Monday’s “Undead Again,” the penultimate episode of Castle‘s fourth season, was one of the stronger episodes of late, with an interesting case that allowed for humor while prompting some major personal growth for our heroes.
This week’s victim is currency trader David Locke, found beaten to death (but not robbed) in his office’s parking garage – and the only witness says he was killed by a zombie. David had recently had an affair with his ex Greta, and though she had broken things off, her fiance Tom was still insecure and jealous. Tom also had a secret life in the zombie enthusiast subculture – and sold scopolamine, a “zombie drug” that makes users suggestible and compliant and keeps them from remembering anything later. Tom drugged a fellow zombie enthusiast named Kyle to kill David during a “zombie walk” – basically a glorified game of tag in which players dressed up as zombies chase the “normals” to try to turn them. (Castle, after he and Beckett are caught in the middle of the game: “How did I not know about this? This is outstanding!” Heh.) Since Kyle and David didn’t know each other, Tom thought he’d designed the perfect seemingly-random murder, but Castle doesn’t believe in perfect crimes unless he’s written them. The team eventually gets Tom to confess by having Castle dress up in Kyle’s zombie outfit and makeup and attack him. I’ve seen a few people as whether this was legal, and – I’m not sure. This might be one of those times when it’s helpful that Castle isn’t a cop, because technically he’s just a random guy eliciting a confession from Tom when he happens to be in the presence of a bunch of cops. Hmm. Any lawyers who watched want to weigh in?
We have some retread of previous conversations about the supernatural this episode, as Castle is thrilled by the zombie aspect of the case, and spends a while insisting that the killer might actually be a zombie. Beckett and Esposito are complete skeptics, of course, but Ryan gets nervous, especially when a seemingly-dead suspect wakes up and runs out of the morgue. (This allows for one of Castle’s best-delivered quips of the episode: “Is there a police code for zombie on the loose?”) Ryan ends up asking Castle whether he really believes in zombies – and Castle says no: He just believes in driving Beckett crazy. It’s interesting, though, that this is one of those cases when Castle’s and Beckett’s diametrically opposed theories of the crime are both helpful: Castle thinks that the killer thought he was a zombie, so had a random kill instinct, which is true for Kyle, while Beckett insists that they’re dealing with a human killer with a human motive, which is true for Tom. (Castle on vampires, while we’re at it: “Being a vampire, that I understand. That’s the romantic route to immortality. The gentleman’s monster, as it were.” Beckett, for her part, would rather be Van Helsing.)
The case is fraught with expectation for Castle, because he decides at the beginning that it will be his last. When he ignores a call from Beckett, his mother tells him to stop punishing his partner without telling her why, and when Martha insists that they can’t go on like this, Castle agrees. He drops some hints to Beckett that really just confuse her, but never comes out and says he’s leaving; to everyone else, it looks like they’re back to their old selves and getting along again. Luckily, before Castle can make anything permanent, Kyle’s memory loss leads to a bit of revealing conversation:
Castle: “When a life-altering moment occurs, people remember.”
Beckett: “Well, maybe it’s too big to deal with. Maybe he can’t face it just yet.”
Castle: “Well, you think he ever will be?”
Beckett: “Hopefully. If he feels safe.”
Castle certainly starts hoping again then, and that moment might have been enough to tide over many fans, but the finale is next week, so there’s even more.
Later, after Kyle gives Castle his zombie outfit and, perhaps speaking for Beckett, announces that his zombie-walking days are over, Castle says that Kyle will need therapy, and Beckett agrees that it helps.
Castle: “I didn’t know you were seeing a therapist.”
Beckett: “Yeah, well, I didn’t want to make any excuses. I just wanted to put in the time, do the work. But I think I’m almost where I want to be now.”
Castle: “And where is that?”
Beckett: “In a place where I can finally accept everything that happened that day. Everything.”
Castle: “I think I understand.”
Beckett: “And, um, that wall that I was telling you about? I think it’s coming down.”
Castle: “Well, I’d like to be there when it does.”
Beckett: “Yeah, I’d like you to be there too.”
Castle: “Only without the zombie makeup.”
Beckett: “I don’t know, I kind of think that the zombie makeup suits you, Castle.”
Castle: “Yeah, I make it work.”
This is really the closest they’ve ever come to discussing their feelings, and even skeptics like myself are starting to believe that the show might actually get them together in this year’s finale. (To clarify, I have complete faith that the show will get them together eventually, just not necessarily right now.)
Alexis does some important decision-making this episode, too. She tells her father that she’s too old for the continuing game of laser tag they started when she was five, and he’s extremely sad about it, but it turns out that it’s a ploy to give her a chance to ambush him when he’s let down his guard. (He later gets her back by scaring her with the zombie outfit.) Her angst about her future is real, though, as her head tells her that Stanford and Oxford are her best choices but her heart won’t let her send her acceptance to either. Castle points out that things are going to change no matter what, and mostly-convincingly insists that change is good, but his faith has just been restored by Beckett so he ultimately tells his daughter “Follow your heart. Follow your heart and you can’t go wrong.” As I predicted in my last recap, Alexis’s heart leads her to Columbia (and staying on the show), though she makes her dad promise to give her her space – and he promises to try. Awww.
Next week: Finale time! And this promo was so intriguing that I’m going to go ahead and embed it for you. Thoughts? Theories? Inarticulate emoting? Hit the comments!