Castle: Swan Song
by Stephen Janes (@stephenkjanes)
Warning: Some spoilers may appear. Read on at your own risk.
There are so many different fields that Castle has explored over the years. We have seen these lovable characters go through masquerade balls, sci-fi conventions, sporting events and even zombie walks. This most recent episode featured Castle, Beckett and crew attempting to solve a murder of a band member who was being filmed for a documentary. The camera crew then turns around and begins to film Beckett and Castle as they attempt to get to the bottom of this case, forcing some interesting results.
This episode wasn’t like your traditional template of Castle, but rather more like Law and Order or another show involving the law. There was not a whole lot of background music, a lot of quick takes (or cuts between shots) and a much faster paced environment from what we’re used to. This change in style made the episode more dramatic, more emotionally-involving and a different kind of interesting, although I wasn’t too fond of it.
Because of this documentary element, many of the lines spoken by the actors were delivered while looking directly into the camera. Every character was looking to get time with the camera, and to me it made everything a little awkward. Simply think back to how many times you’ve seen a professional camera crew in your area and how hard you tried just to get on camera for a second. That same childish mentality was replicated almost every scene, which made this episode a little hard to watch.
I will admit, there was one moment in which Castle broke the fourth wall that made me laugh way too hard. Castle was looking over interview footage with the band, and when he stopped the footage said, “Everything that we need is here! Cut that, fade to black and add a musical stinger!” Here, he hummed the intro song to Castle as the show cut to commercial.
Speaking of people fighting for camera time, this was the second departure of character we saw from Captain Gates. In “Secrets Safe with Me,” we saw a more human form of the Captain when she was given a rare collectible doll. Here, Gates is constantly checking up on the team, trying to look good for the cameras. Again, it makes things very awkward and almost embarrassing. The way her character and all others were portrayed in this episode, I almost expected everybody to hold up a product placement and smile at the camera from time to time. I understand this was supposed to look like a documentary, but it is not what we are used to from Castle.
Captain Gates did revert back to her normal self, however. At the end of the episode, she asked Castle and Beckett to her office, where the couple feared she uncovered footage of the two during their personal time. When she showed them footage of Castle up to his normal antics during an interview, she immediately became the Captain Gates we’re accustomed to, which somehow lightened up the entire department. With their secret safe for another day, Beckett decided to lead the camera crew into a broom closet and lock them in, which promptly ended the episode.
The story this episode was actually pretty intriguing, but it was offset by the documentary style of filming. It was far beyond what you would see on reality television or even The Blair Witch Project and similar films, but still a little hard to watch and not enough Castle humor. It’s interesting to note that this season has yet to find that comfortable blend of jokes and drama, minus perhaps the “Secrets Safe with Me” episode I mentioned earlier. This isn’t to say that this is a terrible season, but quite the opposite as I think this is shaping to be the most entertaining run of Castle yet, but “Swan Song” was definitely a low point early. An interesting concept and well-executed, but as mentioned several times it was just too awkward to focus on. I’m glad that this episode appeared now and not towards the end, where you want the season to be at its highest point. Still had some entertaining values, but not important enough to be a must watch.
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars