Castle: Scared to Death

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by Stephen Janes (@stephenkjanes)

After the dramatic two-part  story arc with “Target” and “Hunt,” it was a delightfully welcome  return to the classic Castle formula. Although I couldn’t  understand why this episode was not used around Halloween as it complimented  all spooky stereotypes, ”Scared to Death” was a strong episode supported  by the fact that it was the most watched episode this season.

Very comparable  to The Ring, the victim  of the episode dies three days after they have watched a cursed DVD.  Upon investigating the victim’s death, Castle himself watches the cursed  disc and fears he too will be another victim in a short few days. One  element I’ve always loved about Nathan Fillion is his ability to bring  the charming comic relief to the front with his likeability and ruggedness.  He does an excellent job portraying a terrified Castle to the point  where you really believe his performance.

I loved  the extended look into Esposito and Ryan and their bromance. It was  especially fun to watch the two pester Castle for believing in evil  spirits and cursed media only to change their tune anytime they were  asked to go near the DVD. I erupted in the deepest of laughs when Esposito  went to investigate an Inn with Beckett when his tough-guy demeanor  was replaced by that of a timid dog. After being ‘startled’ by the innkeeper,  Esposito recomposed himself long enough to explain, “…in case you  were wondering, that was my startled reaction, not scared.”

Beckett  played the role of realistic disbeliever by not buying into the mystical  powers surrounding the victim’s death. I’m sure many people would have  loved to see her be somewhat broken by the idea that mysterious powers  could be at fault, but the episode would have quickly turned into a  B-movie knockoff. Another feature I didn’t pick up on was how eerily  similar this episode was shot and structured like a typical horror film.  With a few extended scenes and a couple of re-writes, this episode could  have easily been turned into a TV horror movie which serves as a great  compliment to the show writers. I enjoyed every step of it and was actually  huddled in my chair with anticipation of where the killer would strike  next.

My only  real drawback was how this episode served as a stand-alone title. Prior  to the three-week hiatus, Castle discovered his father and witnessed  his daughter get kidnapped, all while escaping near-death situations.  None of this was mentioned once leaving me envious of Richard Castle’s  ability to shake off any trauma. At least a scene with Castle and Beckett  discussing the matter would have been nice as it would have been something  as opposed to ignoring it completely.

I’ve been  fairly critical this season in regards to the weak homicide investigations  and the paths they take, but this episode was clearly the strongest  we’ve seen of this. Whether it was the horror setting or the simplicity  of the idea, but every step of the way was believable and seemed too  real. Dealing with a serial killer removed from his grave, a mysterious  DVD, a creepy closed down Inn and more, we were treated to a great return  to television from Castle.

I still  hold a place in my heart for “The Final Frontier” episode, but I  might be referring to this as my new favorite. It didn’t follow exactly  the same progression as previous episodes meaning you were genuinely  surprised no matter what happened. Although this wasn’t a continuation  of any ongoing story arc, “Scared to Death” was a great hour of  television and is highly recommended for slasher fans and Castle fans alike.

Rating: 4.25  out of 5 stars


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