Castle: Room 147

A great mystery and a smart, fun episode is enough to make us hope for another season of Castle!

Castle was an absolute treat this week with the mystery hitting a high note as February comes to a close. What amazed me after watching “Room 147” a second time is how well the crime-fighting duo of Castle and Beckett have taken to the role of being engaged but keeping the relationship intriguing. It is still playful and charming even as we head into the home stretch of Castle season six. But something about this week, this whole “Room 147” thing really hits at the core of what makes Castle so great even after all this time: that a good mystery does not get old. Castle has avoided the many pratfalls of the cursed “will they or won’t they” questions of series past that have brought down entire TV shows.

When struggling actor Justin Marquette is found dead in Room 147 at a random “Best Traveler” hotel, it seems like just another homicide in the big city. However, the murder is actually the sanest thing about this episode; it was just that good a narrative. After investigating the now deceased thespian’s theater group, they turn up a suspect named Anita Miller. After just a few seconds Ms. Miller admits to the the murder and writes her confession in great detail. However while she is writing, Esposito and Ryan confirm that Anita was out with her AA sponsor during the murder’s time frame. So what’s the gag right? Besides admitting to killing the actor, Anita is unclear on just what her relationship was with him except that she was just angry with him for drinking. Still really very screwy until big lug Sam Carson comes in to the 12th to admit guilt…to the murder of Justin Marquette. And then it is diminutive and timid CPA Dwight Carruthers that also admits to the murder. Each one of the suspects has exactly the same story right down to the smallest details. However, no one is linked to each other making it even more ripe for mystery.

While this mystery has Castle written all over it, it goes into new territory when it takes an Inception-style twist by way of the original Total Recall. While an elusive big bald man has been linked to the first two “confessors” nothing else is popping except for a tri-symbol that seem to be on all three of their minds. That and that all three were seeking help for something outside of work (alcoholism, rage issues, assertiveness training), the three have nothing in common and a scary bald guy is in the wind. However all three have had some type of memory haze of the last two weeks. The underbelly of the story starts to fade into some laughs because, lets face it, it is pretty comical to see three random people arguing over just who the murderer of the same man is! Imagine three suspects vehemently admitting to the same crime and demanding justice…for themselves.

While Beckett excuses herself from the 12th to deal with Alexis and her recent breakup and whether she is indeed the reason she is not moving back home. However the poor kid is merely in a post-break up “love haze” and thinks that she needs to do everything on her own. It’s a nice break before the big second act. Enter the E.H.I or Eternal Horizons Institute run by the kooky leader Dr. Gustavo Bauer. The group preaches enlightenment and has a cult-like history with no formal charges ever sticking. After watching a recruitment video online of Dr. Bauer, Caskett realize that the groups logo is the same as the one their “suspects” have been doodling. While meeting with the doctor via teleconference in Stockholm, he is of no help and adds a greater shroud of mystery to this surely nefarious tale.

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I dare not ruin it for the devoted Castle-ite but although the mystery was far less grandiose than I had hoped, this storyline really had potential to be a two-part episode. The heightened suspense along with its always welcome dose of levity make for one enjoyable hour of television. It is not as easy to do this kind of thing week in and week out and Castle is giving fans more and more reason to hope or at least believe in a seventh season next year.

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4 out of 5