Castle: “Nikki Heat”


All things considered, I’m actually a little disappointed in this episode. It was not as hilarious as I was expecting. Given Castle‘s usual M.O., I thought an episode where Castle comes face to face with Nikki Heat would be more comical than, well, pseudo-revelatory. Frankly, the more serious tone was a let down.

All the “insight” from this episode regarding the Castle-Beckett relationship falls solidly into the “duh” category. And the presentation was well suited to that level of subtlety (and by “subtlety” I mean “lack thereof”). Castle and Beckett have unresolved sexual tension?! Nikki Heat is an opportunity for Castle to fantasize?! Beckett actually does have feelings for Castle but doesn’t want to admit them?! Whaaaat? If you were surprised by any of that, you are a moron and I am revoking your Castle Fan Club card.

We did not need a Hollywood actress character to come in, study Beckett, make some observations, and then explain all of this to us. We just didn’t. And, sadly, having said Hollywood actress character become Beckett’s freaky doppleganger was not quite funny enough to balance out that insult to the audience’s intelligence. Which is not to say it wasn’t funny.

Laura Prepon (best known for her role on That 70s Show) as Natalie Gray gave an excellent performance. She hit just the right note in-between blonde bimbo slasher star and serious studious actress. I’m also going to compliment the people who cast her; at the start of the show, she didn’t look a thing like Beckett. But throw on the right clothes and wig and BAM!, suddenly you realize they do have fairly similar facial structures. She was a good choice, and she did absolutely everything that was asked of her to perfection.

 

Spending so much time on a guest character definitely had a costly effect on the usual supporting cast. Esposito and Martha and Lanie and the Captain each had about five seconds on-screen. Alexis was around only slightly longer – although the writers made that time count by revealing her bad side! (Of course, her “bad side” only amounts to watching horrible R-rated teen slasher flicks, but still.)

Ryan got the most attention of any of the supporting cast. Unfortunately, his time in the sun was one huge, honking WTF moment. Ryan and girlfriend storyline: WHY? Yes, having Seamus Dever and his real-life wife Juliana act out this adorable courtship is cute in an awwsqueeVOMIT sort of way. But it is a complete non sequitor in relation to the rest of the show. Obviously I am always looking for more character development of Ryan (and Esposito). This does not count.

One unquestionably great thing about this episode: it was basically a showcase of How Awesome Stana Katic Is. Yes we all knew about the emotional stuff and yes explicating all of that was pretty redundant. That said, how many of us were really in tune with everything that Stana Katic does to embody the character of Beckett? If you weren’t impressed before, you sure as hell’d better be now. This is definitely her season; the title of the series hasn’t changed, but she is starting to steal the show from Nathan Fillion. I love the man, no question. And he is a phenomenal actor. But now he’s found a worthy co-star, he needs to step it up. Together, both at the top of their game, these two could make Castle the best dynamic duo procedural yet.

I am looking forward to next week. Beckett and Castle investigating the death of an illusionist can only mean a return to the show’s signature dark-but-wacky brand of comedy.

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