Recap: Did Castle's Mockumentary Go to 11?

ABC’s Castle sang a different tune this week, as the presence of a documentary crew tailing the murder vic’s rock band tweaked the format, and in some cases showed us new, fun sides of familiar characters.

In fact, I wouldn’t question anyone who found this week’s episode as amusing, if not more chuckle-worthy, than the send-up of Comic-Con.

And for good measure, there was a dash of drama toward the end, as Rick and Kate fretted that footage of them sharing a tender, way-more-than-professional moment had made it onto Captain Gates’ DVD player.

As noted above, the victim this week was the star of an up-and-coming rock band, and the suspects included a man who’d been stalking the guy (but was really looking to “save” his groupie daughter), the leader of the cult from which the vic years earlier escaped, and the bass player who was about to lose his job to a talented roadie.

As Caskett & Co. investigated the case, each warmed to the shadowing cameras in different ways. Rick, for example, labored to cap each segment with a quotable quip (a la “He had time to kill”) — when he wasnt gallantly and proudly teeing up Kate for her big “Here it comes…” case-cracking. Esposito (and his guns) and Ryan (aka the Nerve Center) struggled to differentiate their contributions to the crime-solving process. Lanie at first was bemused by the crew, then started playing to them. Gates saw an opportunity to stow away her steely facade and instead play the positive reinforcement-happy team player. And Kate never quite cottoned to the intrusion — especially when their leering lenses threatened to out her workplace romance — but in the end she had the last laugh.

There were many funny lines, but I’m not here to transcribe them. Plus, as with The Office and its ilk, much of the humor came from the mere facial expressions, like Kate’s darting-away eyes, Castle’s mugging and Gates’ preternatural grins. As for the bit of drama, it was fun seeing Caskett worry that their secret would be found out by the worst person possible… though in the end, Gates somehow never got to that tell-tale clip.

And as a bonus “track,” viewers got a taste for Espo’s musical know-how — and in the final scene hear Jon Huertas’ pipes.

What were your favorite moments from “Swan Song,” and how do you compare it to “The Final Frontier”? [Hard fade to black, musical sting.]

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  1. greysfan says:

    Personally i loved it. It was good to see the awkward moments. Good to see them mixing it up a bit.

    • davej says:

      First few minutes felt awkward but after that, I was LMAO. I had to muzzle myself because I watched it late at night and I was afraid my laughter would wake up the rest of the house.

      Other than the Hamptons episode, this season has been better than I could have ever expected.

    • Debbie says:

      I watched last night on the 19th of November and Kate had an adorable to the knee coat on. I want to know the designer and where to get it. I need to have that coat.

  2. martina says:

    Stana’s facial expressions were the best thing in the episode, hands down! I liked this episode very much, but I found Esposito a little bit annoying and way too intense for my taste.

  3. Laura says:

    This episode was boring. TBH this season hasn’t been that strong, I’m very disappointed so far.

    • Jane says:

      I couldn’t disagree more. I’m really pleased with this season and thought this episode was hilarious.

      • Kim R says:

        I agree. This season has felt like the old Castle, full of humour, with the added bonus of Beckett and Castle being together. Loved the episode. Loved the “I’m a little to aware of the camera” behaviour of everyone. Well done! :)

      • tara17 says:

        I thought the episode was terrific. I enjoyed the many little touches to add credence to the documentary style, such as Beckett’s hair and makeup not looking as “TV-polished” as usual.

    • eridapo says:

      I disagree about the season. I love this season, and I’m looking forward to the upcoming episodes. About the episode though I agree…. This is mostly because I hate the documentary style of shooting and the breaking of the third wall…..

    • I didn´t like this episode as much as others, but I´mo not even a bit disapointed with this season…I´m loving it so far:)

  4. Linda Dixon says:

    Least favourite Castle episode ever! Some funny parts but didn’t find all the egos entertaining at all!

    • eridapo says:

      I agree, but for me I was apprehensive going in to the episode. I was never a fan of the Blair Witch type of shooting nor documentary style episodes, and I kind of fear that the episode would fall into the same trap all previous attempts have… too much hamming it up for the camera and annoying camera work. This fears were realized yesterday.

      Ti Castle’s credit…I’ve never seen anyone execute this type of documentary style episode successfully before.

      The problem is that the characters are not behaving like we normally expect, and the camera work becomes too distracting. The constant movement of the camera and the characters talking to the camera prevents you from really connecting with the show.

      To Marlowe I say… You should have taken a pass on this one. No one has done it successfully before, and your attempt fail like all the previous attempts. By now a memo should go out to all producers to never try to do documentary style shows…

      • Kvivik says:

        Woah there!!! No, he should not have passed on this one. It’s called FARCE! That’s what mockumentary style eps are for. As with the Office.
        It is not going to become the norm on the show, it was just an episode.
        Marlowe and co have done so many different styles of story telling in the past, why should they not try this one?
        To them I say, “Nice…as an interlude.”

      • caprigirl60 says:

        M*A*S*H* did a very successful documentary style episode way back in the mid 70’s. Although I have been enjoying Castle this year, I wasn’t impressed with this episode at all.

      • Julio says:

        “No one has successfully done it before” except for every episode of “The Office,” “Parks & Recreation,” “Modern Family,” the original British “The Office,” “Da Ali G Show” and the “X-Cops” episode of “The X-Files” — and that’s just off the top of my head.

  5. John says:

    Another great episode.

  6. Blake says:

    I loved Gates’ reaction to the video tape alibi.

  7. ollie says:

    loved it!! i was laughing through out the whole ep. loved the faces lania, gates and esposito threw the camara crew. and yea for the ithaca ny being a big part i only live about 40 mins away from there

  8. Edward says:

    I couldn’t even finish it! By a third of the way in I was so annoyed at the mugging for the camera and the forced camera access that was so unrealistic, I just had to stop watching. I normally love this show, but this was trying tooooo hard.

    • Morgan says:


    • Jon says:

      Same here, first time I’ve ever turned of a Castle episode. The shaky handheld camera made me nauseous and everyone hamming it up for the camera got on my nerve after about 5 minutes.


      • Alan says:

        ive never understood the whole “the camera movement makes me feel sick” thing that gets said every time we get a show or movie like this, i swear it sounds like you get sick by walking down the street because thats about the same type of movement we get out of the camera in things like this

        • Jon says:

          Nope, I walk down the street straight and steady. But the mockumentary style camera work in this ep was just horrid, I might have fought through it if it weren’t for those awfull scenes of almost everyone hamming it up for camera. Ham is something I like in my breakfast, not my tv shows (at least the Nebula 9 Captain’s hamming last week was intentional and done with a clever reference)

          I love Castle and will gladly continue to watch next week, but this ep was just something that should never have left the concept stage. I’m sure all the other plot elements would have made a great episode if they’d only gotten rid of the mockumentary bits.

  9. Steph says:

    It felt off, but I guess it was the documentary style. I liked it none the less and understood the need to try something different. There were some pretty funny parts. And I am going to have to be that person and point out that there was a slight under dosage of caskett tonight. Not enough to to hold me over till next week. oh well. Can’t wait till next weeks ep!

  10. John says:

    Put my TiVo out of its misery 20 minutes in.

  11. Mari says:

    I was laughing through the entire episode. Really good!

  12. M3rc Nate says:

    Lol wtf are you talking about?

  13. Danyelle says:

    LOL that troll sure didn’t last long. Step 1: troll in English.

  14. a says:

    I don’t believe it. But if it’s true and Fillion wanted to stay, I could see writing her off the show. She could die by bullet fire. He would be the mourning love, become a private I, meet a new person who supports him and becomes his new love. In all honesty, much as I think Stana is great, it would spruce up the show.

  15. Michelle H. says:

    So brilliant. The added lighting & different camera angles were perfect. And I just loved how each character responded to the cameras. Thank you Castle for progressively making good shows!

  16. luli says:

    didn’t love the episode, but still a good one. and the caskett dose was to low

  17. Jaimie says:

    I love Castle. And I’ve loved every episode this season so far. Except this one. I didn’t enjoy the documentary style shaky-cam. It made it hard for me to watch. It also seemed like everyone was just a little out of character. It was amusing at first, having them play for the camera, but I thought it was overdone. It was meh for me.

  18. B says:

    Fantastic episode! I love it when shows take risks and shake up the format. This documentary-style type revealed aspects of the characters’ personalities that the usual filming technique wouldn’t have captured otherwise.

    “I just want them to see what I see.” – Castle <3

  19. goldfish says:

    People watch this show only for “caskett” moments? Oh man, i thought last and this week episodes were really funny and entertaining.

    • Olivia says:

      True. I think’s it’s really sad and a little bit pathetic that people don’t like a particular episode because there isn’t “enough” Caskett. Letting this cloud your judgement and not just sitting and enjoying an episode, is sad and you are missing out.

      I’m a big fan of the whole Beckett and Castle relationship. I love the fact that this show has managed to do what other shows can’t/couldn’t and have a couple get together and still have a successful series, that consistently churn out good solid episodes.

      People haven’t given this episode a chance because all they seemed to be looking out for Caskett. Pathetic. I for one, loved this episode. There didn’t need to be any Caskett, and what little we did get was fantastic.

      Watch it again, and you will see what a gem this episode is. I am English, and a number of people who I know have watched the show already in the UK, thought it was fantastic. Maybe it’s the English sense of humour, that made “us” really get this episode. Fantastic work Marlow and Co, and don’t listen to the folk, who don’t rate the episode because it didn’t have much Caskett! Yes it’s a great part of the show, but it isn’t the only part of the show – hence the showing of other cast members in hilarious mode! Well done Jon, Tamala and Seamus! Excellent.

      I’m trying to decide if this episode or ‘Murder He Wrote’ were the funniest of the season so far….nah, it’s no contest this one was.

      Keep up the good work!

    • Alan says:

      yeah this show should be about the relationship, its okay that its there and it is part of what makes the show good but its not THE reason the show is good. i sometimes wonder about posters in these comments sections, they all just seem to want relationships between all the characters and thats it from the shows, which would bore the hell out of me

  20. ljd213 says:

    Last week sublime, this week clunker city. I didn’t even make it through the whole episode, I watched the last 35 minutes this morning and realized I didn’t miss anything. This one will be deleted before day’s end and then I’ll rewatch last week’s “The Final Frontier”.

  21. siska says:

    This episode maybe not that great, but here Castle try new thing and that is Documentary style. I found funny, I can’t stop laughing entire episode but it just missed something. I like the way beckett avoid the camera and that ending pretty funny.

  22. BigKate2 says:

    I wonder if some of us were watching the same episode. I found it hilarious from the start. What it actually does is show parts of the true sides of some of our favorite characters. Beckett is confident on her own; put a camera in front of her and some vulnerabilities show. And Lanie; she was beyond funny. For me, one of the funniest parts was the end when Esposito was singing. This episode was great from beginning to end.

  23. Nichole says:

    watching this reminded me of the West Wing “doco” style episode, which was brilliant, and only made this episode of Castle all the more pathetic, they took a good show and ruined it by teaming up the main characters, now the plots are going out the window too!! to all the people that will hate this comment for not liking “Casket”, watch day time tv for the soup and leave the night shows as they are!! Never felt convinced by the actor that plays Kate anyway on the whole “sexual tension” angle, though the guy that plays Castle did that well

    • Alan says:

      ah yet another person jumping on the “now they are together it sucks” bandwagon, do you remember last year? if they werent together now we would have more of the not exactly great stuff we saw in the second half of last season, the two getting together has reinvigorated the show.
      there is no such thing as the moonlighting curse, that show failed because the writing went downhill and it went downhill long before that couple got together

  24. crochetowl says:

    It was okay (and not as bad as the one done by Leverage or Supernatural) but did fall asleep towards the end of it. Mockumentaries are not to my liking and surprised at the number of shows that have done this type of episode.

  25. Maria says:

    I loved it. I loved seeing the actors get to “break the 4th wall” and seeing the characters’ personalities come through in a different way. But the best part, for me, was seeing how proud Rick is of Kate on a professional level and how much he wanted the cameras to capture how amazing she is at her job.

  26. Andrea says:

    Probably my least favorite episode of the season, I’m just not a fan of the documentary style though. I thought Castlenwas successful with their version of it, but even my favorite show could not get me to love the style. The acting was great though. I do love this season though!

  27. Kristine says:

    Loved the episode! Fun to watch :D I think people need to just go with the flow :) It’s nice that they try to do different types of episodes!

  28. Kris says:

    Episode definitely felt different. But I wouldn’t say worst episode ever, that title still goes to Heartbreak Hotel.

  29. ff says:

    loving Ryan’s wardrobe this season esp the waistcoats and Espo’s tight tops!

  30. CMG says:

    I didn’t care for it. I hated that everyone really hammed it up for the cameras.

    For me, what ruined the illusion of it being a documentary was the sheer number of camera angles they used. They would have needed at least a dozen or more cameras to get the shots they did, f it really were a documentary. They should have given the camera crew 3 cameras and made them film it “as live.” We also should have seen other camera guys accidentally getting into the shot on occasion, uneven lighting from portable lights, the occasional boom mic in frame, that sort of thing.

    Since I never for a second believed it was being filmed documentary style, that made the whole episode kind of pointless and fairly annoying.

    • gordon says:

      totally agree. and thanks for saving me a lot of typing.

    • kerry says:

      I agree. I was distracted the whole episode wondering why, if it was being filmed documentary style, we didnt see the other camera men when they kept changing camera angles. I think it would have been better if we there were less changing of the angles and we occasionally see a glimpse of the ‘documentary crew’.

  31. Courtney says:

    Andrew Marlowe, from the beginning of the series, stated that Castle is and always will be a Love Story above all. Castle and Beckett are based loosely on him and his wife, Terri. So to everyone complaining about them getting together, maybe you should have paid attention from the start!

  32. Lauren says:

    I loved this episode (also, for those X-Files fans out there, it reminded me a *lot* of “X-Cops”). I also loved last week’s, and the one from two weeks ago… Okay, so I love the whole season so far. My only “complaint” (if you can call it that) would be that we seem to be getting the so-called quirky/off-beat episodes all in a row. I feel like the audience would appreciate them even more if they were spattered throughout the season, instead of back-to-back?

    • Alan says:

      i think they are lulling us into a false sense of security with episodes like this running back to back, somethings got to happen soon. or maybe they are just doing a couple of breather episodes after the high drama from 3xk returning

  33. Templar says:

    The wardrobe discrepancy drove me bonkers. Kate in a tweed jacket, leaves with Castle to go see Lanie. When they arrive Kate is wearing a green leather jacket. They return to the office and she’s back in the tweed jacket. It was a serious continuity snafu.

    • Lauren says:

      Not a snafu, actually. Beckett does this all the time: wears a shirt under a blazer, takes off said blazer (and leaves it at the office) when going out on a case, puts on jacket/coat to go out, and then upon returning to precinct, switches the jacket/coat for the blazer. I do it, too. Totally normal.

  34. Becky says:

    Did NOT like it. The docu-style didn’t work for me. We all know that the murder of the week is the MacGuffin, but the story still has to be told well and the over-the-top hand-held along with the constant mugging for the camera left me hopelessly distracted. The principals spent the entire show behaving out of character and it really got on my nerves. It’s something they could have done earlier in the show’s lifespan before the audience knew these characters as well as they do now; but this late in the game, it seemed to be more of a formal exercise than anything else. The only funny bit was Castle’s “hard fade to black” and his humming the show’s theme. It was a frustrating 42 minutes of TV, and not the good kind!

  35. rachelle says:

    it’s crazy how different people’s opinions can be. oh well. i LOVED this episode!! i thought it was hilarious. i enjoyed Castle and Espo being camera whores [Espo, of course, being the biggest]. i enjoyed Kate trying to avoind the cameras. I enjoyed Ryan, Lanie, and Gates getting sucked into wanting to be in the spotlight. i enjoyed all the looks that the characters gave each other, both obvious and subtle. i loved, loved, loved it from start to finish. yeah, the Caskett moments were low, but i didn’t mind because the show is not only about them [and this is coming from a HUGE shipper]. i’m hating all the negative opinions, but everyone’s entitled to their own and i respect that. i don’t care if there seemed to be more cameras than realistically possible. this show gets crazy once in a while; it’s tv. as for me, i will definitely be watching this episode again and again… and again.

    • rachelle says:

      just wanted to add how much i also adored Rick trying to coax Kate to show her true self to the cameras. especially when he told her that he just wanted them to see what he sees. and when he tried to explain her walls and layers to the camera! he’s so proud of her, so in awe of her. it’s beautiful. i don’t need to see them make out every week [lol, though i certainly would not mind!]. his words and the gentle way he stroked her face tell plenty about the love that he feels for her. and i’m all about showing rather than telling! i think it’s more powerful in its mild subtlety, and makes you think more. brava Marlowe and Co.

      • Jess says:

        That was a seriously wonderfull post!! I guess you’r’e the only one who actually addressed the fact that Rick was so proud of Kate. No offense…but Half the people here are just way too stuck up in their little self-absorbed shells that they failed to realise what a gem this episode was…

      • Rain says:

        Love this post! I wasn’t thrilled with the episode, I just don’t like the mockumentary style, but I really loved how they had Rick so proud of Kate. Like you said, the subtlety of it really was beautiful.

      • goldfish says:

        Yes! thank you for those great posts.

  36. Susan says:

    Last week fantastic (!), this week not so much :)

  37. John says:

    Loved Espo’s singing. They should have him do that more often.

  38. Teri says:

    Not my favorite. Don’t like when Martha nd Alexis are not included and no relationship stuff to speak of. More people watch for Caskett than the crimes.

    • Alan says:

      no relationship stuff, so there wasnt an entire subplot concerning castle and beckett’s relationship under threat of exposure. i really should get my head checked because i must have halucinated the whole thing

  39. tara17 says:

    I believe this episode went up to 12! Loved it.

  40. Tom says:

    I had problems with this episode on several levels. For starters, the “documentary” footage looked WAY too edited. The footage should have had a more raw look. Recall M*A*S*H did a couple of these “documentary” kinds of episodes which, IMHO, were much more believable. Also, how many people and cameras were being used by this documentary crew? They had wide shots, close-ups and multiple camera angles all, seemingly in real time with perfect lighting. They also seemed to be able to have a camera on every cast member simultaneously. What is the name of this documentary company and where can I send a resume? Also, I get the idea that the characters were hamming it up because cameras were present, but I think they took it a little too far. Again, M*A*S*H used the voyeuristic element of the camera to explore the hidden side of the characters’ personalities more effectively. This was more silly than revealing. And really Caskett? Cameras are everywhere and you can keep your hands off each other? Really? That just doesn’t add up to believable behavior for two otherwise intelligent characters. I’m sorry, but I have to give Andrew Marlowe a C- on this episode. It could have been much, much better.

  41. Sarah says:

    I liked the episode, I thought it was a fun & different episode. My only disappointment was that Martha wasn’t in it. If she knew cameras were going to be there don’t you think she would have done everything to get on camera?!

  42. Betty says:

    I’m not surprised the episode had so many split opinions. It was different. I didn’t care for it. I didn’t like the style of the filming and I really didn’t like all the hamming for the camera. I really only enjoyed Ryan in the episode. I am looking forward to the Christmas episode a lot.

  43. Robin says:

    I actually turned it off. I am not a fan at all of the view through another view, “reality” take. I found it annoying. The past 2 Castle ep’s have been so good. So I am bummed out to see the reality thing come back. Maybe I will try it off hulu. Wait & see

  44. Bella says:

    I thought this hilarious! Even more than the ComicCon episode. The ones with the 3K killer or whatever his moniker is are very intense, so these light episodes are a relief. They did a great job showcasing each character, while still solving the mystery of the week. Great job by everyone.

  45. chistosa says:

    Certainly I respect the different opinions expressed here. It would be odd if we did not all have our own opinions about we liked and disliked. I actually found it realistic that people would behave differently with a camera filming their every move. I also found it realistic that people gradually become obsessed with fame. A read of history will point out that fame and power are highly addictive. As mentioned by a previous poster, what I liked best about the episode is that even Rick’s obvious ego did not interefere with his devotion to Kate and his need to publicize her strengths as an investigator. Relationships that are not based only on physical attraction are complicated and I think this episode highlighted that fact.

  46. Rain says:

    Far from my favorite episode but I’m not a fan of the mockumentary type of show. I loved how proud Rick was of Kate. Espo singing was the highlight for me! I missed Alexis and Martha!

  47. sara says:

    The ep was awesome, especially the ending. Man, can Esposito sing or what !

  48. jm says:

    by far my favourite chapter in this season was the one in the hamptons… this one was okey, i laughed hard some times… Much better than the one in Comic-Con… that was really silly one.
    I missed Castle´s mom… she would have rock there… :)
    Since the first moment, it was clear who will be the murderer… too obvious…

  49. James says:

    I liked it. but if i’m honest i thought it was my least favorite of this season so far. it wasn’t the doc style i actually liked that it allowed for some chuckle worthy moments, but the case of the week was very weak(ha how puntastic) it was far to prosaic for my taste. and yes i thought they had an opportunity here to explore caskett more in-depth but chose to ignore it. i think marlowe should consider shortening the case solving a little bit for a couple episodes so he can explore caskett at the end of the episode. thats really why i watch, the geek factor with Fillion and his and Stana’s chemistry.

  50. Monique Flanagan says:

    I love Castle but we do need more Rick and Kate moment, I loved the ending of the Final Fronteir. Last nights episode was not bad, but not enough of Castle and Becket. I still says they should be together in real life.