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Castle, “Lucky Stiff” (3.14)

Money doesn’t change who you are, it just magnifies your personality.” – Richard Castle

A review of the episode after the jump.

Ahhh, January and early February, the month of the hiatus/return/hiatus. After a week off, Castle returned this Monday with a plot more topsy turvy than that song from Disney’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame!

It’s a case that seems simple enough – lotto winner murdered, his money stolen; the classic whodunit. But as we all know, crime TV is never that simple and Castle is no different. Castle himself is ready and willing to leap to the conclusion invented by mystery novelists such as himself: the butler did it. At one point the audience is led to believe he might even be right! But that was the nature of this episode. It takes us around the bend and back again as Castle and Beckett uncover suspect after suspect, even more than their usual twist-heavy plots. It was almost as though the nature of the last episode was too personal, too serious, that the show had to bombard us with a ridiculously convoluted plot and a colourful cast of characters to throw us back into the mysterious nature of the show. Not that I’m complaining . I love when a show is always two steps ahead and I definitely wasn’t able to keep up let alone try to see ahead to figure out who the murderer was. While the plot was extremely thick with different storylines and characters, somehow the writers managed to tie it all neatly together at the end, so that even after the first watching I was still able to trace all the different unresolved plot points that became resolved by the end of the show. It’s not easily accomplished in a crime show, but I feel like due to the premise of it following a mystery writer, they have to take special care to make sure everything they write has a point and isn’t simply serving as yet another Red Herring, as the typical crime shows (*cough*CSI series*cough*) are wont to do.

There was also an interesting parallel drawn between the case and Castle’s personal life. His mother Martha, who recently lost her boyfriend Chet (who she was about to break up with, mind you) gets a cheque in the mail from his estate for $1 million. She is understandably aghast and doesn’t know what to do. She struggles with the idea of being gifted money that she deems herself unworthy of. At first she impulsively goes on a shopping spree, but when she returns home decides that she’ll return everything and try to give the money back. When Chet’s children refuse, she decides to do something good with the money instead. This follows a similar path as the story of the murder victim, who started off creating a rift in his family with his winnings, then deciding to use his money for good by helping a soup kitchen in dire straights. The main parallel though, is in the guilt felt by the lucky giftees. This isn’t revealed in the case Castle and Beckett are investigating until the last quarter of the episode, when they discover the lottery ticket the victim won with was actually stolen. Martha’s “guilt” seems hardly as bad by comparison, and the audience is left sympathizing with her whereas up to this point our main sympathies laid with the lottery winner.

Since last episode was so dark, this one had an injection of much needed comic relief. Someone has blue dye explode in their face, we get to hear Castle rap (“Three armed cops and a writer makes four, you’re under arrest now get on the floor”) and Beckett admits her true dream of becoming an American Gladiator. That last one comes from a conversation Castle and Beckett have over the course of the episode as he tries to unearth what she would do if she won the lottery. She is obviously kidding.

If I had to voice my complaints, of which there are only a few, I would bring up yet again some forensic magic that ends up tying this case into a neat little bow. For some reason at the end of the episode, when they unearth the killer from their wide array of suspects, Beckett mentions that she can prove it because he conveniently left the money in his apartment with the murder victim’s blood all over it. This hardly makes sense because the money was supposed to be in a bank bag so I don’t understand how blood could have even gotten on it in the first place. And come ON! Really? He left the money at his house? The murderer was a suspect from the very beginning! You’d think after they busted him the first time in the victim’s car, he would have smartened up and at least tried to hide the money somewhere. But no, yet again a case of the dumb criminal who ended up only evading the police through dumb luck. It kind of leaves a disappointed air hanging over the resolution, considering the episode’s convoluted plot. It really all boiled down to a simple fact that they couldn’t trace until they ran into the right person who knew the information.

***SPOILER BELOW***

Another complaint I’d like to voice is the fact that the kiss that was the height of the last episode, that we were left to dwell on for a week while the show aired a re-run was not brought up or even referenced whatsoever in this episode! They’re just sweeping it under the rug despite the fact that nothing that monumental has ever happened between Castle and Beckett to date. Curse you UST! *shakes fist*

This week’s episode was a fun romp, but overall not a whole lot of character development, especially considering the last episode. I always want to see more Alexis, but when she has very little to do with the cases she sort of falls of the grid. That would be my request for next week – give Molly C. Quinn more exposure!

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