Sorry for the long delay, work and other things are getting in the way of the website. But I’ve rewatched the episode a few times since it aired to get another feel for the episode and each time I’ve walked away with a different feeling. It’s not entirely bad but this episode speaks to the problems with season seven over all: repetitiveness and the need to throw in call-backs to get fans all giddy.
The biggest problems with call-backs to earlier episodes is that it’s lost on most viewers. Contrary to what fans would like to believe, 99% of the viewers of the show aren’t participating in social media platforms such as Twitter, Tumblr and Facebook. While some may have access to those things, they aren’t tweeting or chatting about the episode.
So when the writers rely on those earlier “feels” as a crutch to propel an episode forward, it can slow the episode down. That said, this episode wasn’t as bad as it could have been. Given the trend from the first half of the season, this episode could have gone off the rails. Terri Miller kept it tight.
The best way to describe this episode is part Alien versus Mission to Mars versus 2001: A Space Odyssey. I’m not a Firefly fan so I can’t speak if there were any references there or not.
The episode opens up with Mars astronaut Tom Richwood working on the planet Mars, well we think it is, when some unknown force kills him. Richwood is part of a group of adults living and working together on a Mars simulation.
The episode cuts away to an oddly misplaced but strangely similar situation of four adults living together at the Castle loft. Out of the blue we’re introduced to Martha’s boyfriend and Alexis’ boyfriend, both of whom who are clear plot devices to provide a B-story, and things are getting crowded at Castle de Cassa. It’s clear the Castle loft is in need of a few evictions to make life easier for the Mr. and Mrs.
Back on planet Mars, the gang is told because it’s a simulation, the gang will have to put on space suits. Enter geeky Castle, Ryan who runs away from the mere thought of putting on a space suit, Esposito who suddenly gains scientific skills and the straight-man Beckett.
Smart Castle is present in this episode but he can’t resist acting like a big kid on this crazy playground called fake Mars. It’s important to point out the set decision for this episode, it was top-notch. (Though, a few people I know who are involved in the real “Mission to Mars” program laughed at some of the design, were impressed.) Outside of the CIA-set from “Pandora/Linchpin” this is probably one of the better set designs over the life of the series.
The case itself is complex and maybe a little too much for what’s become the typical Castle’s Cases of the Week. But it’s a welcome change to the predictability of the killer being revealed right away. Although it was assumed, from my perspective, that the killer was among Richwood’s cohorts on the simulation, there were a few red herrings that made the twists and turns enjoyable.
Change is on the horizon.
The writers are planting seeds for the show’s finale, whether it’s the season or series finale. Whether it’s a baby or people leaving the loft, they’re broadcasting it loud and clear. The subtext in this episode is clear (not muddled and doesn’t leave to open-speculation with various possible endings).