Episode Title: "Poof! You’re Dead"
Writer: Terri Miller
Director: Millicent Shelton
Detective Javier Esposito (Jon Huertas) and Police medical examiner, Dr. Lanie Parish (Tamala Jones) are both summoned to a crime scene after apparently sleeping together. At the crime scene, Esposito is particularly freaked out when he thinks that Richard Castle (Nathan Fillion) and the rest of the force already know about his office affair. But it’s actually Castle’s relationship with his ex-wife and publisher that has him distracted, until he sees that the victim was Zalmun Drake (Jeffrey Hephner), the owner of Castle’s favorite magic shop. Although Drake was found in a water torture tank and appeared to have died in an escape attempt, a suspicious suicide note is found near by.
Castle and Detective Kate Beckett (Stana Katic) track down another magician named Tobias Strange (Gilles Marini) about Drake’s bizarre acquisition of C4, but he insists that the C4 wasn’t meant for him or for any magic trick. Lanie also confirms that Drake was suffocated before he went into the water chamber. Over night, Beckett and Castle track down Drake’s hidden workshop and come face-to-face with Drake himself! Except it’s not Drake, it’s his twin brother, Edmund (also played by Jeffrey Hephner). Castle is initially convinced that Zalmun took his brother’s place and murdered the other man until Beckett points out that it’s unlikely he would have wanted to step into his brother’s job as an accountant.
All the while, Castle continuously ignores phone calls from Gina, much to the annoyance of his family and even Beckett, who swipes his phone from out of his pocket to demonstrate some old magic tricks that her grandfather taught her. As for the case, a few distinctive wheelchair tracks lead the duo to Thaddeus Magnus, a former associate of Zalmun’s. He tells them that Zalmun paid him to create a mechanical arm and boasted that he was being paid a fortune to get away with murder.
Scouring the news for explosion related deaths, Castle and Beckett both come to the conclusion that the victim was billionaire adventurer, Christian Dahl (Brett Cullen), whose private jet blew up in midair. On a video of his solo flight, Zalmun is clearly seen pulling up in a van in front of the plane and loading something suspicious out of view. Castle and Beckett initially believe that it was a plot by Dahl’s wife, until she tells them that his accounts had all been frozen by the DA’s office. Upon learning that Dahl was about to be indicted for a Ponzi scheme, Beckett and Castle stakeout his funeral in the hopes that the well known egotist can’t resist being there.
Sure enough, Dahl shows up in disguise and claims that there’s no law against faking your death. He also laughs off their theories about his involvement with Zalmun’s death and asks for his lawyer moments before he begins seeing visions of Zalmun’s drowned body haunting him and he confesses to the murder. Afterwards, the illusion is revealed to be the work of Tobias and Edmund, who may team up to save the magic store. Elsewhere, Esposito and Lanie sneak off on their date, while Castle, Beckett and Detective Ryan (Seamus Dever) share a chuckle about their inability to realize that everyone already knows they’re an item. Beckett also overhears Castle breaking off his relationship with Gina and invites him to dinner.
I know we’re meant to suspend a lot of our disbelief when watching TV and even when watching "Castle" in general. I mean, how likely is it that a world class mystery writer is going to spend most of time following around a female cop "for inspiration"? It’s a fun show, but I’ve got to ask…
Is it really legal to trick someone into confessing with fake ghost apparitions? Really?!
For the most part, "Castle" usually plays things straight enough that there’s at least some gravitas for the victims and their families, but that stunt was so unbelievable that it really strained what little dramatic credibility that the show usually has. Also, I’m fairly certain that it is against the law to fake your own death in a plane crash, so it also made no sense for Christian to be so unconcerned about being exposed.
"Castle" has had a tendency to pull villains and killers out of thin air, but I think they sold us short this time with Christian Dahl. I actually liked the fact that he’s basically an evil Richard Branson (and they should have gone all the way and made him look like Branson too). But we just don’t see enough of Christian for him to be an effective foil for Castle and Beckett. He literally appears in only three scenes, one of which is on video!
The death in a magic shop idea was actually fun, but it felt like there was more that could have been done with the magician storylines. Two separate magicians could have been a part of Drake’s death, but they were both just bit players and not very effective red herrings. For a mystery show, the writers of "Castle" don’t always seem to put in a lot of work into the mystery itself.
Also, the Lanie and Esposito affair kind of fell flat. They’re not bad characters, but they aren’t main characters either. And the sudden focus on them is jarring because their personalities outside of work haven’t really been developed. For this relationship to have any sort of resonance with an audience, we have to know who they are first.
Which brings us back to Castle and Beckett, the quintessential relationship of the show. The producers (along with Fillion and Katic) have done a good job of making us want to see them finally get together, but it seems like they’re going to drag it out for as long as they can. But the subplot of Castle avoiding the calls of Gina during this episode didn’t work because Monet Mazur wasn’t even on hand for their breakup. Even if she had been in a single scene, it could have played out well. Honestly, Castle comes off as a jerk for breaking up with her over the phone and Beckett’s almost happy reaction doesn’t feel real either.
Think of it this way: the dude ducked his girlfriend for days before dumping her and his next prospective girlfriend didn’t have a problem with how callous that was?
That doesn’t make either Castle or Beckett look very good
Crave Online Rating: 6.5 out of 10.