I have kind of fallen in love with Castle. This is mainly due to my affection for anything Nathan Fillion does, my newfound interest in the recurring cast of the show and the fun that the writers and crew have when making this show. It started as an amusing distraction, but by the point of the show that I have reached, the episodes are always spot-on. If anyone hasn’t been watching this programme, I suggest that you make a note to check it out. It will not be a waste of time.
Sadly, I may have over-dosed. I seem to have synched up with the style of writing of the show and I have come up with a few tricks that often lets me figure out the killer long before it is revealed. I still get a kick from figuring out the ‘hows’ and ‘whys’, but the ‘who’ never surprises me anymore, especially when it is a filler episode. Every now and again, an episode has no desire but to keep the audience entertained for 40 minutes, which is not a problem in itself, but I always crack the mystery. Here are three little tells the show always gives away. (These also sometimes work, on other detective shows.)
3 – IT’S EITHER THE FAMILY OR THE FAMOUS ACTOR GUEST-STAR
I love it when a famous face shows up on TV. While I am happy being left in the capable hands of Nathan Fillion and Stana Katic, it is quite nice to have a recognizable face show up in the proceedings to inject some energy into the show. For example, the episode where Castle and Beckett try to track down the dirty bomb, I loved that the show wrote an interesting character out of Adrian Pasdar’s guest appearance. However, the downfall of this is that when a famous actor appears in a filler episode of Castle, the writers feel compelled to write some good material for the star. And that good material is more often than not becoming the killer.
It is so painfully obvious when that famous actor isn’t really engaging with the story. Castle usually consists of several red herrings, so even the non-famous guest stars really get a massive chunk of the story. Therefore, when we do see a face that we recognize from another TV show, we find it hard to believe that that actor would be happy just putting in a token appearance into the show. Hell, the fans would be angry if that actor wasn’t the killer, so the writers don’t have too much choice.
If there isn’t a famous guest star, I usually point the initial suspicion on the first person interviewed, which is usually the family. Why? Like the famous stars, they come up at the start and then are quickly forgotten as the mystery plunges down another direction. The writers think they are being clever by bringing them back as the actual murderer at the end of the episode. It happens so often that I have started rolling my eyes, when it comes up, meaning that a lot of Castle episodes have sadly got a tad anti-climatic.
2 – THE MYSTERY DETAIL USUALLY COINCIDES WITH THE ALEXIS SUB-PLOT
One strand of story that usually becomes a necessary part of Castle is his relationship with his daughter. Each episode starts with Alexis getting involved in a mental conflict at school (sometimes, it is Martha, his mother, but mainly Alexis), and Castle being dragged away before he can help her. As he gets brief moments with her, she usually says some stray piece of information that cracks something in Castle’s memory. It is the Eurieka moment that TV seasons love (and to be fair, it is my favorite cliché, so I happy for it to stay), but it does make it easier to predict where the mystery is going.
Just pair up Alexis’s crisis with Castle’s. Alexis is keeping secrets from her father. Someone in the case was probably doing the same. Alexis is trying to connect with an old friend, who she doesn’t recognize. Maybe the victim or killer also went through a change of identity. I admit that sometimes the writers are clever with this and it isn’t always painfully easy to predict, but it has to be said that it becomes harder to trick the viewer, when the answers are hiding in plain sight.
1 – THE KILLER IS NEVER FROM THE WEIRD SOCIAL CIRCLE
To keep each episode fresh, a lot of the time the investigation will take the two detectives into a group of people that are difficult to understand. One episode they head into the world of male strippers. In another, they find a steampunk community. The leads all point that someone from this community were threatened from the outside and they ended up killing the victim. And for some reason, this lead never works out and not for the reason that it is just too obvious. I have a theory about this.
The moral of the episode becomes ‘they aren’t that different’ after all. We spend most of the episode trying to wrap our heads around the world of, let’s say, extreme sexual fetishes, and it turns out that someone outside of that community (again, often the first person they interviewed), was the killer all along, making our suspicions wrong and, most importantly, xenophobic. By the end of the episode, we are prepared to be a little more trusting about something we didn’t truly understand. This is a good story technique and I admire that moral, but when it comes in terms of mystery, we come to that point again of a good story becoming predictable.
And there we have it. I hope that my readers find it easier to solve mysteries from now on and I also hope that I haven’t ruined Castle for you.