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'Castle' fan recap: Mars attacks!

Season 7 | Episode 16 | “The Wrong Stuff” | Aired Feb 23, 2015

You know those episodes in which Castle’s fanboy comes out to play? I’m thinking of when Castle thought they were fighting an invisible man, or when he and Beckett were abducted MIB/X-Files style, or when Castle entertains the absurd theory that a murder suspect is actually a time traveler—you know the ones. These episodes always end up being more fun than really successful at maintaining the overall big-picture arcs, but after the wild ride with 3XK in the previous two episodes, this was a welcome romp.

When the newly reunited (yay!) team responds to the murder of an astronaut on an accurately re-created Mars space mission simulator, you know we’re in for a fun time. The victim is Sgt. Major Tom Richwood, one of five astronauts who scored a coveted spot on the first-ever mission to Mars team. The mission is being funded by Dr. Viggo Jansen (think of a more down-to-earth, more handsome version of billionaire Richard Branson), and when he breaks the news to Castle and Beckett that no one is allowed in or out of the simulator, it seems like only one of four people could have killed Tom.

Everyone on the mission swears up and down no one was coming or going, as per the mission’s rules. Sealed in, sealed off from the real world for nine months—that’s the deal. Which doesn’t make any sense, considering Tom is dead and nothing directly links to anyone else on board. But suspicions lead outside of the simulator when a recent video diary entry from Tom reveals he thought he was seeing things—more specifically seeing someone—in the simulator that shouldn’t be there.

This leads to Dr. Jansen looking into their security systems to make sure nothing has been tampered with. Unfortunately for him, there was a security breach, a hack into their firewall. Fortunately for Beckett and Castle, this leads them to Clint Granger, a former pilot trainee of Dr. Jansen’s program who was let go after failing to snag the last spot over Tom. His violent past lends itself well to the team’s suspicions, but further digging into his actions reveals that he has alibis for the time of the murder and the security hack.

Lucky for him, security-cam footage of his apartment reveals that Christopher Reyes, the husband of one of the astronauts in Dr. Jansen’s mission, had used Granger’s place to blame him for the hack. Reyes planned to sabotage the mission because he didn’t get a spot on the team next to his wife, and she had told him she wanted a divorce. It all seems rather inconsequential, but it’s Reyes who tells Castle and Beckett that the simulator wasn’t as impregnable as Dr. Jansen thinks. If someone really wanted to get into the mission simulator, he could just tunnel in from underneath.

Which is exactly what someone does. Castle and Beckett find the tunnel the murderer probably used to access the simulator, as well as the murder weapon (Tom’s own screwdriver). They’re briefly distracted by someone down there with them trying to cover their tracks, and DNA evidence pulled from the gas-mask shed by the intruder leads to none other than Clint Granger. Turns out his alibis were faked and he had actually been working with another astronaut on the simulator to steal secrets for his new employer, Sir Ian Rasher, the creator of a rival space program.

Granger was trading schematics and plans from Mikael, one of Dr. Jansen’s astronauts, and was actually using the tunnel as a drop point for the money and plans—not as a secret entry to commit a murder.

When Castle and Beckett interrogate Mikael, he is disgustingly unapologetic for being a thief and betraying his own mission. However, he does provide some useful information—namely, that everyone on the crew hated Tom and that he can prove his own alibi for the time of the murder. Mikael was busy stealing plans for Granger to give to Rasher at the time of Tom’s murder, and the time stamps on his photos prove it. But that’s not all they prove: Castle is quick to zero in on a small detail in the reflection of the photos revealing that the rover—yes, the rover—was out and about and holding the bloody screwdriver that killed Tom.

The only option now is to interrogate the simulator’s central AI, which works with and learns from the astronauts to carry out the mission. Her name is MIRA (“More Siri than HAL,” says Dr. Jansen), and she’s the only one who can control the rover. Begrudgingly, Beckett begins to interrogate MIRA with Castle and Dr. Jansen, which reveals that clearly someone has been manipulating MIRA to believe that Tom is a threat to the mission and must be stopped. Additionally, as a fail-safe, she also believes revealing who told her this is a threat to the mission and self-destructs, destroying any and all evidence that might have led the team to uncover the killer.

When it seems as though all is lost, Castle devises a ruse: approach the remaining three astronauts and trick them into confessing. He and Beckett lay it out for them as such: They all hated Mikael for stealing secrets, and they all just flat-out hated Tom, so it was a kill-two-birds-with-one-stone situation. They all colluded to get rid of Mikael and Tom in one fell swoop, leaving them without sacrificing their spot on the mission to Mars. The clincher in this theory? Castle and Beckett persuade the astronauts that MIRA’s black box stored every piece of information she had ever recorded, causing them all to panic and reveal themselves as a merry band of killers. Joke’s on them, though: There’s no black box!

Oh, and by the way:

  • Sgt. Major Tom. Good one.
  • Castle’s mother, Martha, decides to finally move out to give Castle and Beckett space. FINALLY! Now Alexis, go be a big girl and get your own place, too.
  • Once again Nathan Fillion’s uncanny ability to convey unadulterated joy is on full display in this episode. That guy is just too good! Seeing the giant smile on his face when he shouts “BEST. CASE. EVER!” is just excellent. Excellent!

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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