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Castle: “Demons”

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Castle was fun tonight, but then, tonight was Castle's Halloween episode, which meant that I went in knowing that I was going to have a good time unless the writers just completely screwed it up. I have a special weakness for holiday episodes, but since I don't actually recognize any holidays except for Christmas and Halloween, and Christmas episodes have been known to get a little squishy, this means that I must be talking almost exclusively about Halloween episodes by default. Who can forget getting into the festive mood by watching Homer Simpson rend the fabric of time, or Chevy Chase tripping in a Beastmaster costume and imagining that he's being taunted by Alison Brie ("Tell me about the '60s, Pierce!"), or Anthony Stewart Head idly munching candy while wearing a sombrero? Good times, good times. (Then there was Roseanne's farewell tribute to Jerry Garcia, after which I stuck a Q-Tip in my ear and tried to swab the images off my brain. The Saw movies should be half as gross.)

I'm not sure why Castle, which I know will be on next Monday because I checked, ran its Halloween episode tonight, instead of waiting for Halloween. Maybe they thought that it would be more deeply enjoyed if people didn't watch it immediately after collapsing in their homes after taking their little munchkins trick-or-treating and laboriously checking all those apples for hidden razor blades. Maybe it's to get the jump on The Simpsons, which, in a startling break from recent tradition, is actually running this year's installment of "Treehouse of Horror" in the same month as the holiday it celebrates. Who knows? It sometimes feels as if I've been watching TV for all but about three months of my entire waking life, and still, the odds that I'll ever understand how the minds of TV programmers work are about as good as the chance that I'll ever understand my cat or what the management of Netflix was thinking.


The special guest star was the McClaren House, an imposing load of bricks that was sometimes referred to as the McClaren Mansion, whenever Castle was in the mood to exchange pithiness for alliteration. This, it was explained, was a New York City certified landmark and authentic haunted house, with a trail of bodies littering its history, kind of like an upscale version of that load out at Amityville. The newest dead body belonged to the star of a TV series called Ghost Wranglers, described by an awed Castle as "hands down, America's most accomplished ghost hunter." Castle was first seen getting into the Halloween spirit by watching Night of the Living Dead, the original version, in grainy black and white, as God intended, because Castle is a man of taste. It turned out that our man Rick ardently believes in ghosts and the malign influence of demons, at least for as long as appearing to believe in them can give him a tingle and provide an opportunity to gas on about historical patterns of mysterious doings. Beckett, being Beckett, wasn't having it.

It made for a pleasant push-pull dynamic, with Castle babbling about the supernatural and Beckett shooting him down with plausible explanations for whatever was happening, like on Scooby-Doo. (Incidentally, I don't know if you've seen any of the newer Scooby-Doo shows, but sometimes now, they encounter sky-scraping monsters out of a Toho Studios production, creatures the size of continents that can fly and shoot flames out of their mouths, and still, it always turns out to be a guy in a costume.) The murder of the ghost hunter turned out to be connected to the death of a previous resident of the house, whose murder the ghost hunter might have witnessed, as a kid, back in 1991, though he no longer remembered clearly just what he had seen. This meant that the plot flirted with repressed memory syndrome, a very 1991 phenomenon that may or may not be a little more scientifically grounded than demonic possession murders. The important thing was, it gave Nathan Fillion a chance to play around in a haunted house and scream like a little girl when someone's dessicated remains toppled onto him.

Aside from its entertainment value, the most important moment came in the restaurant scene with Kevin, Javier, and their respective beards. The buddy-buddy relationship between two male cops who are so close that it's tempting to wonder if they might be more than pals goes back a long way; it always seemed as if Starsky and Hutch both compulsively hit on women because they were trying to make each other jealous, and in the '60s Dragnet, Harry Morgan used to bitch about his wife in the apparent hope that Jack Webb would commit himself to the two of them moving in together if Harry would step up and have his wife whacked. It's kind of a big thing in the characters of Kevin and Javier, since waiting to see if somebody's going to catch them making out in the locker room is the closest thing either of them has to an interesting quality. They'd been putting off having dinner together for a long time, presumably because watching each other holding someone else's hand from across a table would be just too painful to endure, and sure enough, Javier and the medical examiner broke up right after. This wasn't surprising, because just watching the two men trade looks in that scene was practically a month's worth of media studies in itself.

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