Thursday, February 18, 2016

Castle Review: 8x11 "Dead Red" (Operation Nickel Tour) [Contributor: Hope]


“Dead Red”
Original Airdate: February 15, 2015

Whatever this week’s first episode had been lacking, the second one made up for all of it. I thoroughly enjoyed the storylines and it was playful while being about an international relations nightmare. Spies! Baby-sized bullet-proof vests! One-minute crime solving! What more can we ask for, really? It built on the story arcs without sobering up the episode too much, and when you have an extremely excited Russian agent running around hugging people, how can you even put a damper on that?

FAN OR FOE?


Vasiliy was an unexpected surprise. Simultaneously childlike and deadly, he could go from fanboying over Castle’s books, to torturing a spy, to being downright touching as he talked about getting justice for Grigory. This character was an enigma. On one hand, I think he was legitimately a happy, goofy person who did have a heart, even if he had a dark side. There was a scene towards the end when you could see in his expression that he really, really wanted — maybe needed — to get justice for Grigory.

I think he was also genuinely a Castle fan, not to mention a Caskett shipper. He looked taken over with pure joy. He made some calls and insisted that Castle be brought into the case so he could work with the two of them, and any character who reunites these two earns a point in my book. When he met them he started hugging, laughing, and hugging AND laughing. Long, laughing hugs. The scene was so intense and infectiously happy.

When Castle realized he was taking Vasiliy on a secret mission instead of NYC sightseeing, that was the point where the episode would normally switch gears to Dark Twist Mode, which was also what the synopsis had hinted at. Yet, once they were inside the warehouse with Anatoli, Vasiliy didn’t act as the rest of the team predicted. “Please,” he pleaded with Castle, “don’t make me hurt you, too.” I’m sure that if Castle had been a stick in the mud and gotten in his way, Vasiliy would have hurt him. But he genuinely didn’t want to. Castle could see he would only be collateral damage if Vasiliy had no other choice, so he went along with it.

ONE-MINUTE CRIME SOLVING


This was epic. Vasiliy gave Castle 60 seconds to attempt to get information out of their captive. After he na├»vely tried to get the spy to just fork over the info by asking nicely (worth a shot), he looked through the man’s wallet and figured out his plan in about half a minute. He took three clues: a laminating company, a uniform supplier, and a catering business, which, put together, lead them to a party being held at the Russian consulate.

After the mystery had been solved, the killer was ready to hop a plane back to Russia, thinking he only had to pay a small fine. Castle and Beckett were rightfully taken aback until Vasiliy revealed that the plane wasn’t going exactly where the guy thought it was. They might not have been able to put him in jail, but taking him to the coldest place in all of Russia? Sounds about right.

There were two significant details in this scene. One, it finally showed us a clear picture of Vasiliy. He did have a good heart after all, and he did have his own moral code, even if his profession didn’t exactly reflect it. He was on their side, he just couldn’t always let everyone else know it. And that excitement wasn’t just an act, something I’m really glad about. I don’t like it when a show tricks its audience by giving us a refreshingly excited character and then saying, “OOPS, JUST KIDDING.”

Secondly, Beckett insisted that Vasiliy hug her this time around. She had shied away the first time, because not all of us are huggers and a random stranger coming in for a laughter-filled hug sends out retreat signals. However, within the span of the episode, these three had formed a bit of a bond. He didn’t kill Castle, he didn’t stab them in the back, and he helped them catch the murderer. He had warranted a hug goodbye.


GETTING OLD, BUT WORTH IT


Since this case involved international intrigue and spies, Beckett went to Castle’s stepmother for a little help. I don't know whether she was impressed or disappointed that Beckett had gone through with the separation, but she seemed proud when she realized it was all a hoax. It also proved that anyone spying on them could be fooled by their act. You could see it in Beckett’s expression that she realized they had made a crucial victory in the LOKSAT war.

Castle’s stepmother also came by the precinct and questioned Vasiliy, while Castle and Beckett watched her through the mirror. Castle was in awe of the interrogation and asked who the woman was… and Beckett told him the truth in the spirit of no more secrets. Castle wasn’t mad, per se, but he sounded disappointed and tired. “This is getting really old, Beckett,” was his response. This revelation wasn't enough to set back the progress they have made. Actually, it might have even moved things forward a bit. It showed that while they have gone back to being a happy couple, there is still a strain present, and if left unacknowledged, it could have led to another rift.

Castle then had a nice moment with his stepmother, with the knowledge that he would probably never see her or his father again. He said “I am so sick of people pushing me away for my safety,” and admitted that he feels angry about Beckett’s lies. However, the conversation came down to one heartwarming line: “She’s worth it.” She might be trying to protect him and that might annoy the heck out of him on the inside, but he has chosen to no longer fight it. Beckett started out emotionally closed off, and over time Castle has made her grow past that and free herself of her walls. If she were to lose him, the damage might be irreparable. I don’t want that to come off as sounding like Beckett isn’t the strong woman she is, but it’s only human to need the support and love of others, and being human isn’t being weak. She was strong and tough when she had all her walls up, but she is stronger and happier when she can let herself live. Castle understands why she did what she did, and he has accepted that while he doesn’t have like it, he also doesn’t have to dwell on it. He can move on from the anger, and he will, because he loves her too much not to.

Notepad:
  • “Is that a bullet-proofed baby?” Ryan and Jenny’s baby shower! I feel like we’re missing more of this storyline.
  • “You are our favorite reality show.”
  • “Howdy!” “Howdy?” “Well, ‘yo’ was getting played out, so I thought I’d try something new.”
  • New term invented: Diplobrats, AKA punks with diplomatic immunity.
  • “It’s the famous crime-solving duo!”
  • Vasiliy called Beckett “Katherine the Great.”
  • “That is so cool — bad. Obviously bad.”
  • “This novel writes itself.” “Tell us what happens next.” Ryan and Espo’s heads turned at the exact same time. Their anger is so far gone, I forgot about it. It probably helped that they didn’t have all that much screen time. 
  • Operation Nickle Tour: “What’s that?” “You’re going to take him sightseeing.”
  • “You really did it. You blew up your marriage and went down the LOKSAT rabbit hole.” 
  • Isn’t handcuffing a passenger to your steering wheel kind of inconvenient for driving? 
  • “We’ll be your plus four.”
  • “What was I right about?”
  • “Does he ever mention me?” “No.” “Ouch. Couldn’t you have lied?” 
  • I hope this isn’t the last we see of Castle’s spy side of the family. This seemed like goodbye, but there’s so much left untold and so much fatherly pride to see, instead of just to be told about. 
  • “She did it out of love.” “Oh, I know. And at the end of the day, she’s worth it.”

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