Castle: Once Upon A Time in the West Review

Castle and Beckett spend their newlywed days out west trying to break a new case in this week's episode. Here's our review...

Sensing that fans needed another dopey and fun episode, Castle producers delivered exactly that to fans following the slight misfire that was last week’s trip down the It’s A Wonderful Life rabbit hole/wedding episode. 

Before Kate and Rick got to play dress up out west, though, they had to deal with Laney, Ryan, and Esposito’s hurt feelings over last week’s surprise nuptials – something that Laney quickly lets go of, but which Ryan and Esposito obsess over in the brief moments when the focus is on them. Remember when these two used to carry a little bit more water on this show? 

Luckily for Kate and Rick, the details of their case take them out of the office and away from their mopey friends thanks to a Manhattanite who went all City Slickers at a place called the Diamondback Ranch in Arizona, before she succumbed to a natural but deadly dose of a heart medicine at LaGuardia Airport. They’re also helped along by Rick’s eagerness to try and have some kind of a honeymoon (which Kate can’t officially take because she used up all of her vacation days when Rick went missing). There’s also a local sheriff whose stubbornness in refusing to take the case is as strong as my refusal to believe that that sheriff is Dale Midkiff from Pet Sematary and Time Trax.  

Once in Arizona, Kate and Rick try to blend in as best as they can, taking up residence in the bunk of the dead woman who, it turns out, shared a Jack and Jill bathroom with a chatty fellow traveler who dishes on the room’s previous inhabitant and her scandalous affair with one of the hands at the ranch, who just so happens to be married.

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Through further super secretive investigating, Rick finds out who the hand is and he is able to get info from him that leads Kate and Rick to the realization that the woman had taken dynamite.

A trip to an Indian reservation and a little bit of leg work back home eventually leads Kate and Rick to discover that the murdered woman was actually searching for buried treasure, transporting this episode’s spirit animal from City Slickers to City Slickers 2: The Legend of Curly’s GoldI won’t spoil the twist for you, but like most episodes of Castle, the killer isn’t who you think it is, but is in fact someone else you met along the way. It’s also someone that Rick basically challenges to a gunfight. That’s a nice tribute to the genre of the week, and also a really stupid idea that is rammed home when the black hat says to Rick, “Think of your wife,” and he says, “I am.”Are you? After everything that those two have been through, are we really supposed to believe that this character, who just gutted this woman by mysteriously disappearing on their wedding day, would senselessly risk his life to play out some kind of macho cowboy fantasy? Rick Castle’s charm is in his ability to be a good man who is occasionally adorably dorky, but this is just recklessness by the character and the writers who put him in that situation. I’m in favor of a little bit of silliness in this show, but you can’t break these characters to nearly the point of no return and then expect them to not learn any lesson at all and fail to exercise even the slightest amount of pause where they realize the pain that was inflicted before signing up to inflict more.

Nobody wants to see Kate and Rick act like they are covered in scars from the things that they have been through, but it’s not a comic book where they re-generate and retain no memory of their wounds. The producers made the decision to marry these two characters and doing that means that they have to grow and not act as reckless as they did in the early years of this seven season series. It shouldn’t matter that we know that no lasting harm will befall these characters because this is a procedural and a popular show, and it’s called Castle

With those sour feelings aside, this is a solid episode, but not nearly as much fun as I thought it would be given the backdrop. In closing, I’d like to urge you to check out Time Trax. It was a pretty amazing show.

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3 out of 5