‘Castle’: The Precinct Stars in a Rock Documentary

Stana Katic and Nathan Fillion in "Castle" (Michael Desmond/ABC)

Castle” is not the first series to feature an episode about the characters being filmed by a documentary crew. “Grey’s Anatomy” immediately springs to mind. It’s always a strange device since it’s a television show. The characters are constantly being followed by a camera crew. Making them self-conscious about that fact turns the whole thing into a meta, fourth wall breaking exercise. However, “Castle” being “Castle,” the results are pretty funny and the set up actually makes more sense than a camera crew randomly deciding to film the precinct.

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Open on a band, Holy Shemp, whose name has either got to be an inside joke from the writers room or some sort of script clearance issue because no way would that be a current band’s name, rehearsing. A documentary crew is making a film about them because they are purportedly the next big thing. The body of the singer, James Swan, is found in his trailer. When most of the cast arrives at the crime scene, they are surprised to discover that they are being filmed. The murder weapon appears to be an electric guitar. The filmmaker tells Esposito (Jon Huertas)  he needs to reinvent his movie as a thriller because James Swan’s death will kill the band. Swan is of course, 27 years old, like all great, dead singers.

They find a half naked groupie who calls herself Butterfly, because apparently we have time traveled to the 1970s, locked in a closet. She says she followed the band for six months trying to meet them and mentions hearing footsteps that sounded like horse hooves outside her door.

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[iframe http://xfinitytv.comcast.net/watch/Castle/5933713864774440112/2303958686/Swan-Song/embed 580 476]

Gates (Penny Jerrald) tells the team that City Hall is allowing the filming to continue and their entire investigation will be documented. No police department would want that level of scrutiny, but this is the same fake New York mayor who lets mystery novelists play cop, so it totally is believable in the universe of the show. Castle (Nathan Fillion), ever the ham, enjoys being filmed, but Beckett (Stana Katic) considers it an invasion of privacy. This is their central conflict throughout the episode, as Castle tried to get Beckett to be more comfortable with being filmed. It’s interesting that, even knowing how private Beckett is, he’s pushing her on this point. I think he’s such a natural cut-up that he thinks anyone who isn’t needs an extra push into the spotlight.

The band members all claim to have been in their trailers at the time of death. Swan missed a band meting and ditched the camera guy. Esposito finds a lot of footage of an older guy with a white van who appears to be stalking them.

Ryan and Esposito are thrilled to ell the filmmakers about their partnership. Ryan calls out Esposito on changing into a tight shirt. Ha! Performing for the camera, they aggressively jump the man in the white van. Esposito has the money quote: “That’s a gift from me to you. You’re welcome, America.” The stalker turns out to be Butterfly’s father who wants to find his daughter.

Swan turns out to not have been immunized for any common diseases. Maybe he is Jenny McCarthy’s long lost son.

The trail leads to a guy who sued Swan over a stolen song. The guy turns out to be ghostwriting songs for the band. Castle concludes that Swan was planning to go solo. He speculates one of the other band members could have kill him because of it. Castle questions a band member who knew about it. He storms off. The bandmate’s shoes make the same noise that Butterfly heard in the trailer.

Castle insists that Beckett interrogate him alone so she can have her star moment. The guy insists something happened to Swan in Ithaca. He claims he was hooking up with a groupie whose name he can’t recall at the time of the murder. He has video footage of his hook up, which the whole precinct enjoys watching. Ryan discovers that there is no record of Swan’s existence until he was 17 and was in a car accident. He concludes that he grew up in a notorious cult in Ithaca. The cult leader is missing.

Caskett meets with a former cult member. She thinks Swan might have met with the leader to buy his freedom, which doesn’t make much sense given that he’s a rock star who could easily publicly expose the cult. When they track down the cult leader, he claims to have been in his hotel room at the time of death. Beckett accuses him of tracking him him and then killing him in a fit of rage. He says they don’t have the evidence to arrest him and leaves.  Ryan and Esposito discover a member, Buck, went missing from the cult that day after the Ithaca concert. He was Swan’s best friend. They realize that Swan met with the cult leader to save his friend — and that a roadie they spoke to early in the investigation is, in fact, his cult bff.  Unfortunately, he can prove that the cult leader was not the killer because he was with him at the time of the murder. But Buck turns out to be the guitar teacher who Swan paid tribute to in the documentary. Castle realizes Swan wanted to bring Buck into the band, which meant that someone would have had to have been fired to make room for him. Maybe the band could have been unconventional and had two guitarists. But Castle is, of course, right. They have the bass player attempt to play the new song. Beckett also found a dry cleaning ticket. His bloody clothes were at the cleaners. That is one incompetent killer. Just burn the  clothes.  He confesses but says it was accidental after he found out he was being fired.

The episode ends with Beckett locking camera guy in janitor’s closet, not with her embracing fame. A victory for reserved people everywhere.

The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.

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