Monday, February 25, 2013

THAT Scene: how Castle betrayed its main character (and the audience)

When Richard Castle (Nathan Fillion) tortures an injured man for information, it sells out the character in the name of plot momentum.

THAT Scene is a recurring feature that takes a closer look at a single scene that exemplifies a particular show, theme or moment in time. The scene might be good or bad, but it will always be memorable and worth talking about.

When judged alongside other serious Castle episodes (for the record, the worst kind of Castle episodes), "Target," the first half of the Alexis-gets-kidnapped two-parter that ends tonight with "Hunt," is actually pretty solid. The hour does a good job of building to the reveal that Alexis (Molly Quinn) is missing, first by playing Castle's increasing paranoia over the Columbia-set mystery for laughs, then having Castle and Beckett discover that Alexis was with Sara El-Masri (Karen David) the night she went missing, and finally revealing that Castle's daughter was the kidnappers' second victim. It was also a good episode for Alexis, who has been increasingly grating as of late; Quinn did a great job leaving behind the character's neuroses and showing that she can be calm and collected under pressure while remaining vulnerable. Plus, we got a surprisingly detailed and accurate depiction of how to pick a lock in the bargain!

One incredibly jarring moment, however, nearly soured the whole experience for me. After finding the injured driver of the kidnappers' getaway vehicle in a local hospital, Beckett (Stana Katic) and Castle (whose presence at the interrogation of a man involved in his daughter's kidnapping would bother me more if it weren't consistent with Castle's usual blatant disregard for actual police procedure) try to get the man to tell them where Alexis and Sara are being held. After an immunity offer fails to entice, Castle asks Beckett to give him a moment alone with the man. We see Castle threaten the suspect, and then cut to Beckett outside, as we hear the injured man scream. A moment later, Castle emerges with the address of a farmhouse north of New York City.