Title Scared to Death
Two-Sentence Summary The death of a young woman leads Castle and Beckett to a mysterious DVD that promises to bring death at midnight of the third day after its viewing. While Beckett attempts to solve the case with reason by tying it to a serial killer and his brother, Castle begins to work his way through his bucket list, believing his death is imminent.
Favorite Line “You’re a cop. And I’m a cop…helper.” (Castle)
My Thoughts After the intense drama of the last two episodes of Castle, it was nice to shift gears and return to a lighter take on the procedural genre. I’ll admit that my expectations for this episode weren’t sky high, but I was pleasantly surprised by how much fun I had watching this episode. I think I’d even go so far as to say it was some of the most fun I’ve had watching Castle this season, and this has been a pretty great season to be a Castle fan.
My favorite Castle cases are the quirky, somewhat nerdy cases: the zombies, the sci-fi convention, the vampires, the ghost hunters, the soap opera writer, etc. So this case was incredibly enjoyable for me. I loved the callbacks to the best of the horror genre because they were integrated perfectly into the plot: the cabin in the woods, the creepy video, the meeting in the mental hospital. Even Castle rejecting Beckett’s propositions made sense within the context of the episode and Castle’s character as we know him: Sex is never a good thing in a horror movie, and it’s definitely in Rick Castle’s personality to buy into that superstition 150%.
The horror plot also gave us that deliciously fun phone call with Wes Craven. I adore reminders that Castle is rich, famous, and well-connected, so this was like a surprise gift in the middle of an already-fun episode.
So much of the “fun factor” in “Scared to Death” came from the interactions between Castle, Beckett, Esposito, and Ryan. But I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Perlmutter’s presence as well. I love Lanie, but Castle and Perlmutter’s continuing antagonistic relationship is a beautiful thing to behold. One of my favorite moments in the entire episode was Perlmutter calling him “Defective Castle.”
The entire group in the 12th precinct was firing on all cylinders this week in terms of their comedic timing and chemistry. I’ve always loved the natural divide between the skeptics (Beckett and Esposito) and the “believers” (Castle and Ryan), but this episode edged Esposito just a little bit closer to the believers. And it was hilarious to watch. The scene where Beckett tried to get the two detectives to watch the DVD was perfect, with Seamus Dever and Jon Huertas showing off their own comedic chops. I also laughed out loud when Esposito had his “startled…not scared” reaction to the creepy hotel owner sneaking up on them.
Beckett’s logic clashing with Castle’s wild theories has always been a source of great comedy for Castle, and it worked to great effect again this week. Just because they’re in a relationship doesn’t mean Beckett is going to stop being annoyed by Castle’s theories, and that’s a good thing. For as fantastic as character growth is—and for as rich as Beckett’s growth has been—this episode was a nice reminder that she’s still the same logical cop we met in the pilot episode and that her relationship with Castle is always going to be that mixture of oil and water that keeps the banter alive. Character consistency is just as important as character development.
(As an aside, can we talk for a second about Stana Katic’s hair in this episode? It was stunning on an almost inhuman level. I’m convinced her hair is the 8th wonder of the world.)
The thing I loved most about this episode was that it integrated Castle and Beckett’s relationship into the story in such an organic way. The episode wasn’t about their relationship, but their relationship wasn’t conspicuously absent, either. Instead, “Scared to Death” was full of scenes that showed the easy, natural dynamic between Castle and Beckett in a way that made sure the audience knew they’re in a relationship without making the episode solely focused on that relationship. It’s a hard balance to achieve (and one I’m not sure has been achieved with consistency this season), but this episode got it just right.
Their relationship was there in the small bits of dialogue showing their familiarity with one another and their presence in each other’s lives (Castle talking about Beckett’s stiletto collection, the car conversation about Castle breaking her vase). It was there in the jokes about Beckett holding Castle’s hand not because she needed it but because he did. And it was there in the sweet but sarcastic exchange about Castle wanting Beckett to die after him so she could tell his story of sacrifice.
That exchange was everything I’d always hoped for in a Castle/Beckett relationship. It had just enough sweetness with Beckett’s initial reaction balanced with just enough humor from Castle to keep it from being saccharine. Their banter in this episode felt quick and easy again, and bantering “Caskett” is one of the best kinds of Caskett, in my opinion.
The conclusion of the episode was one of the sweetest surprises Castle has given audiences in some time. I’m a sucker for the small moments of relationship development in episodes that would seem to be about anything but, so the reveal of Castle’s #1 bucket list item is a scene I know I’ll be adding to my list of favorite Castle/Beckett moments. It was a scene that just felt so quintessentially Castle in its mixture of sincerity, humor, and suggestiveness.
Beckett’s reaction to being at the top of Castle’s bucket list was beautiful. Katic’s smile has been bright enough this season to power a large city. But what really sold the moment for me (and I’m sure for everyone else, too) was the fact that Castle has been hoping to be with her for three years. And that’s all he wanted: To “be with Kate.” Not just to sleep with her. To be with her. He was willing to wait all that time for her to be ready, for her to want to be with him, too. And now he’s so caught up in the pleasure of actually being with her that he forgot to cross it off the list. Fillion’s delivery of Castle’s confession was typically perfect. The way he shifts from an attempt to be flippant to sincerity with one look says so much about how deeply he’s loved her for so long and how happy he is to finally be able to cross that off his list forever.
The scene ends with another fantastic callback to a previous season (in this case, Season Three’s “Poof! You’re Dead”) when Beckett mentions her infamous “ice cube trick.” Aggressive Beckett is one of the most entertaining facets of her character, and you can always tell Katic has a blast playing that side to her. Although the episode ended without a kiss or a love scene, there was no doubt about where it was headed, and that’s all I need to be happy as a viewer.
Season Five of Castle has been at its best when its able to make the Castle/Beckett relationship fit seamlessly into the storytelling. This episode was a great example of how to successfully achieve that goal. There was never any doubt during any of their scenes that these were two people in a relationship. Their dialogue felt like dialogue between romantic partners, two people who know each other on a very intimate level (and apparently have the photos to prove it). By simply letting the characters act naturally for this stage in their relationship, “Scared to Death” gave us one of the sweetest, funniest, and most enjoyable depictions of the Castle/Beckett relationship to date.
In other words, much to Perlmutter’s chagrin, there was nothing “defective” about it.