This week’s episode of Castle, A Chill Goes Through Her Veins, was overflowing with police procedure and forensics. Some was good, and some was not so good.
Let’s dive right in and get the initial medical examiner scene out of the way. As usual, M.E. Lanie Parrish was the weak link of the show. Perhaps I should say she was the missing link, since some of her science was so freakishly horrid. A frozen body melting like a snow cone on a hot summer day in Georgia? Puhleeze…
Bodies do not melt like the Wicked Witch of Oz fame. Nor can anyone tell, merely by glancing at the body while it’s at the crime scene, that it had been frozen less than 24 hours after death.
I’m no pathologist, but I’d think that’s where a microscope and tissue samples, post autopsy, would come in handy.
Lanie Parrish has to be the most gifted pathologist on the face of the earth. Watch out Dr. G.
Next, the needle on the believability scale inches upward a notch when Beckett and Castle deliver the bad news to the victim’s parents. Beckett again offers a pretty reasonable depiction of a cop’s compassion during difficult circumstances. However, the needle dives back into the red when the dynamic duo (Yes, even Batman was mentioned in this episode. More on that reference in a second) meets with a local sheriff.
Anyone who’s ever met a real-life sheriff knows what their uniform looks like – tons of bling hanging from every pocket, collar, crease, and hidey-hole. Shoot, most county sheriffs sport more gold stars than the entire Joint Chief’s of Staff combined. The sheriff who met with Beckett and Castle failed to display collar insignias (stars or SHERIFF written in gold) to designate his rank (Sorry, Sheriff Metzger :).
The information about the homeless guy witnessing the body disposal was good. Cops learn quite a bit from street people. And they do toss them a couple bucks every now and then, too.
Okay, it’s time for the BS meter to take another dive. The warehouse guy discovers a dead, frozen body in a freezer and then dumps it at a construction site, but doesn’t get charged with a crime? In fact, Beckett barely raises an eyebrow. Oh sure, cops would simply overlook this one. No big deal, right? I guess it’s okay to unload dead bodies in New York City, as long as you freeze them first.
We’re going into the negative numbers with this next point. The woman’s body was stuffed into a small chest-type freezer where it remained for five years in a semi-fetal position. The genius medical examiner stated that it had been thawing for only two hours (how she came to that conclusion I do not know). Yet, when the body is discovered, it was lying outstretched as if she was lying in the sun, tanning. And that brings up another point. Dead bodies, frozen or not, are not the color of Smurfs!
Okay, no more rambling. I’ll just list the points from here on out.
– Beckett uses a white board to post facts about the case. In fact, she called it a Murder Board. This is good stuff. I used a white board for my cases. I still use a white board for plotting fiction, and for keeping track of information for nonfiction projects. Many writers uses plot boards. I’m curious. Do you use a board or something similar? Maybe Martha Alderson’s method of plotting on butcher paper?
– This has nothing to do with police or forensics, but I loved the laser tag scene.
– Beckett made a comment about Castle reminding her of Batman, the rich superhero. Actually, I’ve met many cops who, as kids, enjoyed reading superhero comic books. I did. Of course, I also liked Poe, Mark Twain, The Hardy Boys, and Charles Dickens.
– There was a scene where Beckett and Castle were brainstorming, rapidly tossing ideas back and forth.
Dr. Gabrielle Rico, author of Writing the Natural Way, teaches brainstorming as a means to overcome writers block.
Many cops brainstorm, especially those who work with regular partners. This scene was also where Castle told Beckett she needed to get inside the killer’s head to see the obstacles he faced. This was great stuff!
– Detective Beckett held her flashlight in her non gun hand. Good technique.
– Castle was left alone in the records room with a murder case file. No way a civilian would be allowed to do this! Robert Crais wrote a scene similar to this in one of his recent books, but he totally pulled it off. But that guy has the uncanny ability to write cops, and that’s not the easiest thing to do.
– Finally, Beckett has a great line near the end of the show. She said, “Cops aren’t like writers. They don’t get to decide how a story ends.”
* Remember, Castle is a work of fiction, a comedy. Please don’t use it as a research tool. But I really like this show. Well, except for the medical examiner. Her nonsensical ramblings are tough to watch and hear.