Castle: Hollanders Woods

“I don’t cross the line, I put myself on it.” ~ Beckett

New Picture (10)

Melanie Atkins

Richard Castle stumbled over his first murder victim in a wooded area outside of New York City when he was only eleven years old. He froze when he saw the woman covered in blood with crosses cut into her face, long enough to come face to face with her killer. The murderer made him promise to never say a word about what he’d seen that day in Hollander’s Woods… a promise he kept for over thirty years. He became a mystery writer because of it, using words and twisted plots to cope with the trauma the serial killer had inflicted upon his young mind.

Jump to present day, when another blood-covered woman with the same crosses etched into her skin is hit by a semi near those same woods. Local authorities contact NYPD in hopes of learning the woman’s identity, and Rick accompanies Kate to the scene. Seemed a bit far-fetched that Kate would be the one to get the call, but I bought it because it brought Rick back full circle to where his love of the macabre first began.

IMHO, this episode written by the show’s creators, Andrew Marlowe and Terri Edda Miller, flowed well and kept my attention. I had a little problem with the “performance review”-turned plea for Kate to run for the state senate, but otherwise loved this one. Parts of it seemed more like a full-length feature than a TV show… and they got the basics right. Esposito used the acronym BOLO instead of APB, and Lanie came off as much more believable than normal.

The chilling case creeped me out, as did the doctor who turned out to be the serial killer. And the barn scene, where Rick confronted this man who had threatened him so many years before, really rocked. Such great props and so much fabulous, heart-pounding suspense. The impact of Rick’s wedding-ring-clad hand sliding beneath the barn door in silent plea for Kate to give him her gun, which she did readily, hit me hard. Loved the scene where he shot the killer.

The story of Rick being given the Poe’s Pen Career Achievement Award framed the entire episode. I adored all scenes connected with this part of the plot, from the huge head shots of Rick and the fun family banter at the beginning, to the delicious award ceremony at the end, complete with Rick’s wonderful acceptance speech and tables filled with the entire cast, the writers, and many folks who usually lurk behind the camera. Such a fitting tribute to this fine show. MilMar (Andrew Marlowe and Terri Edda Miller) didn’t know when they wrote/filmed it if Castle would be renewed, so they shaped the episode to go either way. I believe it would’ve been a wonderful series finale if that fear had come to fruition. Luckily for us loyal fans, it did not.

Bring on season eight! Just please let Kate turn down the offer to run for the state senate. Castle is a police procedural, not a legal thriller.


Lee Lofland

Well, this was another incident where Beckett and crew work a case that’s totally outside their jurisdiction. What, the 1,000 investigators within the New York State Police Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI)) don’t have what it takes to solve their own crimes? Typically, it’s the NYSP who assists local jurisdictions with their cases, not the other way around.

I guess New York City is such a crime-free place that they can easily spare three homicide detectives to investigate a hit and run/possible assault (remember, the killer du jour didn’t kill the woman, the truck did) that didn’t occur within their boundaries. And they can dedicate tons of resources—cars, super-spy Tory, etc., to an area nowhere near their jurisdictional limits. Anyway, on to other aspects of the police procedure…

Melanie already mentioned Esposito’s correct reference to the acronym BOLO (Be On The Lookout), and she’s right. I just wish the show would stick with it instead of flip-flopping back and forth between it and the outdated and no longer used APB (All Points Bulletin).

Lanie was once again a believable character. As Sheriff Andy Griffith would say, she came across as having a world of “smarts.” I’ll even give her a pass about pinpointing the TOD (time of death) of Mrs. Lewis at three years prior to the discovery of her body. Lanie based her finding on a mere look at the corpse while still at the scene of her death. M.E. Lanie has a remarkable psychic ability to…well, you know…(that voodoo stuff).

I particularly liked the scene where wacko Norman Bates Noah Lewis fired a shotgun blast at Detective B and crew and then took off running. The foot chase and the way the actors handled it was fairly believable. Actually, that’s one scene to which I can definitely relate. As the saying goes, “been there, done that.” Esposito and Ryan (the actors who portray them) do a great job in those situations.

The creepy doctor-killer was, of course, easy to identify. But I believe this time it was an intended part of the story, which was extremely refreshing. I wish they’d do more of it instead of parading the predictable three red herrings in front of our TV screens every single week, week after week after week. Yes, this was a nice touch. It all happened a bit fast, but the entire story had to start and finish within an hour, so fast it had to be.

Writers, this next point is especially for you because I’ve seen it written incorrectly numerous times. Police cannot send a private citizen inside a place to conduct a search, bypassing the warrant, hoping to find evidence of a crime. In the event of the latter, that citizen is acting as an agent of the police and the search is a violation of search and seizure law. Therefore, Castle, a person who’s a definite agent of the police, entering the barn to snoop for evidence, conducted an illegal search, especially with Beckett driving him there and sitting outside listening on the phone to Castle’s play-by-play description of the search. This situation was no different than had Beckett gone inside without a warrant. Of course, Beckett didn’t have jurisdiction there anyway, making it a double whammy.

Castle shooting the guy, even though the search was illegal, was justified. Sure, there’d be a huge civil suit on the way because he was there illegally, but it wasn’t a criminal act. There was no criminal intent to kill. Doesn’t mean he wouldn’t be charged for it by an overzealous prosecutor with an ax to grind, or one who’s trying to make a name for himself, but a conviction by a truly fair and impartial judge or jury…nope.

Kate Beckett a senator? I absolutely hate the idea and that the writers stuck this oddball piece of crap storyline into the show. It doesn’t fit. It’s out of character. And it’s downright dumb. Someone must have seen another shark that needs jumpin’.

Still, I enjoyed this episode a bit more than usual, and I especially connected to the scene where Michael Connelly presented the award to Castle. After all, it was less than a year ago when I introduced keynote speaker Michael Connelly to the attendees of the 2014 Writers’ Police Academy. I also had the honor of presenting Michael with an award naming him as Honorary Sheriff of the 2014 WPA.


Me, Denene Lofland, and Michael Connelly at the 2014 Writers’ Police Academy

*By the way, we still have a few open spots at the 2015 Writers’ Police Academy. Our keynote speaker this year is Karin Slaughter.

Castle: Dead from New York

“I wanted to be a cop but ended up a writer. I know…pathetic.” ~ SNT Head Writer

New Picture (10)

Melanie Atkins

The title Dead from New York, not “Live from New York” should tell anyone familiar with the iconic comedy show Saturday Night Live the premise of this week’s Castle episode, a fun romp across the stage of late night comedy that made me smile. I loved SNL back in the day, even though I rarely watch it now, and appreciate the Castle writers paying homage to it. It might have also been a dig of sorts, because Nathan Fillion has never been invited to appear on the show and some of his fans have launched a Facebook page, etc., to that end.

The Castle folks changed the name of the show to Saturday Night Tonight, a fact we learned right after one of the show’s creators fell into an elevator car. The poor man was dead as a doornail and covered in blood, “like a Jack-in-the-box from hell”, as Rick later put it, and was the catalyst for the crazy investigation that followed.

In my opinion, however, the case and its goofy red herrings paled in comparison to Martha’s turmoil over her first Broadway appearance in years. She was the best part of the episode, hands down, from her oft-repeated line, “Is he dead?” in the opening scene at the loft to her glee after reading the reviews of her preview performance on social media. I’ve loved Susan Sullivan ever since I watched her on Falcon Crest when I was a teen, and she just keeps getting better and better. I laughed out loud at some of her interpretations of the first line in her play. So funny.

I didn’t have much to blog about except for Martha, because Rick and Kate have adjusted well to married life and are in a good place right now. I adored Kate’s concern for Rick’s mother, who pretty much went of the rails about her upcoming performance and threatened to quit the play. Rick gave Martha a pep talk thanks to Kate’s intervention that brought her out of the doldrums and convinced her not to give up. I loved that scene. Rick and Kate’s little impromptu dance while watching Carly Rae Jenson sing also made me smile. His asking her to dance was apparently in the script, according to one of the Castle folks on Twitter, but Nathan and Stana ad-libbed the rest. So sweet.

The episode had plenty of laughs, including some courtesy of Jaleel White, but parts of it were downright silly. Still, I enjoyed the show as a whole and appreciated its lighthearted bent, especially after seeing the preview for next week’s season finale. I’ve heard that one gives us new insight into why Rick became a mystery writer in the first place, provides quite a conundrum for Kate career-wise, and leaves us with a cliffhanger. This gives me hope for at least one more shortened season. Fingers crossed. We should know for sure by Tuesday, May 12th, the date ABC is scheduled to announce their fall lineup.

What did you think about this week’s episode?


Lee Lofland

Like Melanie, I had very little to blog about unless, of course, I beat the dead horse (Lanie’s stupid lividity/time-of-death statement).

Actually, the show did a good job of self-identifying their police-type flaws—door-kicking while wearing high heels, the “Writer” vest, and Beckett’s not-so-much cop-like mannerisms. And let’s not forget the jogging app that came complete with a photo feature that zooms in on buildings where kidnap victims are held. Every cop should have access to that sort of technology.

How about the disco dance moves while in the midst of a murder investigation? Sure, every detective I know “busts a move” when they’re about to question someone.

I thought it was way out of character for Beckett to act like a silly teenager—batting her eyelashes and twirling her hair—when the faux TV star flirted with her. Totally not the role of strong female cop we’ve seen in the past. The scene, for me, was disappointing.

The episode this week was extremely light and basically without a case or a romance aspect. It was, well, just okay. In fact, the best part of the show was at the end when Beckett’s double took down the bad guy with a flying tackle—on live TV—followed by the classic SNL SNT show-ending bows.

“A man asks for a gun, he’s looking to dance with danger.” ~ Red Herring #1, ex-con Van Zant

Castle: In plane sight

“Don’t make it worse. This isn’t who you are.” ~ Alexis

New Picture (10)

Melanie Atkins

I enjoyed this week’s Castle much more than I did last week’s episode, even though it didn’t have many delicious Caskett moments. The story still included Kate, and I loved seeing Rick and Alexis having some father-daughter time. I had to suspend my disbelief to buy into the story, of course, but even though having a trio of flight attendants ask an author to investigate a murder aboard their plane would more than likely never happen in real life, I let myself dive in and revel in the suspense.

I can’t speak to the police procedure, to be sure, although several times I pictured Lee rolling his eyes. Tory the computer expert definitely worked her magic, as did Lanie, via cell phone at 39,000 feet. I snorted at their revelations, of course. Who wouldn’t? But I did totally buy Rick using graphite from a mechanical pencil to get a fingerprint from a plastic glass. The instant match after sending a pic to Kate in NYC was outlandish, but I could still see getting a fingerprint that way under extreme circumstances. Worked for me.

On to the rest of the story. I adored the suspense, the twists and turns, and even the slimy looking yellow snake, who in real life is named Steve. I kid you not. I learned that on Twitter. So funny. Who names a snake Steve? But I digress. I enjoyed the story very much and almost pegged the right person as the murderer. I thought the male flight attendant had done the deed, but the killer turned out to be the most helpful one. Hmm. Guess that should’ve told me something. Still, I knew it had to be one of them because they showed up right off and asked Rick to solve the murder. Right.

I hope next week’s episode will be this good. I’ve heard it’s supposed to be a funny one, and I’m looking forward to a chuckle or three. After that one is the finale. Sob. I really hope this isn’t the last season. I’m a Castle addict and would dearly love to see at least one more, even if they shorten it to ten episodes or so.

Fingers crossed.


Lee Lofland

Sure, there were a few eye-rollers” regarding police procedure in this episode, but the way it was written, for a change, allowed the viewer to properly suspend belief and enjoy the show.

Of course, even the storyline didn’t change the standard boilerplate succession of red herrings followed by the climax where the all-too-predictable killer is revealed. The killer du jour was extremely obvious, but that’s standard Castle fare.

Still, this one was a fairly nice episode in spite of Beckett and crew handling a case they had absolutely no authority to handle. Well, there was that thing about Lanie determining cause of death and that the killer was left-handed, all from looking at a Skype video. Shoot, I can barely tell who’s on the other end in those grainy calls, so for Lanie to…hell, never mind. You know.

Hey, whatever happened to these guys working typical NYC murders? Last week was Al Qaeda and this week an ISIS aspect?

Anyway, as far as the police procedure and forensics go…fuhgedaboutit and enjoy this episode for what it is…fiction.

Oh, it was nice to see Alexis save the day. It was, after all, her turn to have a gun pointed at her.

*     *     *

I’ll be at the Oklahoma Writer’s Federation, Inc. Conference this weekend to talk about Villains, Cops, and Officer-Involved Shootings. I’d love it if you’d stop by to say hi. And, while there the conference is auctioning a coveted spot at the 2015 Writers’ Police Academy!

Keynote speaker at OWFI is our pal Les Edgerton!

See you there!

Castle: Sleeper


“You’re stressed out…exhausted. You haven’t written a word in over a week.” Beckett

New Picture (10)

Melanie Atkins

This week’s Castle episode was different from most. Instead of focusing on a case assigned to Kate at work with the NYPD, it opened with Rick reeling from a nightmare concerning his disappearance last summer. I’ve always thought his abrupt vanishing on the way to their wedding was a terrible plot device inserted only to anguish the show’s fans. The rest of the series showcased their great love affair, and then boom. Rick never makes it to the altar.

I’m sorry, but this plot contrivance didn’t work at all for me. Conflict for the sake of conflict has ruined many a story, and it came very close to ruining this one. The show’s writers have done their best to scratch their way of the corner they boxed themselves into, but I’m still irked by the result… maybe even more so now, after hearing the awkward explanation about why Rick disappeared in the first place.

When the episode opens, Rick is apparently reliving events that happened during his time away in his dreams, and Kate is worried about him. I was happy to see her therapist, Burke, back on the show, and delighted that she encouraged Rick to go see him. He helped Rick recognize the individual elements of his most recent dream, and this in turn helped him get to the bottom of what happened, at least in theory.

The story that came out was simply too fantastical for me buy. Spoiler alert! I’m sorry, but the writers expect me to believe that a former exchange student Rick knew in high school joined Al Qaeda, then defected to became a double agent for the CIA… only to need to hook up with someone famous so the folks who learned what he was doing wouldn’t kill him before he told the CIA about a new terrorism plot, so he had Rick kidnapped on the day of his wedding and brought to Thailand? And Rick’s presence there allowed said operative to reach out to the CIA and thus thwart the plot, saving tens of thousands of lives?What? Talk about a squirrelly contrivance. I’m still shaking my head. If I ever wrote a crazy plot like that in a book, reviewers and readers alike would laugh me off the Internet and out of bookstores.

All that said, I enjoyed the incredible sense of family in the episode. The fact that both Alexis and Martha went to Kate when they were worried about Rick spoke volumes about how close they’ve all become. I adored their interaction. I also loved the final scene, with first Rick, Alexis, and Martha, and then Rick and Kate.

I may never truly buy the bizarre explanation for Rick’s disappearance, but I do still love the show and hope they give us at least a shortened season next year so I’ll have a better sense of closure when it ends. Nathan has already signed on for season eight, but I have yet to hear about the other cast members who are still in contract negotiations. We should know something at least by early May during the ABC upfronts.

Next week’s episode looks intense. Rick and Alexis and snakes on a plane! Can’t wait!


Lee Lofland

I can sum up my portion of the episode review in a single word…DUMB. Yes, that’s exactly what I thought of the story and writing. The writers of this show have taken more than their fair share of practice jumps in preparation of releasing the actual shark into the waters, and with last night’s crappy storyline, well, it’s obvious that they are now ready for the main event. Even the once white-hot spark that zipped among the cast members seems to have faded a bit.

Anyway, let’s talk about Lanie. I admit, when she enters a scene I have the chip on my shoulder secured firmly in place. However, she wasted no time in slapping it away last night by diving in with a “based on liver temp time of death” comment. Bravo, Lanie! Then she followed up with a “but I’ll know more once I do a full workup on him.” Dang, Lanie hit us with a double dose of accuracy and, well, I’m still cheering. Good job. Of course, she did dim the lights a bit with the comment about finding a trace of talc in the victim’s mouth. But I won’t dwell on a little bit of bad.

BUT…along comes Beckett who orders up a team of bloodhounds to search for the latex glove worn by the killer. Tracking dogs needs a scent to follow, such as keying-in on an article of clothing worn by the person for whom they’re searching (they didn’t have anything belonging to the killer). Or, the animals are trained to search for a specific item, such as drugs, explosives, etc. I’m not aware of any K-9 training that’s specific to latex gloves. In other words, no department keeps a kennel of dogs who’re trained to search for latex gloves. Besides, how silly would it sound for the officer in charge to shout, “Call in the glove dogs!” And wouldn’t you just hate to be the “Glove Dog Handler?” Sounds a bit like a behind the scenes joke in a proctologist’s office.

Finally…Al Qaeda? Castle saved 10’s of 1,000’s of people? A writer? PUHLEEZE!!

As I said earlier…DUMB.

*     *     *

Answers to yesterday’s quiz

1. True. Officers may search a residence without a warrant when exigent/emergency situations are present.

2. The 4th Amendment protects against unreasonable search and seizure, not the 1st.

3. There is no Constitutional requirement for officers to read the Miranda Warning to suspects at the time of arrest.

4. Cordite has not been used in ammunition since the end of WWII.

5. Bullet-proof/resistant vests do not stop all bullets.

6. No, not all police officers are expert marksmen.

7. False. Most police officers are not skilled in the martial arts.

8. Fear is a natural human emotion and all officers experience it at times.

9. DNA testing is absolutely NOT flawless.

10. Handheld fingerprint readers can indeed return results in as little as 45 seconds. Remember, though, a person’s prints must be in the system for an ID to return.

11. Stingray cell towers (simulated cell towers) are used by law enforcement to help locate wanted suspects. The Baltimore Maryland Police Department’s Advanced Tactical Team, in fact, utilizes the latest Stingray, a cell site simulator called Hailstorm. The device mimics an actual cell tower and forces phones in the immediate area to connect to it.

12. NETF (National Explosives Task Force) is a law enforcement group that analyzes and disseminates information relating to explosives. The task force includes members from the FBI, ATF, Homeland Security, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, as well as various bomb technicians and other experts.

13. Turkey Vultures are indeed used to detect leaks in gas pipelines. Engineers pump a gas called ethyl mercaptan (the gas produced by decomposing bodies) into pipelines and where the buzzards circle, well, that’s the location of the hole in the pipe.

14. Eighty-seven countries recently participated in a recent meeting of experts to discuss lethal autonomous weapons systems—weapons that would/could select and engage targets without intervention by a human. It’s a very real concern.

15. Yes, there is a smart keyboard that can identify its users by the way they type—key pressure, typing speed, patterns, etc. Therefore, even if someone knows your password, the keyboard would “know” the user is not the proper person who’s attempting to log in and would not allow access.

The smart keyboard cleans itself and generates its own power by harnessing the energy generated by typing.

Castle: Habeas Corpse


“I’d rather take the criminals down than send them up.” ~ Beckett

New Picture (10)

Melanie Atkins

I haven’t laughed so hard during a Castle episode in ages. Thank goodness for my Tivo, because I had to back up the action at least three times to rewatch due to not being able to stop cackling. If you haven’t seen the show already, stop reading now so I won’t spoil it for you.

The episode began with a man murdered in an alley. Not one of the funny parts. Next we get a glimpse into the loft, with Kate grilling Alexis with a legal question to help her prepare for one of her finals. Rick overhears and asks Kate, once Alexis leaves, if she regrets never completing law school way back when. She says no and pretty much quashes that possibility, and I can’t say I’m sorry about that. These little hints about the future keep surfacing, however, making me believe she does intend to change the trajectory of her career somewhere along the line. Their conversation soon morphs into flirtation and innuendo and would have taken them to the bedroom if Kate’s phone hadn’t rung.

The call takes them to the alley where sanitation workers found the murder victim. Talk with Esposito and Ryan on the way in centers around the Police Benevolent Society talent show fundraiser coming up. Ryan and Espo are apparently the reigning winners two years in a row, and they plan to win again. I love their can-do attitude. Rick doesn’t work for the department, so he isn’t eligible to participate, but he still can’t help ribbing Espo and Ryan about the competition that would ensue should he and Kate be allowed to join in the fun.

They all must shift their focus to the victim, and we’re immediately dragged off into Lanie-land with more silly talk about lividity determining time of death. I’ve gotten so sick of such nonsense that I didn’t even roll my eyes. I just shuddered. Most of what she had to say was gibberish, as usual, so I ignored it and focused on Kate, who recognized the dead man as an ambulance-chasing lawyer known for his ridiculous late night TV commercials. A lawyer who called himself “Pitbull” and had the ad folks put his head on a pitbull’s body.

Rick, Lanie, Kate, Ryan, and Espo all recognize the man and proceed to quote his commercial word for word… including the ending caveat in Spanish, courtesy of Espo. Oh, my God! I laughed so hard at the line “I make the law your bitch” and Espo’s little spiel. Had to run the show back twice and laughed again this morning while rewatching to write the blog.

The case had lots of twists and turns, each more confusing than the last, but I focused more on the interaction between our dynamic duo and Ryan and Espo… once Gates asked Rick to fill in for Jimmy Kimmel at the benefit, and he says he and Kate will be happy to join the competition. Only Kate isn’t happy. She admonishes Rick for including her without asking her if it’s okay. He tells her to relax, that they’ll just do their “routine”. She gets all flustered and says, “We don’t have a routine,” and he replies, “Come on. That thing in the shower? That is delightful.” Kate, who’s shaking and red faced at this point, says, “No! That’s not a routine. That’s two naked people singing when there’s no one around to see or hear it.” And Rick replies, “So we’ll add dance steps, some clothes… it’s can’t miss.” Ha! The picture this painted cracked me up.

We’re soon swept back into the case and the team’s pursuit of a man called Derek “Lightning” Bolt, a name that encourages them to come up with a plethora of bad puns. Esposito apparently hurts his knee while taking the man down, so Rick accepts a wager with Espo and Ryan that says he believes he and Kate will win the talent competition. More funny lines. I couldn’t stop laughing.


More case work ensues, with Kate, Rick, and the boys bouncing from one lead to another and one suspect to another. I didn’t really care who killed Pitbull, because I knew we’d find out in the end. I was more interested in the upcoming competition… especially when Kate and Rick catch Ryan and Espo practicing their routine in one of the interrogation rooms and discover that Espo really didn’t hurt his knee after all. Kate can’t believe it.

Our duo then apparently turns onto Stupid Lane and heads north out of the city by themselves to look for a dead body in acres and acres of woods, in a tract pinpointed by Tory, the precinct’s regular computer whiz using cell phone technology — yeah, that’s totally believable — with only two shovels for company. Really? Nobody I know in law enforcement would ever do such a dumb thing. Sigh. Anyway, they found the body, but ended up being kidnapped yet again.

None of this part of the script worked for me at all, except for Kate expressing her fears about performing at the competition, but I did have to cackle when Rick announced he’d learned that they could break the zip ties binding their hands behind their backs by slamming them against their butts. Yes, you read that correctly. Their butts. They jumped up and down and hit themselves until they finally broke the zip ties. Wide, flat zip ties that in no way resembled the ones actually used by police. Unbelievably silly, but still pretty funny.

Flash back to the loft and Rick and Kate dancing in preparation for their “routine”, with Martha’s dramatic encouragement thrown in for good measure. Rick leaves the room for a moment, and Kate confides in Martha that she’s not sure she can perform in front of a crowd because she has a bad case of stage fright. Martha attempts to help, but Kate is obviously shaken by the possibility of having to dance and sing in front of everyone. Rick is jazzed and wants to up their bet.

The next morning when they return to the precinct, Espo also wants to up the bet… until Gates tosses cold water on all four of them by announcing that Kimmel was back in, so Rick was no longer eligible to compete. This thrills Kate, but Rick is crushed. Later, however, Kate learns that he was responsible for Kimmel returning to perform, and he admits that yes, he called Kimmel because he overheard her telling his mother about Kate’s debilitating stage fright. So sweet.

Turns out the body they found in the woods was a test dummy with three chest wounds that apparently came from an airbag. Can you say ripped from the headlines? I had to laugh again when they sent the dummy to Lanie, who said, “You do know I’m a doctor, not a puppeteer.” Oh, really? The test dummy would’ve done a better job telling how he’d determined time of death at the beginning of the episode… but I digress. A medical examiner examining a test dummy in the morgue? I laughed out loud when I saw the “guy” on her table. Pu-leese.

They caught the murderer, a guy I’d pegged as shady and likely to be the one who’d killed Pitbull, a nut lawyer with a giant hammer (who had to be an Easter Egg of sorts to remind us that Nathan played Captain Hammer in Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog) but at this point I was done with the case. I only cared about the competition. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to see it, and neither did Kate and Rick. We did learn, however, that Ryan and Espo won first place for the third year in the row. Yay for them!


We also never got to see Rick and Kate’s entire routine, but we did have the pleasure of watching them sing and dance in the shower via their shadows on the shower wall, after viewing the trail of clothing they left on the way to the bathroom. Hilarious.

One of the funniest episodes I’ve seen in a long, long time. Next week’s show will be serious, if the promo is like it seems, so I may watch this one a few more times between now and then.


Lee Lofland

Wow, Melanie and I could not be further apart with our opinions of this episode. Sure, there were a few moments that made me smile, but that was about it. Even the case was a bit weak for me. And, of course, Lanie did not disappoint with her “based on lividity” comment. She even took her “stupid comments” a bit further this week when, while in the morgue, she identified a yellow substance on the victim’s pants legs as pollen from a specific plant from a specific region. But enough about Lanie. Enough. Enough. Enough.

The private investigator/body-digger-upper/kidnapper said the murder victim once asked him, “What’s the best way to get rid of a body?” Boy did that ever ring a familiar bell. If I only had a dollar for every time a writer has asked me the same question…

Then there’s Tory. What can I say about her other than she’s, well, supernatural at minimum.

So…Castle and Beckett head out to the woods to search for a buried body, which they find. Well, they thought that’s what they had found. But, as so totally predictable, they were once again abducted at gunpoint. I mean, for real, watching the show is like reading the same book over and over and over again. It’s the movie Groundhog Day on a weekly loop.

Let’s not forget to mention that the crime-solving duo went to the burial location alone and began to absolutely and totally destroy the crime scene by digging and trampling throughout the place. Holy cow was that ever a dumb scene. And what about the great zip-tie-escape that was so cheesy that, well, it would’ve made Houdini shake his head in embarrassment.

Okay, show of hands. How many of you knew, as I did, the victim of the salvage truck shrapnel would be the key to solving this case? And, how many of you knew, as I did, that the Savanna Hammer was the killer?

Is this show predictable or what?

I think I’ll sum up my part of this recap/review by using a portion of Lanie’s favorite line. Here goes…

Based on lividity, I believe Castle (the show) is approaching its time of death. Yes, someone has begun the slow insertion of the fork. I think it’s done.

See, I told you Melanie and I were on total opposite ends of the spectrum on this one.

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Castle: at close range


“A lot of guys, when they retire, they just…drift.” ~ Detective Kevin Ryan

New Picture (10)

Melanie Atkins

I enjoyed this Ryan-centric episode and thought Seamus Dever did a fabulous job. Kudos to him. Parts of the show raced by more like an action movie than a TV show, and those kudos go to the director and the writers, even though I guessed right away that Ryan’s brother-in-law was up to no good. I’d pegged him as the murderer and was glad that didn’t turn out to be the case.

Kate and Rick only played minor parts in this one, so I really don’t have too much to blog about. I’ll leave the case notes Lee and zero in on the big revelation they gave us in the waning minutes of the episode: the disclosure that Kate is apparently studying for the captain’s exam. I doubt many people were too surprised, because her professional restiveness drove much of the action in last week’s episode and affected her connection with the visiting inspector from Hong Kong.

Kate’s decision certainly didn’t surprise me. Sure, becoming a captain would take her out of the field, something the Kate Beckett of three seasons ago would never have wanted, but now things have changed. Moving up the ladder would not only give her more freedom and better office hours, but would also provide more of a buffer between her and the bad guys, making it a better career choice should she and Rick decide have a baby. She doesn’t want to have a child and then get killed like her mother did. Methinks Kate definitely has the idea of a child in mind, but only time will tell if I’m right.

Only five more episodes of Castle this season… and possibly the series. Sigh. Still no word on contract negotiations. I’m keeping my ear to the ground and will let you know if I learn anything about the show’s possible renewal or the cast’s disinclination to re-sign.

The promos for next week’s show made me laugh, so hopefully it’s a funny one. I’m looking forward to some classic Castle.


Lee Lofland

I agree with Melanie. I thought Seamus played his part extremely well. Not only did he properly represent a police detective, he displayed the sometimes extreme raw emotion that comes with the job. It’s a side of police work the public rarely sees, so for a non-cop actor to deliver a performance of this caliber is, well, nothing short excellent.

I wonder, though, if this episode is a preview of sorts for a spinoff? After all, Dever has been hitting social media pretty hard lately. Hmm…

Hey, did you know that Seamus Dever is cousin to a well-known mystery writer, a writer who’s attended the Writers’ Police Academy a few times?

Anyway, back to Ryan and his role. He was working a private security detail, which many cops do to earn extra money, when a shooting occurred. Unfortunately, the person he was protecting was wounded and the woman standing next to him was killed.

I once taught executive bodyguard training and, believe me, the stakes can be pretty high. It’s not a simple job for simple people. In other words, there’s more to the job than being 7-feet-tall and 350 lbs. So, speaking from years of experience, I also thought Dever handled himself well in this part-time role.

A failed assignment can be extremely devastating for anyone whose duty is to protect someone from harm. Somehow Dever managed to get that across to his audience without speaking a word. His eyes told the entire story in a single scene.

Okay, enough goo-goo ga-ga fawning over Seamus Dever. Let’s delve into the rest of the show.

Everyone knows I’m not a fan of Castle when the writers go for “serious.” They just don’t do it well at all. However, this week had it’s good moments. And, of course, it had the typical Castle-esque mistakes. For example, when Ryan was in the alley preparing to arrest his brother-in-law. He pulled out his pistol and…what did he do? Yep, he racked the slide. NO!!!!!! Cops carry a round already loaded into the chamber. To rack the slide at this point would eject a round out onto the ground. He’d be a “bullet shy of a full magazine,” which is a great description of the writer who pens this sort of thing.

We all knew that Chambers was not the killer because he was the first red herring to plop his butt into the interrogation hot seat. So it was a waste of time for him to utter even a single word. Besides, it was during the limo ride when it became apparent that the politician’s wife would pop a cap into the female assistant. You caught that “clue”, yes? But, as usual, she, too, was merely a typical Castle red herring via the standard boilerplate script.

Using laser trajectory or stringing to determine where the shooter stood when firing the shot would have been a routine act in a case such as this one. Not something unusual or out of the box as they made it appear in the show.

Gates ordered someone to “put out an APB” again this week. These folks switch between APB and BOLO about as often as Kayne West sticks his foot in his mouth. It’s BOLO (Be On The Lookout), unless you’re watching Dragnet reruns, because that’s the era when APB (All Points Bulletin) was popular.

All-in-all, I enjoyed this episode. And to Seamus Dever, Good job!

Oh, would somebody please get Tory a stool. It wears me out seeing her stand throughout an entire episode.


Castle: Hong Kong Hustle


“This is going to be fun, this little threesome here…investigatively speaking.” ~ Castle

New Picture (10)

Melanie Atkins

I enjoyed this week’s show. I wasn’t sure I would in the beginning, when it started off with Kate’s surprise and frustration over one of her police academy buddies having been promoted to captain at the 92nd precinct. At first I thought she was jealous, but finally I came to understand that she’s merely at loose ends and is ready to dive into the next chapter of her life. IMHO, that chapter started with her marriage to Rick, but apparently she also craves a change professionally as well. Or does she want a baby… or both? Who knows?


Rick believes Kate has “Patterson Syndrome”, or in other words, that by comparing herself to her peer who got the promotion, she’s comparing apples to oranges and isn’t being fair to herself. She makes the comment that maybe she shouldn’t have left the job in D.C. Except… the DOJ fired her, so she didn’t really have a choice in the matter. I had to roll my eyes at that one. Kate also says she thought she’d be in a leadership position by now. Only, she hasn’t pursued that avenue that I know of. She’s been happy being a detective who brings closure to grieving families. Excuse me. Did the writers already forget all of this? How about a little continuity, huh? This made me want to bang my head on the wall.

Well, enough about my frustration and on to this week’s case, involving a “superwoman” cop from Hong Kong named Zhang, who came to NYC to help a friend in need… and the friend turns up dead in a park. To make matters worse, a jogger identifies Zhang as the person rifling through the victim’s pockets right after the man was murdered. Ryan and Esposito find Zhang in the victim’s apartment. Instead of bringing her in without incident, however, she gets the drop on both of them. I imagined Lee rolling his eyes at that one, since they both lost their guns.

Turns out that Zhang not only heads up a major U.S.-Chinese task force, but also works with the international war crimes tribunal in The Hague. In addition, she’s the wife of a handsome Hong Kong TV star, has two perfect kids, and is a martial arts whiz who can apparently take on ten foes at once and lay them all out on the floor without breaking a sweat. In other words, she’s everything Kate wants to be. At this point, I became much more interested in Kate’s restlessness than I was in the case, so I’ll leave that discussion to Lee and keep my focus on Kate.

She and Rick work with Zhang to find out who killed her friend, and Kate asks Zhang how she manages to be all things to all people. Zhang proclaims that the key to success is finding balance in one’s life. Sounds simple enough, but Kate seems to believe she’ll never find that balance.

Later, however, as they dig into the case, Kate learns that Zhang isn’t quite as perfect as she seems. She’s separated from her husband and hardly ever sees her kids. Is that the life Kate wants? Heck, no. Kate wants professional satisfaction, but without jeopardizing what’s most important in her life: her family.

I believe Kate’s reassessment of her priorities is leading up to yet another conversation with Rick about the possibility of them having a baby. This, in turn, may` signal that the series is winding down to its natural conclusion, because Nathan and Stana’s contracts are up and they have yet to sign on for season eight. ABC wants to renew the show for at least one more abbreviated season, but only time will tell if that will happen. Meanwhile, we still have six episodes to go in season seven. I adore the show and don’t want it to end. Yet when it does, I hope they’ll at least give us a satisfying conclusion.

Next week’s episode features Ryan (Seamus Deaver), who gets in a pickle while moonlighting off the job. Can’t wait to see how that turns out.


Lee Lofland

Well, my job was easy this week because there was so little police work to pick apart. Well, other than the personal side of the job, that is.

Beckett felt inadequate due to the career advancements made by her peers while she continues on as a detective. This sort of feeling among cops is/can be very real. However, some officers prefer to remain in their positions/assignments, bypassing promotions, etc., and their reasons are simple—they love what they do—patrol, traffic, homicide investigations, etc. Moving into a leadership role is not for everyone.

I did question how Ryan knew the killer took the victim’s keys and cell phone. I mean, how could he possibly have known the dead guy had those items prior to being killed? Was there a note/inventory list in the corpse’s pocket that read, “If I’m dead when you find me please know that I had these items in my pocket at the time I was murdered—key ring, cell phone, three Fig Newtons, and an antique shoe horn.”

As far as the rest of the show went…same old, same old. The killer was predictable. Someone lost their gun (actually, Ryan and Esposito lost theirs at the same time).


Then, as always, someone was kidnapped. Of course, we saw the same tired parade of red herrings have their turn in the hot seat. And, well, blah, blah, blah…

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Castle: The wrong stuff


“Castle, we’ve got a murder…to solve, not commit.” ~ Beckett

New Picture (10)

Melanie Atkins

I enjoyed the show this week, but not as much as I thought I would. The episode did have some funny moments, especially at the beginning. Rick’s irritation at Alexis letting her friend use his laser tag gear cracked me up, as did his response to Martha’s beau wearing Rick’s pajamas. So funny.

Our dynamic duo got called away to a murder soon after encountering all of this unusual entertainment and had to leave the loft almost the moment they arrived. The murder was an odd one, having occurred in a simulation of a one way mission to Mars. Rick, of course, loved the opportunities this investigation afforded, especially their having to don space suits before entering the simulation area. A lot of this made me giggle, too.

The rest of the episode I found fairly ho-hum, except for Rick and Kate’s brief return to the loft when they discover Martha is inside again with her beau and then encounter Alexis and her pack of friends at the door. All Rick and Kate seem to want is some alone time in their own home. So they call a family meeting… to happen later.

After this brief interlude, our two crime solvers returned to the precinct to work on the case, and I quickly decided I didn’t care who had killed the astronaut. I didn’t enjoy all the drama around Mira, who obviously didn’t kill Tom. The other astronauts did. They also tried to kill Rick and Kate once they put two and two together, and had to yawn again. Please.

Of course, they escaped and arrested the persons responsible. Yay for them. I was so happy the case was over and delighted with Rick and Kate’s return to the loft and their family meeting with Martha and Alexis (who did not come because her grandmother told her to stay away.)

Turns out Martha had an important announcement to make: She’s moving out of the loft and getting her own place. Sweet! Now Rick and Kate will have the loft to themselves more often. Martha even mentions the possibility of little Castles in their future, and I loved that. What I didn’t love was Rick and Kate bolting from the loft almost as soon as Martha left because the place was too quiet. Really? After they’d kissed in the hallway on their last trip home so they could do so in peace? This seemed way out of character to me and not in tune with the rest of the episode. Don’t know what the writers were thinking. Sigh.

Now we have a three week hiatus before the next episode. Happens this time every year. I look forward to seeing episode seventeen when the show comes back. Just hope it’s more satisfying than this one.


Lee Lofland

This episode was better than the last, by far, but for me it was a predictable yawner. Still, there were plenty of funny moments that were reminiscent of the Castle of days long ago. Castle playing space man. Castle being excited about going to Mars. Castle…well, just Castle being Castle.

I even thought the blushing computer was humorous. Did you see it? When MIRA was caught lying her graphics turned red.

Mama Castle moving out was extremely predictable. I mean, who didn’t see that coming?

But let’s take a quick peek at the police aspects of the show. Remember, my job is to point out the rights and wrongs for the writers out there. So…

– Ryan was absolutely correct that DNA from exhaled breath condensate can be collected and tested for ID purposes in criminal cases. It can be done and it has been done. However, the copy of the autoradiogram produced by gel testing of DNA we saw Ryan holding is not the typical result we’d see in most modern DNA testings. An autoradiogram is a sort of x-ray picture of where radioactive probes have adhered to alleles. (It’s a picture of someone’s DNA).

Today’s DNA tests are most often run in a genetic analyzer, which produces an electropherogram, a graph showing peaks and valleys, not the black and white rectangular bands produced by gel testing that results in the autoradiogram. Some labs still run gel tests (NYC, though?), so this wasn’t a total ding.

New PictureNew Picture (3)

Genetic analyzer above left, and gel testing method on right.

New Picture (2)New Picture (4)

Electrophrogram produced by genetic analyzer above left. Autoradiogram image of DNA bands on right.

You can read more about DNA testing in one of my past articles. DNA Testing

– Castle and Beckett are intentionally locked inside the pod with poisonous gas pouring in. In case anyone’s keeping a running tally, that was yet another abduction. Oh, was there ever any mention of attempted murder charges filed against the people who locked the dynamic duo inside that pod-thing?

And, speaking of the three co-murderers, how soon was it when you zeroed in on them as the killers of the week? It was pretty easy to spot when the 4th guy who, by the way, had an airtight alibi, mentioned how they all hated the victim and did NOT want to go to space with him.

Finally, Beckett was back on the APB kick this week, instead of BOLO. Remember, writers, APB (All Points Bulletin) was replaced by BOLO (Be On The Lookout) about the time when Pac Man was still hot. I’m one of the old-timers and I’ve never used APB, nor have I ever heard it spoken by anyone other than TV cops.


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Castle: Reckoning


“It’s not just the murder he likes, it’s the game.” ~ Castle

New Picture (10)

Melanie Atkins

I enjoyed this week’s episode, the second of two parts, much better than I did last week’s show. Kate was kidnapped at the end of that one after going off alone to chase a lead, something we all agreed was dumb and a bit ho-hum… and now Rick has to find her. Of course, he’s not a cop, and he gets into trouble right away when he goes rogue to find his wife. I’m sure Lee will have a lot to say about this, but frankly, I bought it hook, line, and sinker.

Rick’s love for Kate is apparent from the get-go, when he first loses his temper with Mike Boudreaux/Jerry Tyson, and Ryan has to contain him. The boys won’t let him violate the jerk’s civil rights (too bad), but later Rick returns packing heat and gets himself arrested for assault. Not smart, Rick. Not smart, but inevitable when he’s fighting to find the woman he loves. We saw him go off the rails and take the law into his own hands when Alexis was kidnapped and whisked off to France in season five, so we shouldn’t be surprised by this. Rick’s dark side comes out when the people he loves, and himself by proxy, are in danger. Lone wolf Rick scares me. Nathan did a fabulous job in this one. Wow. I wouldn’t want to get on his bad side.


The episode took us on a roller coaster of emotion, from fake Kate—most of us had probably already decided the woman in the chair wasn’t her after seeing last week’s promo—to Rick going off on his own to catch Tyson. I thought he’d taken a page from Kate’s book and taken off by himself to find her, but the writers turned the tables on me this time and had him working with Ryan and Esposito all along. Yay for Espo’s military training. He took out 3XK with one shot.

I cheered again—and gasped—when Kate finally unraveled the string holding one of her restraints in place and grabbed Neiman’s wrist. Wow. What a powerful moment. Kate doesn’t need a knight in shining armor to rescue her. No, she took care of Neiman all on her own, with Neiman’s own scalpel, no less. The chilling moment when Rick found Kate partially covered in Neiman’s blood made my heart pound. Their relieved hug told me everything would be okay.

The last scene, of course, was my favorite. I like that Kate was mostly silent and seemed haunted by what she had done. Who wouldn’t be after killing someone and feeling their warm blood coat your hand? Shiver. Great job, Stana. Both she and Nathan outdid themselves in this one. I give it a big thumbs up, although I do wonder if they ever let Amy out of the trunk of Rick’s Buick. <g>

Next week’s episode, The Wrong Stuff, looks to be much lighter, and I’m glad. After this wild ride, we all need a chance to breathe. Boy, do I love this show.


Lee Lofland

Well, Melanie’s and my thoughts on this episode couldn’t be any further apart. I thought the entire story was predictable, cliche’, and a bit boring. And, the method the writers used to take us from A – Z was downright lazy. I’m mean, come on, to use the flashback thing where we see Castle’s ENTIRE conversation during the briefing was not him thinking out loud, but Castle, Ryan, and Esposito plotting how to catch this never-ending 3XK character.

Fillion did a great job of playing his part, though. His emotions seemed quite realistic and he nicely pulled off playing a solemn role this week. Typically he’s at his best when humor is involved, so it was a nice touch to see him wear his serious face.

The rest of the show, for me, was far too much super-villainish nonsense.

Anyway, there wasn’t a lot of police procedure to pick apart this week, and what was there was, well, it’s fairly safe to assume, writers, that you should not use this particular episode as a research guide for your next bestseller. Unless, that is, you’re going for a total BS/fantasy plot.

A couple of points.

– Castle writers really need to be more consistent. One week we hear Beckett properly use the term/acronym BOLO (Be On The Lookout), and the next, she or one of her crew uses APB (All Points Bulletin). Typically, APB hasn’t been used since cops were well-respected in this country. And that, my friends, was a looooong time ago. Writers, it’s BOLO!

– Super-Tech Analyst Tory was able to dissect the audio recording of Beckett screaming for help, and then locate and piece together together clips from other audio files to determine the found recording was a product of 3XK, not Beckett begging for help. And, she did it all in a matter of minutes. She. Is. Amazing. In her spare time, Super Tory needs to solve the issues of world peace, curing cancer, terrorism, poverty, and the California drought. I’m sure she could do all that and still have time to rescue a cat from a tree before heading home for the day. And she does all of this without ever sitting down! Do I really need to point out that this stuff is total fiction?

– Castle visits Tyson’s former cellmate to ask for information about 3XK. The prisoner used the term “cellie” when referring to the person with whom he once shared a cell. Cellie is indeed actual lingo/slang used by prison inmates.

– The standing ovation Beckett received when returning to the precinct was silly. After all, I’d think that by now seeing Beckett return after being kidnapped would be just another day at the office. Same old, same old. Just like Castle losing his gun to Tyson this week. Who didn’t see that coming?

– Castle’s a mega-rich author who once drove high-end sports cars, but now drives a Buick, the brand faithfully driven by my grandfather?? Gee, I wonder who’s sponsoring the show? I haven’t pulled out the stopwatch, but I’m sure Espo and Ryan receive less camera time than the Buick logo.

Finally, I certainly hope Castle remembers to feed the woman who’s now living in the trunk of his car.

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Castle: Resurrection

Only people who keep insisting they’re not terrible parents are terrible parents. ~ Castle

New Picture (10)

Melanie Atkins

This week’s episode was the first of two parts. The hour sped by for me. I usually watch Castle in real time, with commercials, so I’ll be ready to blog first thing the next morning. So if the plot doesn’t grab me, sometimes time slows and I get really antsy. Not so last night. I looked up and it was 9:55, with only five minutes of show to go. Wow.

The episode’s construction and cinematic feel made time fly, even though the writers brought back the 3XK arc, a thread I grew weary of a long time ago. All through the show, I could hear Lee muttering and shaking his head over the return to this particular storyline. I understand the powers-that-be want to end Rick and Kate’s long-playing battle with Jerry Tyson and Kelly Neiman once and for all, but I have to agree with Lee on this one. Enough is enough. I truly hope those two die or go to prison for life this time, so we won’t have to see them again.


I adored the first scene with our dynamic duo at the loft, of course, with its fun glimpse of Castle family life. Martha and Alexis have obviously accepted Kate with open arms, and this time before Alexis hurries off to the library to study, she kisses her stepmother on the cheek. Surprised, yet thrilled, Rick can’t help but comment, and Kate reminds him that he raised a great person. “You say that now,” he says. “You weren’t here for the beginning.” And she says, “And next time I will be.” Squee! So Kate is thinking about having a baby. Best. Opening. Ever!

Unfortunately, this is the only intimate Kate-Rick scene we get in the episode. The rest of the story revolves around solving the case of a dead blonde in an alley and the return of Kelly Neiman and Jerry Tyson (3XK)… supposedly, anyway. At least Gates and the DA allow Rick to return to the precinct to help Kate and the boys with the case. He and Tyson have faced off on numerous occasions, so he does have at least have background on the pair.

The team soon discovers that all evidence, including DNA, from Tyson’s and Neiman’s earlier crimes has disappeared, and what little new evidence they do dig up signals that Tyson is actually Mike Boudreau, his current alias. New evidence that includes a baby tooth, with its resultant DNA, that Rick and Kate get from Tyson’s stepmother. Tyson, of course, could have easily planted another person’s tooth in her home when he stopped by at an earlier date to pick up his belongings, but no one mentions this possibility. Duh.

Then Kate goes off alone to help a woman who is supposedly scared of Tyson after earlier refusing to even acknowledge she knew him. Right. I immediately pegged her call as a lure to get Kate out of the precinct. Why she goes alone to find this woman, at night, after Gates specifically told her weeks ago to always take someone with her, is beyond me. Gates has also told Kate to always tell someone where she’s going, and Kate doesn’t do this either.

Dumb, dumb, dumb. Kate is smarter than that. In my opinion, this dumb move and her kidnapping on the street in front of God and everybody is lazy writing. Having Tyson grab Kate in more devious fashion would have been more intriguing and less ho-hum, although the Beckett-or-Castle-gets-kidnapped storyline has also been run into the ground. I couldn’t help but picture Lee rolling his eyes when it happened again.

All in all, I love what the writers are trying to do, but I believe they could have come up with a better way of doing it. I’ll still watch next week, of course. I’m a certified Castle addict.



Lee Lofland

Well, I have mixed feelings about this episode, and it was that internal conflict that made it difficult to write my part of the review alone. Therefore, I called on someone who I felt could sum up everything in a single word, and here’s what he had to say…

Puhleeeeze…. 3XK…again? Do the writers have no new ideas? Is there no creativity left in the bullpen? No thoughts left in the old noggin? Perhaps they should tap into the minds of children. Now there’s a goldmine of imagination just waiting to be mined. Yes, an eight-year-old’s ramblings are far more creative than this recycled BS.

Now for the good news. Lanie was brilliant and totally believable. It’s a shame, though, that it took 7 years for it to happen, and while the rest of the show has begun to crumble.

Lanie’s lividity comment this week was CORRECT for the most part. It is possible that lividity can be used to determine if a victim was moved or not.

And then there’s this… Beckett was yet again kidnapped, but I’ll let her address the stupidity because I’m done with this one. Take it away, Beckett.


*To be continued…