Castle: Famous Last Words – A Review

Famous Last Words. That’s the title assigned to this week’s show, Episode 7, written by Jose Molina. First of all, I want to thank Mr. Molina for sparing us the torture that comes with episodes featuring the Lanie Parrish character. I’d gathered all the necessary provisions that I thought I might need to help me make it through a night of Parrish and her forensic pukery – garlic cloves, wooden stakes, silver bullets, and barf bags, but to my relief she’d been written out of this one. Hooray! Instead, we were treated to a very brief visit with M.E. Perlmutter (pictured above with the camera).

I’ve said it in the past, but I’ll mention once again that the Perlmutter character is pretty good. He seems more like a real M.E. than do most TV M.E.’s and coroners. His comment about the cause of death in tonight’s episode was short, sweet, and sort of believable. He said, “The cause of death is a broken neck. At least that’s my prelim.” Based on things he could actually see at the crime scene (Remember, a crime scene is anywhere evidence of a crime can be found. The scene of the crime is where the actual crime took place) Perlmutter says he believed the murder took place somewhere else and the body was brought to the current location, and staged. That’s good stuff. He made an educated guess based on his experience.

Parrish, on the other hand, would have spouted off some sort of Martian gobblety-gook, like the crooked alignment of sweat glands in the neck indicated the cause of death as a blunt trauma to the large intestine. Of course, she would go on to say, that could only mean one thing…the killer was a 32-year-old dwarf, left-handed, albino chimpanzee from the Congo.

Anyway, on with the show…

– Beckett removed and handled the victim’s IPod which could have destroyed or altered evidence such as fingerprints.

– One of Beckett’s sidekicks reported that all shoe prints – a dozen of them – in the area where the body was found had been checked and sized. They ranged from size 5 through size 11. Amazingly, he had done this in the time it took Beckett and Castle to return to the police department from the murder scene. What’s more amazing  was that he actually did this. How? Where’d he find the prints? On concrete? Why did he do this? What did he hope to learn? That people wear shoes? This is New York City, right? I wonder how many people have walked on that particular piece of pavement?

The junior detective did say that he’d checked and learned that there were no security cameras in the area. Now this was good information. Cameras are everywhere these days.

– It was nice to see Castle listening to his daughter’s ideas. Good investigators listen to everyone. Tunnel vision is not a detective’s friend.

– Okay, one of the worst things I’ve ever seen on this show happened next. This one even tops some of the Parrish buffoonery. In fact, it was so bad that I received an email from Lt. Dave Swords the second it happened. He couldn’t believe what he was watching either. What, you ask, could have been so horrible that it prompted two old-school cops to begin exchanging emails like teens texting during a trip to the mall? It was the wacky, crazy, bizarre stop and search by Beckett and crew of a public bus.

This scene was beyond ridiculous. First of all, the bus was overflowing with innocent people. Cops would never stop a public transport vehicle in the manner that Beckett, Larry, and Curly did on this show. The idea is to protect and save lives, not endanger them. So, passing the bus, sliding to a sideways stop in front of it, and jumping out with guns drawn wasn’t exactly very safe to begin with. But to board the bus with weapons drawn and then order everyone to “Show me your hands, now!” was just plain stupid with a capital S. Why didn’t Beckett take it one step further and paint a bright red bulls eye on her forehead before storming the bus?

Lets just suppose for a moment that the suspect was indeed on the bus, and he was. He was a murder suspect, right? And what do murder suspects sometimes have in their little pockets? That’s right, guns and knives. To board the bus as Beckett did endangered the lives of everyone on the bus, including the police. Also, this could have easily turned into a hostage situation or mass murder courtesy of NYPD.

– Beckett locates the suspect and pulls him to his feet. A slight struggle ensues and Beckett ends it by striking the guy between his shoulder blades with her pistol. She delivered that “crushing” (I’m kidding) blow from a distance of about six inches. I seriously doubt she could have wounded a crippled baby gnat with the amount of force that could have been generated in that move. Yet it sent the grown man, whose adrenaline had to pumping hard, to his knees. Un- $%#ing – believable. You know, Mr. Molina, it’s not legal, yet, to smoke that stuff. It’s coming, I believe, but that day’s not here yet. I know, Lewis Carroll came up with a pretty fair story whie tripping, but…

By the way, cops are NOT trained to use their guns for hitting people.

– The suspect lands on the floor at Beckett’s feet after receiving the powerhouse strike to the back. She immediately tells him he’s under arrest for murder. The only people who should be under arrest at this point are the show’s writers and producers. She had nothing – no probable cause, no evidence, no nothing. The last time I checked it wasn’t illegal to buy a bus ticket.

Factually, this was a horribly written scene.

– Beckett is interviewing a murder suspect inside a department interview room. He pulls out his phone to play a video for Beckett. No way. He’d have been searched prior to entering the room and his belongings would have been held, especially a communication device.

– Beckett says, “Everybody looks like a killer to me. It’s a job requirement.” Good statement. Cops don’t trust anyone at first. An old sheriff’s captain once said to me, “Treat everybody as a suspect and you’ll live to come to work tomorrow. Besides, we just arrest ’em. It’s up to God and the judge to sort the good ones from the bad.”

– Beckett told another person this week that he couldn’t leave town. Nope. Cops don’t have that authority. People can come and go as they please unless a court orders otherwise. I’m beginning to think the writers are using boilerplate scripts since a few lines seem to pop up every week. I wonder if they use Movie Magic Screenwriter software?

– The murder victim’s sister is in the morgue, alone with her sister’s body. She also drinking from a liquor bottle. People aren’t allowed to roam, at will, through any law enforcement-type facility. Morgues have a ton of evidence that must be protected from contamination. The sister was there, supposedly, to ID the body. Most M.E.’s offices nowadays don’t allow up close contact during the ID process. Many offices use photos, or have the person view the body through a glass.

– Beckett says the M.E. analyzed the victim’s lipstick and found that it was a certain brand, type, and even learned the specific color name. M.E.’s don’t do evidence analysis on things like lipstick. That sort of thing is performed by specially trained scientists or techs.There’s a mention later in the show about the M.E. testing gunpowder, too. Nope. Nope. And, nope.

– Castle locates a bullet hole in a wall panel in the office of a murder suspect (yep, another suspect). Beckett looks at the hole and says it’s looks like a .38 caliber round made the hole. No way she could tell this by merely looking at the hole.

Bullet calibers are measured in inches (a .25 caliber bullet is .25 inches, or 1/4 inch in diameter).  For example:

.38 Special diameter = .357 inches

.38 Smith and Wesson = .354-.360

.357 Magnum = .357-.359 inches

.35 Remington = .358 inches

.380 Auto – .355 inches

So you see, a simple eyeballing is not enough to determine what size bullet made a particular hole. The material struck by the bullet would affect the hole size as well. Paper tears, while wood splinters. And so on.

Here’s a test. What caliber bullet made this hole?

See what I mean?

– Again, an attorney sits in on Beckett’s hard-nose interrogation of his client without saying a word. No way. An attorney would never allow this to take place at all. They certainly would not permit the cops to rake their clients over the coals.

– I liked the director’s attempt to show the murderer’s body language when Beckett and Castle confront him with proof that he committed the crime. This is the moment all investigators hope to reach, when the suspect’s eyes begin to tell the story. He begins to touch his face, throat, and ears. His eyes start searching the room. No eye contact with the interviewer. Then, the head drops and he sighs. Maybe a tear falls at this point.

Finally, the connection. He looks into your eyes and says, in a quiet, meek voice, “I did it. I killed Episode 7 with that crappy bus scene.”

*ABC photos


32 replies
  1. Laurie Wood
    Laurie Wood says:

    My dh sat up straighter on the couch too and said, “they can’t do that!” when the bus scene came on. 🙂 Most of the police stuff is just embarrassing, but I do love the tension between Castle and Beckett. The whole premise is ridiculous to begin with, but if you leave your “suspension of disbelief” at the door, it usually works. His daughter’s a bit too precocious for my taste, although I get that children do grow up quicker with single parents. I can’t stand his mother, however, it seems the writers grabbed her character from Two and A Half Men – do all insane middle-aged women need to have red hair?
    I enjoy your reviews, Lee. This is a great vehicle for educating writers on the truth of police work. 🙂

  2. Lee Lofland
    Lee Lofland says:

    Sure, Gretchen, she could say something like that. And, no, it’s not a legal command, but the average person believes that it is. That’s the reason I mentioned it, to let people know that cops don’t have the authority to force people to stay in town. Not without a court order, or an arrest.

  3. Gretchen
    Gretchen says:

    So, I watched this episode – my first one incidentally, I rarely watch tv series anymore.

    I did hear Beckett say “Don’t Leave Town” There’s no prohibition on cops saying anything is there? (short of things that infringe on civil rights). Her instruction was not legally binding, but there’s nothing keeping her from saying that, or even representing it as legally binding is there? She could tell him to cut his hair and take a bath with as much authority and expectation of compliance.

  4. Lyn Washington
    Lyn Washington says:

    Graveyard Shift Police? I could use a job but navy blue is not my color. No, no. Someone in one of my yahoo groups said that she had come here and that some app bounced up at her with a strange name. It sounded as if the site had been hacked, so I came to see. Strange, I know. I turn my face away from car wrecks if I know my help is not needed, but come running to places where malware is suspected.

    Your music is fine. The spotlights in the trees are a bit much, but I’ll just put on a sleep mask and pretend not to notice.

    Cool site. Very inside.

  5. Melinda
    Melinda says:

    I love this show, despite the glaring procedural errors. I now play a game with myself, trying to catch as many of the errors as you do. Ha. This week it was just too easy. When the ridiculous bus scene came on, even my middle-schooler protested. “Mom, why would then do that?” Moments like that make a mom proud.

  6. Lee Lofland
    Lee Lofland says:

    Lyn – I have to admit I’m a little baffled by your comment about someone reporting a problem to you. Are you the Graveyard Shift police? Is our music too loud?

    Seriously, thanks for stopping by.

    Oh, you’re right, Movie Magic is great software. I have it, enjoy using it (it’s fun to use), and highly recommend it.

  7. Lyn Washington
    Lyn Washington says:

    I only came here because someone reported a problem and I have no idea what any of this is about. I don’t own a TV, but I lived in LA for 18 years, and nothing cop-related surprises me.

    One thing I do know: Movie Magic is very good script formatting software. Treat it respectfully. Carry on.

  8. Elena
    Elena says:

    That wasn’t fair asking what caliber made that hole – anyone could see it had been made by a love-sick goose who didn’t notice the passing 747 while doing a wingover.

    Compelled by your wonderful reviews I almost watched the show this week. But the teaser showing some goofball looking at the gal hanging upsidedown and saying – you know this has to be a message – did me in. I just don’t think I can do it.

  9. Lee Lofland
    Lee Lofland says:

    Lisa – The knock on the head is strictly a made for TV move. Sure, people can be “knocked” unconscious, but it’s actually a lot tougher to do so than you’d think. And if that does occur, the blow is normally enough to cause a concussion and other damage that’s pretty severe, possibly permanent, and potentially fatal.

    Sure, cop’s kids are often exposed to a little more of the “lifestyle” than other kids. Here’s my response to a question from Marie (from above):

    Marie – I particularly liked the daughter’s interaction last night. She and Castle reminded me a bit of when I was still working as a police investigator. I was a single father raising a teenage daughter who was quite often my sounding board for ideas and theories. Looking back, I’m afraid my career choice forced her to grow up much too quickly, missing some very important elements of her childhood. Still, she was a good kid. I was lucky.

  10. Robin Burcell
    Robin Burcell says:

    I an so gonna pull over a bus tomorrow when I go into work. Got a brand new undercover car. Can’t wait to see how it slides in sideways with those red and blue 360s lighting up the street.

  11. Lisa Haselton
    Lisa Haselton says:

    Lee, I love the weekly reviews. The bus scene and bullet hole jumped out at me during the show, but so did two other things I’m hoping you could comment on.

    Ignoring the fact that Beckett didn’t have enough distance to properly konk the guy on the head to knock him out and that police aren’t trained to do that, *can* a person be knocked out by a konk to the back of the head with a gun or something of that size? Is it actually to the head, or to the neck? See it a lot on TV and am curious if it’s really a quick way to get someone to quiet down. 🙂

    I like Castle and his daughter – their interaction is great and it works for me when they’re together, but last night they both gathered behind the cops as they watched the music video and she was bold enough to ask them to rewind and replay. She’s a teenager, would that actually happen? Sure the cops like to be open-minded, but, was that realistic?

    thanks for your dedication to blogging about the show each week, you rock! 🙂


  12. D. Swords
    D. Swords says:

    Lee, I figured out why the detective counted and measured footprints in the alley.

    When the police first arrived on the scene, the young detective tried to throw his weight around and impress everyone with his investigative savvy. A grizzled old uniformed sergeant with his hash marks dragging the ground who had worked homicide in the past gave him a 12 inch ruler and told him to locate, measure and report back on all footprints.

    It’s the same reason you have an expectant father boil water. To keep him busy and out of the way.

  13. Pat Marinelli
    Pat Marinelli says:

    Great review, Lee. I am learning so much of what ‘should not be in my writing.”

    I caught the bus scene but totaly missed the footprint thing. I guess I have to pay more attention.

  14. Valerie Hansen
    Valerie Hansen says:

    When they jumped on that bus with guns drawn and scared the beejeebers out of those poor passengers I almost fell on the floor laughing. Got the error of the bullet hole ID, too. I’m learning. Oh, and I ordered your book, Lee. Can’t wait to read the real stuff and laugh my way through more TV dramas.

  15. Peg H
    Peg H says:

    I was howling with laughter at each faux pas telling DH, “Lee’s gonna have an stroke over that one.”

    DH says I’m faster at catching the bloopers than he is. Maybe it’s because I watch the show with the thought in mind, “I wonder what Lee will have to say about ____?”

  16. JoAnn Haberer
    JoAnn Haberer says:

    I didn’t tune in until after the bus scene but when I heard Beckett’s wise assessment (?) of the bullet hole caliber I smiled, knowing it would provide you with a good eye roll. Also, how did Castle manage to immediately pinpoint the one piece of new wood in an entire wall of wood slats and then right away zero in on the bullet hole behind the wood? Seems everything he does is at warp speed and right on target, while the police seem to just plod along focusing on all the red herrings. If I were Beckett, I’d be way sick of his infernal grandstanding by now.

  17. Lee Lofland
    Lee Lofland says:

    Reality – Watch how you dog daytime Soaps. The keynote speaker for the Writers Police academy, Jeffery Deaver, once appeared on As The World Turns. He says that’s his favorite soap, so I’m assuming he watches others.

    Su – It would be a nice switch to see Castle NOT solve the crime. Now, not only is the science and procedure irritating, but the main characters are starting to fall into the same category. What is this, some sort of fiction, or what??

    Nancy – It’s good to see you here. As always, your sense of humor shines through. Hey, I’ve been to St. Louis. I know to watch my back there.

    Marie – I particularly liked the daughter’s interaction last night. She and Castle reminded me a bit of when I was still working as a police investigator. I was a single father, raising a teenage daughter who was quite often my sounding board for ideas and theories. Looking back, I’m afraid my career choice forced her to grow up much too quickly, missing some very important elements of her childhood. Still, she was a good kid. I was lucky.

  18. Marie-Nicole Ryan
    Marie-Nicole Ryan says:

    Due to the time change, I fell asleep during a commercial about halfway through the show. Horrors!

    However, having a DVR I didn’t really worry about it, except when I went to watch it this morning, it wasn’t there. Then I remembered I woke up long enough to delete the recording when it finished recording. Sigh.

    Thank heavens ABC had the episode so I could watch it on my computer this morning.

    I definitely knew the the bus-stopping scene and the “arrest” were oh-so wrong, also Perlmutter doing all the forensics. Also caught Beckett’s knowing the bullet caliber just by looking at the hole as a no-no.

    Not only does General Hospital’s police procedure suck, so does their hospital procedure. I’m a former nurse, but I still watch and shake my head when people off the street wandered into Neonatal ICU, and similar never-gonna-happen stuff.

    Besides the chemistry between Castle and Beckett, I love the scenes with his daughter and mother. They flesh out the character with more complex layers and make a great contrast from the murder plots.

  19. nancy martin
    nancy martin says:

    I love you, Lee. I was listening the show last night while brushing my teeth. I spat out the toothpaste and said to the mirror, “Lee is having a field day with this right now.”

    My husband stuck his head into the bathroom. “Who? What? Huh?”

    So next time you’re in Pittsburgh, honey, uh, watch your back.

  20. Su
    Su says:

    Lee, Erica and I were joking over IM during the bus scene and the bullet-in-the-wall scene because we knew you’d be all over that.

    Does it bother anyone else that it seems Castle is always the one to solve the crime? Yes, I realize he’s the main character, but it’d be nice to see the police actually figure it out for once.

  21. Reality Bites
    Reality Bites says:

    This is why I stopped watching TV cop shows after Cop Rock went off the air. You want to see stupidity at it’s best, watch 1 episode of General Hospital and the “police work” done there. Does anyone stay in jail during the daytime soaps? LMAO Keep up the good work, Lee. Love the site.

  22. Lee Lofland
    Lee Lofland says:

    Erica – I should have addressed the bullet hole/search issue, but quite frankly, I was simply too tired to continue. I finished writing this up at 4am.

    The search conducted by Castle was an illegal search (If an object has to be moved to see something beyond or beneath it, that’s a search). An ordinary citizen could poke around without problem and then relay his findings to the police. His findings would be admissible. However, Castle clearly is an agent for the police, which makes his poking and prodding a violation of search and seizure rules.

  23. Erica
    Erica says:

    I was shaking my head during that bus scene. I knew that one wasn’t right.

    I do have a question for you on the panel though. When Castle removed the new panel and found the taped area, would that be admissible in court? They didn’t have a search warrant, but then again, Castle is a civilian. That’s the sort of stuff that confuses me.

    Also, I’m thrilled you have this blog. There are a lot of things that I probably would have assumed were correct simply because it was on TV. Thanks for setting the record straight.

  24. Gayle Carline
    Gayle Carline says:

    I notice that the M.E. in this show is always doing “extra” work – processing evidence, diagnosing diseases, didn’t your favorite gal examine Castle or Beckett when they were injured in one episode? I’m thinking… budget cutbacks. Maybe they had to lay off all the folks in CSI:NY. Of course, you know this opens the door to a spinoff – SuperME.

  25. Lee Lofland
    Lee Lofland says:

    Yeah, Dave, I’m thinking that was a photo of the suspect, and I’m sure it was the spittin’ image of the guy on the bus, too. Makeup, blue hair, lipstick and all. Doesn’t everyone look like that in their driver’s license photo?

    Melanie – I, too, like the connection between Castle and Beckett, but the the other stuff is making me weary. If I wasn’t doing the review I don’t believe I’d watch the show. It’s simply too up and down for me. The writing isn’t consistent.

    Margaret – Thanks for stopping by. You think maybe people in NYC leave glowing footprints when they walk on asphalt?

  26. Margaret
    Margaret says:

    LOL! Great wrap-up! And thanks for pointing out the boo-boos! Yanno, I did wonder why the cop mentioned the shoe prints, when they were obviously in a asphalted alley. It made absolutely no sense to me. I thought the bus scene was weird, too, and now I know why!

  27. Melanie Atkins
    Melanie Atkins says:

    I knew you’d jump all over that bus stop, Lee. I was LMAO when it happened…and couldn’t WAIT to read your review this morning. I’m not a cop and even I know that was downright stupid. Still the moments between Beckett and Castle were enough to make me forget about it. I mainly watch the show for their connection, that powerful chemistry that makes me smile. Sure, I’d love for them to be more on the money with their portrayal of police procedure, but until the writer’s get a clue that’s not going to happen. They definitely need to read this blog and attend your event next September. Just sayin’. : )

  28. D. Swords
    D. Swords says:

    Good baseball game last night, Lee. That’s what I turned to after the bus fiasco.

    I had just turned the show on as they were surrounding the bus (Police officers usually don’t pull in front of vehicles to stop them, especially 6 ton buses, but anyway … )and Beckett jumps out and, right before boarding the bus, another officer shows her a piece of paper, she says, “Got it,” and boards the bus, scaring the #*^@ out of 30 passengers and generating about 14 citizen complaints.

    My question is, was he showing her a picture of the suspect? Like, the first time she’d ever seen the guy? Please tell me that was not the case.

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