Castle: Wrapped Up In Death – A Review of the Police Procedure

A museum curator is killed by a fallen gargoyle, and it’s up to Beckett and team to solve the murder. Castle, being Castle, sneaks a peek at a mummy while visiting a museum with Beckett to inquire about the dead guy’s last moments. Well, it seems that Castle’s little looky-looing was a huge mistake, because inscribed on the burial chamber was, “All who gaze upon the face of the mummy are doomed.” Yep, Castle thinks he’s cursed. Me, I don’t think so. I think the curse bypassed Castle and zeroed in on the writers of this episode.

Sure, the Castle-ish humor was everywhere, but it’s becoming more and more slapsticky every week.

Even Beckett and her joined-at-the-hip partners produced some horrible attempts at fake laughter while Castle stumbled, fell, and was nearly killed by a malfunctioning coffeemaker, all supposed results of the mummy’s curse.

By far, the best thing about this episode was the absence of the FBI character we were forced to endure for the past two weeks. Good riddance. However, I see this as troubling because I’m beginning to find that the good things about what was once a pretty decent show are the things that aren’t in it. Anyway, the police/forensics stuff was better this week because there was very little if it. However, what was there was horrible.

And away we go…

The show opens with a gargoyle dropping from the roof of an apartment building onto the victim’s head. Obviously, it would take quite a while to assemble Beckett and her entourage—someone has to discover the body, call 911, patrol officers show up, a supervisor is called, someone calls the M.E.,  determine this is indeed a murder, and then call the detectives. You get the point, right? It takes a long time. Well, after all this time has passed by, the victim’s blood was still running down the side of the curb. Was this guy a hemophiliac?  Did he have a clotting disorder? And how about the amount of bright red blood at the scene? We only have approximately 5 liters of the red stuff in our entire body, unlike this poor guy who must’ve been filled with at least three or four gallons of the stuff. It was everywhere.

– A member of Team Beckett holds up a baggie containing the victim’s cell phone. There’s a huge amount of wet, red blood inside the bag. What, did someone scoop up a cup of blood and pour it into the bag when they placed the phone inside?  You really didn’t need to submerge the phone in liquid. After all, you’re not bringing a goldfish home to your kids. And why was the blood still liquid and still very red?

Lanie Parrish, M.E. was back in rare form last night, with her “discovery” of pollen on the gargoyle—pollen that could only have come from the lowlands of the Yacatan Peninsula. She also found the same substance on death threats mailed to the victim and the museum curator.

First of all, the M.E. doesn’t do this stuff. Scientists in the forensics labs would be the folks who’d make this sort of discovery, if it was even possible to do so. For starters, they’d have to have some idea what they were looking for in order to compare the unknown “substance” to it.

I sort of gave up at this point, because I knew what was coming. The show has become very, very predictable. It seems as if the writers, all of them, write to a certain point in the episode and then quit. Then they allow the M.E., or in the past two episodes, a magic board solve the crime with some earth shattering revelation.

This show cheats the viewer with those magical instant answers to all their problems. There’s no following the detective as she searches for clues. Either the M.E. spouts off some nonsensical babble, or we’re offered a magic board that solves the crime in mere seconds. Either way, the writers of this show must certainly think they’re writing for a group of tree stumps.

Sure, Castle is cool, and funny. And Alexis is precious, but she’s getting older—growing up. But how much longer can she be the “little girl?” And I have a new problem. Beckett doesn’t seem to be the same tough-as-nails cops anymore. Not after playing the submissive role to the FBI agent in the past two weeks. Those episodes nearly destroyed her character for me.

I’m quickly losing interest in this show. It’s luster is fading with every episode.

ABC photos

30 replies
  1. Marie-Nicole Ryan
    Marie-Nicole Ryan says:

    Due to insufficient lack of caffeine on Monday, I fell asleep thirty minutes into the show. Nevertheless, and thanks to the DVR, I watched it yesterday morning. I sigh. This show could be so much smarter and it wouldn’t shortchange the Castle-Beckett dynamic at all.

  2. Pat Browning
    Pat Browning says:

    Yeah, it was pretty silly. Castle is cute but a little of that goes a long way without something to back it up. I watched the show and did e-mail at the same time. When you can do that — a show doesn’t require much of your attention. I, too, wondered what the cure for the curse was. Pretty tacky, not to let us in on it. It was probably some kind of lame joke that even the writers were ashamed to reveal.

  3. Barbara Sheridan
    Barbara Sheridan says:

    I’m quickly losing interest in this show. It’s luster is fading with every episode.

    I’m glad it’s not just me feeling this way lately, but it’s depressing because the show’s been so entertaining in the past.

    It’s pretty sad that even I picked up on the pollen and why the heck is the M.E. checking it business.

  4. Lee Lofland
    Lee Lofland says:

    Melanie – Unfortunately, I didn’t like the show this week, even if I overlooked the police stuff, which I normally do anyway. I thought it was silly, and beneath the actors – all of them.

    By the way, your question was on the Southland FB page yesterday. The folks from TNT wrote me last night to let me know.

  5. Melanie Atkins
    Melanie Atkins says:

    I agree totally about the procedure, but I have to say that the folks on on the Castle forums, namely, loved the episode. They only care about the Castle-Beckett dynamic, not the cases. Of course, many of them believe the stuff that takes place on CSI is real, too. I take their glaring errors with a grain of salt and just enjoy the show. It makes me laugh, and I need more laughter in my life.

  6. Lisa Haselton
    Lisa Haselton says:

    I did get a few laughs out of the show, but agree with the review.

    Lanie was on screen too much, ruined it all for me with the pollen. I hadn’t even known they took the death threat card out of the dead guy’s apartment, until Lanie held up both cards.

    The curse theme was overdone – and why wasn’t the audience privvy to the (ridiculous, I’m sure) “cure” for the curse? Might as well throw that out to us by that point.

    I enjoyed Alexis’ science project with the tomatoes being bludgeoned to determine blood spatter patterns. Quite a way to take over the kitchen!

    The character they used as the ‘only one’ who knew how to mummify someone (until she pointed out that she had to be trained by a pro first) is a regular on Numb3rs, so that threw me a bit since she acted the same, just a different field of study.

    Since the show is renewed for another season, can we have hope that the writing will get back on track? Perhaps a pollen-sized glimmer of hope for improvement?

    Maybe the writers and producers gazed upon the mummy’s face and were cursed from the start for this episode. 🙂

  7. Elena
    Elena says:

    Don’t know Lee – like Dave I saw the commercial and had my suspicions – then I read your blog, and my suspicion was confirmed. It was the pollen that did it – the writers enjoying one too many at their local micro-brewery tried to write a Sherlock Holmes pastiche. The obvious connection to the monograph on cigar ashes had me ROTFL.

  8. Dave Swords
    Dave Swords says:

    Hi, Lee.

    When I saw a commercial for this show last night, I knew your analysis would be something like this.

    It seems they are slowly turning this into a comedy.

    Oh, well.

  9. Elena
    Elena says:

    I wasn’t clear with my question – when I looked at my fingers it became obvious to me that the years have put a lot of wear and tear on my fingertips. That’s what got me to wondering if I could be a successful match today against prints that were taken by the FBI in the early 60’s. Or after enough years are there too many changes to the original flow of lines?

    I’m sure they still have them – hope springs eternal.

  10. queenofmean
    queenofmean says:

    Lee – thanks, yet again, for an informative post.
    Funny this should come up now. Just the other day, I was looking for something else & came across fingerprints the police did when my son was 5. It was a long time ago, but I don’t think we were given the option of having the police keep them.

  11. Lee Lofland
    Lee Lofland says:

    Yes, I’m sure they have a file set up just for this purpose. We did. But, surprisingly, the majority of the parents preferred to hang on to the cards. They didn’t want the police to have a copy.

  12. Sarah Grimm
    Sarah Grimm says:

    I asked because when it was offered in my area, the police department used standard ten print cards but allowed the parent to choose whether they took the cards home or left them which the officers. I’m assuming then that the local department would keep them somewhere?


  13. Lee Lofland
    Lee Lofland says:

    Normally, the parents keep the records. Some departments use a Biometric SecureTouch Fingerprint Device which operates like a small AFIS terminal, to record prints. They also take a digital photo of the child, record height, weight, eye and hair color, race, and whether or not the child wears glasses and/or braces. The family dentist’s name and phone number is also recorded, if possible. All this information is transferred to a disc and given to the parents. Some departments still use the standard ten print cards for rolled (ink) prints.

    Then, in the case of an emergency, parents can provide police with a copy.

    There are home kits available for parents who’d rather do the fingerprinting and photography in the privacy of their own homes. These are for those people who refuse to allow their children to be fingerprinted by the police or other authorities.

  14. Sarah Grimm
    Sarah Grimm says:

    Question: With the new fingerprinting of school children that can be done with the parents permission, should the parent allow the police to hold onto the prints, where are they kept?

    If a child goes missing, do the prints of the missing child wind up in IAFIS or some other place?

  15. Lee Lofland
    Lee Lofland says:

    Sarah – I knew what you meant.

    Oh, depending on which day of the week the prints are sent for matching, the results could come back in just a few minutes. Obviously, Mondays would be the busiest day of the week for the system due to investigators submitting mountains of prints from the previous weekend’s crimes.

    Yep, I, too, love it when the match comes back along with the guy’s address, phone number, place of employment, shoe size, and favorite food. IAFIS is not a dating service computer. It can only send back the information it has, which is limited.

  16. Sarah Grimm
    Sarah Grimm says:

    Lee – I should have been more clear in my typing, as I meant visible prints where I could study my islands and bifurcations. Ha, dad would be proud, I used a new word in a sentence today!

    I didn’t know that you can receive responses from IAFIS in two hours now. Good to know. I did know that it gives more than one match, and I chuckle whenever I watch television and a definate match will come up on their search. Ever notice that the computer usually lists it as a 100% match? LOL

  17. Lee Lofland
    Lee Lofland says:

    Sarah – You’d be surprised to learn how many places you’ve left your fingerprints. You’d be even more surprised to learn where!

    One favorite place to retrieve a male’s finger and palm prints are on the wall behind the toilet. Many men are “leaners.”

    Terry – That’s what the blog is for, so please ask away. If I don’t know the answers I know plenty of people who do. In fact, one of my advisers and a consultant for the fingerprint chapter in my book is a top fingerprint examiner with many years of experience.

  18. Lee Lofland
    Lee Lofland says:

    Terry – Right. If they have a suspect in mind they’ll begin a through investigation – asking questions, checking utility records, driver’s licenses, vehicle registrations, deeds, loan documents, liens, marriage records, divorce records, name searches in law enforcement databases, criminal history, post office, school records, banking records, credit cards, etc.

    But learning someone’s identity based on a fingerprint that’s not in the system is fiction.

  19. Terry
    Terry says:

    Lee — me, being a pest.

    You said: If police suspect you of a crime they could obtain a copy of that print for identification purposes.

    How do the cops know where to look? I figured if they knew a suspect had been in the military, they could check those records. Of course, I suppose if you have a physical suspect, not just prints, you can figure out by asking the right questions.

    But in fiction, they’ll show a cop finding a print and then being able to figure out who it belongs to even if the person doesn’t have a record.

  20. Sarah Grimm
    Sarah Grimm says:

    Yup, I looked at my thumbs. I discovered that I must have been swimming while in utero, because there’s a definate current around my islands. VBG

    I have yet to be fingerprinted, even when I attended the local citizen’s police academy. But I’m sure I left a few fingerprints in the last few craft projects I helped my kids with.

  21. Lee Lofland
    Lee Lofland says:

    Terry – When people are printed as part of a pre-employment background check their prints aren’t entered into the system. Instead, they’re checked to see if you’ve been convicted of a crime or are a wanted person. The same is true when people attend citizen’s police academies.

    The fact that your prints are not entered into the system is the reason why people must submit new sets of prints for each job.

    So, no, those prints wouldn’t be on file in the FBI system. However, if they’re saved at the local level for whatever reason, such as in California people submit thumbprints during real estate transactions, then those prints are a permanent record. If police suspect you of a crime they could obtain a copy of that print for identification purposes.

    The only prints in the IAFIS system are those of criminals.

  22. Terry
    Terry says:

    Lee – follow up. I was printed in California back in the 60’s for a teaching job. I was printed recently by my local Sheriff’s Office as part of their Civilian Police Academy Alumni/Volunteer program. If I moved to Colorado and committed a crime, could they find me via my prints? If so, how? Around here, people complain that they have to be reprinted every time they move from one job to another that requires fingerprinting (usually at their own expense). Hubby was fingerprinted at our Sheriff’s Office as well, using Live Scan, but he has to submit another set of prints if he wants to apply for a concealed carry permit.

  23. Lee Lofland
    Lee Lofland says:

    Elena – Prints taken by law enforcement using the ten print cards are quite legible as long as the paper they’re on holds up. I’ve seen many where the cards had yellowed with age (in our old files) and the prints were fine. Just like the day they were taken.

  24. Lee Lofland
    Lee Lofland says:

    Terry – True. The AFIS/IAFIS system sends back a list of possible matches (10-12) and those prints must be examined by hand and eye.

    There is a master fingerprint database maintained by the FBI. That’s the IAFIS system. The database has approximately 55 million prints on file. Even before the system was electronic, the FBI maintained the database. It was slow, but it worked, sometimes.

    But you’re right. Not all prints go into the FBI’s system. They must be submitted to the FBI by law enforcement. If you were printed for employment purposes or when you conducted a real estate transaction, then no, those prints aren’t in the criminal database. However, those prints could be used for identification if you ever do decide to commit a crime.

  25. Elena
    Elena says:

    Being human I, of course, had to peer at my fingerprints. The results brought up a question. Could fingerprints be identified well enough for legal purposes 40 or 50 years after they were taken? We will posit extremely clear prints to work with.

  26. Terry
    Terry says:

    Lee, it’s my understanding that even after a ‘hit’ from IAFIS, a human being still must verify which of the perhaps two dozen ‘possibles’ come back in the report (which does not include a nifty computer screen with a photo of the suspect and what he ate for breakfast).

    Also, I was surprised when I started doing research for my books, to discover there isn’t one ‘master’ fingerprint database. I think a lot of readers assume what I did. That if you ever had your fingerprints taken anywhere, at any time, for any reason, they will show up when the cops do a search.

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