Castle: 3XK – A Review Of The Police Procedure

Castle: 3XK

This episode of Castle deserves a big standing O. So let’s get that out of the way first by bringing out the applause bears…

Thanks, guys. I hope we see you again later in the episode.

Sure, there were a few bumps along the police procedure trail, but this isn’t a training film. However, writer David Amann (Without a Trace, X-Files, Crossing Jordan, Chicago Hope) certainly must have a book on police procedure sitting on his bookshelf because the procedure and terminology in this episode was pretty darn good.

Speaking of police procedure books on a writer’s bookshelf… Did anyone see Lee Child on CBS Sunday Morning? I was watching the interview and there it was, just to Lee’s immediate right. Yep, my book sitting on his bookshelf, in his office, and within easy reach…my book.

Okay, okay…back to Castle.

Yes, David Amann has penned one of THE best Castle episodes to date. And here are a few reasons why I say so.

– Lanie Parish said…wait, before we hear what she had to say let’s bring out the bears again.

– Lanie Parish actually said she determined the time of death based on the victim’s liver temperature instead of lividity. Finally!!! Of course, the victim was still fully clothed and undisturbed, but we’ll let that slide. She got the terminology correct for once in what, three years? And she said it like she knew what she was talking about, too.

– Lanie also, for once, gave an OPINION of cause of death—“looks like strangulation”—instead of diagnosing in the field, pre-autopsy. Good, good, and good stuff.

– Lanie made the statement that she only listens to directions/orders/ideas when they come from Beckett, not Castle. That’s true, an M.E. would listen to a cop’s ideas, but they don’t take orders from the police. Still, I don’t believe that was the intended message here. So I’m still pulling for Lanie Parish here (never thought you’d here that on this site, huh?).

– I liked Beckett’s briefing room spiel. It took me back to my days as a detective serving search warrants. We conducted briefings like that all the time. Well done.

Here they come again…

This standing O is for Beckett because, for the first time, she didn’t get on the phone and order someone to bring a prison inmate to her. Instead, she went to the prison to visit to conduct her interview. That’s how it’s done in the real world.

– Before storming a building looking for a dangerous serial killer, Esposito spouts off things like how many people are inside the place, who they are, etc. That’s great information, and that’s how cops do it. They try to send someone inside (an informant or undercover officer) to gather information before “going in.” All a matter of safety for everyone. I was also glad to see the captain “suited up” and along for the takedown. I’ve seen that more than one time over the years. The big dogs don’t always sleep on the porch. They, too, like a little action, sometimes. Not often, but sometimes. And, I liked the captain’s involvement in the case. Great scenes.

– The things listed on the search warrant—items searched for, etc.—were all things you’d find on an actual search warrant.

– Beckett talked a pretty good game with the murder suspect. She was on a fishing trip, and for the most part used good bait.

– Castle asked the captain if the probable cause they had would hold up. He responded with, “Only in the movies.” Well, it normally holds up in Castle episodes. I hope they’ve left that trend behind.

– Beckett had a “gut feeling” about the suspect (with no real evidence) and ordered a surveillance detail on him. She said, “I don’t want that son of a bitch out of our sight.” Great stuff, and great line. Beckett’s as tough as old leather, yet she’s as soft as satin. Great combination.

– Everyone worked on different aspects of the case. Detectives were everywhere—digging, working the streets, etc. That’s how it’s done. Not in a clump like they normally do things on this show. Think of a triangle. Investigations start with a wide base, then as information comes together, everyone involved eventually reaches the peak. Again, great writing.

– Beckett used the prison term “shot caller.” Great! A shot caller is a boss, or leader in prison. What they say, goes. No questions asked. If they order that someone be killed, then someone had better do the killing. If not, well, guess who gets killed next.

– The suspect said he’d confess only if his foster brother was granted immunity from prosecution. I’ve seen that done many times in the past, and I thought it was a great touch in this episode.

Nice twist at the end…but, I’m without a DVR, therefore, I missed a few things.

I have questions for you guys, now.

1. Why did the killer want his girlfriend dead?

2. Where did the killer get enough money to pay for an operation? He’d been in prison for quite a while, right? And foster care before that.

Oh, the killer didn’t kill Castle and Ryan…was that believable? I say yes. Do you? Why, or why not?

Finally, the hand-holding at the end…perfect ending to a great episode!

24 replies
  1. Raphael
    Raphael says:

    Hello, I’m not a cop or anyway involved in law enforcement. I just happen to love the show (Beckett is so easy on the eyes, and Castle is hilarious). I stumbled on your site many months ago in search of episode reviews and I found your reviews to be so enlightening, entertaining, yet informational for us common-folk. I knew they dumbed things down for the sake of TV and the audience, but not to the extent that you described.

    I will agree that this was one of the best episodes I have seen in the entire series where it’s not all wrapped up in a pretty bow by the end of the show. I only hope they continue to gave good writers such as these, and that you continue to do your reviews, as I look forward to your reviews immediately after each show.

    By the way, you don’t need a DVR anymore, as the most recent episodes are shown on the ABC website as well as

    Thanks again!

  2. Rochelle Staab
    Rochelle Staab says:

    Great review of a well done episode! Finally an episode written outside of the normal Castle plot sequence. And I agree, the hand holding at the end was a very nice touch. I assumed the money for the operation came from drug money. I thought he said he was in for dealing.
    Did everyone else know “I love you Mom” would trigger a call to Beckett?

  3. Alie
    Alie says:

    I love this break down!! My dad was a cop for over 25 years and my brother-in-law is currently on a drug-enforcement team so they are usually the first to point out bad procedure on shows. The only thing we really crack-up about is Beckett running in heals. I asked my dad if they had detectives in heals at the PD and he chuckled, “No and we never had any that looked like her.” Maybe it’s a regional thing, but I always laugh when they say “the force” and my dad said he thinks it’s a east coast thing because they never say “the force” here in CA. Bottom line, I agree with your analysis. Good procedure makes it easier to enjoy a show without rolling your eyes.

  4. MSO
    MSO says:

    i agree with all the comments re girlfriend, etc. Just wanted to add that the real 3XK (the one who got away) DIDNT pay for the surgery- its was Sweaty von Sweats a Lot’s foster brother. (the one that fake confessed to take the fall and had the snake tattoo) Not sure how he got the money either… but previous jobs seem likely, and he’d just gotten out, so he couldn’t have paid for it earlier. also, there are some good reasons for leaving castle alive (including keeping the show running) but i feel like a real ruthless killer wouldve simply shot castle the second he’d taken out ryan and pointed the gun at castle, so that he could get away quickly. it seems very unrealistic that after all these times castle is on hiw own with dangerous criminals, he talks he way out of it and gets off unharmed. still, love the show, awesome episode

  5. Pat Marinelli
    Pat Marinelli says:

    Right, Melanie, and I talked to my twin sister who is my detail person. She said, he got the money (not sure how when he was with cops the whole time) and he killed her (Donna)because she knew who he was.

  6. Melanie Atkins
    Melanie Atkins says:

    Okay, I’ve watched it again… I think one of the people who has already commented is right, and the money was front the armed robbery. His girlfriend was holding it, and once Gates and the other guy got it, Jerry didn’t need her anymore. His plan was complete.

    Kudos to you for spotting your book on Lee Childs’ shelf. Awesome!

    And… they’re talking about your review of this episode on the forum at, even about the bears. Tee hee! I love it.

  7. Pat Marinelli
    Pat Marinelli says:

    I just watched is again on DVR. I agree this was a great episode from the police procedural POV, but it did leave a couple of unanswered things.

    1. Why did the killer want his girlfriend dead? –never mentioned other than he didn’t ask about her so she was supposed to die and that he hated women.

    2. Where did the killer get enough money to pay for an operation? He’d been in prison for quite a while, right? And foster care before that. –He’d been in prison four years and he’d been working some kind of criminal activities before for a few years or so and while there (he said he’d accumulated a lot inferring this while packing). It also sounded like he had a tony education when he analysis Castle and they way he ran his cell mate.

    was that believable? I say yes. Do you? Why, or why not? He didn’t kill Castel because he wanted to punish him and make Castle pay for ruining his plans. Now Castle knows that 3XK will kill again. Also to leave yet another killer to come back to the show again.

    Yeah, Beckett had flat boots on at the first crime scene.

    Lee, a question…What happens now that 3XK has taken Ryan’s badge, weapon, and ID? What will happen to Ryan? How does he get these replaced?, etc.

    Loved that Jeffrey Deaver has your book in a prominate place on his bookshelf.

  8. Lisa Jackson (aka Lisa Haselton)
    Lisa Jackson (aka Lisa Haselton) says:

    I have another procedure question…once they ID’d the 3XK killer, after he had already added 2 more to his collection, they didn’t go public with the information. They just had to “find the guy” before he finished his weekly spree.

    He was a definite threat to the public, and warning women in the area would seem the thing to do. I’m guessing there’s no hard and fast rule about when to take a serial killer’s identity public, but I thought I’d ask about it. Is there some criteria for when to alert the people who are at risk?

  9. Perry
    Perry says:

    I have a PVR thank god.

    Okay – not a girlfriend a chosen victim all ready to go when he got out.
    Money for the operation. I don’t know
    He didn’t kill them because a) not blonde women, b) doesn’t get his thrills with a gun c) just as Castle said, because it was more punishment, d) didn’t want to be a cop killer and e) the show wasn’t canceled 🙂

    No idea how he got the money for an operation.

  10. Mansi
    Mansi says:

    The killer didn’t kill Castle and Ryan…was that believable? I say yes. Do you? Why, or why not?

    I say yes because like Castle said
    a) Gun was not his choice of weapon for killing
    b) Killing Castle would not serve any purpose because the cat would be out of the bag in any case since the cops would figure out tht he was the 3XK
    c) He kills women for a specific reason…reliving his mom’s death and killing them to “punish” her for dying so there would be no pleasure in it for him to kill Castle & Ryan

  11. Michael A. Burstein
    Michael A. Burstein says:

    Lee, as we were watching and paying close attention to the police procedure, I kept thinking that it seemed a lot better than it had been before. I’m glad to see from your posts that I’ve been learning something.

  12. Maryann Mercer
    Maryann Mercer says:

    I too was impressed by the police procedure and for the first time didn’t miss the male M.E. Lainie did good! The episode was more hard-edged than most of the others, and it was great to see Beckett as the detective we know she is but don’t always see.
    I’m not all that sure about the motivation of the real killer, or where he got the funds to pay for the surgery, but leaving Castle and Ryan alive was believable. What better way to torment them? You had me…both of you…I outsmarted you and now the next victim is on your heads and I’ll be in your heads laughing. I half-expected “to be continued” to appear on the black screen.

  13. Lisa Jackson (aka Lisa Haselton)
    Lisa Jackson (aka Lisa Haselton) says:

    Fun post, Lee. The bears sure got a lot of exercise here! 🙂

    I agree, great episode.

    The girlfriend – I assumed he just needed #3 for his spree and all women were disposable to him. I remember what Kay did – that his jacket said he was in for robbery or something. I didn’t tape it, so can’t hit rewind this week. And, yes, plausible not to kill Ryan or Castle. Didn’t want to be a cop killer, his M.O. is strangulation not shooting, and now he has another potential victim (Castle) to stalk and keep him amused.

    One question on police procedure – Beckett and Castle are searching one woman’s apartment and find the “Vince” badge – they were wearing gloves, sure, but as Beckett flipped the cushions all around on the couch I kept wondering if her loose, long hair was going to taint the crime scene. Should it have at least been tied back?

    I thought this was a great episode, too, lots of suspense. I didn’t see the twist, but I did feel the guy’s total confession came too easily (and too early, plenty of time left in the hour to fill).

    And then to see previews of next week’s episode – it looks comedic where this one was quite serious.

  14. Toni Anderson
    Toni Anderson says:

    Great review, Lee.
    I thought the other guy, the blond guy, killed the two new vicitms to take the fall for being the strangler and earn his brother’s operation? Am I right? No reason was revealed about killing the girlfriend. And leaving the cop and the writier alive might be more to do with not wanting to be a cop-killer and thus hunted even more fervently?

    Love your take on this stuff.

  15. Kay Elam
    Kay Elam says:

    Hi Lee,

    I haven’t watched it again, but my guess is the girlfriend held the money for him while he was in prison–didn’t need her anymore.

    I remember them giving a reason for why the guy was in prison fairly early in the episode. Not sure, but I think it was armed robbery. If so, that could explain the money.

    I think Castle’s explanation as to why he didn’t kill them was plausible–to punish him so he’d know how close he came to having him while he was killing other women. I agree with Barbara–we’ll see this bad guy again.

    Loved the hand holding at the end. Subtle with a big impact.

  16. Barbara Sheridan
    Barbara Sheridan says:

    First off, high 5 to you on spying your book on Lee Childs’s shelf. Go ahead and smile like a loon if you want. I still get a little grin when I remember when someone I admired told me my first book was a on their “keeper shelf”.

    I agree this Castle ep did have a certain different “something” to it. And I liked it. It was a nice change up. To answer your questions:

    1. Why did the killer want his girlfriend dead?

    A) No idea at all. I didn’t hear an explanation, but maybe I missed it.

    2. Where did the killer get enough money to pay for an operation? He’d been in prison for quite a while, right? And foster care before that.

    A) Also, no idea. I don’t think this was touched on. I’m guessing the guy has been into criminal stuff a long time so maybe stolen cash or the proceeds of some drug deal/big heist he had stashed away? Or maybe he pilfered the girlfriend’s lifesaving, hence the desire to kill her?

    3) Oh, the killer didn’t kill Castle and Ryan…was that believable? I say yes. Do you? Why, or why not?

    I say yes for a few reasons. 1) It gives the writers a neat “boogey man” to bring back into play should they want to. 2)His “secret” of being the 3XK was already out so killing them wouldn’t serve his agenda of “getting back at Mom”.

  17. Melanie Atkins
    Melanie Atkins says:

    I loved, loved, LOVED this episode for all the the above. Lanie surprised me, and I loved it. Yay for the writers. (And I love your clapping bears, BTW… lol). Beckett’s fear for Castle and her obvious relief that he was okay, plus the hand holding (epic WIN!), sealed it for me.

    I’m rewatching the episode now, and will tackle your questions later. I can’t believe you don’t have a DVR. I don’t know what I did without one. Seriously.

  18. Kat
    Kat says:

    1. Never specifically stated why he wanted his girlfriend killed. Castle profiled him as having a distorted view on women. His mother was blond and beautiful, and never really loved him. Then she died when he was 12, and he could not help but love her. So he has a love hate relationship with women.
    2. He went to jail on purpose for a drug conviction to stay under the radar. He was obviously very intelligent, so he could have very well stashed a lot of money before he let them arrest him.
    3. Yes, believable. He waited 4 years to come back and kill the woman that once ID him. He wants to come back when they are not expecting and exact his revenge on Castle.

    I agree. Awesome episode.

  19. RK Bentley
    RK Bentley says:

    Half the fun of the shows is now watching for stuff you’ll talk about in blog posts in the morning.

    Did love the episode, nice to see they can do a straight episode without overdoing the comedy.

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