Castle: The Mistress Always Spanks Twice – A Review of the Police Procedure

The Mistress Always Spanks Twice, tonight’s episode of Castle, was written by San Jose, Ca. native, Kate Sargeant. Since I’m also a former resident of the Silicon Valley, I’ll try to play nice. But that may prove to be a bit difficult when revisiting a few sticky spots in this show. We’ll get to those in just a second. First, let’s join M.E. Lanie Parrish as she disappointingly reverts to her old nonsensical forensics. And I had such high hopes for Lanie, too, since she’d shown such promise in the past few episodes. I guess writer Kate Sargeant (Sergeant played Emily in the 3 Ninjas movie, and was a casting assistant for the 2006 Superman Returns film) didn’t feel the need to research most of Lanie’s findings, opting instead for the absurd, which has been par for the course on this show.

Okay, off we go…

The show opens with a jogger discovering a caramel-covered victim hanging from a set of monkey bars. The runner called the police and Beckett and crew immediately set the wheels of justice in motion. The crime scene is instantly crawling with enough uniformed police officers to make a Rodney King traffic stop.

Enter M.E. extraordinaire Lanie Parrish. Parrish does offer a couple of good points, such as the petechial hemorrhaging she observed on the victim. Petechiae are tiny red dots of blood found just under the surface of the skin. The dots are red because they’re actually red blood that has leaked from the capillaries into the skin. This condition can be caused by a number of things, such as allergic reactions, viral infections, trauma, and in the case of last night’s victim, asphyxiation.

– Parrish delivers her lines well. Much better than the early Lanie Parrish who didn’t seem at all comfortable saying technical medical terms like “blood” and “wounds.” Anyway, Parrish states that this victim was killed between 10pm and 11pm the previous night. She made this guess based on the victim’s body temperature. Now, we all know that a body, under near perfect conditions, loses heat at a rate of approximately 1.5 – 1.6 degrees F. per hour until it reaches the temperature of its surroundings (ambient air temp). So, judging by the winter coats worn by the folks in the image above, I’d say it was a little bit on the cold side. Therefore, the cooling process would have been accelerated. To have come to her conclusion, Parrish would have needed to take a core temperature by making an incision in the skin and then inserting a thermometer into or near the liver, or by taking a rectal temperature (note the lack of M.E. tools, and that the victim’s rectal covering clothing are still intact). Then she’d have to factor in the overnight air temperatures to reach an educated guess. Shoot, even the position of the body can affect its temperature. One that’s hanging up, exposed to the wind and other elements, will cool a little faster than one that’s lying balled up in a fetal position.

– The M.E. says lividity tells her the victim spent several hours in the fetal position. Livor Mortis, (the pooling of blood in the lowest portions of the body after death due to the pull of gravity) begins approximately 30 minutes after the heart stops beating, and can last up to 12 hours, or so. Lividity can change during the first six hours by repositioning the body. After 6 hours has passed, lividity becomes fixed and will not change when a body is moved. Either way, it’s not likely that Parrish would have known if the body had spent any amount of time in a fetal position.

– Parrish says the body had been hung from the monkey bars “a few hours ago.” Remember, lividity becomes fixed 6 hours after death. Therefore, had the victim been hung prior to the 6 hour mark, lividity would have been present in the feet and lower legs. If the body had been hung after the 6 hour mark, lividity would have presented in whichever part of the body had been the lowest prior to the magical 6 hour point, but not the feet and lower legs. So, since the body was found at dawn (sunrise in NYC this time of year is at appr. 6:20am) and the TOD (time of death) was supposedly between 10pm and 11pm, lividity would have become fixed no later than 5am.

Rigor Mortis, the stiffening of muscles after death due to the loss of Adenosine Triphosphate, the substance that allows energy to flow to muscles, begins around two hours after death and lasts for approximately 8 – 12 hours. During Rigor Mortis, the body is quite rigid, therefore, it would be impossible to change its positioning from a fetal position to hanging limply from a set of monkey bars. The joints simply would not bend.

Parrish’s conclusions, as usual, are not based on fact, nor are they substantiated by the evidence. This doctor’s predictions would be just as accurate.

Esposito refers to the “crime scene” a few times when he’s talking about the location where the victim was murdered. Remember, the place where the crime took place is the scene of the crime and a crime scene. But anywhere evidence (gun, fingerprints, body, etc.) is found is a crime scene. For example, a killer shoots his victim in her apartment and then drives 200 miles to another state and tosses the murder weapon into a dumpster. The apartment is the scene of the crime. The dumpster and surrounding area is a crime scene. Of course, the apartment is also a crime scene, since evidence will certainly be found there. And who’s on first…

– Beckett and her usual entourage (ever notice how she travels like a rock star with people in tow to take notes, and fetch this and that for her) search the victim’s apartment, and they question the roommate while they’re there. Of course, the roommate was the killer. That fact was so, so obvious they may as well have hung a flashing neon sign on her chest. Well, the crew finds nothing of value, so Beckett tells her sidekicks to trace the victim’s cellphone, hoping it would be GPS equipped. This was good. That’s what investigators would do, although I’d certainly hope that by now Beckett’s Boys would be able to make one move without having to be told to do it. It’s high time those two joined the Scarecrow and went to Oz to fetch a pair of brains.

Okay, I finally figured out how this show is written. The writers pass around a blank boilerplate script each week and simply fill in the blanks. I say this because the actors do the same things week in and week out, over and over again. At least Bill Murray and sidekick had a reason for doing that.

Even the captain, who has a very small role in the show, is far too predictable. Somewhere around the mid-point of the show he’s seen standing with Beckett and Castle. Then he says a pithy line or two, and then abruptly turns and scurries back to his office. He does this with the same delivery each and every episode. I like his character, but do something different with him once in a while. At least let him walk down the hall for a cup of coffee, or something.

As usual, Beckett makes a phone call to her never-say-no judge to obtain a search warrant. Is this guy ever in court? Does he sit in his chambers 24/7 waiting for her call? Besides, she’d have to go to the judge to get the warrant. The process involves actually writing an affidavit and taking it to a judge or magistrate. Phone-in search warrants have not yet been approved.

I laughed out loud at Castle’s comment about Beckett interviewing Sam in a box with a fox. That’s what this show is all about. So why, why, why, do they write in so many glaring and distracting police inaccuracies?

Sure, this is fiction, but fiction must be believable. No, it doesn’t have to be totally realistic, that’s a documentary. But fiction needs to be believable, and this show falls way short on the believability meter.

Have you seen the movie Big Fish? Total fiction and fantasy, but it was told by a dying man who made it all seem believable.

This servant-type thing during an investigation should never happen in real life. If it did, the detective’s credibility and authority would be about as solid as…

Again, this episode was far too predictable.

I knew the minute something was said about this woman’s lipstick that we’d be hearing about again, either as a clue, or a red herring.

Beckett’s Boys report that the victim’s pillow had been analyzed and saliva had been found on it, indicating that she’d screamed while being suffocated. WHAT??? How many pillows in this world have their owner’s saliva on them. Do all droolers scream in their sleep? Nonsense!

This is also the point where Beckett tells the Boys to book the killer. Based on what? A glob of drool on the victim’s goose down pillow? I’d love to hear that testimony in court.

So, the killer was the victim’s tiny, petite little roommate. Please tell me how that little woman had the strength to stuff her 105lb roommate into a suitcase, wheel her down to the park, shove her body through the lower bars of the monkey bar apparatus, and then hoist the victim in all her dead-weight glory to the top of the cage. Oh, she also had to use her free hand to secure the victim’s hands/wrists to the tip top of the bars so they’d support her weight.

It would be a little difficult for large wrestler to accomplish this task.

Oops, wrong picture. Here you go…


18 replies
  1. queenofmean
    queenofmean says:

    Dave – you’re right. I hadn’t thought about the fact that a person in the ‘fetal position’ doesn’t necessarily have to be lying down.

  2. Lisa Haselton
    Lisa Haselton says:

    I had to ignore the police procedure stuff after Lainey opened her mouth with the fetal position comment. Why oh why, I keep asking myself. 🙂

    I really enjoyed Castle trying to deal with his daughter wanting to be a cheerleader and the innuendos with Beckett.

    I’m getting more and more excited about WPA in September, Lee. Keep doling out the snippets about the progam!


  3. Dave Swords
    Dave Swords says:

    Q of M, I don’t see how one could say any lividity was the result of a “fetal position.”

    Fetal position just means you’re sort of pulled into a ball, as when you do a cannonball off the diving board.

    One can sit up in a fetal position, so … you got me how she came up with that.

  4. Lee Lofland
    Lee Lofland says:

    Melanie – I saw you on Twitter last night. We both wound up on Kate Sargeant’s page at nearly the same time.

    Susan – I think the Castle writers actually believe they’re doing just fine. They really should open their eyes and ears and tune in to what many viewers are saying.

    queen – The boot scene was downright silly, and I thought it added a small nail to the cancel coffin.

    Carol – I agree with your husband. Why don’t the writers see this stuff? Are they they arrogant?

  5. Lee Lofland
    Lee Lofland says:

    Sorry to be so slow responding, but I’ve been meeting with the police academy officials and instructors. The program just gets better and better as each day passes. We’ve just added a group of EMS workshops where you’ll have the opportunity to help treat gunshot and stabbing victims with real equipment. Then, you’ll load the victim onto a stretcher and into an actual ambulance for transport.

    The FATS training is going to be absolutely fantastic. You’ll be firing Sig Sauers and Glocks in actual shooting scenarios.

  6. Carol Davis Luce
    Carol Davis Luce says:

    I fell asleep during the middle of this one. My husband, who is a fan of the show, couldn’t believe that such a tiny woman could transport the body and hang it from the jungle gym. His exact words, “If they keep doing stuff like that, I don’t think I can watch this show anymore.”

    Look forward to SOUTHLAND tonight and your review.

  7. queenofmean
    queenofmean says:

    Unfortunately, my mind was not completely on the show last night. I was helping my son fill out a college admissions application (loads of fun), but I did laugh at a few of the things you mentioned. Pretty much all the scenes with the dominatrix were too unbelievable, but the thing with the boots was really ridiculous.
    A question about lividity & the fetal position. I’m guessing the lividity would be visible along whatever side she had been lying on, but how would it be definitive that she’d been in the fetal position? Could she have just been lying on her side?
    Thanks, Lee. Once again another interesting post.

  8. Susan
    Susan says:

    Lee, I LOVE your analysis and look very much forward to reading them. I, too, adore the playful Castle and Beckett, but you are so right about the forensics . . . I don’t even know anything about forensics and found the unraveling of this one so predictable and ridiculous. I’m surprised they haven’t hired you to serve as a consultant. You’d be great!

  9. Melanie Atkins
    Melanie Atkins says:

    lol I knew you’d slice this one to shreds, Lee. The show was predictable and way off on the procedure–so much so that even I picked up on most of the errors–but it was funny. I love how Beckett teased Castle. His facial expressions were priceless.

    The episode in two weeks looks to be much more serious, and hopefully they’ll pay more attention to detail. The writer of this week’s show was new to Castle, and it showed. Just wish she’d been more accurate.

  10. Joyce
    Joyce says:

    Other than the problems with the ME, I have to admit that I paid absolutely no attention to the police procedure in this show. Even though it wasn’t believable, I thought it was a hoot. I just loved the back and forth innuendos between Becket and Castle.

  11. Yvonne Mason
    Yvonne Mason says:

    Kathy thank you for your comment. My life has it moments. Please ask your daughter to add me. I would be honored.
    I am sure she did some research, and yes as authors we do take a literary liscense with our fiction. Mine is accurate in the eyes of the law and what we can legally do or not do. In fiction of course anything goes.
    I am glad you are enjoying the series wait until next Monday. It is already in the bag. This blog is now listed on the internet law library. It is also listed as a link with my old college. I found both of those by accident as I was surfing.
    Thanks guys.

  12. Terry
    Terry says:

    This whole series has been wonderful — I’m reading Janet Evanovich’s 14 at the moment, and it does give another slant to the occupation. I think yours is more accurate, although I believe I read that Janet Evanovich did significant research before writing her book. But it’s comedy, so she’s got to stretch things.

  13. Kathy
    Kathy says:


  14. Yvonne Mason
    Yvonne Mason says:

    Thank you for you response. I felt that in order to better understand the skill of hunting one had to know the orgins and the eithth amendment. It it tatmount to our profession.
    As a female I have an edge over men in the art of hunting. They can sit for days in trees waiting for a four legged animal, but when it comes to hunting the two legged kind their penchment for patience goes deep into hiding.
    Yes, my partners were a hoot and a half. In two weeks I will tell you the story about the female we went after who was from Mexico. That story will really have you one the floor.
    I am glad the first two segments didn’t bore you. I hope it didn’t bore the others. Sure I could have started in the middle of the road and just given out the meat and potatoes, but I do love a good appitezer (or should I say appa teaser).
    Stay tuned for more funfilled and exciting stories as well as laws in the different states and the recepical agreements within those states.
    I do love the feed back and I appreciate each of your responses.

  15. Elena
    Elena says:

    This has been a terrific series- Thank you! – suspect the lack of responses to last week’s segment had more to do with how completely you covered the material than lack of interest. I found the origins of bounty hunting to be quite fascinating.

    I am very impressed with the calm and sensible progression you follow to find your missing character. I’m with you on the gun usage – I rarely carried even though I was licensed to.

    Great selection of partners for the Atlanta area – I am very glad nothing nasty came down (I hope) while you were working those streets.

    And finally – I’m still ROTFL over Henry County – but not surprised.

  16. Yvonne Mason
    Yvonne Mason says:

    Okay boys and girls and children of all ages as promised the fun part of hunting. I want see and read hundreds of comments. I will be out this morning but I will be home later in the afternoon. I will be so happy to respond to each and every comment. Criminals really are not very bright.
    I look forward to reading your take on this one. By the way, Henry Co. didn’t check to see if there are a warrant out on my guy. They just took his liscense and signed him in. They do walk among us.

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