After a two week hiatus, Castle returned this week with “A Dance with Death,” an episode that centered around the murder of dancer who was a contestant on a popular dance show, Night of Dance. The previews for this episode made it seem like the dance show itself was going to play a large role in the episode, and while that was obviously a ploy to attract the Dancing with the Stars audience, this turned out to be another case where misleading previews end with a disappointing episode.
I’ve said before that this season of Castle has not been my favorite by any means. The season started out much too serious and it seems like the writing still has not found its groove even though we are eighteen episodes in. One of the best things about the show is Castle himself. Nathan Fillion is a comic genius and watching him get excited about the case and spout off crazy theories that often turn out to be true has always been the highlight of the show along with the will they or won’t they relationship between Castle and Beckett.
But Castle is also a procedural show which means the cases need to play an important role and they should be interesting enough to hold the viewer’s attention in between the jokes and longing glances. Lately, it seems like the writers don’t particularly care to put any effort into the case aside from picking a popular gimmick. A few weeks ago, it was fairy tales and this week it was a celebrity dance show. That’s all well and good, but the show has developed a bad habit of rushing through the case and then when there are about ten minutes left before the episode ends, all of a sudden there’s a breakthrough and the killer is revealed. The problem is that no one cares at that point.
Let’s dive into this week’s episode. The victim, Odette Morton, was found in her dressing room with a gunshot wound to her chest. As the producer of the show explained to Castle and Beckett, each contestant was cast to play a certain role. Odette was the poor little rich girl. She came from money, but she had drug problems that she eventually got past after she was almost killed in a train derailment and decided to change her life. The only enemy the producer could think of was a fellow contestant, Eddie Gordon, who had been sent home the week before and his exit interview was a rant about how horrible Odette was and how he should have stayed instead of her.
I was still interested at this point. Castle and Beckett went to interview Eddie and his back story for the show was that he was the guy from the wrong side of the tracks with a criminal record who overcame his obstacles through his love of dance. Eddie claimed that Odette had started doing drugs again and he’d witnessed her paying someone off before the show, presumably to keep her secret. Eddie had an airtight alibi so he was cleared as a suspect.
The next part is where the show started to lose me. When the detectives ran Odette’s finances, they discovered she’d nearly maxed out her credit cards on clothes, none of which were in her size. Castle suggested Odette was running what he referred to as a gas card scheme. He explained that when he was younger, he and his friends would use their gas cards to fill up their friends’ cars and then the friend would pay them in cash so their parents wouldn’t know where the money was really going. Castle assumed Odette was using the money to buy drugs but trying to hide it from her financial advisor.
I thought the episode would get back to the dance show at this point. Maybe someone there was blackmailing her. There were ‘blink and you miss them’ red herrings with the host and the makeup artist, but then it’s revealed that there was a woman, Barbara Landau, who had died in the train accident and looked a lot like Odette. Castle assumed they were twins and maybe Barbara had taken Odette’s identity and someone found out and killed her. I perked up at this point, excited by the twist, only to be confused when it was revealed less than a minute later that they were not related at all.
Barbara was a former stripper who dreamed of making it big on Broadway. Odette took advantage of their resemblance and paid her to do mundane things that she didn’t want to like community service. Odette was the one who died in the train crash and Barbara stepped into her life, hoping to finally achieve her dream. But instead, she found out that Odette had killed her grandfather for the inheritance money and then the financial planner killed Barbara because she made Odette look bad. What?
It probably feels like I rushed through that recap, but that was exactly how it played out in the show. We received all of that information at once and not only did it not make sense, but I’m not sure why we’re supposed to care. There was a barrage of guest stars that Castle and Beckett interviewed, but none of their “clues” led to anything.
This has been a recurring theme of the show this season and I hate it. I’m not saying the show has to hold our hands and tell us exactly who the killer is in the opening segment, but at least give us some hints. I feel like the writers line up pictures of the guest stars, throw a dart at one and that’s how they decide who the killer is that week. Who cares if it makes sense?
In the previews for next week, it looks like the show will be tackling the Occupy Wall Street movement. This could be interesting or it could be another gimmick. More importantly, the show is finally getting back to the fact that Beckett lied in the season premiere when she said she didn’t remember what happened after her shooting (when Castle told her that he loves her). What do you think? Has the show lost its way or is it still appointment TV? Sound off in the comments below.