As I fully expected, after the disappointing season premiere, ‘Castle’ returned to its tried and true case-of-the-week formula with a second episode that brings back the fun that the show is known for.
‘Heroes and Villains’ opens with a would-be rapist in an alley getting his hand chopped off by a samurai sword, and then being sliced completely in two. The assailant appears to be one of those so-called “real-life superheroes” who dress up in costume and try to live out their comic book fantasies as masked vigilantes. This one is called Lone Vengeance. Castle is giddy with joy to be working this case.
The episode takes us through the usual round of red herrings. The most likely suspect at first is a crime reporter (Kenneth Mitchell from ‘Jericho’), who would seem to have the perfect superhero cover identity. Castle and Beckett theorize that the victim may have found out his real identity and tried to blackmail him. However, after the reporter confesses a little too easily, Beckett digs further and realizes that he’s just protecting his girlfriend, a uniformed cop. She’s the real Lone Vengeance. Castle is blind-sided by this. “I did not see that at all,” he declares.
Beckett arrests the woman. While she admits to being Lone Vengeance, she denies killing the rapist. She claims that she was only investigating the crime. Eventually, it’s discovered that the real killer was a mobster with ties to the victim. He had a copycat costume made in order to frame Lone Vengeance for the murder. The cops release Lone Vengeance and allow her to keep her job, so long as she stops playing superhero. It’s in the department’s interest to sweep this under the rug and avoid a PR nightmare if it ever got out that one of their own was a make-believe superhero vigilante.
‘Heroes and Villains’ is a very fun episode. However, the tonal disconnect between the previous episode and this one is really jarring. Whenever the show tries to dive into the darker “mythology” storyline, it’s as if those episodes exist in a vacuum and have no bearing or affect on any other episode. Beckett is right back to being her perky, energetic self as if nothing had ever happened to her. (And she even wears a low-cut top at one point that exposes no signs at all of scars from her chest being cracked completely open by surgeons just a few weeks earlier.) The show’s producers really ought to give up on the mythology business altogether and just focus on what they do well.