Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Castle 8x09 “Tone Death” (Change of Tune) [Contributor: Hope]

“Tone Death”
Original Airdate: February 8, 2016

You know what would have been worse than suffering through last fall’s annoying break-up storyline? Having suffered through it for nothing. Luckily, we got this episode instead. It was adorable. Well, actually, let me rephrase that: the cold open was gross (what, is there a sale on fake blood lately?) and the rest of the episode was pretty adorable.

This was probably one of the best episodes of the season so far (the midseason finale was pretty good), and let this be a lesson to the Castle writers: happiness can create a compelling storyline. Happiness fosters jokes and comedy and great dynamics, all of which Castle is very good at. This is what the show is — a dramedy — and it has plenty of death and destruction going on in its cases of the week. It does NOT need to try to be a full-blown drama and kill its love stories. We’re eight seasons into this thing, people. Know what your show’s strengths are and play to them. It’s one thing to push boundaries as a younger show that’s trying to gain an audience, but when you have a recipe that previously made you the number one drama on a big five network... don’t take things out of the mixing bowl, okay? What works is the quirky, loyal, almost slap-stick comedic dynamics between the characters. What works is letting go of the will-they-won’t-they drama — which worked for SEASONS — and letting viewers enjoy the show. Especially since Castle has been balancing on the edge for a while, what with declining ratings and contract issues, let’s just bring the show back to its silly self and enjoy it, please? They might even see the ratings spike a bit.


This storyline is SO much better than the breakup. The fake fight scenes were hilarious and better than most of the funny scenes in the first part of the season. I don’t think they were all that convincing, but I’m willing to suspend my belief and take it that Ryan and Esposito couldn’t see through the act. If the initial “fight” lacked some conviction, the slap upside the face Castle got when Ryan and Espo walked into the room the next time would have sold it. That’s not the way you fake-slap someone. That was worse than the slap Martha gave the murderer.

There is a huge difference between the real and fake disagreements. While part of it is the musical cues (it’s hard to believe they’re serious when the music is playing silly riffs) and directing, the actors deserve a lot of credit. They are playing characters who are acting, and so there has to be this noticeable difference in the characters’ acting abilities. I wonder if it’s hard to be a bad actor when you’re actually a good one? It seems like it must be. Anyway, the lighter tone of these fights is almost palpable. I still don’t understand why they didn’t fake the breakup from the beginning, because they’re both intelligent human beings who are capable of plotting and who didn’t want to break up in the first place. I will, however, gladly take comedic fights and pretend affairs now.


When Castle caved and had to come up with a quick excuse for why Beckett was so upset with him, he made a wrong turn. Esposito said, “Beckett’s our family, you cheat on her you cheat on us,” and he meant it. They turned on Castle so quickly, and for the whole rest of the episode they treated him with complete disdain. How many times was the name “Svetlana” said with such disgust and anger? It has to be a record for television in general.

The point is, Ryan and Espo didn’t hesitate to pick Beckett’s side in the “fight” and were willing to completely disregard their friendship with Castle for her sake. They only lightened up a couple of times, like when they “forbade” Castle from hacking for them (or you know, getting Alexis to hack for them). Even then, Beckett came out and they looked guilty, and immediately pledged their allegiance to her. I’m not really sure what this says about their relationship with Castle (nothing good), but it says a lot about how they feel about her. When she invented her own boyfriend to take the focus off Castle, they weren’t anywhere near as upset. If anything, they seemed a little miffed that they couldn’t be quite as mad at Castle as they could be before. Beckett is their big sister and they’d do anything to support her, and are all too ready to prove it.

Also, with them having a common enemy (or something a little less melodramatic) to unite against, there wasn’t a hint of the problems Ryan and Esposito had last fall, which ranked number two on my list of annoying storylines. Not to mention that this storyline shines a spotlight on the dynamics and bonds between all four of the characters. I’m a happy camper.


This was actually a pretty interesting case of the week. The underground acapella practice area scene was kind of fascinating and magical, and the singers were very, very good. Castle and Alexis looked transfixed and giddy, and totally sidetracked for a few minutes. Best of all, later on Espo had a sing-off with one of the teams, and it was amazing. Did I know that Jon Huertas could sing? I feel like I must have heard about it at some point, but forgotten.

The downside to this case was that there were about a dozen different twists. I guessed that the couple who ran the MVP had something to do with it, but it took too many minute characters to finally get there. I was invested because I thought the acapella group comprised of ex-cons made for a pretty compelling storyline with engaging characters, but I could have lived without some of the detours. After all, more detours = less time for the main characters and their storylines. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good mystery, but I love character-centric drama even more.

Anyway, this was a great start to the second part of the season. It was funny, engaging, and so much more lighthearted than the first eight episodes. Now if we can stay on this track (and if they don’t drag out the fake breakup storyline for too long, because even good things can get old), we might just get the old Castle back.

And don’t forget: Castle airs brand new episodes next week on both Sunday and Monday, because we need a double dose of this show (truth), and apparently ABC feels the need to keep me on my toes.

  • “Honestly, how did you ever solve murders without me?” *trips over whiteboard* 
  • “I am done playing lone wolf.” I’m going to hold you to that, Castle.
  • “It means that I love you, but right now, I’m going to have to yell at you.” *elevator door dings, doors slide open* “CASTLE!” He jumped so high.
  • “Tell me, is the ‘mama’ meant to be ironic?”
  • If the bubble cigars get to be a recurring thing, I hope we also get to see that secret room and the gun-tosser. 
  • “I don’t speak emoji.”
  • “With all the gentrification going on, there’s no such thing as bad river front property — Okay, maybe I was wrong.”
  • “I don’t know whether to be happy or hurt by your lack of faith in me.”
  • “Was that a rat?” “No, it’s too big to be a rat.” “Great.”
  • Creepy clown graffiti are the worst. *shivers* 
  • “I believe her exact words were, ‘sure, maybe we’ll get lucky and Castle will get shot.’”
  • “OW, that’s my skin!” How high-pitched was that?!
  • You know how on cop shows they sometimes open a car door in the way of a runaway suspect? Beckett did essentially that move... but with her arm. It looked awesome and painful. 
  • “If you want we can through him down a flight of stairs.” Good Lord, they got so violent so quickly. 
  • “And you couldn’t think of a better name?!” “Right?!”
  • “I was crushed when I heard about Svetlana.” These dudes are such shippers.
  • “Not with their feel-good ‘orange is the new singing sensation’ backstory.”
  • “Just so you know, you get us in the breakup.”
  • “If you need to vent, we’re here for you.” “Yes, we could talk all night if you need to.”
  • “Well, you know we’d do anything for Martha.” “Yeah, we still like her.” “Ow.” 
  • “Just me or is this just —” “Wrong, all kinds of wrong.”


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