You know when Castle says, “Best. Case. Ever.” that it will be a fun episode. It may not be the most satisfying when it comes to character development or overall story line for the characters, but it is going to be fun, and the light, comedic episodes were why I started watching in the first place. That was the case last night when we searched for a murderer on Mars.
Yes, Beckett’s first thought was it was outside of her jurisdiction. However, it turns out it was only a Mars simulation to get the five lucky astronauts ready for the trip. This is one of two private companies who are in a race to get a man on Mars first. It turns out the simulation is actually just a few floors down in a huge building, but they have pumped in noxious gases, so those who go in to investigate have to wear special space suits and breathers. That makes Castle’s day, and he even admits he applied to be part of this team sometime in the past when he and Beckett were fighting. (Beckett makes the same admission about the competitor’s company later.)
The victim had gone “outside” to do some maintenance. He screamed, and the power went out. The four remaining members of the crew was inside the space pod, and their tracking chips confirm this. No one could have gone inside without setting off alarms. In other words, we have the perfect locked room mystery. I love those!
Of course, we quickly start to find ways that people could have gotten in. Someone who was rejected to go on the mission was sabotaging the project. Could he have disabled the alarms, slipped in, and killed the victim, who took the last spot on the mission after sabotaging this suspect? No, he has an alibi. One of the engines was supposed to go with his wife. His wife got in, but he’s been stuck on the outside. To make matter’s worse, she has announced she is leaving her husband. Could he be the killer? He was the one who was framing the first suspect for the sabotage, but he alibis out as well.
Then we start to look at the competitor in this race to Mars and learn he has a spy on the inside who is getting information smuggled out the floor of the simulation. Castle and Beckett go poking around below the floor with the simulation on it and have a scary encounter with someone in a flight suit. Plus they find the breach in the floor where the information in getting smuggled out. They even find the murder weapon, a heavy duty screwdriver, there.
As soon we learn that one of the four remaining astronauts on the mission is the spy. However, he’s not the killer, and he has proof. He had figured out how to spoof the location for the tracker in his arm, and he was off taking pictures when the murder happened. He hadn’t uploaded them yet, and the time stamp does indeed prove his alibi.
It also shows us the killer. The rover, which the computer claimed was in the docking bay during the murder was actually out with the screwdriver murder weapon in its claws. Time to talk to the computer, which has semi-artificial intelligence.
The computer gets quite testy when they start to question it. And when the idea of erasing all that it has “learned” so they can recover the files of what really happened is discussed, it quickly releases the atmosphere into the area where Beckett and Castle are questioning it. This “atmosphere” isn’t toxic in the short run, but can be in the long run. Fortunately, Beckett thinks to use her cell phone (since they aren’t really in outer space), and they are rescued. That’s when Castle figures out what had to have happened.
The killer is…the remaining three astronauts on the team. They were sick of the victim, so they convinced the computer he was a danger to the mission. Since it was programmed to eliminate all dangers to the mission, it killed him. The spy was supposed to take the fall, but since he managed to alibi out, we caught the real killers. Castle bluffed that the computer had a little black box back up, and they used this lie to get the trio to turn on each other for a lighter sentence.
Meanwhile, Castle and Beckett are finding their own place too crowded since Martha has a new male friend and Alexis’s friends keep coming over. Castle tries to set up a family meeting, but Martha announces that she is going to find a place of her own. I’ll be interested to see if she really moves out, and if so for how long.
All told, this was a fun case. I loved the space/sci fi jokes, especially Castle’s spoof of the Star Trek opener. The computer being manipulated into doing the killing was a bit of a sci fi cliché, but I still enjoyed the episode over all. And I thought the sub-plot involving their home life tied in nicely with the murder.
We are off for a couple of weeks until the new season of Dancing with the Stars starts up on March 16th. Until them, feel free to give me your thoughts on this episode.