Castle: Heroes and Villains

After last week’s intense season premiere of Castle, it was a little jarring this week to return to a lighter episode that was almost exclusively based on the mystery of the week. But it was a decent mystery of the week, and there were some interesting character moments sprinkled in.

The victim, Tyler Faris, was gruesomely split down the middle with a sword after having his hand cut off. Faris was an ex-con and was in the middle of assaulting a woman when he was killed, and his victim resists giving information on the killer, so Castle thinks it was a case of vigilante justice. To Castle and Beckett’s surprise, Faris’s mother calls her son a no-good loser and is completely unsurprised by his death. She does lead the cops to a mobster named Tony Valtini, who in turn produces surveillance footage of someone who attacked him with a sword – while wearing a superhero costume. Captain Gates thinks the suspect must be delusional or psychotic, but Castle introduces Beckett to the whole online subculture of DIY superheroes. And sure enough, Ryan gets confirmation of a rumor going around Narcotics of a superhero with a sword who’s been going after drug dealers.

Castle finds some examples of superheroes on whose costumes this DIY costume seems to be based, and Beckett realizes that all of them have issues stemming from their fathers’ deaths, while Castle points out that they’re all unassuming. But when they show the picture to a comic shop employee, he points them to an online comic called Lone Vengeance by an unknown Sean Elt. By looking at Lone Vengeance’s suit, they realize the suspect left a knuckle plate at the scene of the crime, but when they go back to get it, the “superhero” appears, grabs it, and gets away. After some cute back-and-forth (Ryan: “Haven’t you ever wanted to be a superhero? Going out there prowling the city, knocking some heads?” Esposito: “I do that now.”), Ryan and Esposito trace a recent pawn shop sword purchase to a Chad Hockney, but when Beckett brings him in, it turns out that’s he’s a wannabe, not the “real” Lone Vengence.

Castle then discovers that the Lone Vengeance comics have same events as real crimes but are published after the crimes take place, so he thinks vigilante must be the author. Since this was the first murder, he thinks there must be a personal connection. The author’s name, Sean Elt, is an alias – an anagram of Stan Lee – but Faris’s mother points them to crime reporter Paul Whittaker. They determine that Faris was an informant for Whittaker who figured out his secret identity and threatened to reveal it, though Beckett is skeptical of this as a motive for murder. Whittaker eventually confesses to everything, but he doesn’t know details of the crime, so they realize he didn’t do it.

Castle and Beckett go to a “lair” full of weapons and yet another Lone Vengeance appears: this time, it’s NYPD Officer Ann Hastings, who was at the original crime scene. Her father’s death prompted her undercover vigilante role, and she insists that she and Beckett are alike. “Someone killed my dad. Nothing will ever be enough.” She was behind some of the Lone Vengeance acts, but insists she didn’t kill Faris. (Interestingly, when Whittaker suggests that the police should be confused as to why he confessed falsely, Castle thinks it’s obvious: “You’re in love with her.”)

Beckett believes that Hastings is innocent and that therefore there must be a third Lone Vengeance running around. They know it has to be someone who wanted Lone Vengeance off the streets, who had something against Faris, and who knew how to use a sword – and that leads them back to the mobster, Valtini, who is also a butcher. He’d figured out that Faris was informing on him. A print on the knuckle plate matches Valtini’s cousin, a tailor, who confesses to making the Lone Vengeance outfit for him.

Throughout the episode, Captain Gates acts as an antagonist, pressuring Beckett for a quick resolution to the case while questioning Castle’s need to be around at all. But at the end of the episode, we get a hint that she might not be all bad – or all by-the-books – when she protects Hastings from prosecution. Beckett tries to talk some sense into Hastings, but it’s pretty obvious that she’s also talking about herself: “Ann, you’re a good cop, and you’ve got somebody who cares about you. Don’t be so driven by the past that you throw away your future.”

Castle’s mom is mostly around for the comic relief this week as she sews costumes for her Shakespeare class, but Alexis gets her own subplot: She’s planning to go to Stanford in January, and Castle’s upset. She finally explodes: “Why can’t I just do what I want once in a while? That’s all you ever do.” She originally talks about taking all of Ashley’s classes, but Castle is somewhat appeased when she realizes that she should make her own decisions about classes – until she totally freaks him out by talking about moving in with Ashley. I really hope they’re not writing her off the show, and I’m wondering if they’re going to get out of this one with a break-up. Hmmm.

When Castle talks to Beckett about Alexis, she again says things about someone else that are really about herself:

Castle: “I’m just not ready.”
Beckett: “Yeah, but she is, so you two are just not on the same page.”

And then: “Let her go. Trust me. You hold on too tight, you’ll just drive her away.” Yeah. Listen to her, Castle, about both of the women in your life. Beckett may still not be ready, but they do have a few cute flirty moments this episode. When Beckett admires Castle’s comics collection, he says “you’re welcome to peruse my issues any time,” and when Castle says that Whittaker and Lone Vengeance are a writer and subject like they are, this happens:

Beckett: “Really, Castle? Is that how you see me, like a sword-wielding killer?”
Castle: “Depends, will you be scantily clad?”
Beckett: “In your dreams.”

After that line, she holds his gaze just long enough that I started wondering whether Castle will begin to suspect that her memory is less faulty than she claims.

The parallel comes back at the end of the episode, when Castle calls Whittaker and Hastings “a writer and his muse, fighting crime. Just like us.” Beckett agrees – and then they immediately see Whittaker and Hastings start making out in the elevator and give each other weird looks. Aww. Progress? Maybe!

Next week, they have a murder but no body, and probably will not make out in the elevator. But we can dream.

Photo Courtesy of ABC

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