Castle season 6 episode 9 review: Disciple

Castle's sixth season is really heating up. Here's Laura's impressed review of Disciple...

This review contains spoilers.

6.9 Disciple

(Rubs hands together in glee) Now this is the stuff!

Much like The X-Files, Castle’s equivalent of the freak-of-the-week episodes may be amusing, but the show’s at its very best when dealing with its larger myth arcs. This show has two: the one that focuses on the death of Beckett’s mother and the one about the 3XK serial murderer. Episodes addressing either arc tend to be more serious than the rest and generally allow the main characters to evolve in interesting ways. They are also the best plotted and written (and thus, a relief).

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So I feel a little silly to have failed to suspect what was really going on until about halfway through the episode. For those of us watching, like the detectives we were following, the clues were all there. In fact, really, the Lanie and Esposito lookalikes should have been a dead giveaway. Or the fact that a security guard couldn’t possibly afford the surgeries and million-dollar flat of the victims. Or that there were entirely too many bad guys absolutely certain they had the cops snookered.

Because they were. Along with us.

The final clue should have been the suspense. The myth arc episodes tend to keep us on the edge of our seats, and this episode in particular built that suspense up extremely well, starting with the revelation that the first victim bore a striking resemblance to Lanie. Usually, our reactions in a series like this are in parallel to the main characters. What begins to unnerve them has a similar effect on us, and as the noose begins to tighten (sorry…), our own anxiety rises with theirs.

But this was an exception and one that paid off quite well. Since the victim looked like Lanie specifically—that no-nonsense, unflappable, sassy sister (cringing a little at the overdone stereotype)—the reaction to surprise is a lot less alarmed than it might be. Lanie notes the similarity and then dismisses it as coincidence, which is likely why the rest of the team does the same. But we are not as quick to do so, mostly because we know that such things are rarely meaningless when you’re watching a detective show. Such shows work by making you suspicious of everything so you’re distracted from the truth.

It’s not until Lanie herself calls Beckett to ask her to come to the morgue and we see how shaken she is by what she’s discovered that the team’s suspicion turns into something more. But for us, seeing her in a state many of us would have believed impossible for her  elevates that suspicion to an outright dread. By the time they find Esposito’s doppelganger (and it tells us that our assumptions about Lanie’s emotional stability are right on when Ryan expresses much more concern for his partner than for the medical examiner around him coming face-to-face with his own death-mask), we are certain that this is no usual freak-of-the-week.

So the interrogation of Dr. Nieman, which—coming at the moment that it does in the episode—should read as a distractor, actually reads as precisely the opposite. We’ve seen Beckett go toe-to-toe with some pretty intimidating people, both the criminal and the innocent, but it’s rare to see her so totally out-classed by a plastic surgeon of all people. We know the not-so-good doctor has to be involved on some level, and I think this is probably where many of us start figuring it out, spending the rest of the episode wondering how long it’ll be before Caskett catch up and how much worse it’ll get before they do.

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But as I said, it’s these episodes that give our characters the most room for development, and if last week’s story highlighted the bromance of Ryan and Esposito, this week was all about Esplanie.

This relationship has always bothered me precisely because while their reasons for being together have always been strong, their reasons for breaking up have been nebulous at best. The banter between the two never rises to the level of Caskett, but when they were together, they smoldered in a way that our leads hint at but don’t really deliver on. They are not Caskett, and the mere thought that they might be Ryan/Jenny (sorry, no cute name for this terminally cute couple—we might get a toothache from such sweetness) send them running in different directions, except for the occasional booty calls.

So the scene where Esposito interviews Lanie is revealing to say the least. Although why she wanted it to be him escapes me; it’s obvious that she’s kept her emotional distance from him intentionally for a while now. This seems an odd time to tell him that he’s more than a casual shag. Turns out that the flirtatious Lanie has been monogamous, even if Javier is slow to believe it (frankly, I was surprised she didn’t erupt at him when he pushed her as though she was lying about that—it’s not like she has any reason to justify her sex life to him), and I’m assuming we are supposed to read a lot into this.

But there’s a lot more expressed in the scenes where Esposito, not given to such things, tries to comfort Lanie and the one where they watch as Carl Matthews awaits interrogation. What we get in these scenes is an inversion of their usual relationship, which has been physical but not emotional. In this episode, they instead open up emotionally, but seem almost afraid to touch each other, as if they’ve so effectively compartmentalized their relationship that doing both simultaneously is unthinkable. They are also the two most armored characters on the show, and the ones most likely to be played as lacking much dimension.  So what we are getting here is a very rare look behind the curtain, and it is bittersweet in the extreme. But it looks like there’s the possibility of more on the horizon.

What is also on the horizon is more 3XK, and that’s a very good thing. Disciple left a lot of things up in the air, not the least is what Dr. Nieman’s relationship with Jerry Tyson (3XK) is and whether Carl is actually Jerry (after seeing a plastic surgeon and speech coach). Wouldn’t be the first time he went to jail on purpose. Either way, it looks like this season is really heating up.

Read Laura’s review of the previous episode, Murder Is Forever, here.

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