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Castle – “Fool Me Once” review
Not to mix metaphors, references, and intentions of the original too atrociously, but I’m going to go out on a limb here and paraphrase one of Nathan Fillion’s old castmates: This show just keeps getting better and better. (It helps if you make the “better and better” kind of muttered and guttural.)
But unlike Jayne, I’m not saying that sarcastically. Seriously. Best episode ever?
I think “Fool Me Once” might have been. I don’t know what is going on, but it seems to me that Castle has finally hit its stride this season. Last season was a bumpy ride, with episodes that were entertaining only for Fillion’s pretty face, and others that were actually interesting on their own merits. But this fourth episode of season 2 continues the trend two and three already set, of an interesting case with even more interesting interactions between the characters. I don’t know whether it was meant to happen this way or not, but it seems like the chemistry between the cast members has finally gelled instead of fizzing sometimes and sometimes just turning the water cloudy.
This week, a man is killed in a live feed to school children while on a supposed expedition to Antarctica. Turns out he was a con man with several different identities, including one who was about to marry an heiress. Beckett and Castle struggle to find the man’s real identity, real motives behind his “work,” and the real culprit behind his murder—because the list of those who might want him dead is long and deep and includes everyone from his future father-in-law to one of the schools’ teachers to a batty old cat lady from whom he stole her life savings and whose daily prayers for his demise have finally come true….
Boy, there was a lot going on in this episode. The pop culture references continued, although I thought a bit more subtly—the Antarctica expedition footage reminded me of Survivorman, and there was a Chuck Barris Confessions of a Dangerous Mind feel to the claims that he was in the CIA and that’s why he was conning school children.
The interplay between Castle and Beckett was just as tight as last week. When he was hounding her for her thoughts on the book, and she’s all “I haven’t had time to read it yet”—just punishment for making her wait to read it. And then he’s jealous about her maybe having a hot date, when in fact she was doing what I do when I get a new Sharon Shinn book: the fangirl date with her favorite pastime night, up to and including the relaxing bath and scented candles. That cracked me up. I knew Beckett’s being a big fan of his was going to come back into play sooner or later!
And then that ending scene, where she sneaks into the bathroom to skip ahead to the sex scene? Brilliant. Castle’s intrusion was so utterly offensive and utterly in character that it made me not even mind for one second the fact that the scenario was set up from a mile away.
I thought this episode had a lot of Beckett, actually, and in a really good way. I like that she is so very professional and focused, but the down side of her playing that character so thoroughly is that we still don’t know her all that well. The theme of this episode for her was basically duping Castle, the same way the con man was duping everyone around him, including the investigators, even from the grave. “You are such an easy mark,” she keeps saying…and for her, because she’s still just as much an enigma to him as she is to us, he is. We are. Beckett for the win!
Castle had some choice moments this episode as well. The way he flipped out when Alexis introduces her new violin teacher—too young and too handsome for Castle’s own good—was saved from being sitcom-dad by his sincerity. The overreaction wasn’t only being played for humor; it was also being played to show Castle’s deep concern for Alexis and his struggle with the fact that she’s growing up and might soon be interested in men who are too much like himself. Kind of following with the theme from last week, with the model.
More to the humorous side of things was Castle’s fascination with the case and his admiration for its victim. How did he put it? “I don’t admire him on a personal level, but on a professional—one storyteller to another…this guy’s amazing.” He had even Castle wondering if maybe his CIA story was true. Kudos to Beckett for seeing through that bullshit, and getting a dollar off Castle when his CIA contact unofficially tells them he’s never heard of the guy. But Castle seemed to enjoy getting duped. It was the “best case ever” even before that happened, and twice after. He was like a little boy at Christmas, and that is one of Castle’s greatest appeals as a character—that boundless curiosity to understand what happened that inspires both his stories and his “detecting.” It was really fun to see him get a case that had him so completely flummoxed. He was so happy not to know what to make of the world. Presumably that rarely happens for him, based on this reaction.
So, quite possibly my favorite episode yet. I actually saved this one to watch a second time, which I have never yet felt compelled to do. All I can say is, keep it up, team!