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Castle – “The Fifth Bullet” – review
An interesting mystery on Castle this week, one that tackled a standard once-per-series tactic with more sensitivity and depth than I’ve ever seen before. The body this week was an art gallery owner shot twice in the back. Two other bullets were in the wall…but five casings were on the floor. Puzzling. The fifth bullet showed up on a presumed mugging victim—presumed because he was found without a wallet, battered…and with amnesia. He had been shot at, but the bullet didn’t make it all the way through the book in his breast pocket. The trauma was enough to erase his memory, however.
They call the amnesiac (Marc Blucas, AKA Riley from Buffy) Jay and try to discover his identity as well as his connection to the gallery shooting. When the gun used in the shooting shows up in his apartment, he goes from victim to suspect, but Castle and Beckett can’t send up the evidence to the DA without some hint at his motives, just for their own peace of mind. Had Jeremy (Jay’s real name) really been motivated to kill over a painting? Or had someone taken advantage of his blank mind to frame him?
First, I thought this was a good mystery. It was multi-layered and had a revolving cast of suspects, and art theft and forgery and trafficking is always interesting to me on a personal level (mum’s an artist). The true culprit seemed almost like an after-thought, but I didn’t really mind; sort of implied that he hadn’t hid his tracks nearly as well as he’d thought. Beyond that, their use of amnesia seemed pretty unique. I’ve seen the condition come up on crime shows before, but never like this, where the only witness to a crime was afflicted but then became the primary suspect.
The way they dealt with the amnesia, I thought, was really nice, too. There were a lot of just little moments that gave a lot of insight into what that has to feel like. One of them, when they were putting out Jay/Jeremy’s face on television, and he asks what happens if no one remembers him. Someone will, they assure him. “But what if no one does, and I can’t remember? Then who am I?” It’s a valid question; what if he never regained his memories or ever found out who he had used to be? That’s a terrifying way to start a new life. Another good bit was his fatalistic acceptance of being the murderer and his comment to Castle and Beckett as they leave him in his cell—“If you find out, will you let me know?” Castle put the same sentiment a little more bluntly, talking about how if you’re going to spend the rest of your life in jail for killing someone, the least you should have is the satisfaction of knowing why you killed them. I also really liked the reunion, if you can call it that, between Jeremy and his ex-wife (who I last saw kicking Ted’s ass, literally, as in jujitsu style, on How I Met Your Mother). He’s looking at her and asks out of the blue why they had split up; “You seem really nice, and you’re gorgeous.” And then she confesses later to Castle and Beckett that she had hoped it might be a real reunion for them, that maybe it meant something that he had bought out her half of the painting but then not actually sold it. To me that was almost an Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind moment, where in the lack of previous baggage they just kind of looked at each other and saw why they fell in love in the first place. Their ambiguously hopeful ending was sweet; I’m a romantic with Beckett, hoping it works out for them.
The Castle family subplot this week was about his mother having heartache with her new old boyfriend, Chet, the high school sweetheart she reconnected with an episode or two back. She had a hilarious walk of shame to begin this episode, coming in as Castle and Alexis are leaving for the day. That kind of reminded me of my grandma. When I was in high school she had more boy problems than I did. We used to talk about them, too, so I totally understood why she had told Alexis everything when she decided to stop seeing him. The ice cream line was the best. “The five flavors of grieving.” Well said. Well said. And then, when he sends her his boutonnière from their high school prom and asks for another chance? Awwwwwwww. So sweet. Also, the very last exchange between her and Castle when she asks when did he get so smart and he cracks that it must have been from his dad—golden. She straight up rapped him on the head for that. We’ve never really heard much about Old Papa Castle, but presumably he was some sort of dead-beat who didn’t stick around or who broke too many rules even for an actress to tolerate.
The humor throughout this episode I thought was at a good level, not too cheesy but very much there. From Ryan making the “ice-hole” joke and Beckett telling him to watch his mouth, to Castle talking about why Stephen King’s books convinced him he shouldn’t feel limited by logic, to Castle’s crack about the “silver lining” of amnesia being that Jeremy got to read “all of my works for the first time…again” when he saw them on the bookshelf. And Beckett outmaneuvering the diplomat, telling his driver that he was double-parked—“It’s New York! Everybody double parks!”—and then deciding he was resisting arrest…classic. Entirely legal, clever way to get to search the car like she wanted, and fun for us to see that smarmy smug bureaucrat get beaten at his own game.
In all, it was a good mystery and good execution. I liked the sweet touches on the two subplots—they’re a good way to head into the Christmas hiatus, which I’m assuming starts next week since there was no teaser for the next new episode. (ABC, I would consider it a Christmas present if that assumption is wrong….)