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'Castle' midseason finale recap: A very merry Mafia Christmas

Season 7 | Episode 10 | “Bad Santa” | Aired Dec 8, 2014

The victim: Eric Mercer, ER doctor

The murder: Shot to death

The perp: A gun-wielding Santa driving a black Mustang?

That’s right! It’s a very Castle Christmas, indeed.

When ER doctor Eric Mercer is murdered outside a shop on a cold December night by a man dressed as Santa, it’s up to Castle & Co. to track down the Grinchy killer.

A quick dive into Eric’s recent behavior leads the team to a big secret Eric’s been keeping: He’s been moonlighting as mob doctor for the Carluccis, one of the most notorious organized crime families in New York. Upon discovering this mob connection, Castle calls upon his old friendship with the head of the Carlucci family, Dino Scarpella (Paul Ben-Victor). The Carluccis considered Eric family (and technically was Dino’s cousin’s son), so Castle implores Dino to let him help track down Eric’s killer.

The prime suspect for the murder—Dino’s No. 2, Christopher Carlucci—has just been cuffed and charged, rendering the case closed. Christopher’s Mustang was found with a bloody Santa suit in the trunk. Too good to be true? Dino seems to know for a fact it is. He tells Castle there’s absolutely no way Christopher could be Eric’s killer, as he and Christopher have an alibi for the time of the murder. Sure, it’s a top-secret, highly illegal alibi and won’t divulge the details to Castle, but it’s an alibi nonetheless. He pleads with Castle to track down the real killer and bring justice to Eric.

Castle agrees, but it’s not like he really has a choice. Like you could say no to Tony Soprano—I mean, Dino Scarpella? (They do the whole blood oath thing and it’s hysterical to see Castle sweating bullets in the face of a mobster.)

Castle ABC, Nathan Fillion, Jon Huertas, Stana Katic

When Castle and Beckett continue to investigate Eric’s murder off the record, evidence from his body leads them to a salt depot where Eric stashed his backpack just moments before his murder. The backpack contains the bloody clothes of one Luca Tessaro, heir to the infamous Tessaro crime family and sworn enemy of the Carluccis. At the scene of that crime, Beckett, Ryan, and Esposito find a bloody bracelet with DNA evidence linked to none other than Dino’s daughter, Jane.

Turns out Jane Scarpella and Luca were entrenched in a very Capulet-Montague kind of forbidden love. Luca had called her for help after being shot and she had rushed to help him, enlisting the aid of the family doctor, Eric. Could it be that Eric’s unsuccessful attempt to save a rival family member led to his own untimely death?

Meanwhile, Ryan gets a hit on some hot credit cards registered to Eric. But instead of finding Eric’s killer, the team discovers a very much alive Luca Tessaro. Jane is with him, and the two confide in Castle and Beckett that they decided to let everyone think Luca had died from his injuries so they could abscond from the treacherous mob life and live happily ever after.

Luca also tells them that the man who shot him was most likely a recently acquired enemy of the Tessaro family who had begun harassing and extorting businesses in their territory. When Luca had tried to rectify the situation and put an end to it, he was nearly shot to death. Problem is, this aforementioned independent thug has no name and no one knows his real identity.

Luckily, the team is able to track down the offshore bank account set up by this criminal bully (“Il Penumbra,” as he calls himself). When they obtain security footage from the bank where he made the original transaction, the ill-advised mobster’s identity is revealed to be none other than FBI agent Detective McBride (Larry Poindexter)—the point person for organized crime investigations in New York for the past 20 years! He was tired of seeing mobster after mobster get away with countless illegal activities and bank tons of cash out the wazoo, so he decided to take the mob game into his own hands. When his, ahem, entrepreneurial business model was threatened by Luca, he tried to kill him, and killed Eric to cover his tracks. Tsk-tsk, Detective McBride. Bah, humbug to you!

Too bad during his transport to lockup Detective McBride is shot to death by a band of assailants, so there’s that. You mess with the mob, you’re going to sleep with the fishes. Every time.

And just when the case is tied up with a nice big Christmas bow, Castle is dealt a blow far worse than a threat from any mobster: Because of his involvement with Dino Scarpella and the organized crime families during the investigation, and the clearly mob-related hit on Detective McBride, Captain Gates informs Castle he is no longer permitted to work with the NYPD. Talk. About. A. Christmas. Bummer. What’s going to happen now?

Oh, and by the way:

  • Guess that rekindled budding romance we all wanted between Lanie and Esposito just wasn’t meant to be. Sad.
  • When Ryan jumped in to tell a fake story of how Lanie and Esposito got engaged, I was dying. That guy really is too funny.
  • No, but seriously. Crestfallen Castle is my least favorite Castle. He looked so heartbroken when Captain Gates broke the news. What does this mean for him? Will he be able to spend more time investigating his mysterious disappearance? Which leads me to …
  • No news on the Mystery of Richard Castle yet again. Will it be 2015 before we dive back into that or what?
  • Beckett underestimates her poetry writing skills. Girl’s poem was excellent!

Get more of Brandi’s take on all things entertainment over at ReelSnarky.com!

Castle airs Mondays at 10/9C on ABC.

TV Families | EW.com
Mark Harris
February 23, 1990 AT 05:00 AM EST

The Bradys are back, with a passel of 90’s hassles. Do they represent the typical American Family? Did they ever? Who does? Stare and compare!

Kind Of Family
TheBradyBunch 1969-74: Blended
The Bradys 1990-: Enormous
Married…With Children 1987-: Postnuclear
Thirtysomething 1987-: Extended
The Flintstones 1960-66: Modern Stone Age

Family Pet
The Brady Bunch: Tiger
The Bradys: Alice
Married…With Children: Buck
Thirtysomething: Grendel
The Flintstones: Dino

Typical Guest Star
The Brady Bunch: Davey Jones
The Bradys: There’s no room
Married…With Children: Sam Kinison
Thirtysomething: Carly Simon
The Flintstones: Ann Margrock

Expression Of Joy
The Brady Bunch: Groovy!
The Bradys: Ritual hugging
Married…With Children: ”Oh, great.”
Thirtysomething: ”Of course I’m happy for you. Really. But what about me? Why does it always have to be about you?
The Flintstones: ”Yabba-dabba doo

Expression Of Rage

The Brady Bunch: ”Hmmm…”
The Bradys: ”If you back away from something you really want, then you’re a quitter!” (the angriest any Brady has ever been)
Married…With Children: ”Aaagh, God, take me from this miserable life!”
Thirtysomething: ”I’m not angry, OK?”
The Flintstones: ”Willllmaaaa!”

Typical Problem
The Brady Bunch: Marcia and her rival both want to be the prom queen.
The Bradys: Bobby gets paralyzed.
Married…With Children: Al doesn’t buy his family Christmas presents.
Thirtysomething: Nancy gets cancer.
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney are staying out too late.

Typical Solution
The Brady Bunch: The prom committee decides to have two queens.
The Bradys: Bobby gets married.
Married…With Children: They hate him.
Thirtysomething: If only we knew…
The Flintstones: Wilma and Betty decide to follow them.

House Style
The Brady Bunch: Conservative but mod, circa ’69
The Bradys: Conservative but mod, circa ’90
Married…With Children: Roach motel
Thirtysomething: Enviable
The Flintstones: Suburban cave

Clothing Style
The Brady Bunch: Early Osmonds
The Bradys: Made in the USA
Married…With Children: Flammable fabrics
Thirtysomething: Eclectic earth tones; nice ties
The Flintstones: One-piece

Most Annoying Character
The Brady Bunch: Alice’s cousin Emma, the substitute housekeeper (too strict)
The Bradys: Marcia’s husband, Wally (chronically unemployable)
Married…With Children: Steve (supercilious)
Thirtysomething: Ellyn (goes through Hope’s drawers, babbles, changes hairstyle every other week, generally mistreats her friends)
The Flintstones: Mr. Slate (bossy)

Attitude Toward Sex
The Brady Bunch: Never heard of it
The Bradys: Omigod — even Cindy does it!
Married…With Children: Peg: Yes. Al: No.
Thirtysomething: They didn’t get all those kids by accident.
The Flintstones: Prehistoric

How Spouses Fight
The Brady Bunch: They don’t.
The Bradys: Infrequently, but it happens
Married…With Children: Tooth and nail
Thirtysomething: They stop talking
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney go bowling while Wilma and Betty max out their charge cards.

How Kids Get Into Trouble
The Brady Bunch: Greg takes a puff of a cigarette.
The Bradys: Carol’s grandson steals her business cards and sticks them in the spokes of Bobby’s wheelchair.
Married…With Children: By committing felonies
Thirtysomething: Ethan plays with a forbidden toy rocket.
The Flintstones: They don’t.

How They’re Punished

The Brady Bunch: ”It’s not what you did, honey — it’s that you couldn’t come to us.”
The Bradys ”Next time, ask.”
Married…With Children: By the authorities
Thirtysomething: It blows up in his face.
The Flintstones: They’re not.

What Family Does For Fun
The Brady Bunch: Takes special three-part vacations to Hawaii and the Grand Canyon
The Bradys: Has flashbacks
Married…With Children: Exchanges insults
Thirtysomething: Talks
The Flintstones: Attends showings of The Monster at the Bedrock Drive-In

Unsolved Mysteries
The Brady Bunch: How exactly did Carol’s first husband and Mike’s first wife die?
The Bradys: What’s with Marcia’s new face and Bobby’s blonde hair
Married…With Children: What kind of hair spray does Peg use?
Thirtysomething: Why did Nancy take Elliot back? What do Gary and Susanna see in each other?
The Flintstones: How does Barney’s shirt stay on if he has no shoulders? Where do Fred and Wilma plug in their TV?

Worst Behavior
The Brady Bunch: The Brady children once made Alice feel under-appreciated.

The Bradys: Marcia’s son Mickey watches Bobby’s car-crash tape for fun.
Married…With Children: The Bundy’s kill their neighbor’s dog.
Thirtysomething: Elliot has an affair and talks about it.
The Flintstones: Characters don’t wear under-clothes.

Best Reason To Watch
The Brady Bunch: This is what life should be.
The Bradys: They’re all grown-ups now!
Married…With Children: Terry Rakolta hates it.
Thirtysomething (Tie) This is your life. This isn’t your life.
The Flintstones: This is what life might have been.

Best Reason Not To Watch
The Brady Bunch: Blurred vision from rerun overdoses.
The Bradys: You’re all grown-ups now.
Married…With Children: She has a point.
Thirtysomething: After a while, you think it’s real.
The Flintstones: The Simpsons

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