Castle: The Blue Butterfly – A Review And Recap

Castle: The Blue Butterfly

Week after week we pick apart this show, pointing out errors in the police procedure and forensics, an effort to assist writers who use this site as a research tool for their work. And I have to admit that writing the reviews and recaps are kind of fun, as is playing bad cop to Melanie Atkins’ good cop.

This week, though, the police stuff took a back seat to a lot of fun and some pretty good acting (with the exception of what I think were supposed to be southern accents). But I reckon only folks from our bend in the road’ll know what ah’m speakin’ of. I mean, you do know that the reignin’ butter queen, “Hey, y’all” Paula Deen, is from here, right? And, her brother owns a restaurant just a hoot ana’ holler from my house and, we almost purchased a home—backyard-to-backyard—next to the home of Paula’s (former) publicist. Yes, I’m talkin’ grits and red eye gravy southern. So again, trust me, the accents were a little off…y’all.

But the episode was far from off. Sure, Lanie…no, wait a minute, we’ll talk about Lanie in a bit. First, let’s call in our resident Castle expert to give us the scoop on the mushy stuff (shhh…keep this to yourselves, but I’ll bet a dollar to a doughnut that Melanie couldn’t sleep last night thinking about what happened at the end of the show…yeah, you guys (y’all) know what I’m talking about…

Melanie…you up yet? (As if she’s been to bed. Girl’s got a serious case of Castle-itis, if you ask me. All goo-goo-eyed and such).

Melanie Atkins

I have to admit that I cheated and watched the sneak previews of this episode, including the first ten minutes, a week early, thanks to the many Castle spoilers on the Internet. I was entranced and couldn’t wait until tonight so I could see the whole show. I wasn’t disappointed.

What a fun mixture of past and present! The story starts when an old journal is unearthed while our dynamic duo investigate the murder of a man named Stan found in a building that once housed the Pennybaker Club, a notorious nightclub at its heyday in the 1940’s. Enthralled with the journal, Rick takes it home to read and becomes immersed in the story of a hard boiled P.I., a gangster’s moll, and an intriguing mystery surrounding a beautiful piece of jewelry — The Blue Butterfly, a pricey necklace last seen in 1947.

The story is told in flashbacks via Castle’s vivid imagination, with him staring as Joe the private eye, Kate as Vera, the gangster’s moll, Martha as the PI’s secretary, Alexis as Sally, the naive farm girl who hires the P.I., Lanie as a torch singer with a smoky voice, and Ryan and Esposito as the gangster’s goons (with really great accents). What fun!

Vera and Joe fall in love, and that is nearly their downfall. Kate and Rick soon learn the two lovers were murdered… and that their 1947 murders are tied to the present day crime. Stan is really a treasure hunter searching for The Blue Butterfly. The necklace disappeared the night Vera and Joe were found dead in a burned out car in an alley behind the Pennybaker Club, and no one has seen it since. Several red herrings throw our crime solvers off the killer’s trail, until they finally figure out that Vera was not in the car after all way back then… and neither was Joe.

In fact, Vera and Joe are still alive today under assumed names — bartender Jerry and Viola Maddox — and their caregiver’s mother apparently sold Stan Joe’s diary, basically giving him a map to The Blue Butterfly. Only, the caregiver wanted the necklace for himself, so he waited for Stan to find the necklace, killed him, and took The Blue Butterfly. I didn’t see that one coming. Kate arrests the man and finds the necklace, which turns out to be a fake.

One case solved. But Rick and Kate want to know what really happened in 1947. How did Vera and Joe escape? And where is the real Blue Butterfly? Turns out Sally wasn’t really a naive farm girl after all.

No, she was a woman out for revenge against Vera because her boyfriend the gangster killed Sarah’s sister. And when Vera and Joe sneaked out of the club into the alley to make their escape, Sarah and her husband confronted them. Joe and Vera supposedly killed the other couple in self defense, ran away (not very far, it seems), and changed their names. They married and had four children, seven grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren… treasures worth much more to them than diamonds or gold, so they never went back for the necklace Joe hid behind a brick in the wall of the club. Yes… The Blue Butterfly.

At the end of the tale, Joe and Vera kiss and use Kate and Rick’s special word: Always… just before the words The End appear on screen, along with a picture of The Blue Butterfly, in typical ’40’s movie fashion. We never learn if it turned up or not. Hmmm…

Still, the story, the costumes, the quaint little touches… all in all, I thought this was a great episode. And I have to wonder if Vera and Joe’s happiness is a portent of things to come for Rick and Kate. A truly great love story.

Lee Lofland

Yeah, yeah, yeah. Okay, let’s come back down to earth now. Sure, the show was really good this week, and there was “the kiss” at the end, but that didn’t stop Voodoo Lanie from telling us the murder victim died of a GSW (gunshot wound) to the sternum.

Now that’s a pretty good field diagnosis since she came to that conclusion while looking at the guy fully-clothed, face up. How did she know there wasn’t a suitcase-size hole in his back. Or, maybe the rear of his skull was missing and one of her voodoo buddies took his brain to the root doctor to add as an ingredient in a new medicine bag. Besides, saying the wound was to the sternum was pretty site-specific.

The sternum (breastbone) is a bone, and a wound to it alone wouldn’t cause death. It would certainly hurt like all get out, but death…probably not (although the trauma of the impact alone could stop the heart). At autopsy, Lanie could learn that the round struck and passed through the sternum, striking the heart or lungs. Now that sort of wound could certainly turn out the guy’s lights for good.

Lanie’s Nostradamus-esque time of death prediction was based on something she grabbed out of thin air. BUT none of this is what Lanie was about this week.

Yes, she just may be the absolute worst TV medical examiner of all time (in her defense, she can only say what’s written for her), but Lanie…girl…where’d you get those pipes? Yes, the woman can definitely sing! And she looked spectacular in that dress and, well, there’s nothing else to say but…she was really good. As they say, I’d buy the record.

The criminal case this week was just plain fun. I had a difficult time, no, that’s not quite the right terminology. I was enjoying the show so much I didn’t want to take the time to search for improper police procedure. But I did notice:

– Remember when the two mobster bodyguards tossed Joe into the alley? Well, Joe placed his hand on the wall and “accidentally” pulled off a loose brick. Now, please tell me that all of you noticed this and knew that something was either hidden inside the hole or, that the hole would play a major part in the story. You do know, though, that behind exterior bricks is the exterior (plywood sheathing, etc.) of the building. Bricks are tied to the house, there, so they don’t fall down. So that part was a little shaky as far as realism goes.

– Ballistics matched the .38 used in a 1947 double homicide. Turns out the two victims burned up in a car fire. Would an autopsy have performed on the fire victims back in the late 40’s? That would require a little research, but the point isn’t all that important unless you’re writing historical fiction. And even then, you’re writing fiction, so make it fit your story.

I just read a comment on a writing loop stating that autopsies aren’t conducted on most car accident victims. Maybe not in many places, but you’ll still need to do your homework because I know of one coroner’s office out there that performs autopsies on every victim killed in car crashes. Not just the suspicious ones…every single victim killed in an automobile crash receives an autopsy.

– Ryan and Espo interview a homeless, street-person guy who’s obviously not “all there.” Nothing unusual about the interview until the guy used the word pretentious when providing an answer to one of her questions. Something like, “The guy gave me $400 to move on. I didn’t like him because he was pretentious.” Now I’ve interviewed a lot of bums. And I’ve handed out a dollar or two to the homeless. And I’ve arrested my share of those shopping-cart-pushing fellows, but never once have I heard one use the word pretentious, or anything close. A**hole, SOB, etc., sure, but pretentious? Not that it can’t happen, it just seemed so out of place after hearing this guy’s other statements.

Once again, the show let us down, big time—yes, even this episode—by springing an unknown killer on us at the last minute. No clues, no introduction to the character, nothing other than a brief, almost non-existent passing glimpse in an earlier scene.

All of a sudden he shows up in the final few minutes. Very disappointing, especially in what was one of the most fun episodes to date.

Oh, and Beckett didn’t pursue the homicides of the two 1947 victims, after hearing the killers confess? Hmm…

But, any negativity was quickly overshadowed by the last scene when Vera said, “Tell me you love me, Joe.”

And then…

Yep, this one was truly a “happily ever after” story…y’all.

32 replies
  1. Nora
    Nora says:

    Hey, you’re from my neck o’ the woods! Jawjah. And yeah, the accents were grating. But then again, most people can’t pull off a fake southern accent if their lives depended on it. Unless their name is Vivien Leigh.

  2. Sally Carpenter
    Sally Carpenter says:

    Great Scott! The necklace auction is up to 60 bids at $3,000 and the bidding isn’t over. That’s a pricey piece of ice–and it isn’t even real. I wonder how much fans would pay for a lunch with the “Castle” show stars?

  3. Melanie Atkins
    Melanie Atkins says:

    Well, I hate that I got Sally’s name wrong, but Lee is right. It was late, after the show aired, when I wrote that blog. I’m in Central Time, and I get up early, so I was beat by that time of night. I was lucky to be able to string a sentence together. lol

    I’ll try to do better next time.

  4. ~Tim
    ~Tim says:

    I really enjoyed seeing the actors play the 1947 characters in this, but the “mystery” behind the crimes was too full of holes and improbabilities. Many of those are in your post and in previous comments.

    Here’s what bugs me the most: If Stan was retrieving the necklace from behind a brick in the alley, why did he go into the club at all? Yet Bellasco claimed he saw Stan enter the club and go downstairs and when Stan came back up he was holding the necklace. (And, conveniently, it was just at that moment that the killer managed to sneak up on Bellasco and knock him out with chloroform.) Wouldn’t Stan just go into the alley from the street? And if Stan had gotten the necklace from behind the brick, what did he need the steel bar for?

    Some have speculated that Stan actually got the fake from the hidden safe, but there are problems with that too. If he came to break into a safe, why did he use a steel bar that he found at the scene (which, conveniently had been ripped from a window in the office and would not have opened the safe anyway) rather than bring safe-cracking equipment with him? (And are we really supposed to believe that no one else broke into the safe in the last 65 years? That none of the other mobsters knew or figured out that there was another safe when it was apparently common practice to have one?) And why did Stan carry the steel bar upstairs after finding the necklace? AND if Joe had told Stan the necklace was in the hidden safe, why would he tell Castle and Beckett it was behind the brick? Why not tell them the same lie he had told Stan?

    Oh well, the music was great. And they kissed. So, there’s that….

  5. Sally Carpenter
    Sally Carpenter says:

    Castle as a ’40s PI and Beckett as a moll–both of them smokin’ hot! I would have loved more scenes of the noir story. Cutting back to modern day was too jarring.
    What’s up with the silly pseudo-Southern accents? The show is set in the Big Apple, not the Big Easy.
    Did anyone notice Ryan’s silver wedding band? Apparently he went through with the wedding ceremony even if the viewers didn’t get to see it. But why isn’t he off on a honeymoon? And none of the regulars have made any comments like “how’s married life treating you?” I’d expect some ribbing from Esposito at least.
    Some nice acting from Alexis as she played a “grown up.”
    Lots of fun in the episode except the writers try to cram too much into 40 minutes and the show zipped by so fast I lost track of who’s who. No wonder Beckett needs the white board to keep track of the players.
    Still, loved the ending. A two-parter next week? I hope Castle isn’t going to rip out bomb wires again.

  6. Lee Lofland
    Lee Lofland says:

    Good point about the club, Dave.

    You’re right about the strap anchors, Dave (my family has been in the construction business since long before I was born), but there’s no deep, dark, black hole behind the brick. And there’s certainly no convenient compartment back there. It’s a straight drop to the ground with the exception of mortar that’s clumped up behind the joints and, of “course,” the straps that extend from the joints between the brick to the framing/wall behind.

    I don’t attempt to detail every single aspect of every answer because most people aren’t familiar with things such as construction material. I simply try to keep things…well, simple. But thanks for the explanation you provided. That’s why we’re here and that’s why we do the blog, to help writers understand what it’s like in the real world. Good details.

    By the way, thanks for the reminder that I need to repair a couple of loose bricks on our fireplace, another project that came with buying a foreclosure (10 down…100 to go).

  7. Dave
    Dave says:

    Just two things I noticed:
    I found it hard to believe that the Pennybaker Club had been vacant and apparently untouched for alost 60 years. I would think at least one other business would have opened in that spot since then or someone would have bought the building and demolished it.

    The loose brick, on the other hand,is entirely believable. Bricks are tied to a building using thin metal strips that are nailed into the plywood backing and embedded in the mortar between courses, not to the bricks themselves. Even if they were attached to the bricks, they wouldn’t be used on every one, just several on each course. If you don’t belive me about loose bricks, come to my house and see all the loose ones I have.

  8. MigalouchUD
    MigalouchUD says:

    Tamala was almost assuredly lip synching the singing part. Getting the recording that well, with such a far back shot, and such high quality voice would be almost impossible. This of course doesn’t mention that they probably didn’t want the background noise of all those extras in the room milling about.

    She really sang it, but probably in a studio and then she lipped it and they played the audio over her lipping in the final cut. Fairly common for parts like that and every once in awhile you notice a wierd sounding line, its because they had the actor do it over and then synched it over because the line was originally hard to hear.

    So ya it was probably lipped but simply for audio purposes. She still sang it.

  9. Ning
    Ning says:

    Typos from previous comment: “I feel in love with it because of the quirky*”

    Also, as to the question of The Blue Butterfly, my interpretation is that there is no real Blue Butterfly with diamonds costing a million dollars in the first place. At the end of the episode, Beckett asks Castle, “Do you think we should tell them about The Blue Butterfly?” I think this means that The Blue Butterfly was a fake to begin with, and none of them realised it.

  10. Ning
    Ning says:

    Hi Lee and Melanie! I’m a tremendous fan of the show and I fell in love with it because of its the quirky and often unpredictable cases in Seasons 1 and 2. In my opinion, the cases on the show have definitely paled in comparison to its earlier work, but the dynamic between Castle and Beckett continue to capture my interest. So, I guess I’m a shipper who watches the show for reasons that Melanie does. But after every episode, I come here to check out the accuracy of the police work on the show. I love your reviews so much, and I continue to love the show despite its inaccuracies. I sincerely hope the fans who send you hate mail for doing this understand that your reviews are not an attack on the show. I do wonder if any of the Castle writers have read your reviews, though.

    Anyway, I’m just dropping by to add on to what Melanie said about Vera and Joe’s happiness foreshadowing Castle and Beckett’s journey. I think this is absolutely true! And the loveliest thing the Castle writers have done is that – if you realise, the last scene of Vera and Joe kissing and the ‘Always’ happened after C and B left the apartment. So I think we can conclude that this scene is what C and B are writing for Vera and Joe. In fact, the fact that Joe used ‘Always’, a signature C/B gesture, seems to tie back to the fact that this vision is definitely Kate and Rick’s imaginations colliding. The Castle writers are so subtle in all of these, but it’s so absolutely lovely!

    Keep the reviews coming!

    This is coming from a 21-year-old girl who lives in Singapore. ;D

  11. Lee Lofland
    Lee Lofland says:

    Thanks for keeping me in line, b. dutton. Got really late really fast last night. Hey, you do know why we do the nitpicking, right?

    Anyway, I’ll make the changes. Thanks for stopping by.

    Oh, what’d you think of the episode?

  12. b.dutton
    b.dutton says:

    You know, if you’re going to nitpick the episode, you should at least get details right in your review.

    A. Molly Quinn’s noir character was named Sally, not Sarah.
    B. It was Ryan and Esposito, not Beckett, who interviewed the homeless man.
    C. Frank, the man who killed Stan, was shown when Beckett and Castle first interviewed Joe Flynn a.k.a. Jerry Maddox, the bartender.

  13. Janet Brigham
    Janet Brigham says:

    Still looks like she’s lip-syncing to me — syncing doesn’t mean it isn’t her voice, just that it was mixed later with a studio-quality recording. I doubt it’s that unusual. The music’s sound quality showed the musicians’ abilities to advantage, so that’s a nice way to display her first public singing.

  14. jrabbit
    jrabbit says:

    The “noir” story was set in 1947 – so using my fingers and toes (multiple times) I get that the “murders” occurred 65 or 66 years ago (and I get that there’s no statute of limitations on murder. Only Nazi’s are tried these days that far after the fact. And this is not the 2nd time that Beckett has let someone off because of reasonable doubt. Ann (Hastings) in HEROS was let off for reasonable doubt (face hidden under the mask) along with the Captain Montgomery story.

    Like I said on there was not the stereotypical “bad cop” that was working for the mobster – Gates doesn’t fit the mold of overweight, white guy – so no role for her in this episode.

    Costuming and Music were also very good. I loved how Kate became enchanted by Rick’s story telling.

  15. Leslie Budewitz
    Leslie Budewitz says:

    Katarzyna, the problem is Kate made that decision herself — and it rightly belongs first to the prosecutor, and if he or she chooses to prosecute, then to the jury. She decided herself that they were telling the truth, without going through the truth-proofing process. I’m okay with it, though, for the sake of the story.

  16. Katarzyna
    Katarzyna says:

    Joe, they weren’t “killers”. Sally accidentally shot her husband and it was totally self-defense when she was killed while fighting with Vera. So, completely NO REASON to arrest any of them. Kate did the right thing.

  17. Leslie Budewitz
    Leslie Budewitz says:

    Loved the show! Pure fun — campy and kitschy right down to the costumes and the fake Blue Butterfly. (Although I share others’ thoughts about the killer from nowhere — play fair and give us some kind of hint early on….)

  18. Wendy Dingwall
    Wendy Dingwall says:

    I enjoyed most of the show, but was disappointed when the killer came out of left-field so to speak. Seems like a show about novelists would know better than to do that. Ugh!

  19. weroiu
    weroiu says:

    Tamala Jones’s singing was amazing. WANT THE SOUNDTRACK to this episode.

    My read on it was that Joe and Vera told the victim where the blue butterfly was and had always been, that he retrieved it and was killed then. So the only blue butterfly was fake.

    EXCEPT, we’d established earlier that he’d been in the basement (where he got the metal rod he defended himself with) and that the hidden safe had been recently exposed and opened. Plot hole? I suppose the safe had really been opened by the desperate celebrity treasure hunter, searching for the Blue Butterfly, before the victim retrieved if from the alley.


    Gangster Dempsey, hiding the humiliation of losing it, had a fake made. Joe and Vera revealed only the secret safe (and the fake’s) location. The real butterfly is still behind the brick.

    Lee’s right: Kate letting murderers off is very uncharacteristic. She may be concerned that the 50 year old cold case won’t be winnable in court– the claim of self-defense will make for reasonable doubt. Also, Beckett seems to believe their story, so maybe she considers it self-defense. I agree that the grandpa in “A Chill Runs Through Her Veins” got a raw deal if Beckett’s suddenly handing out pardons on her own authority.

    Finally, despite the promos, no sign of Gates in either story. That’s sad.

  20. Lee Lofland
    Lee Lofland says:

    I thought, Melanie, that the ONLY butterfly was a fake (fake all along). At least that’s the impression they gave at the end.

    Yes, I read an interview with Tamala Jones (Lanie) where she stated that this was her public singing debut, having only previously belted out tunes in the shower and in her car. I thought her voice was quite nice.

  21. Melanie Atkins
    Melanie Atkins says:

    Pryce, that wasn’t the real Blue Butterfly. It was a fake.

    And about Lanie’s singing… according to Andrew Marlowe, the show’s creator and the brains behind each episode, she actually did sing — that was her smoky voice. So no lip syncing, unlike Madonna at the Super Bowl.

  22. Pryce M. Jones
    Pryce M. Jones says:

    One question I have: the blue butterfly was found in the safe, at least this was my understanding from the show. How did it get in the safe if Joe and Vera put it behind the brick?

  23. Janet Brigham
    Janet Brigham says:

    Fun episode, right down to the stylized music at the break. It looked like Lanie-as-singer might be doing a lip-sync, but sync or not, the singing was super.

    Joe and Vera didn’t look like people who needed (or could afford) a personal attendant, since they cooked for themselves, were ambulatory, and didn’t have dementia — so that plot detail was purty thin, as Lee might say. But it was a fun romp overall. And the clothes, particularly Castle’s coat in the opening scenes, were to die for.

  24. MigalouchUD
    MigalouchUD says:

    Another great analysis of the episode Lee. One thing I noted was what you touched about Beckett not following up on the 1947 murderers. This is the second time she has decided to conceal the identity of a murderer with the first being Montgomery.

    This is a far cry from the character that sated, “That’s the difference between a novel and the real world, Castle. A cop doesn’t get to decide how the story ends.” in the fifth episode of the series “A Chill Goes Through Her Veins.”

    Great analysis this week and one quick question, was what Beckett said about ballistics going back to the 1920s true? I would take it for fact but with this show, well they tend to get the details wrong more times than right so I don’t tend to believe everything they say.

    Great job and definitely a fun episode this week!

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