets have been found at the boy’s house, seems a bit too shoehorned in. Castle’s a man-child, sure, but neither the high school nor the adult couple need to believe in telekenesis at this particular moment. It’s a much more meaningful possibility to believe the kids went through a lot of trouble for each other rather than did magic. Plus, we’ve already seen the raw footage of the fake murder, in which a wire is clearly visible. Plus, the show’s already had the time-traveler ending mostly confirmed. One is enough.
Castle loves to go a little X-Files when it can, and there’s an energy that enlivens any episode where Castle is particularly indulged and Beckett challenged. But “Smells Like Teen Spirit” gets enough right that the end nod to the supernatural doesn’t feel earned or even necessary.
Castle airs Mondays at 10 p.m. on ABC.
What do you think of Castle and Beckett’s song choice? Let us know in the comments.