Castle season 6 episode 16 review: Room 147

Review Laura Akers 27 Feb 2014 - 07:40

Plenty about this week's episode of Castle doesn't ring true. Here's Laura's review of Room 147...

This review contains spoilers.

6.16 Room 147

Sorry, but I’m not buying it. And I’m not even talking about the mystery. Which let’s face it, was a bit of a disappointment, largely because of the level of credulity that it required.

It started out fairly well. A man is found murdered in room 147 of a local hotel, and there’s little indication of who did it or why. In fact, Beckett is fairly stumped by this one, and even Castle initially has no wild theory to go on. This changes when a young woman named Anita Miller walks into the precinct and confesses to the murder. Even Castle is surprised at that turn of events. “Eleven seconds to a confession. That’s got to be your personal best.” Beckett laughs but we know that that can’t possibly be the truth because there’s still a good half hour left of the episode. “You sound disappointed, Castle.”

But the actual disappointment is ours, as Beckett reveals something a little too uncomfortable.

It turns out that Ms Miller cannot have murdered the victim because she was across town having dinner with her AA sponsor. Despite the fact that Esposito and Ryan have absolutely nailed down the supposed murderer’s alibi, Beckett is ready to ignore the exculpatory evidence, especially when Miller is able to exactly describe the murder scene. “So Anita Miller believes she killed the victim, but the facts say she couldn’t have,” Castle points out. “No, not all the facts. I mean, we know she accosted Justin outside the coffee shop, she confessed to the murder, and she has intimate knowledge of the crime.” Beckett spends a little too long in this episode actively rejecting the facts that don’t fit with her belief that Miller did it.

Beckett has long been set up as a “just the facts” type of LEO. That’s what makes her and Castle - that spinner of intricate and often unfounded theories - work as foils. So making her willing to overlook the simple fact that Miller cannot physically have been in two places at once is troubling. What makes it particularly troubling is where this places Beckett. There have been a lot of law enforcement cases in the news lately in the States about cops and prosecutors who ignored or buried evidence that proved that the accused was actually innocent, including some very high-profile Supreme Court-bound cases and even some where the prosecutory malfeasance was not uncovered until the convicted non-criminal had been put to death. This is not the kind of ethical company we ever want to see Beckett keeping, even in passing.

And it turns out that Miller is very much innocent, along with all the others who come forward to confess to the murder. The explanation - that the victim was working as an actor for a group that was doing experiments in what basically amounts to brainwashing is hard to swallow - especially given that such things affect the delicate and complex organ of the brain very differently, yet all the victims are all impacted almost identically. But when the final murderer is revealed, it does give Fillion a great moment where all his yarn-spinning drops away and his expression communicates beautifully the compassion and sense of loss the killer’s motivation and actions have created in him. We tend to think of the Fillion as a larger-than-life, physically imposing, but essentially playful guy - both in character and out. It’s always nice when we get a reminder that he didn’t reach his level of success as an actor without mastering his craft.

But what I found really frustrating was the Beckett and Alexis side-plot. With Pi gone, Castle is worried about his daughter alone in her flat in a shady (and thus entirely appropriate for a college student) neighborhood. He asks her to move back in, repeating his offer to pay off her lease. She refuses and after she leaves the loft after spending the night, Castle indicates to Beckett that there are evidently other reasons why Alexis is turning down his offer. And so Beckett immediately defaults to thinking it’s about her.

Can we please be done with that little insecurity? I get that, at a point in the past, Alexis didn’t like the idea of Beckett and her dad, but that was largely due to the line of work that Beckett’s in and how often that’s put her father in danger. Of course, Castle is far more likely to be the instigator of the dangerous behaviour, but let’s put that aside for the moment. What helped Alexis to overcome that fear was the realization that her father - who, despite his playboy image, is actually kind of a commitment guy - had not had a lot of luck in his past two wives, and that Beckett makes him really happy. I thought we’d put this thing to rest a couple of seasons ago. It’s always been clear that Alexis, whatever her fears for her dad, has always really liked Beckett, has sought her out for advice on more than one occasion. There’s no reason for anyone, even Beckett, to believe that Alexis still has any issue with the detective.

So when Kate meets with Alexis to “make sure that one of the reasons (for not moving back in with her father) isn’t me,” it’s annoying. But when Alexis shares the real reason, it’s not much better. Alexis recognizes the mistake she made, against her father’s entreaties and warnings, in moving in with Pi and says that she’s not moving back in with her dad because “it was my mistake. He shouldn’t have to pay for it.”

This just doesn’t make a lot of sense coming from Alexis for several reasons. First, it’s not like she’s never been here before. Both she and her dad have made some dumb moves (though they more regularly occur on her dad’s side), and forgiveness and reconciliation is equally comfortable for them. If anything, she knows that she’s worrying him, something she’s always tried very carefully to avoid (with good reason as her kidnapping shows).

Second, this is why her explanation that her father shouldn’t have to pay for her mistake is exactly backwards. Let’s face it, her lease is chump change in light of her father’s successful career; he’d hardly notice it. But he obviously is paying in the sense that he’s worrying about her alone in her seedy NYC flat.

But let’s go back to the money issue for a moment. Alexis has lived a fairly sheltered life, rife with the privileges that come with having such a financially successful father. But Alexis is also smart, observant, and was sent off to Costa Rica by her dad telling her that regardless of how old you are, it’s important to see things as they really are. She spent weeks studying the rainforest and living in a country where over 23% of the population lives in poverty. She came back with her penniless boyfriend to her college in extremely expensive NYC, where she must know many of the students are living in conditions far inferior to those of her questionable flat. So when Beckett tells her “I know what you’re doing seems noble, but it’s not,” it comes off as incredibly hollow.

Alexis knew she was moving out into the real world. And she has had a few months, at least, to understand what that world is like. So she knows that when most people make a decision like she did, and it’s the wrong choice, they do pay a price for it, both emotional and economic. Her supplementing the income her father is already giving her for school by tutoring on the side isn’t martyrdom. It’s simply the kind of thing most people do. And survive. And learn from. Forcing herself to act as an adult and accept the consequences of her actions - when she could easily escape them - is noble.

So while I get that they did this in order to bring Alexis back into the fold - something I heartily approve of because there’s so much to like about her and her relationship with her father - their way of doing it goes against what we know about Alexis, her ethics (as the moral centre of the show), and her desire to have as normal a life as possible in the shadow of her father and his eccentricities. Still, she’ll be back in the loft and playing off her dad again. And there’s no downside to that.

Let the lasertag battles begin!

Read Laura's review of the previous episode, Smells Like Teen Spirit, here.

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