Castle: The Double Down – A Review (of the police procedure)

*This week’s show was a repeat of an earlier broadcast.

Let’s just skip the preliminary fluff and get down to business. After watching this episode I’m in no mood for making nice.

The title of this week’s episode is Double Down. Perhaps the network should have opted for calling it Double Trouble. We’ll get into the reasons why in a second. First, I have to say the comedic aspect of the show was in overdrive. I have to wonder, though, if they have a new writer because this episode was unlike any other. I’m not saying the show was better or worse than usual, just different. Maybe even a little odd. But it was what is was – a bit of a disappointment for me. (Remember, this is a repeat. Lately, the M.E. character has been pretty good. I’m really enjoying her new-found wit. I hope it lasts).

The Highs and Lows (Remember, this is a review of the police procedure and a little of the forensics, not the overall show. I’m a big fan of Castle and Beckett. Great chemistry. Even the supporting cast is pretty doggone good. Well, with the exception of one cast member who insists upon spouting off BS forensic material. Maybe she’s just reading her lines, I don’t know. But if I were her, I’d certainly want to at least be as good as everyone else on the show. I did read an interview where she stated the show has a medical examiner as a consultant, a real M.E. who offered to show her around a real morgue. She refused the offer, but who could blame her? I’ve attended many autopsies and not one has been a pleasant experience. Still, do they not listen to their experts? Anyway, here goes. Double Trouble…I mean Double Down.

– Castle mentions the craziness that comes with a full moon. Most cops, ER personnel, and other creatures who work the graveyard shift will nod their heads in agreement with that sentiment. Trouble follows a full moon, and weird calls normally come in during those times. Good stuff.

– The full moon scene was a little over the top, with cops wrestling crazies whose clothing seemed to come off quite easily during the commotion. At one point a new female detective, Roselyn Karpowski (she played a good part in this show), landed on Beckett’s desk, on top of a struggling suspect. While there she spoke to Beckett in a calm, easy tone. I know this was way over the top, but cops are so used to fighting, tussling, wrestling, handcuffing, Tasering, etc., that it is just a matter-of-fact occurrence to be in the middle of a big brawl. So good stuff, here. Take this one to the bank. Cops don’t get excited easily when faced with danger. After it’s over, maybe. But when it’s happening they’re right there, toe-to-toe with the best of them.

– The medical examiner working a homicide in a cocktail dress???? No way. Even if she didn’t have time to change she’d have put on a lab coat or other protective clothing. I should not have complimented her last week, because it all went downhill from this really low spot in her night. Geez… I actually felt bad for her. But, as they say on American Idol when the train wreck happens…She looked fantastic.

– Becket told the M.E. to check for fibers and hair. Hmm…I don’t know a single M.E. who’d have to be told that. Nor do I know one who’d take orders from a detective. However, I’m sure Beckett felt she needed to guide this one through the hoops.

– This isn’t procedure, but I had a nice chuckle when Castle said, “The person who killed her also killed the English language.” Those aren’t exactly his words, but you get the idea.

– There was a new coroner at one of the crime scenes. He was very believable, in this scene. But it didn’t last. More in a second.

– Loved the coroner’s “Looky-loo” comment. That’s a nickname used by cops for the people who find it entertaining to observe crime scenes, car accidents, and train wrecks. Again the coroner’s character is pretty good up to this point.

– The betting scenes in the show were very distracting for me. It was cute, but I think they went way overboard with it.

– Okay, here’s where I wanted to kick the TV screen, shout four letter words, and flush the remote down the toilet (after turning off the show).

The two pathologists, the M.E. and the coroner (I’m still not sure why they have one of each. Is it like that in NYC? Dr. Jonathan Hayes, are you out there?), made the announcement that they’d found a diatom on the victim’s bodies that was specific to a single body of water, but they didn’t know where that body of water was located. WHAT???

How in the world could they say the diatom was specific to place they couldn’t identify. If they couldn’t identify the place, then how could they say the diatom is specific to that place?

Hmm…If they knew the diatom could have come from only one place in the world then they must know where that place is. Otherwise, they’d found something, but don’t know where the heck it came from.

Where’s Charlie Brown when you need him?

Wait, I think I know the name of the place. It’s called Conundrum. You know the place. It’s next to Missing, that mythical place where people go when no one can find them. Yeah, once you leave the Conundrum city limits, take a right, drive 6 miles, and you’re there. You’ll see the billboard as you approach. It reads,

Missing, It’s A Happening Place

Population –  Unlimited

Mayor – J. Hoffa

People don’t GO missing, do they? You go to the store, you go to the movies, and you go bowling, right? But aren’t people you can’t kind simply missing? I mean, they aren’t just hanging out in some place called Missing that’s geographically located in the next county over from Purgatory. Or are they? Anyway, we’ve got bigger problems in this episode of Castle. Back to the diatoms…

Doggone it. You can’t discover something that’s only found in one place on earth if you haven’t discovered that place. It’s 2am right now and this crazy-making stuff is really frying my brain.

Oh, it gets worse.

– This started when the M.E. stated a forensic detail popped up during autopsy. That detail was locating the precious missing-link diatom (A cubic inch of diatomite contains millions of diatom fistulas. In other words, they’re pretty darn tiny. A really large one can be as big as a half-millimeter). To begin with, a medical examiner would have to be searching specifically for a diatom during autopsy to have found one, or even a hundred of them. This is not part of a normal autopsy. And so what if they did? What would that mean? That someone was near a river, the ocean, a pond, a mud puddle, damp places, or close to some soil? Yes, diatoms can be found in common soil!

Next, who would have identified this wacky organism in the morgue? Would the pathologist automatically know this as part of their medical training?

Oh, we’re really rolling downhill now…

The medical examiner informs Beckett that the victims had to have come in direct contact with this one of kind water in order for the diatom to have been on the body. Triple hogwash! Water evaporates. How did she know where the diatom came from? How did she know it wasn’t transferred from another person, or in the mist in the air?  Man, I’m really aiming the remote at the toilet now. What, perhaps I shouldn’t do that. Might be a rare diatom in there.

Castle suggests the water came from an aquarium in the victim’s office. Okay, he’s a layperson feeding off the garbage being tossed to him by the “pros.” Now the coroner adds his two cents to this bizarre scene. He says the diatoms were dispersed into the room by the aquarium pump and anyone in the room would be contaminated with the little fellers. What? Is it like a rain forest in that office? Just shoot me with a water pistol filled with poisonous diatoms. Do it now! End this madness.

Back to the diatoms in a minute.

– Beckett and crew (By the way, the two detectives are much improved this season) pull into an alley to serve a search warrant. Good idea, but sliding patrol cars sideways into an alley with flashing red and blue lights isn’t a good way to sneak up on someone. The bad guys would probably toss the evidence before you could say “diatom.”

– During the car sliding/red and blue light fiasco a bunch of street kids are heard yelling Five-0. This is good. That’s what the real hoodlums say when cops roll into the hood. Sometimes you can even hear them whistling as a signal that cops are approaching – a guy on the first block whistles, then a guy on the next block hears it and relays the same whistle, and then the next guy down the line does the same, and so on.

– If the detective holding the shotgun in this scene had been forced to shoot during the raid, I don’t believe he’d have been able to hold on to his weapon. A shotgun has quite a bit of recoil, so it’s best to hold the butt of the gun against your shoulder when ready to fire. He was holding his shotgun like you see the SWAT guys or soldiers carry their automatic weapons. Different animals entirely. Author Melanie Atkins tells me that Esposito is a former soldier, which explains this scenario.

– Back to the dreaded diatom. As it turns out, the thing came from the Hudson River. Yeah, that Hudson. The body of water that’s never been discovered according to the M.E. The Hudson that New Yorkers are exposed to every single day of their lives. This is the mysterious body of water that could only contain this special diatom. Nay, Nay. The Hudson River is connected to:

* Opalescent Brook
* Cedar River
* Indian River
* Boreas River
* Schroon River
* Sacandaga River
* Mill Creek
* Battenkill River
* Hoosic River
* Mohawk River
* Normans Kill
* Catskill Creek
* Esopus Creek
* Rondout Creek
* Roeliff-Jansen Kill
* Crum Elbow Creek
* Wappingers Creek
* Fishkill Creek
* Moodna Creek
* Quassaick Creek
* Croton River
* Pocantico River
* Sparkill Creek
* Wicker’s Creek
* Saw Mill River

Well, you get the idea.

And now to wrap this up…

– Beckett and crew question the two murder suspects, separately (good), and trick the weaker of the two into confessing by saying the alpha crook squealed like a pig. It works like that in real life, too.

At least everyone looked really nice this week. And Castle was pretty funny.

ABC photos

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Lee Lofland

10 replies
  1. tudza
    tudza says:

    Well, to understand whether things are really extra crazy on a full moon does *not* require working the graveyard shift. The reports all you officers so dutifully file are there to be analyzed at leisure.

    I suggest when the talk turns to paying for more staff, you take the guys with the purse strings out on patrol rather than suggesting they look at the numbers. I do not doubt that they will turn to each other and say, “We aren’t paying these guys enough.”

    With regards to this Prisoner’s Dilemma question, let me rephrase it. In reality, if you have two people involved in a crime, is it better for them if they both refuse to give any evidence?

  2. Lee Lofland
    Lee Lofland says:

    Melanie – Yes, I knew. Actually, my first sentence stated this was a repeat of an earlier episode. And, this post is the same one I used for that episode – my own repeat.

  3. Lee Lofland
    Lee Lofland says:

    Dave – I don’t recall the exact scenario, but yes, if the officers can articulate their reasons for entering then they’re pretty much covered. The worst that could happen is any evidence found during an illegal search would be tossed out. Besides, what’s worth more, preserving evidence, or saving someone’s life? Well, there’s always the possibility of a civil suit, but I’m betting that cops will save a life and worry about their bank accounts later.

    Articulate is a word that’s stamped into every cop’s mind, early in their careers.

  4. Dave Freas
    Dave Freas says:

    I understand what you’re saying, and maybe I didn’t phrase my question clearly or provide enough detail. Let me try again.

    If in the situation I asked about, the home owner later made a stink about the police entering his or her residence without permission, would exigent circumstances cover the officer’s actions? Could the officers claim they suspected the homeowner might be ill or the victim of a crime as reason for entering?

  5. Lee Lofland
    Lee Lofland says:

    tudza – Until you’ve walked in our shoes (worked the graveyard shift during a full moon) you’ll never know for sure.

    Sentencing guidelines have nothing to do with the interrogation phase of an investigation. Officers do not have the authority to promise more, or less, time in jail in exchange for a confession.

    Dave – A warrant is not necessary when exigent circumstances are present, such as someone’s life is in immediate danger (officers can hear someone screaming, “Help me!”), or when crucial evidence could be destroyed if the officers wait to get a search warrant.

  6. tudza
    tudza says:

    Riding with some patrol officers might change my mind, but it wouldn’t change the facts. It’s called confirmation bias.

    If the bad guys played it well, which to me means they both keep their mouths shut, would it actually turn out better for them? The way they lay out the rules here:'s_dilemma#Strategy_for_the_classical_prisoner.27s_dilemma

    says if they both shut up they get the best deal. However, it occurs to me that the payoff schedule here might not match real life. Real sentencing guidelines and other factors might make for a different game.

  7. Dave Freas
    Dave Freas says:

    Having worked in a retail environment for over 80% of my professional career, I speak from personal experience when I say not just the people cited believe a full moon brings out the crazies. I had more problems with customers on the night before, of, and after the full moon than the whole rest of the time combined.

    Lee, I have a question. On a Castle repeat aired last week (‘Ghosts’), Castle and Becket went to an apartment, found the front door ajar, and entered. Would such an entry by covered by exigent circumstances as you described it in your book?

  8. Lee Lofland
    Lee Lofland says:

    tudza – I know you don’t believe the full moon thing, but you’ll have a difficult time convincing cops, firemen, EMS workers, and hospital ER folks that there’s no truth to it. Spend a few nights as a patrol officer under a full moon and I guarantee you’ll change your mind.

    I doubt seriously that any of the young kids out here yelling Five-O have a clue where the term originated.

    The Prisoners’ Dilemma? I figure the bad guys are all out there playing the game, and playing it well, but unknowingly so. That is, until one of them is caught, which changes the cooperation part of the game. Then they all lose!

    Prisoners’ Dilemma is exactly why we question criminals separately.

  9. tudza
    tudza says:

    Probably a good detail to have everyone *believe* full moons are a special crazy time since it appears everyone does. Since this is a repeat I’ll repeat my understanding that many an analysis of records of the departments involved shows this not to be true. Check it out.

    I wonder how many of those guys yelling Five-O ever saw the show? I know it’s been a long time since I’ve seen it. McGarrett and his pals were state police by the way, at least according to Wikipedia, not something I remembered on my own.

    Ah these crooks, none have ever studied the Prisoner’s dilemma.

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