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Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Castle 5x06: The Final Frontier

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There's been a murder...at Supernovacon. The owner and operator of the Nebula 9 Fan Experience turns up dead on the set. Conveniently, Castle's there to sign copies of his new graphic novel, so he and Beckett are on the case right away. As it turns out, Beckett was a big fan of Nebula 9 when she was in college, and has a total fangirl moment when she meets the show's captain: Gabriel Winters.

Castle is less impressed.

It turns out that the dead girl, Anabelle, had bought the rights to Nebula 9 for next to nothing and then set to work rebuilding the brand. Her new webisodes didn't sit well with the fandom, and there were plenty of nerds out there threatening to kill her. There's also a nerd at the convention who recognizes Beckett from their days at Stanford. He blows Kate's cover and shows Castle a picture of her in her Nebula 9 outfit.

All the best military uniforms have skirts.
Castle keeps ripping on the show for being terrible, although he's willing to quit if Beckett will wear the costume for her. She says no, but he keeps at it, and we all know that she's going to give in eventually.

At the ME's office, Perlmutter is on duty, and he has some interesting news: Anabelle was killed by a high-intensity laser blast to the chest. Someone shot her with a phaser at a sci-fi convention.

Castle is giddy as a schoolgirl.
While Beckett and Castle do some sleuthing, Ryan and Esposito interview Nebula 9 fans at the convention. Ryan deals with the nerds, while Espo gets hit on by a woman wearing nothing but leaves. Kevin gets the information they need, but I still think Javier made out better. Anyway, as it turns out, former Nebula 9 actress and current big-time star Stephanie Frye was talking to the victim just before the murder. She says that Anabelle was just asking her if she would be involved with the Fan Experience because Winters has been showing up drunk and sleeping with the fangirls, and she might fire him. But, Stephanie's beyond that piddly crap these days, so she turned her down. While Castle's trying to think of whether or not getting fired from something that small is worth killing over, a scantily-clad Alexis walks by and ruins his train of thought.

What has been seen cannot be unseen.
After Beckett stops Castle from embarrassing his daughter in front of her friends, the two of them head over to the Fan Experience to question the captain. He tries to stay in character, but they're not having it. Castle steals his Thorian blaster and fires it at a console, proving that it works, and is therefore the murder weapon. Back at the station, Winters admits he and Anabelle had a contentious relationship, but he has an alibi: At the time of the murder, he was getting treated for an STD he picked up from the fangirls he slept with. So, they don't have a murderer, but they do have the murder weapon, which they trace back to a warehouse. When they get there, Castle and Beckett see a sign on the door that says "Danger: Do Not Enter".

They should have listened.
Fortunately for our heroes, they haven't stumbled into the lair of an evil scientist, just the workshop of a prop maker played by Armin Shimerman. He has everything: bat'leths, Cylon laser pistols, double-bladed lightsabers, a "Han shot first" T-shirt, and fully-functional Thorian blasters. He only made two of them; one he kept, and the other he sold to a guy who turns out to be Anabelle's secret con-boyfriend. He's also a little concerned that Castle fired the blaster without protective gear on, but he thinks he should be fine.

They catch up with the boyfriend, but he says he left her at a party after she said she never wanted to see him again. She was also crying because the guy dating her best friend and business partner tried to kiss her. It didn't go his way and she decided it was time to dissolve the partnership and sell the rights to Nebula 9, which turned out to be worth $2.5 million. Castle and Beckett interview the business, but she's offended by the insinuation that she killed her best friend and clams up.

That leaves them with five suspects and no way of figuring out which one was the murderer. That is, until Castle waves his hand over a UV light on the bridge of the Nebula 9 Fan Experience. When he fired the Thorian blaster, the energy emissions left a superficial burn on his hands that glows under ultraviolet light.

They call everyone to the set and have them wave their hands over the same light Castle did. Winters has the characteristic burns, but he explains them by saying he bought the other blaster from Armin because he's the captain, and if anyone should have a working blaster, it should be him. They're no closer to finding the killer, but as Stephanie tries to sneak off the bridge, her hand glows, and she's intercepted by Ryan and Esposito. With nowhere to run, she takes Winters hostage with his own blaster. She's been trying to become a real actress, and with Anabelle selling the rights, Nebula 9 would've started up again, and the stench of it would have dragged her down once more. Her career's over now, but at least she can have the satisfaction of killing Gabriel. But, before she can fire, he kicks her ass and disarms her.

Because he's the goddamn Captain.

With the murder solved, Castle goes back to trying to convince Beckett to wear one of her Nebula 9 uniforms for him. She says yes, but in exchange he has to watch a marathon of the series and he's not allowed to make fun of it. She drives a hard bargain, but he agrees.

It doesn't quite go the way he'd hoped.

What I Liked
-The episode's director, Jonathan Frakes, makes a cameo as Castle's biggest fan. He's doing all right considering TNG ended like 20 years ago.
-Ed Quinn does Tim Allen doing William Shatner in Galaxy Quest. It's a really good version of the overly-important, washed up sci-fi actor.
-Castle does impressions of two separate Star Trek captains. His Kirk was funnier, but I think his Picard was more accurate.
-"Thorian blasters don't kill. People do." In the US, energy blasters are constitutionally protected.
-Alexis comes home after her dad spots her at the con and asks if he wants to talk about it. He does not and neither does she. Sometimes it's best to pretend something never happened.
-They end the episode with Shatner's 'Ideal Woman' playing while Beckett romps around in her scary alien mask. If there's a better way to end an episode, I don't know what it is.

What I Hated
-The product placement for the Derrick Storm comic was just a little too blatant this time. Usually, I'm okay with it because I find it hilarious that a fictional character writes real books, but they went a bit overboard.

Click Here to get your very own copy of Storm Season.

Final Thoughts
I'm not sure I'm comfortable thinking about Molly Quinn as a full-grown woman. Sure, she's 19 now, but I've been watching her on TV since she was a kid, and it just feels a bit weird. Then again, she's pretty cute, and if I were ten years younger, I'd totally be all up ons if I saw her at the local drinking establishment. Honestly, the whole concept has me very conflicted.

Molly Quinn as Alexis in her cosplay outfit.

Beyond that, I think I'm probably the perfect demographic for this episode. It had everything: Jonathan Frakes, a scenery-chewing sci-fi captain, sexy outfits, Armin Shimerman selling weapons, an awesome starship bridge, Captain Malcolm Reynolds doing an impersonation of Captain Picard and Captain Kirk, working blaster pistols, and a spoken word song by Bill Shatner. What more could you possibly want?

They've done these sorts of theme episodes before, and they play up Nathan Fillion's history as a sci-fi icon every now and then, but I think this is the first time they've ever shown Castle himself to be a full-on sci-fi geek. Since they decided to make Derrick Storm graphic novels, it makes sense, though; He really is the kind of guy who should be hawking his wares at cons these days.

Personally, I think this is exactly what an episode of Castle should be. There was a murder, and they investigated it, but it was never serious, and they looked like they were having a lot of fun. That's what sets this show apart from all the other police procedurals out there. They may never be able to compete on the serious business end of police work, but when it comes to goofy crime-solving fun, Castle is better than any other show on TV today.

Nevertheless, I vacillated a little bit about this rating because the episode was more or less made for guys just like me, and I'm not sure if it has broad-based appeal. But, you know what? Screw it. It was hands down the most entertaining episode of TV I've seen all season.

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