Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Castle 8x06 "Cool Boys" (Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder?) [Contributor: Hope]


 "Cool Boys"
Original Airdate: November 9, 2015

For the past two weeks, we’ve had a miniature hiatus from Castle. A little separation from all the drama. Going into "Cool Boys," I honestly wasn’t sure whether or not that would be a bad thing. As I noted last time around, I was starting to lose my patience with The Storyline That Shall Not Be Named (TSTSNBN).

(... All right, that’s the worst acronym ever.)

I was hoping that in Beckett's absence, Alexis, Martha, and Lanie would have some more screen time to balance things out a bit. Instead, the episode focused on Castle and Slaughter (whose return prompted panic and some serious flight reactions) and on a smaller level, Ryan and Espo. If this episode’s theme was supposed to be Dudes and Their Problems, then MISSION ACCOMPLISHED, show!

Just keep in mind that the women of this show are the ones who kick some common sense back into the male characters. Who told Ryan and Espo to seek counseling (and not shoot each other in the backsides)? Beckett. Who solved their argument over the sergeant’s test spot while they bickered? Beckett. Who convinced Castle to have faith in Beckett? Alexis. Who encouraged Alexis to become more self-asserting in the P.I. firm? Hayley. In the previous couple of episodes, Castle let Alexis go undercover and investigate multiple times, almost over-correcting his original protectiveness. She succeeded and did perfectly fine out in the field, but it was out of character and reckless on his part. Who constantly gets in over their heads? The men.

I think what the male characters needed was some time to fend for themselves and sort out their own problems, because that’s the adult, reasonable, responsible thing to do. Their antics are hilarious, yes, but they need to deal with the consequences of their actions on their own. However, Castle missed a golden opportunity to let the other female characters take some steps toward center stage. That, and the storyline didn’t move forward at all in the episode. There was no mention of Ryan and Espo’s fight, and TSTSNBN barely made progress, if not took a step backwards (I’ll get to that later).


There was an interesting contrast between Slaughter and Hayley. They both hedge around the law, but they’re completely different characters. The first time Castle met Hayley, it didn’t even occur to me that something similar had happened before and ended terribly. So, what makes Hayley different? She’s smarter than Slaughter, not to mention more rational, grounded... and also not a jerk. She’s more like-minded to Castle, Beckett, and the rest of the crew, and that became very apparent in this episode. I’m almost tempted to say that might have been one of the purposes of the episode. Hayley was the wildcard, the one who didn’t fit in. By reintroducing outsider Slaughter and (temporarily) making her part of the established team, it changes the perspective of her place in the series a bit, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they use what happened in this episode to make Hayley a regular character. Castle did call her a "consultant," which shows promise.


Speaking of comparing and contrasting characters, the other, definitely intended purpose of this episode was to use Slaughter’s divorce to help with Caskett’s problems, or on a deeper level, to compare and contrast Slaughter and Castle as characters. When Slaughter opened up about his divorce and offered a little good-intentioned advice to Castle, I had to wonder what point the writers were trying to make. Slaughter’s marital problems had nothing in common with Castle’s. Furthermore, Slaughter and Castle are fundamentally different, despite both being kind of wacky. Slaughter is rude, demeaning, and violent. Castle is more like a combination between a gentleman and a confused puppy.

Castle is also a good friend, so of course he had to be Slaughter’s friend. I enjoyed how Castle laid down the law and demanded that things be different this time: no torture or violence, and a strict adherence to inside voices. However... why did Slaughter listen to or even pretend to agree to Castle’s terms? He must have really been scared of Ryan and Espo catching up to him, and really needed Castle’s help, because this seemed out of character.

With all that said, the writers did manage to kind of the storyline together in the end, with Slaughter saying his marriage failed because he "didn’t put [his wife’s] needs above his own." Somehow, this translated into advice to not ask permission to help Beckett. None of this makes sense. The most we can say in terms of Castle being selfish is that he’s been ignoring Beckett’s request to stay away. What Beckett needs is to solve this case and come out on the other side of it with Castle okay. We’ve been over this –– that’s why she pushed him away. So why would it make sense for Castle to put her first by put himself in the middle of things? He should be helping her, but that was her decision. Castle is going to do more damage than good by going this route, and she’s probably just going to push him away further. 


As I mentioned before, I was disappointed that they completely dropped the whole Ryan/Espo rift that happened during the last two episodes. It wouldn’t have taken much time to include it. It’s worth pointing out, however, that their reaction to Slaughter’s return was very biased. Yes, the man was in trouble with his own precinct, but that’s not really what drove Ryan and Espo to be against him. Rather, they remembered what happened last time –– Castle being swept up in how "cool" Slaughter was and ignoring them. Castle was in a different place in life this time around, and simply wasn’t in the mood for adventure and games (also the whole anxiety thing).

However, what really gets to me is Esposito’s decision to not track down the boy, who had a whole herd of people after him. He had Slaughter, the man he thought was guilty, and that was it. This is the exact kind of thing Beckett stands against, and it was just surprising after all these years and all they’ve been through to have Espo make a decision like that. He would have known better, and that irks me. Beckett leaves for a few days, and everything falls apart.

When it’s all said in done, "Cool Boys" wasn’t a bad episode. Was it a filler episode? Maybe. However, it certainly beats some of the fillers they’ve had before, and it was funny.

  • "This separation thing is getting really old." Same, buddy, same.
  • "A little time apart is just what you need." How much more time, Martha? Come on.
  • Castle, Alexis, and Martha were so freaked out that Slaughter was in the office, and it was hilarious.
  • WHY does his name have to be Slaughter? It’s the strangest thing to keep referring to someone as in a review.
  • "Together again. YAY."
  • "What, are you Inspector Gadget? This is a gun, not a pen. You don’t keep it in your desk!" I love that the gun-tosser keeps popping up.
  • "You lose phones in this line of work."
  • "I’m sorry, I’m trying to be intimidated, but I keep picturing you doing jazz hands."
  • Alexis and Hayley laughing at the men: EPIC. They were the audience for a moment there.
  • When Castle started snapping when they were held at gunpoint, and he and Slaughter started singing, taking all of the bad guys off guard was hands-down my favorite part of the episode.
  • "That you’ve got a cool role model?" "You mean Mr. Castle?" Oh look, the no hitting rule finally clicked. *rolls eyes*
  • Why was this episode called "Cool Boys"? I get that it was about the guys, but I’d hardly call Slaughter "cool," and at this point, Castle wouldn’t either.
  • This week’s The Annoyingness of the Caskett Breakup rating: 6 (considering that Beckett wasn’t even in this episode).
  • Well, that promo from next week was unsettling.


  1. Actually, the part Ryan and Esposito likely remember is that Slaughter nearly got Castle killed and they had to go in and save his ass. That's the big point: Castle was straight up wrong about Slaughter. It's not that Castle thought Slaughter was cooler than them, that's minor in comparison.

    1. Very true! It's been forever since I last saw that episode. Castle ignored them and their advice... and reason in general, and things went terribly wrong. In their eyes, it was kind of a "fool me once" situation. They couldn't fathom why Castle would let Slaughter persuade him to solve another case together.

      Now you have me thinking. Although I think Castle is just naturally inclined to help out people who ask him for assistance... he was intially persuaded this time around by Slaughter's offer to give him material to write about. It turned out well in this episode, but I almost feel like he should have known better than to cave in at that.

      Thanks for commenting!