This review contains spoilers.
6.6 Get a Clue
In last week’s episode, we saw the usual tension between Castle’s far-flung imagination and Beckett’s no-nonsense explanation. In most episodes, the truth is either somewhere in the middle between Castle’s theory of the crime and Beckett’s (usually favoring Beckett’s version) or clearly unrelated to both. In the first case, this allows Castle to maintain his position as crazy narrative smith without invalidating Beckett’s more pedestrian explanation (or vice versa). In the latter, both are clearly wrong, meaning neither is actually right, which likewise maintains the balancing act between two very strong characters.
What almost never happens is that Castle pretty much nails it out of the gate. Well, okay, at first he says it’s related to demonic sacrifice and the like, but he pretty quickly shifts to Da Vinci Code, which is pretty close. National Treasure would have been spot-on, but it’s a lot closer than he’s usually allowed to be. It turns out that back in the day, George Washington decided to bolster the colonies’ claim to independence by minting the first coins of the United States using his wife’s flatware. A cache of these half-dimes disappeared a long time ago but become the subject of a scavenger hunt (both fictitious and factual) which leads to the death of the victim, an accountant who appears, the hunt aside, to be more exciting dead than alive. At least according to her cousin.
It seems that Nolan Burns, director of the New York Historical Institute has been looking for the half-dimes for years but hadn’t been able to locate them following the cryptic clues and a letter from Freemason Theodore Rose. So he sets up a scavenger hunt, ostensibly as a charity event, to see if anyone else can solve the puzzle (at which point, we assume, he would give them the $2,500 cash prize the Institute ponied up while Burns used the winner’s mind-work to finally find the coins, worth well, a hell of a lot more). When Castle and Beckett discover this, they confront him, assuming they’ve got the killer. He’s guilty, all right, but only of pulling Susanna the accountant into the hunt because of her specialized knowledge. Seems that the letter-writer Rose is actually an ancestor of Susanna’s—the story of the lost coins are part of family lore and Burns hoped that she would have unique insights that would have uncovered the cache.
Which, in fact, she did. Unfortunately, she’s not the only one who possesses knowledge of the family secrets. She shares news of her search with her cousin who follows her until she finds the coins and, when she informs him that she’s planning to donate them to charity, he kills her because he needs the money to pay for his failing mother’s healthcare. (Had the writers either made the cousin sleazy and an outright mercenary or mentioned the mother earlier than the final confession, this plot might have felt less out of left field and amateurish.) Susanna seems like she was a nice girl so it’s hard to imagine she wouldn’t have let him have one coin (which could get him 1.2 million at auction—enough to pay for a decent chuck of medical care) out of a stash of thousands.
And while Susanna paid the ultimate price for them, she’s not the only one with family problems. Castle is a show largely about family, both biological and environmental. Castle, of course, has the first covered. He lives (or lived, until very recently) with his mother and his daughter. For the first few months of the show, Martha and Alexis were the counter-balance to Castle’s public persona. Yes, he seemed a playboy (accent both on the “play” and the “boy”), but actually he was a devoted father and supportive son who enjoyed dinner, laser-tag, and basically hanging out with his family. By showing us this side of him from the start, the writers got us to buy in to the idea that his interest in Beckett was sincere and his intentions fairly honorable. It took the detective a lot longer to figure that out.
Beckett, on the other hand, had a family which did not share bloodlines. Ryan and Esposito played the part not only of younger brothers constantly called on the carpet by big sister Beckett, but also became protective of her when it was clear that Castle’s interest in her was more than casual but not yet clearly matrimonial. And Captain Roy Montgomery’s paternal attitude turned out to be quite sincere: he was looking out for her and trying to keep her safe in a world far more dangerous than she could have imagined.
In fact, familial harmony has become such a feature of the show that, more distressing than any problem in the Caskett relationship, the trouble that’s been brewing between Castle and his daughter seems particularly harsh.
Most parents go through this, right? Your children reach the age of majority and it’s time for them to face the world without your help (interference). They’re excited to learn more about the world; you’re scared because you know what’s out there, waiting for them. And I imagine it’s more difficult for single parents like Castle. Which is why we tend to react badly at such moments. As Castle does, making it clear, when he and Martha are invited to dinner at Alexis’ and Pi’s new place (which is decorated far better than any nineteen-year-old’s flat I’ve ever been to), that he considers Pi to be a trivial distraction in his daughter’s world.
But then this is not your average father-daughter relationship and never has been. And that point is driven home quite well when Castle shows up at Alexis’ door to apologize (more to keep the peace than because he’s sincere). Alexis states her case quite well, and brings up a sticky point from the past: she’s never really approved of her father’s relationship with Beckett because it puts him (and others) in danger. So when she learned of his engagement not from him but Martha, she was particularly tested. But, she points out, she accepted it because Beckett makes him happy. And now she would like the same acceptance extended to Pi. He concedes her point and tells her he’ll try.
At which point, he invites her out to make-up ice cream. And Molly Quinn’s reaction is perfect and speaks volumes: I’m not a child to be bought off with ice cream. This isn’t some silly point that can be resolved in an instant or with dairy products. You need to face that I’m an adult.
Which is ironic, really. Because while Alexis asks her father who he is always saying is the most intelligent member of the family (her), she might as well be asking who is the most mature. Much has been made of the fact that he’s little more than a boy. In fact, when he says Pi has turned being a charming man child into a career, Beckett isn’t the only one who understands that’s the pot calling the kettle black.
But despite his lacking maturity, he’s always been a good father. One has only to look to Alexis to see this. But now, for the first time, he’s failing and it’s both painful and unnerving to watch. After all, his familial success has always been the reason we believed that Beckett was safe with Castle. Now, we may have to wonder if that faith was misplaced.
It’s a great possibility. I’m just hoping that, unlike so many other possibilities the show brings up, this one actually goes somewhere. Either that, or they give us more Nathan Fillion sword fights. We can be bought off. Obviously.
Read Laura’s review of the previous episode, Time Will Tell, here.
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