Right, so, here’s how we know things are back to normal at Castle.
Scene opens on Castle in his apartment.
Enter eccentric mother displaying oddity relating to her oh-so-amazingly-offbeat life as a thespian!
Insert witty repartee between Castle and mother that indicates Castle’s silly-billy roguishness went back to his earliest days; on the other side, you can mute the dialogue and say “Mother, you’re so delightfully bizarre!” every time Castle opens his mouth and you won’t miss anything important – except, perhaps, the seed of theme. In fact here is my rewrite:
Mom-in-a-sheet: “OH LOOK I AM WEARING A COSTUME! It’s actually an overworked sheet and I look like a reject from Nunsense, but no matter! I am a visual representation of a THEME – in – COSTUME!”
Castle: “Why mother, why would one wear a costume in a world full of people walking around in jeans and skirts?”
Momsper: “Because a costume helps one get into character! This is important! YOU SHOULD REMEMBER IT!”
Castle: “Oh, hm, I’ll just be handy in the kitchen here and pretend what you’re saying right before I get a visit from my daughter and a call from Beckett DOESN’T always have prescient qualities.”
Momsdemona: “Darling, remember how IMPORTANT COSTUMES ARE! I must go and be a grand dame now!”
Then, naturally, Alexis shows up and is just about as aberrant from perfect as Her Perfect Daughterness (HPD) is allowed to be in the first ten minutes. (I think, this time, she will figure it out and revert to HPDness right after the murder gets solved. Anyone take my odds?)
Alexis: “Hello dad! I am perky and adorable and smart and understanding and a better adult than you are and what every dad wants in a daughter, except every now and then I have an only slight lapse in judgment but it’s usually fixed while my dad’s out gallivanting as a part-time crimefighter. How are you and your handy-in-the-kitchenness this morning?”
Castle: “I’m about to get a call from Beckett which means all this Rich People Being Charming banter is about to abruptly end-“
Alexis: “Great, Dad. By the way I’m taking all the same classes as my boyfriend and becoming his clone, just so we can spend time in Economics sucking face as the professor drones on about why kids don’t have enough to eat in Somalia or whatever. Bye!”
Castle: *sob* PHONE RINGS
Mumsense: “Darling, it’s your daily deathogram on the line. Are you crying?
Castle: “No, it’s the onions, but don’t worry, I’ll finish this sentence-“
CUT TO New York City Street
Castle: “-with Beckett, who will be a teen psychologist for 30 seconds while we walk to a gruesome crime scene, dispensing zenlike advice on how to deal with my daughter’s lameass rebellion.”
Beckett: “Ohhhhmmmm. Oh look, this killer used a COSTUME!”
So yeah. That’s how we know things are past the premiere hubbub at Castle. It’s the good old Castle formula and routine, and I’m a sucker for it.
Stana Katic said in an interview once that she would love to see an episode where there is no murder to solve. Where they are sitting around twiddling thumbs and getting into whatever comes of that. Can I vote a yes?
Not this time, though: this time the murder is particularly gruesome, a man hacked to pieces by someone who seems to have been in superhero costume when he did it. And here’s why I love this particular plotline: Any time you let Castle be a geek about story and narrative – about the proper use of the word “irony” – about punctuation and hero arcs – it taps into what this show does best: use narrative theory to piece together puzzles. This time Castle was in his element, as a major comic book nerd. One of the attractive things about Castle as a character is how much he loves storytelling: he can very believably converse on superhero psychology, and looks like he’s having a ball doing it. In fact, every time Castle launches into some theory about why the murderer did it, he looks like he’s writing, and that he is someone who enjoys writing. That’s the basic element Nathan Fillion always remembers to bring to Castle, and there’s always something joyful about watching someone who loves what he does do the thing that he does.