Castle season 6 episode 4 review: Number One Fan

Castle's sixth season delivers a classic episode. Here's Laura's review of Number One Fan...

This review contains spoilers.

6.4 Number One Fan

That sound you heard at the end of this week’s Castle? That was a shared sigh of relief when we found out that Andrew Marlowe was done torturing us, at least for a while. Because this week was classic Castle.

Beckett may be out of work and out of sorts, but it seems to have had no effect on her relationship with Castle. “I don’t know what to do,” she laments. “ ”I’ve got some ideas,” Castle quips. Cute. But the conversation is a serious one and sets up a potential point of conflict between the two: Beckett has always made her own way in the world and found herself in and through her work. Unemployed, she’s adrift. But as Castle begins to intimate, he has enough money for the both of them and to spare. But suggesting that he be her “sugar-daddy” is not going to sit well with the former detective.

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Unfortunately, we never get to see her reaction not just because Pi interrupts them but because Beckett has her old job back by the end of the episode. It’s a real lost opportunity to see how she might have dealt with almost unlimited resources and few responsibilities. Castle may be a bit of a child, but it does take a certain kind of person to keep producing once there’s no real financial incentive. It would have been interesting not only to see Beckett trying to find a place in such a world, but insight into how someone as undisciplined as Castle continues to write books (albeit more slowly since he’s been with her). Still, the scenes between Castle and Beckett which bookend the episode are exactly who we have missed thus far this season. It’s good to have them back.

And that’s not all that’s been returned to us. Ryan and Esposito are in fine form, Gates has mellowed (but not enough to forego an occasional pot-shot at Castle), Lanie shows up for an all-too-short relationship prod), and the mystery is straight out of an earlier season. A hostage-taker wants to speak to Castle and tells him she’ll let all the hostages go if he proves that she’s not guilty of the crime she’s accused of: murdering her boyfriend. And so the regular cast of characters is off, doing what they do best.

Much of the reason that this week’s plot works is due to the performance of Alicia Lagano, who in addition to a solid filmography, also put in a strong performance in Tim Roth’s Lie to Me a few years ago. What both turns have in common is that the characters she’s playing are hiding secrets, and she balances the weight of making certain the audience knows that she’s not entirely worthy of our trust with a vulnerability that makes us want to forgive her well before her sin is revealed. Her character on Castle is not only dealing with the crisis of her boyfriend’s death and her criminal reaction to it, but potentially some mental issues as well. We have to be able to read a lot into her performance in order to maintain the suspense and still want her to win. It’s a delicate and difficult needle to thread, and she does it admirably.

Tom Amandes also puts in a nice performance as Aaron Stokes, Emma’s biological father. While most of the time, he plays the character with the shallow dismissiveness of the very wealthy, his handling of the scene where the detectives inform him about his daughter’s life and activities shows the underside of that briefly but effectively. When they slide the photo of Emma in front of him, saying that they know about Emma’s connection to him and asking if he recognizes her, his expression shifts just for a moment to one of bittersweet joy at the sight of his daughter before sliding back to its default disdain. His sorrow again cracks his veneer when he admits that he thought everyday about contacting her and then changed his mind “Maybe tomorrow…”

And unlike the turn such a story might take on a show like Law & Order SVU, where the father finds out only too late what his cavalier attitude towards his offspring has wrought, Castle instead leaves us hopeful that Emma and Aaron might have a happy future ahead (once his money has defanged the American justice system).

The only rough spot in the entire episode is the addition of an antsy hostage who seems hell-bent on taking Emma down, single-handedly if he must. It’s unclear whether Billy Miller’s Mickey Gerhardt has seen too many movies or is still hyped up by the actions of passengers aboard United Flight 93 (obviously forgetting the fate of all the passengers), but he firmly believes he can and should overpower Emma. But of course, we know, that should he attempt it, bad things will happen. Thus we see him as irresponsible and dangerous. He should just sit tight and let the cops do their job, right?

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Clearly, he’s supposed to add to the sense of immediacy and tension in the situation but it also carries a certain amount of unintentional baggage with it. After all, he’s trying to be the hero, but he’s not that hero. If it were Castle in the same position, he would almost certainly be successful were he to make the same attempt (unless the writers were setting the groundwork for something bigger later).

But what Mickey highlights is that really, there is no difference between him and Castle. After all, while both have, at different points, found themselves in a dangerous situation with the police there ready to deal with it, neither of them, it appears, is specially trained for situations like this. Thus both are unequipped and lack any real authority in dealing with the danger they face. If we condemn Mickey (which we are clearly supposed to do, especially since he gets Castle shot), how do we not condemn Castle as well? Doesn’t that mean that Captain Gates has essentially been right about Castle all along?

Which, once again, would have been interesting had the writers chosen to pursue it. Instead, they merely use Mickey as a device and ignore the cognitive dissonance that he creates. It’s too bad, really. One wonders what heights Castle (and Castle) could aspire to given writers who rival the cast they write for. 

Read Laura’s review of the previous episode, Need To Know, here.

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