‘Castle’: The After School Special

by | January 15, 2013 at 8:26 AM | Castle, Recap

Jon Huertas as Esposito on "Castle" (ABC)

Even the best shows have episodes that just don’t work. That’s the case with this week’s “Castle,” “Under the Influence,” which should be called Esposito (Jon Huertas), since Castle (Nathan Fillion) is barely in it. That’s not the problem. I would be thrilled to see an episode about, say, Esposito being forced to go undercover in the world of professional bowling because of his uncanny ability to bowl strikes. Esposito is great. However, this episode found him helping a juvenile delinquent without any of the shows trademark humor or twists. It was like someone found an unfilmed script from a 1980s procedural and changed the names. The more you know! I’ll assume that Nathan Fillion  and Stana Katic enjoyed their week off. Here are the highlights, such as they are.

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The Episode that Could have Been: Nashville Meets Castle: The opening scene was strong. At an album release party, the  pop star named Regina announces her new album only to be upstaged by the younger  Jodi Lang.  Jodi makes bitchy remark about how she has been a fan since grade school that is very Juliette versus Rayna on “Nashville.” It looked like we were going to be in for a fun episode about the rivalry between two pop starlets. Instead, it’s the DJ, Holly, who flees the scene, chased by a mysterious hooded figure. She is the corpse of the week.

Watch “Under the Influence”:

Castle and Beckett Investigate the Music Scene: The first act was fun. Caskett head to Regina’s house where they find the op star passed out in bed with a guy. All she knows is that the DJ bailed early. Ryan and Esposito talk to a producer named Tyrese whose phone number was written on Holly’s hand. Tyrese explains he wanted to work with her. She was thrilled about it. Tyrese says a rapper named MC Thug fought with her at the party. Wait, MC Thug? Really? This truly is an old script from the 80s. MC Thug explains that he thought Holly stole his girlfriend’s bracelet, mentioning that Holly has an assistant. He is thrilled that they want to hold him until his alibi checks out because it helps with his street cred. Now that’s the trademark Castle humor. There should have been a lot more of it this week. It turns out hat Holly had a criminal record. She grew up in foster care. There were a lot of theft reports at the parties where Holly worked.

Suddenly, We’re in Punky Brewster Territory Minus the Mismatched Socks: The trail leads to Holly’s occasional assistant, a 14-year-old nicknamed Monster who has been lured in by a Fagin type. When his guardian can’t be located, Esposito volunteers to take him in so the kid won’t have to go to juvie. I saw  this plotline on an episode of “Hunter,” only it was with a toddler. Monster talks tough. Esposito tries to get through to him. While Esposito is in another room, he jumps out the window. Esposito catches him and brings him to the precinct. It’s all so cliched! They figure out that Fagin is a guy named Shane. It seems like there is going to be some sort of twist, but Shane is just a scuzzy guy who recruits vulnerable kids to do his dirty work and killed Holly, who had gone straight. The episode ends with Esposito sharing his own juvenile record with Monster and promising to stay involved in his life. Because it takes Diff’Rent Strokes to rule the world. Really. This scene actually happened. If you don’t believe me, watch the clip.

Fortunately, next week’s episode looks like an actual hour of “Castle” with a case involving spring break and actual screentime for Castle and Beckett.