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Nikki Heat episode: 2x01 Deep in Death

Oof, this is a full episode.  There's a re-introduction of all the characters + reintroduction of Beckett's mother's murder + publicity for Heat Rises + poker + Beckett saving Castle + C&B goodness. My internet has been spotty so I'm hopeful I can get this all up at once and I wasn't able to add screencaps, so I'm so sorry about that!  So as long as expectations are sufficiently low... :D

Oh, Season 2.  With your opening series recap and bad Beckett hair and ruggedly handsome!Castle.  And the: Nikki Heat? / The character he's basing on you.  <3

I have unending love for this episode mainly because of the final scene, but it brings up the Nikki Heat Books + Beckett's mom's murder, so I'm going to only briefly cover the murder "mythology."  Of course, I'll use "briefly" but I think these recaps show that I have no idea how to do that :)

This is the first episode of season 2 and the show decided not to do a "last time on Castle" and instead opens with upbeat music and quick shots of the NYC skyline on a bright summer day to bustling streets to . . . strippers?  Wearing, well, faux uniforms.  Oh, it's a photoshoot with models and, to no one's surprise, Castle, in the middle.  In the middle of the women and, totally realistically, in the middle of the homicide department of the 12th precinct.  We get a quick shot of Beckett, looking horrified (at Castle or the disruption, it's not entirely clear, but I'm going with 'a little from Column B and a lot from Column A').  We get to see cover art for Heat Rises and I don't think the silhouette is too bad.  In the last episode, Beckett was so upset that some woman was naked on the cover but it's really Bond opening credits level, so really not that bad.

"What's so special about world famous mystery novelist Richard Castle?  He's rich, he's handsome, and he's basing his next bestseller on you.  What's it like being the inspiration for thrill master Richard Castle's new character, Nikki Heat?"

Now that is quite the introduction.  A Cosmo(politan Magazine) reporter is there to interview Beckett and Castle and take photos of Castle (and of the crossed-armed Beckett, as we learn later in the season!).  Beckett is trying very, very hard not to roll her eyes too much.  Or to "accidentally" spill hot coffee on the reporter (or Castle).  Well, she's actually not trying very hard but, fortunately, the reporter is fairly oblivious.  Becks reaches her limit when the reporter tells her that Castle said he was "instrumental" in solving the toughest cases (so humble, that boy) and Becks hurries off to find the Captain.

Oh, Captain Montgomery.  I miss you and your snarky, supportive ways.  I LOVE how he's smiling as he walks back to his desk (when she can't see him) and then rearranges his face appropriately when he turns to face her.  Beckett says "bachelor party twins" and using him as a "stripper pole" (without saying Castle, of course) and all sorts of things that really shouldn't be bothering her this much if she was really over it/him.  Methinks Becks protests too much, especially as she's been gripping her coffee mug so tightly and we all know that coffee = Castle subtext.  Captain agrees with me.  But he can't say "just make out already" and instead goes for logic and the importance of "career" and "good press" and "mayor" to get Beckett's continued cooperation.

We jump to the break room where we see the boys (Esposito/Ryan) for the first time this season.  Espo's flirting awkwardly and Ryan, seeing Becks enter, thinks there should be photoshoots every day.  Beckett rolls her eyes.  Espo ups the ante with "why don't you wear crop tops as part of your uniform?" and Becks counters with "not wanting to be paid in singles." Heh.

Enter Castle.  When we first saw him in the photoshoot, he was all cool and flirty and sunglass-y (not unlike the pilot) but now he stands at the doorway all puppy-dog-like.  The boys find the situation amusing.  As do I.  Ryan very obviously suggests that they have to go see a guy about a thing and, after a beat, Espo agrees (but not without a look over his shoulder at Becks as they leave.  Espo is definitely Team Beckett.).

Castle is trying to explain away the photoshoot (not his idea! the mayor liked it! don't hate me!) but, very clearly, there is NO apology. Ahem.  Beckett shuts him down but Castle, probably excited that she's even speaking in his general direction, takes his turn as Exposition Fairy as he briefly recaps last season's finale.

C: What did I do that was so wrong?
B: The one thing I asked you not to do.
C: Okay, so you asked me not to look into your mother's murder, but look at what I found!
B: It doesn't matter what you found. I put that all behind me a long time ago.

Oh, Becks.  Acting so calm about the whole thing while Castle looks crushed.  I use "acting" because she says she's eager to get back to her interview.  Nice try, Becks.

The boys interrupt with plot.  There's a murder!  Beckett finally puts her coffee mug down on her desk (it wasn't until this rewatch that I finally noticed that she is holding the coffee mug in the interview and the convo with Montgomery and all the way through this scene!) and is about to take off when the reporter gets a brilliant idea.  She'll tag along!  And watch the master, Richard Castle, at work!  The Captain, being awesome with impeccable timing says great idea!  Castle's ecstatic and Beckett looks like she wants to hit someone.

Jump to the crime scene.  I have so much love for the fact that Beckett made Castle ride with Espo and Ryan.  I'm not sure where the reporter was...did she go with the boys?  Probably, right?

Castle hops out of the car like an eager puppy and wants to continue their "conversation" (aka fight, aka one-sided pleading, etc., etc.).  I'm thinking this isn't the best idea with the reporter around, but the man doesn't make Page 6 all the time because he's known for his discretion.

C: Hey, can we talk about this, please?
B: There's nothing to talk about.
C: Well, at least let me know what I can do to make it up to you.
B: You can leave me alone.
C: Yes, well, I tried that and it didn't work.  Hey, I can buy you a pony!
B: [fights a smile] Focus, Castle, crime scene, 'kay?

AWWWW.  So she's not completely unaffected. So cute.  They're going to be okay. (But a little growing up is definitely needed on Castle's part.)

We shift to Laney, who gets the most awesome entrance -- in a cherry picker (I think that's what they're called? What they use to fix electric lines, etc.) examining a body in a tree.  Castle makes a trademark quip ("It's raining men") alerting Laney to his presence.  Laney is also decidedly Team Beckett (no one's on Team Castle...except Montgomery? and maybe Ryan?).

L: Castle, what are you doing here? (in a tone of voice that says to me more "really, again?" than surprise that he's there at all.)
B: Don't worry, we're still mad at him. (and THAT doesn't make it into the article? what is wrong with this reporter?  The muse is mad at the writer and their exchanges are just brimming with sexual tension?!  What was in the article, anyway?)

And in one of my favorite exchanges:
Ryan: Cat in a tree, Mom and Dad bickering [sooo cute!!!!], seems like old times.
Espo: Mmmhmm. [trying to make sure Beckett doesn't hear them and kill them?]

And another favorite exchange:
Laney: I got tree branches poking my boobs and spotlights shining up my booty.
Espo: Could be worse.  You could be wearing a skirt. [Ryan waves. Adorably.]
Laney: [peaks down to glare at Espo] When I come down I'm gonna smack you.
Espo: I'm looking forward to that.

And thus my love for Esplanie was born!

There's plot, but really the point of this scene is Beckett & Castle coming to the conclusion, together, that it wasn't a suicide.  The reporter's impressed, Beckett's annoyed again and Castle, adorably, goes from surprised that they're (still) on the same wavelength to getting this cute/impressed smile on his face as he looks at her.  Then he goes for irritating Becks further by showing off (not a good idea, Castle).

While Espo and Ryan also find Castle's eagerness and Beckett's irritation amusing, Laney gives strangulation as cause of death (no ligature marks). Castle, still thinking "showing off his knowledge" is the key to Beckett's forgiveness (silly, Castle), defines ligature for the reporter.  Reporter is impressed: "No wonder they like having you around."  That's the last straw for Becks and she sends him with the body (and the reporter) as Becks, Ryan, and Espo focus on "boring police work."  Heh.  Shut down. Oh, how Ryan & Esposito are enjoying Castle's suffering.  The plus for Castle?  Beckett's talking to him and she actually touched his shoulder.  Baby steps.

At the morgue mobile (heh), Laney sends the squeamish reporter up front, then glares at Castle.  Ooh, this should be fun.

C: Hi.
L: Uh uh, you do not get to say "hi" to me, I'm just doing my girl a favor.
C: Oh, you too, huh?
L: Well, what did you expect?  Beckett spent the first three years of being a cop trying to solve her mother's murder.  It took everything she had to put it behind her.  You couldn't respect that?
C: What was I supposed to do, not tell her what I found?
L: What you found?
C: Oh, she didn't tell you, did she?

Castle then proceeds with the murder mythology (I realize too late that I'm using "mythology" because that's how XFiles episodes were divided - between the alien "mythology" and the regular "monster of the week" episodes.  As this explanation is probably even MORE confusing, so I'll just skip ahead :))  Basically, there were several murders at the same time with the same MO and, to Laney's astonishment, the ME didn't make the connection.  SUSPICIOUS.  Anyway, Castle tried to tell her this (or he did tell her, she just ignored him) and she told him they were "done."

Before Castle can get too sad and mopey about that, BANG!!  The morgue mobile is hit, the camera shakes, Laney and Castle fall down.  The back doors open and masked men with guns (flashlights attached -- it's dark and they're well prepared) enter, drag the body out and into a waiting trunk, and drive away.  SCARY.  And very, very weird (yes, I agree with you, Castle).

(Also? Even though Castle threatens at other times to put people/events into his books, this body-snatching actually does make it into one of his books.  But I forget which one. :))

Whew.  Opening credits.

Back at the precinct, Laney's checking to make sure there's no (new) brain damage.  The boys (Esposito - who does a shake/high five greeting with Castle, so Espo's not totally anti-Castle; Ryan; and, sniffle, Montgomery) hover in concern.  They sent the reporter home (Lois Lane!  There was also a Superman reference with the body in a tree - dive off building = a "superman" in a dark sort of way. Don't tug on Superman's cape, fellas.) and E&R did detective work to start tracking down the body.

The crash didn't keep Castle's, um, creativity in check. Who would steal a body?  Organ harvesters, cadaverless med students, satanists, mad scientists looking to create their own monster (I like that theory :)).  Beckett finally enters, CLUTCHING ANOTHER COFFEE MUG.  Okay, now that I'm looking for this? It's not at all subtle.  Anyway, Beckett's contribution is "murderers collecting incriminating evidence" which Castle terms "boring" and goes with "spy with microchip."  Whatever; Castle's just glad she's kind of playing along.

Oh, no, his flirty eyebrow raise came too soon.  She wants to send him home.  Everyone is super amused and can't wait to watch Castle dance his way out of this one.  I like the blocking -- he goes over to stand next to her to plead his case.  "He's a witness!"

Laney is not impressed that Montgomery's on Team Beckett&Castle.

And we have our first invasion of personal space.  The deal: Castle works this ONE CASE (whatever; he's the title of the show) and he promises to leave her alone when it's over and not to "weasel his way" back in (whatever; it's the beginning of the season. Nice try, Becks).

Castle: Deal.  But fair warning, Detective.  I will make you change your mind.
Beckett: I won't.
Castle: You will.  So, what's our next step?

Back to Espo&Ryan: They had a bet.  Of course.  Ryan loses to Espo - Ryan didn't think Beckett would take Castle back.  Espo, smugly, knew she would.  Hmmm.  Espo seems to know Beckett really well :D

Beckett and Castle go to tell the widow.  It's super sad when she opens the door, too -- you can see two little kids watching cartoons behind her (even though it's probably really late by now but it's a nice tableau just the same).  Castle's a little out of practice and basically asks if she thought her husband was cheating.  (To be fair, a "training seminar" for insurance in Albuquerque for two days doesn't sound completely realistic.)  It angers the widow, of course, but they do get a lead of an angry ex-co-worker.  That sounds promising!  Unfortunately, they have to explain about the body snatching.  AWKWARD.  And it's cute how Becks looks over to Castle and he's very careful to avoid her eyes.

Aww, the awkwardness leads to a better rapport between the two of them.  Nice. But not too nice.  Can't share too much personal space just yet.

First sighting of the Castle loft this season.  Alexis was super worried since Beckett had called to let them know that masked gunmen body snatchers had ran into the morgue mobile that Castle was riding in (without a seatbelt) and had stolen a body. Hmmm.  Castle finds this promising but Martha's trying to talk him down.

Martha: So, has she forgiven you?  [Ahh, forgiveness.  Often preceded by an apology.  Just saying.]
Castle: Not exactly, Mother, but I'm working on it.  She has agreed to let me help on the case.
Martha: Well, that's a start, I suppose.
Castle: It is more than a start.  It is an opportunity.  She may have built a wall between us, but I am going to build a door in that wall. Or put up a ladder. Or dig a hole. [you've already dug several...oh, but that's not what you mean.]
Martha: You have a strategy.
Castle: Be my usual, charming self.
Martha: [looks underwhelmed; even Alexis looks skeptical]  Uh huh.  And what about plan B?

Heh.  And the first mention of a wall!

Because this episode needs more sideplots and storylines to introduce for the season, Alexis was only super worried for a little bit because there's this boy.  "You'd rather go with your boyfriend than your dad.  What is wrong with you?"  Oh, dear.  But, yeah, another issue for Castle to deal with in season 2 - present.  (Also, Castle and Martha have a little side convo about the decline of original ideas in Hollywood movies and they brought up Ryan Reynolds as the 'wee triangle' in the Asteroids movie--lol--but I'm realizing this was before Battleship, so, yikes.)

Back to plot.  Turns out, the ex-coworker was only calling to commiserate because they (this guy and the victim) were both let go at the same time and -- INTRIGUE -- the victim didn't have a job.  So what about all the lies? And what about the money?  FOLLOW THE MONEY.  I hear that's helpful.

They get a call that the victim's body was found (again).  Turns out, he was a drug mule (cocaine).  Castle chimes in with story - how does a boring/stable/previously drug-free actuary become a drug mule.  Actually helpful, Castle, way to go!  There's still the cause of death, too - he was strangled by two hands but the pinky on hand isn't as strong.

More police work -- Beckett actually comes up with the idea to dust inside the glove that was left behind with the body the second time.  Laney's able to get a print, but not without Castle making a CSI joke first.

Cut to...a drug den.  Lots of cocaine packets and scales.  Kind of gross.  They get the right guy, though, on the drugs at least, but he says he didn't kill him.  He is able to give them (1) that the victim was scared and desperate for money and (2) the guy who vouched for him.

They interview the guy who vouched (voucher?) and he's kind of a jackass.  At any rate, he had met the guy at poker games and after the victim lost his job, he needed money desperately so the voucher pointed him in the direction of Triad-run poker games (higher stakes) and in the drug mule direction when gambling with mobsters didn't pan out.  Ooof.  Total asshole, this voucher.  He does offer up "Russian mobster," so yay?  I'm just sad for the widow, really.

Castle offers to find out about the illegal game AND then go to the game in Chinatown to scope out the Russian mobster.  Espo and Ryan both think that's not a bad idea (really?) but Beckett's a little hesitant.  Before we can focus on that, we cut to Castle's loft and his own poker game with his mystery writer buddies (the game Beckett's not allowed at b/c they'd 'eat her alive' :)).

Oh, Stephen Cannell.  My dad introduced me to The Rockford Files and we were big fans of that show and of his other work and it was so sad that he died.  I'm glad that we got to see him on this show, at least (and he's in the extras on one of the DVDs, I think?) and I was glad to learn about his friendship/mentorship of Rob Bowman (who has also been responsible for some of my favorite tv).

At any rate, back to the pseudo-fictional world: Castle's working Cannell and Connelly for info about the mob-run poker games.  Cannell earns the undying love of shippers everywhere when he hits the nail on the head:
SC: You must really like her.
C: Who? (nice try, Castle)
SC: That police detective of yours.  Look, Rick, there's only one reason that you'd be dumb enough to go down there and that's to impress a girl.  Why don't you cut yourself a little slack and just buy her some flowers. [which he does! later! in season 3!  so slow, Castle]

Against their better judgment, Cannell and Connelly tell Castle where to go in Chinatown.  Beckett, Espo, and Ryan are sitting in the van and Castle's miked with a button cam (and is totally fearless).  Beckett's totally nervous and, although the guys are encouraging, have a bad feeling about this, too.  And yet, they let them go because Castle's insistent (he really just wants to be James Bond) and they really don't have any options. Unfortunately, the poker room is filled "tattooed Russians."

Ryan: Think he has any idea that he's recapping a conversation that we just heard in its entirety?

Heh.  Love that. (and yep, Espo agrees with me about the Bond thing).

Castle goes rogue and sits down at a table.  This should end well.  Castle's just the famous (and very rich) writer, just there for some research. (One of the guys is upset he killed off Derek Storm.  I would be, too.  Twenty-odd books and you kill him off because you're bored? That's no fun.  Be nicer to your characters, writers.)  But I digress.

We learn that Beckett speaks Russian (one of the only languages SK doesn't speak, right?) and Castle, being Castle, starts talking about the murder victim.  One of the players has a false pinky -- that Espo/Beckett notice but Castle doesn't.  Becks freaks out and goes to get him but she can't go in as a cop (both Ryan and Espo seem surprised that she's ignoring protocol, but Espo less so, probably because it's Castle and he knows Beckett really well.  Okay, that's it. I want a backstory.).  So, Beckett strips and uses her Mary Poppins back of tricks to go undercover as a gangster's moll. :)  Accent!!

Meanwhile, Castle wins (with an inside straight)! (So. much. money.)  He gets up from the table and Pinky Man/murderer follows him and threatens him.  Fortunately, Castle's still miked so they get the confession on tape.  Enter Beckett (great timing, Becks!).  "A cop? Don't make me laugh he's barely even a man." Heh.  Castle's kind of adorably confused.

Beckett proceeds to be awesome and takes down the murderer.  Castle, still with the button cam (Ryan and Espo must be loving this) gets to stare at her ass for a bit and then goes to get backup.  (How, exactly?  They still have the problem with armed mobsters, right?)

Back at the precinct, Beckett's in normal clothing and we see the widow leave.  Seriously, she's the one who got screwed with all of this.  All of the lies, and no life insurance on top of an already crappy situation.  Castle's sitting in his chair (screwing up his courage to talk to her, too, which is cute).

And we get to the scene I've certainly memorized because of it's inclusion in the pre-episode recap:
C: We make a pretty good team.  Like Starsky and Hutch, Tango and Cash, Turner and Hooch.
B: You know, now that you mention it, you do remind me a little of Hooch.

Heh.  I love that movie (partly because it was filmed in one of my favorite locations on the planet).  THIS IS NOT YOUR ROOM.  So much love.

Castle decides to go for broke and tells her it's because she's afraid of what she'll find with her mother's death.  And with good reason, Castle, but since you don't have the benefit of hindsight, you're still optimistic about finding out the truth -- and about doing it together!  And with the necklace that holds her mother's ring prominent around her neck, Beckett reads him the riot act.  He was selfish in digging into her past.  He wasn't doing it for her -- he did it for himself.  To an extent, I agree with her.  He was so confident that he could solve the case, he had absolutely no idea what he was getting into.  He was treating her more like the character in his book -- he thought he could solve the backstory.

Castle leaves.

Back at the loft, he's writing (his 'it's time" when Alexis was surprised seems to indicate that he wasn't writing when he and Beckett were apart? He was waiting to see how the story would end -- for his next book??).  Alexis has boy trouble that conveniently tracks with the same problem her dad has.  So helpful!  Basically: boys suck and they suck worse when they keep explaining and don't just apologize and admit they were wrong.  Lightbulb for Castle (but, seriously, Martha didn't instill this in him?  Or either of his ex-wives or any of his ex-girlfriends?  He's a little too old to just be learning this now) and no resolution for Alexis :(  boy trouble for Alexis this season!

The ending scene just sticks in my head, mainly because of the song.  Here's the scene (no screencaps, but i do have have the scene!) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x_clVOnUIns  And the song itself: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cnBhCck4odc (Lex Land's My Fault, Your Mistake.)

He stands there, waiting for her to look at him (that's all he's really wanted, isn't it?)  It's a good apology.  A very, very good apology. He doesn't try to justify anymore but he does grow up, just a little bit.
C: And if we're not going to see each other again then you deserve to know: I'm very, very sorry.
[song: your little girl's going to change the world.  guh]
B: Castle.  I'll see you tomorrow
[C smiles]

Love.  Yeah, we knew it was coming but I still love it.  I get emotional about this song, you guys.  It hit me when I first heard it and it still does, every time I watch.

Thank you so much to everyone who made it through all of this!  And thank you to everyone who wrote in on my last recap; that was so amazing!  Barring any power outages again, I'll be much better in responding this time!

1) Personal cannon time.  What do you think happened between the last episode and this episode? Did Castle keep showing up until someone (Montgomery / Espo / Martha) told him to give her space?  Did Castle tell the people at the precinct or did Beckett?  She definitely told Laney.  How much time had passed between the season finale and this episode?  Do you wish we could have seen some of the immediate fallout or do you like the aftermath?

2) Cosmo magazine interview.  I know Beckett has a rep to maintain, but this is huge, right?  And she didn't even have to divulge any sex tips or anything (although I'm sure the reporter was angling for something like that before she got freaked out).  I should have better questions, but how about: Do you think this was Beckett's first (and only) interview?  Do you like the show's portrayal of the publicity and effect on Beckett/the precinct at large?

3) Okay, help me out.  In Castle's "I tried that and it didn't work" -- what does he mean?  Did Castle really think that leaving her alone would somehow lead to her forgiving him?  So, basically:

Step one: leave Beckett alone.
Step two: ?????
Step three: Profit!!! (Beckett forgives him.)

Wow.  Two divorces totally make sense, right?  But, really, what do you think Castle thought would happen?

4) Poker.  If the show brings back the poker game, or even if it doesn't -- which mystery writers (and/or fictional mystery writers - I'm sort of feeling partial to Murder, She Wrote's JD Fletcher (Angela Lansbury! :)) would you like to see on the show?

5). Castle and Beckett.  Castle sort of scoffs when Cannell tells him he's just trying to impress Beckett, but how aware do you think Castle is at this point in the series?  Does he think it's more than friendship or is he just focused on getting her to forgive him (those aren't mutually exclusive).  Or is this just another thread for the season -- Castle and Beckett feeling out how they actually feel?

6) Anything else you'd like to talk about!  (People have seen Turner and Hooch, right?  I just spent an evening with some people who hadn't seen Back to the Future, though, so I get nervous :))

Thanks again!