Castle: The Way of the Ninja review

Castle meets ninjas! What more could you want from a show like this? Here's Jarrett's review...

It was just a matter of time before ninjas returned to the pop culture forefront and Castle makes sure it is with a bang. The ’80s craze is back in full force in this week’s episode of the cop drama. Thankfully, Castle has the right mix of action and comedy to pull it off. I am such a fan of the show because it continues to try new things while remaining loyal to its mystery roots. Sometimes we get the serious episode but mostly we get what we got tonight—fun. And I will take that over so many other 10 PM shows any day of the week.

This week, a young Japanese ballet dancer named Jade Yamata has been killed under mysterious circumstances…as in ninja throwing-knife mysterious! We just don’t see enough ninja violence on TV in the 21st Century. Naturally Beckett and company catch the case much to Castle’s inner ’80s worshipping chagrin. The team at the 12th begin to explore the life of the young dancer and find that it was much more nefarious than most ballerinas. When Castle and Beckett find the presumed lair of their murderer, they run into a real life ninja and begin to peel back the layers on a decade old mystery that goes all the way back to Okinawa. With their trademark zeal, the gang leaps into investigation mode and soon realize that this case is much bigger than they expected.

At its core, the mystery is solid and actually kept me guessing until the big reveal and that is always a plus. No big tip-offs or tells of just who was behind the murder this week. It was a real whodunnit and I thought that the pacing and comedic elements of the story stayed fresh and maintained for the full hour. I think that Castle is the rare show where you have characters that are so likable that they can pull off what might look silly on another show. It is a rarity that a serious cop show can actually pull in some solid laughs but the formula works. As the mystery deepens we are taken into NYC underground geisha/hostess clubs where it looks like the now late Jade worked. But the fledgling dancer was onto something bigger than hitting on married men in a nightclub. It was pretty hysterical to see Castle get fleeced for $6000 at the club for five minutes of private time and then try to expense it to Captain Gates.

Castle is adamant that it was indeed a ninja that he saw at the shrine but it is mostly fodder for the gang to make fun of him. Still it is amusing to see Castle geek out over the mysterious hooded Japanese warriors. His enthusiasm for a particular case makes the show that much more fun to watch. As the hour goes we are given a storyline that would make even Michael Dudikoff proud. The narrative holds up well with a Yakuza plot point and Jade’s family from before she was orphaned at age 10.  No spoilers here on DoG but I assure you that it is a solid addition to the Castle canon. Fans of the genre and you 80’s junkies out there will dig this episode from the first spin kick on.

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No nunchuks, but Castle does get a throwing star to his smartphone. The subplot this week has Beckett having dinner with an old high school pal whose marriage has lost its luster. Thankfully Castle reassures her that their future nuptials will never face such trouble. Overall this episode is another stellar installment for both die hard fans like me and the newbie jumping on board.

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3.5 out of 5