Castle season 6 episode 5 review: Time Will Tell

Castle continues to tick the geek scorecards this week, with nods to The X-Files, Terminator, Twelve Monkeys and Doctor Who...

This review contains spoilers.

6.5 Time Will Tell

The makeup of Castle and Beckett’s relationship is much like that of Mulder and Scully. That is, Mulder wants to believe so badly that he’ll dismiss more mundane explanations of strange phenomena while Scully, conversely, will stick to those explanations when it’s clear they simply cannot account for what she’s seeing with her own eyes. Castle, less seriously than Mulder but no less willing to believe, will likewise start with the most extreme narrative that will account for the evidence before him, and Beckett shoots holes in all his theories by insisting on more pedestrian reasons for the crimes they investigate. This week’s episode seemed written to highlight just how close Castle and Beckett are to the two FBI agents.

A woman is found murdered in a very gruesome fashion in her apartment. A parole officer, her gun is still in the nightstand, and despite the fact that her step-brother says she was being stalked, her parolees are non-violent offenders who seem unlikely to have gone to such lengths to do away with her. There goes Beckett’s first theory.

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Luckily, a witness encountered a bloody man leaving her apartment and gives the cops a sketch. It looks like the stalker who, after scaring the victim into calling the police by telling her that the lives of billions depended on her, is jailed and rages at his questioners that he is the only thing standing between the soon-to-be dead victim and, well, death. Oops. Beckett and Castle finally catch up with him and he lays it all out for them.

Simon Doyle is from the future, 2035 to be exact. He explains that in his day, a war for control of power has erupted and the fascists who would make bad things happen have been defeated. Unfortunately, the means for time travel has been created in the meantime, and the fascists send someone back to… well, it’s not entirely clear but somehow the victim’s death resulted from their attempt to alter the timeline to benefit themselves. He has been sent back to the moment when his people (the good guys) determined something went wonky: 12:58 am the night the victim died. He has now has to figure out what’s going on before he’s recalled by those who sent him back. “This is officially my favorite case, ever,” Castle gleefully tells Beckett. Still we believe, with Beckett, that the whole thing is hooey and that they will eventually reveal the more mundane events that almost always disappoint Castle.

Until Doyle disappears from his cell, that is. And suddenly, we’re wondering if he has been recalled.

Eventually, they discover that the actual killer, Garrett Ward, is a seeming eco-terrorist who was jailed six year earlier for trying to bomb a conference on new energy sources (which might have ended the need for the more traditional power sources the fascists controlled?). Turns out he was actually trying to kill the victim’s step-brother. Unfortunately, Beckett and Castle are not in time to save the step-brother, but his wife reports that Ward was screaming at them to tell him where to find “the child.”

If you’re thinking you’ve heard this story before, you’re not alone. “I thought it was kind of derivative,” Ryan tells Castle. “Like a mash-up of Twelve Monkeys and Terminator,” Esposito piles on. At least the writers on Castle know that originality isn’t their long suit and invite us to laugh with them.

Regardless of who first told this story, the rest of the episode bounces back and forth between Castle and Beckett with each of them pressing their own version of that story.  “Did you just get a chill?” Castle asks her when Lanie informs them that the victim’s watch was stopped at 12:58 (why this takes medical training to determine this is another mystery—surely Beckett or one of her officers would have observed this on her own at the crime scene? ). “No, Castle. I did not get a chill. Do you know why? Because Doyle was at that crime scene and he had plenty of time to change her watch to fit his delusional story. And just because he wasn’t there when she was murdered doesn’t mean he wasn’t involved somehow.” Watching the two of them struggle for control of the narrative is almost as much fun as Castle catching Esposito knowing a little too much about Doctor Who. Another tick on your geek scorecards.

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A secondary story, however, is the one that neither of them is in control of, and that’s what’s going on between Pi and Alexis, the latter having announced that the couple are planning to move into together. Daddy Castle is not at all happy about this (despite, or perhaps because of, his own misspent youth), but he’s no match for his own daughter.

But that says much more about Molly Quinn and the life she’s breathed into Alexis than anything else. It’s hard to tell who is more intimidating, Nathan Fillion or Castle. Both take up a lot of physical and social space. They share an obsessive, extroverted personality and broadcast it loudly wherever they go. So it’s nothing less than astonishing that Quinn, who was all of fifteen when she first began filming Castle, has been able to hold her own in her scenes with her television dad.  To a great extent, it appears that she’s accomplished this by emulating him. In character, she plays along with her dad, whether it’s laser tag or just banter. Out of character, Quinn is almost as much the face of Castle at Comic-Con as Fillion is, playing just as much as him and occasionally even dressing as him.

So in the ending scene where Alexis is making her final trip out the door and he makes one last attempt to stop her, it is going to take a lot for us to believe that she’s serious enough to stand up to her dad when he bargains and all but begs her to stay. Alexis is no longer fifteen, though, any more than Quinn is. And both have grown up a lot as we’ve watched. So she plays it not as an act of teenage rebellion, which is easy enough to imagine and easy enough to perform, but as exactly what it is: a sad rite of passage for both of them and one that she may be prepared for, but her father is not. She knows that him bargaining for another year is just putting off the inevitable, and we sense that Pi is not the reason she’s leaving. She has lived a long time in the shadow of this charismatic, overwhelming, and very loving father. It’s time for her to find her own way. This scene makes it clear that Quinn will have a solid career long after Castle.

Oh, and that struggle between Beckett and Castle? Like any good X-Files episode, neither one of them wins definitively. But as was true of the earlier show, we’d prefer to be left hanging anyway because it leaves the door open. Scully and Beckett may be amazing, rational, and compelling women, but in the end, we want to believe.

Read Laura’s review of the previous episode, Number One Fan, here.

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