14 February, 2012

Review: Castle 4.15 - Pandora

I'm a sucker for two-part episodes.

Anything that breaks up the monotony of mostly forgettable "bad guy of the week" episodes that police procedurals almost always do, is a good thing. Two-parters are compelling, can go in any direction at any time and allow for more and better storytelling, while often ending up as the episodes that you're most likely to remember once the season is over.

And who doesn't love a cliffhanger?

Sure, the stakes are never that high on this show (except maybe for the sporadic episodes involving Beckett's mother's murder), but that doesn't mean you can't enjoy the action, the twists and turns and the heightened suspense and emotion that Castle's two-part episodes provide.

In the case of this week's Castle ("Pandora"), things aren't as intense as they were in the show's previous attempts (2.17-2.18 and 3.16-3.17 ... who could ever forget Castle and Beckett in the freezer together?), but for the first time in a while I am rather excited to see next week's episode. And this is a show that I really love.

But perhaps just as good as a cliffhanger, is a good conspiracy. This episode features rogue CIA agents, a former muse/lover of Castle's, Beckett jealously, sick government technology and bad-ass dudes. All of that in the first part and we still don't know what the bad guy's plan is.

This guy is so bad-ass, that I find myself rooting for him. So what if he's trying to destroy the United States for seemingly no reason whatsoever?

Anyone who...

1. Purposely gets arrested to set a plan in motion
2. Breaks out of handcuffs in a police station completely undetected
3. Steals a police uniform from the precinct
4. Hacks into police servers so they can kill even more people
5. Stares down Beckett despite the fact that he can't see her behind a one-way mirror
6. Continues to eat their sandwich while cops kick in their apartment door, point guns at him and tell him to put his hands up

...is someone that makes for a compelling villain and one damn good reason to check out next week's conclusion.


--Sophia Conrad to Beckett: "He wanted an up-close-and-personal look at the life of a female CIA Agent, so I gave him one." The quote wasn't as memorable as Castle sipping his coffee and trying not to make eye contact with Beckett afterwards.

--Castle: "No, hey, sorry boys. Classified. Top secret. No, our eyes only. Defcon 1. And if I did tell you, well then I'd have to kill you." 
Esposito, acting all tough: "Yeah? Good luck with that."
Castle: "Yeah, realistically, that's not..."
Esposito: "I wanna go on record that this sucks."
Ryan: "Sucks."
Beckett: "Yeah, noted."

--Castle: "We're all on the same team here."
--Beckett: "No, you're on her team. Because by the way you look at her, you're sure as hell not on mine."


--OF COURSE Castle deciphers the chess secret code before the CIA does. 
--Castle's reaction to Beckett showing off her muscle car knowledge was great. As was the look he gave when she said "we should go to the track and see who laps who."
--I'm not intelligent enough to truly know the difference between good acting and bad acting (for the most part), but am I the only one that felt like Jennifer Beals just completely mailed in that performance? Just seemed lame and over-the-top.
--I enjoyed Castle's two rants about his "world's colliding" regarding Alexis' internship. Reminds me of the classic George Costanza scene from Seinfeld. 
--Shot, stabbed, choked and thrown out the window. Damn. Which of those four ways would you LEAST like to be killed?


--Castle and Beckett getting stuffed in a trunk was quite reminiscent of Chuck and Sarah from Season 1s Chuck vs. the Imported Hard Salami.
--Rogue CIA Agents ... Fulcrum, anyone?
--Castle and Beckett getting blindfolded entering and leaving the CIA base, just like Chuck had to do with Jill.
--It looks like the CIA stole some of Carmichael Industries' equipment.
--Pretty sick move when Gates stole the gun pointed at him from Beckett and turned it back on her in less than a second. Does he have the intersect, too? And if so, the good version or the tainted one?
--Did anyone else immediately think of Chuck vs. the Ex when this episode opened with a dude getting thrown out of a window and landing on top of a car?

OK, I'll stop now. If you aren't a Chuck nerd, I sincerely apologize for that section.
SCORE: 87 out of 100

I didn't want to provide a play-by-play recap of the episode or the conspiracy going on in it. If you saw the episode, you already know what's going on (to some degree) and if you didn't see it yet, I'm not going to spoil an episode that you really should be watching.

I find it hard to grade the first of two-part episodes, since I feel like a part of this score should ultimately hinge on what happens in Part 2. But "Pandora" featured an intriguing story, a couple decent subplots and a cliff-hanger (will Castle and Beckett drown? Dun dun dun.), so for now it grades highly. Speaking of which, I think I was too generous last week with "The Blue Butterfly". Let's knock that one down to an 81.


  1. The Castle two-parters normally rank within my favorites, and if I'm comparing last night's ep to the equivalent Part 1 eps of seasons 2 and 3, I think it held up pretty well. The case was interesting enough and the ep held my interest quite well from start to finish.

    Stuff I liked:

    * The subplot with Alexis's new internship and Castle's "worlds colliding" was entertaining and I think it could provide for some fun storylines in the future if they keep that one going for more than just these two episodes.
    * I revealed in my comments last week that the thing that keeps me coming back to Castle every week is the Castle/Beckett "shipper" element heh heh ... so any episode where we get a lot of good back-and-forth between those two is always a good one for me. It seems that a lot of the episodes so far this season have been painfully lacking on that front, so I was really glad that we got a lot of it in this ep.

    Stuff that the jury's still out on:

    * "... am I the only one that felt like Jennifer Beals just completely mailed in that performance?" I was also surprised that Jennifer Beals didn't really wow me much in this ep, but I need to see next week's ep before I can properly judge it. I remember being impressed with both Dana Delany and Adrian Pasdar's characters and performances in the previous two seasons, and the latter is saying a lot because I always found Adrian Pasdar to be really dull on Heroes. But he was great in the Castle two-parter last season. We'll see if Jennifer Beals impresses me next week though. I think I needed two episodes before I "got it" with Adrian Pasdar's character last season too. Where as I liked Dana Delany's character right off the bat in the season 2 two-parter.
    * The cliffhanger. My big issue with that in last night's ep was not so much with the episode itself, but with ABC's preview for NEXT week's episode. Like Eli said, the stakes are NEVER that high for either of the Castle or Beckett characters, because the show would be absolutely OVER if either of them died or left. It's just like it was with Chuck and Sarah on Chuck. BUT ... there are ways to still make an ending suspenseful by making us worry about how the situation will affect the characters later on, even if we know they're going to survive. Like the way season 3 ended, you knew Beckett would live, but you wondered what effect it would have on all the storylines, and the "I love you" thing was another huge cliffhanger all in itself. As for last night's ep, I'm not going to say what's in ABC's preview for next week just in case there's anyone here who doesn't watch those, but let's just say that the way it was put together was not great. We'll see how it all comes together next week though.

    "Castle and Beckett getting stuffed in a trunk was quite reminiscent of Chuck and Sarah from Season 1's Chuck vs. the Imported Hard Salami."

    LOL that's the first thing I thought of when watching that scene too. Though these kinds of "stuck in the trunk" scenes can be found in all kinds of movies and t.v. shows, so we certainly can't credit Chuck for inventing it. ;-)

    Anyway yeah I think 87 is pretty much the same as how I would rate the ep, but I also feel that we need to see next week's ep before I can fully judge it. We shall see ...

  2. I am both chuck and castle fan but castle has already done the whole throw a guy throw a window bit in this season already.

  3. Awesome. Castle was in the Castle.

  4. I finally watched the episode... Beckett is like the worst cop ever.

    1. HAHA how so ... cause Castle solves all her cases from her or cause it's apparently easy to steal her gun (if you're a super spy)? Or something else I didn't notice in the episode ... ?