Castle 4-21: Headhunters

Once upon a time, Nathan Fillion was on a little show called Firefly. They have made references to it over the years on Castle, but as far as I remember, they have never had any of his co-stars guest on the show.

Until last night.

In case you were wondering what the big deal of Adam Baldwin guest starring on Castle was, now you know. He was one of Nathan’s co-stars on that short lived cult show. Frankly, I’d be curious to know how many people turned in just to see the two of them on screen together again. Now I’ve got to admit that I was a casual viewer of Firefly (before my boycott almost anything and everything Joss Whedon days), so I remember Adam Baldwin best from the just finished Chuck.

But I digress.

Last night opened with a homeless man walking up to a corpse. No, he wasn’t trying to figure out if he could still help the guy; he wanted to rob him. All that changed when he found three severed heads on the guy.

Cut to Castle, who’s trying to overcome a bad case of writer’s block. His muse of Beckett isn’t helping him at all, and since she is prepping for court, they won’t have a case to work on. Of course, he isn’t sure how much time he wants to spend with her, but that’s beside the point. Then he catches the breaking news of the case and decides that he needs a new muse.

This new muse is Slaughter, Adam Baldwin’s character. He’s a member of the gang task force, and he’s gotten this case because the victim was the member of a gang. (I think it was Irish.) Slaughter is a loner (just like Beckett was at the beginning of the series or so we think at the beginning). In fact, his last three partners have died, two on their first day as his partner.

And as we watch the case unfold, it’s no wonder. Slaughter’s idea of police work is to tell the boy’s father, a leader of the gang, about his son’s death and then follow him to see where he leads. When they get to their destination, a bar, Slaughter sends Castle in via the front door while Slaughter slips around back. Don’t worry, he has given Castle a gun. They manage to nap one suspect, no thanks to Slaughter who watched Castle get into a classic bar fight with the suspect. That suspect says that the victim had screwed up again (that was his normal reputation), and was trying to get back in the good graces of the gang.

Slaughter turns to a source, leaving Castle outside in a bad neighborhood. Two shots are fired, and Slaughter leaves in a hurry. Castle assumes that the informant is dead, but that was an elaborate prank, and the informant, really an undercover cop, is still alive. He points his finger at a rival Jamaican gang, which makes since when we learn the heads found on the victim belonged to members of the gang.

Slaughter thinks he has the case wrapped up, but of course it’s not that easy. He nabs a member of the Jamacian gang and throws him in the back of a trash truck. While threatening to crush the guy, Slaughter gets a new lead. It wasn’t the confession he was looking for, but he’ll take it.

This new revelation leads Slaughter to a Mexican gang lead by a dangerous man who has just come up from Mexico, leaving a trail of bodies in his wake. He and Castle go in to confront them without backup, and need to be rescued by Esposito and Ryan.

But Slaughter has figured out the member who is the weak link in the Mexican’s organization. He nabs him and coerces him to confess. The Mexicans help the victim steal the heads and then killed him, hoping to spark a gang war and then come in and take over their territory while they aren’t paying attention.

A dangerous man is now off the streets and everything’s good. Except that Castle knows the guy is innocent and letting the killer go free doesn’t sit well with him. Castle finally turns back to Beckett, who has been doing her own quiet investigation just in case. She’s turned up a traffic cam that shows the leader of the Mexican gang driving away from the scene of the crime 10 minutes before it happened.

And so, Castle and Beckett are able to figure out the real killer – the victim’s father (first person we’d talked to). He was tired of trying to clean up his son’s messes, and took advantage of the situation to kill him.

In other developments, Alexis has started getting her college acceptance letters. She’s getting in everywhere – including Stanford. In the first half of the season, we went through the drama of her not getting accepted in their early admission program. Stanford was always her first choice, so she’s happy to get in, but now she’s not so sure if she wants to go there or not. As Castle is advising her, he begins to realize he needs to decide if being around Beckett even if she will never love him is going to be enough for him.

Beckett, meanwhile, is talking to her therapist about Castle pulling away. While doing so, she realizes that she needs to talk to him about his confession of love and not just let things continue as they are. And Castle definitely appreciates their partnership much more after working with Slaughter.

Frankly, I realize we were supposed to find Slaughter funny, but I kept cringing at him. He was too stereotypical of the take no prisoners cop and not all that funny.

For those looking for Firefly references, the scene with the coat when Castle and Slaughter first met involved the coat that Nathan’s character wore on Firefly. Apparently, there was a prop from the show on Castle’s bookcase (although I missed that). And Slaughter getting Castle into a bar fight certainly reminded me of the bar fight in an episode I rewatched a few months ago to refresh my memory on the show.

So, how about it? Am I way off base and the episode was funnier than I’m making it out to be? (I freely admit to being over tired when I watched it last night.) Were there other Firefly references I missed?

The next new episode is on April 30th, and then the season finale is on May 7th.

And if you want my take on the Firefly spin off/wrap up movie Serenity, follow the link.

3 thoughts on “Castle 4-21: Headhunters”

  1. Oh, there were TONS more references to Firefly. I think once they confirmed Adam’s performance, they had a field day with those. The episode begins with Castle playing with Barbie and a dinosaur figure. That’s a reference to Wash playing with dinosaurs. Then there was a crime description “they stole a car load of medical equipment and then they ran out of gas”. Those are references to two episodes of Firefly, Ariel (where they stole medicine from the hospital) and Out Of Gas. And when Castle had a hangover, Slaughter handed him a flask, while saying that it would make him “fly right”, to which Castle responded that “it will not turn back the time” or something like that. Actually I must admit I have not finished watching. There might be much more. Also, there were subtle linguistical similarities in the dialogue. Thye whole episode was a love letter to the little show that could.

    1. Fun. I’ve only watched maybe 2/3 of the episodes, and that was when they were on TV. There is lots of stuff I don’t remember.

      Thanks for sharing.

    2. Thanks, Irina! I knew there were more references in there then met the eye! I want to rematch and take notes. But you are so right on what you mentioned! I did take notice to the Wash nod and that the whole of the dialogue had a Brown-coat feel to it. I’d read interviews where Baldwin said the Firefly references were subtle, which is very true. Even for someone who has watched the (Firefly) series a couple dozen times, I missed some. So glad that you picked out specifics! Thank you!

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