Castle: Suicide Squeeze – A Review (of the police procedure)
Well, another episode has passed and it was business as usual inside the halls of BCPD (Beckett Castle Police Department), and that business, of course, was murder. As usual, the victim was discovered in some sort of quirky position. This stiff, a professional ball player, was found lying in the dirt on a ball field while being bombarded with baseballs spewing from a pitching machine. Ironic? Not for this show. And that’s a good thing.
Before I go any further, I guess I should post the monotonous disclaimer about these Castle “reviews.” These blog posts pertain to police procedure, forensics, and other cop stuff only. I am not reviewing the script, the actor’s capabilities, the wardrobe, Nathan Fillion’s dentist, Stana Katic’s mother’s gardeners, or Joe Torre’s work history with the Dodgers. I don’t know what else I can say to help you understand. I’ve made changes in the blog title. I’ve added the weekly disclaimers. I’ve announced it on many of the writer’s loops. The dead horse is tired of its weekly beatings, and I know I’m tired of delivering them. I’m just saying…
Whew! Now, with that said, off we go…
No cutsey, tongue in cheek delivery this week. Just the straight scoop:
– The M.E. (I like this guy, even though Laney Parrish has finally come around) says the victim was hit in the back of the head, because that’s what the blood spatter indicated. Okay, that was easy enough. But…
If the dead guy had been hit in the back of the head with enough force to kill him, and that would have to be one heck of a swing (I say that because a bad guy once tried to knock my head into left field with a Louisville Slugger, but all it did was knock me out for a few moments. I still managed to cuff the guy while I was in LaLa Land), then how did he land on his back? The force of the hit should have driven the body a bit forward, not backward.
– The M.E. said the guy’s body temp indicated he’d been dead between 2 and 3 hours. We all know that body temp cools at a rate of approximately 1.5 hours in warm weather, a little faster in cooler weather. To know how long this victim had been in baseball heaven, our M.E. of the day would have had to check the core temperature of the body. And how is that done? Yep, either by making an incision just below the rib margin, near the liver, and inserting a thermometer into the liver. Or, he could have inserted a thermometer into the part of the victim’s body nearest home plate—the rectum. Either way, the victim’s clothing would have to be disturbed, undone, etc. This week’s victim was still smartly dressed, with his designer clothing still immaculately intact. Details…
– Beckett said something about blood spatter on the ground along with clear footprints, probably left by the killer. She says, “Get CSU out here.” Why? There’d really be nothing for them to see since Beckett and her partners immediately began walking through that very dirt and blood, contaminating and disturbing the area with their own footprints.
– I liked the exchange between the captain and Castle about Castle’s family history.
Captain – “Sure there aren’t any cops in the Castle family tree?”
Castle – “No, us Castles’s are mostly con artists and circus folks…and mind readers.”
Well, Castle’s description of his family is a perfect description of really good cop. So, good stuff!
– Beckett’s little girl-like star-struck behavior was a little out of character for her tough cop persona. Investigators come into contact with celebrities and other hot shots all the time and it doesn’t really faze them, especially not during the course of an investigation. I wasn’t crazy over this scene. However, I did like the Castle/Torres interaction. That was more like how it would go with a real investigator meeting a celebrity. I remember when I encountered one of the biggest names in TV ever. This was during a major criminal investigation, and when this HUGE name in the business stepped into my office we shook hands and immediately got down to police business. Sure, this person’s outfit was worth more than I made in a year (I know the watch alone cost more than my house at the time), but I didn’t see things that way, and neither do most other cops, especially seasoned ones like Beckett.
– Okay, here’s something that made me sit up and toss my late-night dessert at the TV. One of Beckett’s partners announces a major break in the case—tire impressions. Hoo boy, this was a good one. He said they found tire impressions at the scene, and the impressions were unique—they’d been patched twice.
Holes in tires are normally repaired one of two ways. One – a patch is installed over the hole—ON THE INSIDE OF THE TIRE. That wouldn’t show up in the impression. Two – a rubber plug is inserted and glued into the hole. That would probably show up in a really good impression casting. However, and this is a big however, the detective said that the impression matched an impression from an aggravated assault case that occurred over a year ago. Well, he said all this just a few hours after the discovery of the body, right? Well, for starters, it takes quite a while for crime scene techs or detectives to prepare for the collection of impression evidence. First they finish examining the scene, then they decide where and what to collect. Then they have to mix the dental stone, pour it into the impression, and then let it harden. It takes approximately 30 minutes, or so, before you can even touch the stuff to see if it’s hardened enough for removal. Once it has become firm enough to lift away from the tire track, the mixture should be left alone for 24-48 hours before brushing away dirt and debris. Then the cast is ready for examination and comparison to another track.
– Hooray! The M.E. said he couldn’t tell the height of the killer based on the blow from the baseball bat. Of, course blood spatter would give the approximate position of the head when the trauma was delivered, but who cares. He got it right this time. For months, Laney Parrish has been saying she could tell the killer’s height based on fantasy forensics. Read Doug Lyle’s Forensic For Dummies, people!
– The day after the murder Beckett tells someone to have “uniforms” canvass the neighborhood, asking if area residents had seen anyone in the area. Normally, patrol officers assist with this immediately after the crime while they’re already on the scene. Detectives do the door-knocking in the days afterward. Patrol officers have other things to do, such as patrol.
– Beckett and her fearless crew kick in the apartment door of a murder suspect, sort of. Doors are NOT that easy to kick in. I’ve seen very large officers kick doors and bounce off like they’d struck a trampoline. I’ve also seen an officer kick a door and stick his leg all the way through, but the lock and area around it remained intact, and locked. That’s why we use battering rams and other tools. Nothing worse than kicking and kicking and kicking, but can’t get in. That’s sort of a subtle hint to the folks inside that police officers are in the hallway, and as soon as they figure out how to get inside they’re going to arrest them. It’s not a very effective tactic.
– Beckett found a footprint on the floor and again ordered someone to get CSU over there. Then she walked directly across the area, contaminating it. THEN, she discovered a large splash of blood in the sink (how she knew it was blood, I don’t know). I’m wondering how that much of the victim’s blood got in the sink. Did the killer collect a vial of it so he could pour it in and on various places? This was a dumb one.
– Oh, what was the deal with the pitching machine? It was tossing balls at a dead guy on the ground, yet he was supposedly having a little batting practice before he was killed. The machine would have been pitching the balls in the strike zone, not at his feet. Are we supposed to believe that the killer, the dead guy’s agent (WE all know that agents can be pretty deadly) took the time to adjust the machine after slugging the star in the head? No way. Another fact gone awry.
All in all, this was just an okay episode for me.
What’s up with the sudden interest in Castle’s family history? Why are they talking about his unknown father? Could it be? Could it? Could Rick Castle actually be Beckett’s brother? How cool would that be!
A photo recap:
I finally watched last week’s episode this weekend and finally made it over here to read your review. Whew!
I have to say that I loved it! I would have never thought the body was lying in the wrong direction.
I look forward to reading your critiques this week!
The picture you posted of the media circus prompts a question: could Beckett really do anything about the media camped outside of the Vega house?
I, too, would love for the critiques to continue next season, even if only via email.
I too enjoy your comments…and have started watching with an eye for errors…sometimes I even get it right :o). If you decide to do the critiques on an email list, please include me. I’d hate to think some bad apples will cause you to ‘cease and desist’. :o)
Gordon. You are so right, as usual. I’ve made the change. Thanks!
Elysabeth – The Castle show already has a fine active-duty L.A. detective/author as part of their writing team. However, the last show written by him was the absolute worst of the season for police procedure and forensics. This was the episode where Beckett snacked on a glob of heroin.
Hey, Castle and Beckett could be related. Just because she had his books doesn’t mean anything. That could be due to a genetic similarity in taste.
I’m posting this for Gordon Kessler. His message went to the wrong spot. I guess I need to give the fine tuning dial a little twist.
Gordon said – One question: when you said “approximately 1.5 hours in warm weather, a little slower in cooler weather” didn’t you mean that the blood would cool a little “faster” in cooler weather?
Lee, have you ever thought of consulting with the writers of the show? Giving them more insight into what needs to be done make it more realistic. I know there are some times I watch a show and shake my head (and I’m not really into police procedurals or murder mysteries as far as my writing goes) thinking that is so far from believable that I tune out the show other than having it on for noise’s sake. It seems if Michael Crighton could consult with medical experts to write his shows, then shows like Castle and other police type shows would consult with someone like you. I’m sure other shows have consulted with experts in the police and forensics area (Law & Order, et cetera) so it seems to reason that Castle could consult with an expert too.
No, they can’t be related – lol the attraction is too strong for that. And Beckett was already an avid fan of his before he really showed up to shadow her – She had every one of his books (first episode where they were looking at copycat killings based on is books) –
I enjoy your reviews and see them as they are – so hopefully if you go to email lists for the reviews, I will be included on the list – lol. Thanks for posting – E 🙂
Lee (Smith) – I was kidding about brother/sister thing. But you never know…
Hey, I don’t catch everything. That’s part of the fun in doing this stuff. Like the comment by tudza above. I didn’t catch the multiple blows to the head. And that’s an important detail.
tudza – I didn’t catch the “multiple times” comment when I first watched the show. You’re right, that would definitely do the trick. But it still stands that a blow to the head rarely causes death, especially instant death.
Now there’s a new problem with the scene – the blood spatter referred to by the M.E. He stated that the spatter indicated multiple blows. Well, to begin with that would be a little difficult to tell just by looking. But, he indicated with an arm wave toward arm plate, which was several feet away, that blood had sprayed some distance, in one direction. If indeed the killer had struck the victim once in the head (remember, he was on his knees when struck) then he would have fallen to the ground where the rest of the blows would have been delivered. The spatter patterns would change at that point because the direction of the strikes would have changed. The patterns would also be much different due to the new positioning of the victim’s head. There were no visible injuries to face and side of the head.
To get an idea of just how much force it takes to cause blood spatter from blunt force head trauma, check out this site. WARNING – This is not for the weak-stomached-faint-of-heart folks!
By the way, I’m not made of sterner stuff. This is true for every person.
It doesn’t matter that Torres was not involved in the crime. Beckett was still there in an official capacity. Her character is too much a cop’s cop to act like a little kid. Cops are trained to keep their cool under pressure, and that’s what they do when pressure arrives. They revert to their training. After all is said and done, now that’s a different story, but not “in the moment.”
The secret of killing with a baseball bat appears to be using it on the head multiple times. Your ME guy said multiple times at the scene, I have no idea if he could tell there or not, but he also said multiple times back at the lab. Small strokes fell big oaks it seems.
We have one person here who says he got knocked out on the first hit, so our criminal would be free to belabour his body as he saw fit. Mr Lofland would have spoiled the whole show, being made of sterner stuff, although there was mention of a strike to the family jewels before the first strike to the head.
The pitching machine was okay. We are given no idea how long it was between the first sight of it going and when the police arrived and it was empty when they arrived, but yeah, it was pitching way low.
That loan shark hands some guy $200K and has *two* plugs in his tires? Cheap!
Torres wasn’t a suspect or part of the investigation in any way was he? I may have missed something there, but if not maybe this was her being a real person when not on the job. If he was a witness giving a statement, bet she’d act like she didn’t know him from Adam’s off ox.
I enjoy the show and your reviews. My husband and I always watch and although I’m not the expert you are, I was able to catch some of the mistakes. It’s obvious they couldn’t get results that quickly, and the tire patching seemed suspect to me as well. I always cringe at the lack of gloves, walking all over crime scenes like you talked about and how they seem to have Mary Poppins working in their lab. Their results come back every time she snaps her fingers. ;o)
As for Castle & Beckett being related, I don’t think they would write that one in. There is too much good that comes from the chemistry between them. You don’t really want them to get married and settle down (think Moonlighting) but you do want them to keep feeling the static electricity whenever they rub up against one another.
Thanks for helping to educate all of us in such an entertaining way. Stay safe.
No freaking way. They are not related. I was sort of wondering if maybe Joe Torre is Castle’s old man. After all, he knows Martha. lol In an interview with TV Guide this week, Stana said the story about Castle’s father will come up again at a later date, but indicated it might not be this season. Who knows? I love this show, even though the forensics sometimes suck, but this was just a so-so episode for me. I believe it’s a filler. Better stuff is to come after the Olympics.
Thanks for another great review, Lee.
Reading these is really teaching me to look for mistakes. I caught the tires and the baseball machine, but not the blood spatter this time.
Keep up the good work and if you decided to go with that e-mail list for the blog, please make sure I’m on it.
I read of photographic methods for taking tire mark evidence, so maybe they didn’t take a casting, but those processes didn’t sound magically fast either.
I think my question about tires is a little muddled. There are of course systems for telling you what type of tire matches a particular tread pattern. I ran across the name of the one DoJ uses or used at some point, Treadmate. None of that is surprising, even Sherlock Holmes had his collection of bicycle tire track samples.
What I was really interested in was how they might match one set of tread marks from one crime scene to another since Treadmate doesn’t seem built for that particular type of job. I can imagine any number of methods but the most likely would be a key word search on case files. You get the information from the department that looks up the make of the tire from the tread marks found and enter it into your case file, maybe it helps you maybe it helps someone else.
Divine providence must have been with them with regards to this person having the same patch after a year or more and that patch showing both times. Those plug patches are only the width of a pencil at most and you aren’t supposed to drive on them forever. I did in my 1976 Volvo, but I was poor then.
Another good post, Lee. It’s too bad you have to go into such a detailed disclaimer. It seems to me if someone doesn’t like the reviews, they shouldn’t read them. My response to them is: Get a life!
Hi Nancy. Now that’s an idea. Maybe I should do the entire blog that way??
I love your Castle reviews. I’ve learned a lot from reading them. I completely understand your frustration with the people harrassing you, I’d be ticked off too!
Still, I was wondering if, instead of stopping the reviews completely, you might be willing to switch from posting them on your blog to sending them out to an email subscriber list. That way they would go only to people you know would appreciate them.
Sounds like they went too far with the tire track business. I think the best they could say would be that if they ever did find the vehicle involved it would be easier than usual to show that it was *the* vehicle and not one with tires just like a bazillion others.
The match to a previous case a year ago has me puzzled. Is there an automatic system for storing, retrieving, and matching tire tread impressions? If not, you would have to add to the amount of time you already quote for making the impression the time required to find this match, and it would seem to me that would take a very long time.
Les – Maybe these lumps on our heads explain our goofy behavior.
You’re absolutely correct. Cops do not stand in front of doors when they’re waiting to enter a building, or while waiting for someone to answer a knock or doorbell. They stand to the side, not that doing so offers any more protection (maybe a little due to the placement of several 2×4’s at the door jambs). However, a wooden door does not offer a bit of protection. Any round, not just a high-powered one, will pass through those thin panels.
Great analysis, Lee! I fully agree about the baseball bat. I was hit in the back of the head with full force with a bat and it knocked me out, but (don’t think…) didn’t kill me or come close to it. This vic must have an egg-thin skull.
One thing that bothers me about breaking down doors, is something entirely different. I see movie after movie, TV show after TV show, where the cop is standing smack in front of the door, either knocking on it or getting ready to break it down. In my experience, when there’s a possibility a bad guy might be inside, the last place a cop will stand is directly in front of it. Seems like he’s kind of asking to be shot if the guy behind the door has any kind of high-powered gun. Are there policemen or women anywhere who would stand directly in front of a door? As for breaking it down, kicking a door is pretty much guaranteed to result in broken foot bones or worse.
Good stuff, as usual.
Enjoyed your analysis of this segment. (I think I have it taped to be viewed). Now, I’ll take a closer look. Thanks.
I find your analysis refreshing and insightful. I’m glad you post it each week.
Teresa – Perhaps Beckett has a can of Incest Repellent in her bag of crime scene tools…
Great post, Lee. I haven’t watched it yet [love that DVR] but now know what to look for.
I suppose as a mystery writer and reader I should pay more attention to the process of the characters, but as I write for the short people between the ages of oh, 8-14 I am much more interested in the relationships and how they play out, along with the banter between characters.
Personally, I hope they aren’t related. The tension is too much fun to watch,
Thanks, Michael and Lisa.
Good detecting, Lisa. I didn’t catch the amount of baseballs it would take to run a pitching machine for two or three hours!
I’m not sure they were talking about impressions in the roadway. I thought Beckett was referring to a blood trail.
Ditto what Michael said. 🙂
The other thing about the tire impressions that niggled at me – I think someone said that the blood print ended at the edge of a sidewalk, so my assumption is a paved road – can’t get an impression from a road, right?
And when Castle remarked about a ring for the left ring finger – I couldn’t figure out how he knew it was a left-handed ring, but then I realized they can design rings where one image is always toward the inside of the hand. But, still, that means Castle really knew what that ring looked like up close so that he knew the images were switched and it was a left hand ring.
With the baseball machine…I thought it was strange (1) that the balls were hitting the corpse, like you mention and (2) that if the guy had been dead for 2 or more hours, that it is one juiced up machine to have enough balls to spew out every 30 seconds or so for that amount of time…and that’s a lot of baseballs!
Castle and Beckett being related, wouldn’t that be funny? 🙂
Thanks for the great post, Lee!
As always, an excellent analysis of the police procedure. Thanks!