[This is a review of Castle Season 6, Episode 18. There will be SPOILERS.]
Coming off of last week's nail-biter, 'The Way of the Ninja' is fairly tame and even a little on the kitschy side, but that's not a bad thing. In fact, given all of the stress the characters have been put through this season, more of a lighthearted Castle seems well-timed.
Right off the bat, this episode is full of theatrics both onscreen as well as on the orchestral side. Asian costumes, sets, and music set the mood with big, broad strokes that never make you feel mortal peril is imminent. This plays right to the motif of Castle (Nathan Fillion) as little more than a tall boy. From the first puff of smoke to the last gag with the throwing star, Castle is all in and enjoying every second of it.
Of course this gives the writers great excuses to play up the more serious-minded Kate (Stana Katic). She's definitely still the one who keeps his feet - and their investigations - anchored to solid ground, but it's still fun to watch the interplay. While she might worry what marriage might do to the pair of them, viewers - and Castle - know that their lives will be far from boring.
The case details play out on the grand theatrical side as well. A lone girl with a mysterious past turns out to have survived a family massacre only to die in an alley by the same blade that killed the rest of her family. But wait, there's an evil, Asian Bane chasing our heroes and making ominous threats! And there's a second, secret sister who also survived and is now on-hand to avenge them all! And the Green Dragon is really a white dude who killed his son's girlfriend!
Again, nothing wrong with this kind of a romp after the level of stress the writers have been apt to cause this season. And they do a great job here mixing things up without going completely overboard. There's just the right touch to make it feel like any other Castle episode, while allowing for some laughs and fun too. The geisha night-club scene with the boys is a textbook example.
If last week highlighted the star's brilliance, than this week's belongs to the stunt crew and the fight coordinators. They open with some smooth moves and a cool puff of smoke. Then graduate to give us a great 'cop vs. ninja' scene in the alley. The climax of the final fight between Jade's sister and the Green Dragon is spectacular and just plain fun to watch.
What did you think?
Castle returns next Monday with 'The Greater Good' @10pm on ABC.