Castle 5.06 ‘The Final Frontier’ recap: Of sci-fi and costumes

When I first started watching Castle, I was instantly drawn to its array of well-written and perfectly portrayed characters. I developed a crush on Richard Castle (come on now, a smart as all get out, funny, kind bestselling author with killer blue eyes and who makes it his job to know how a woman takes her coffee? What’s not to love?), I loved Martha and Alexis at first sight and the 12th went straight to my heart. But it was Kate Beckett, especially, who always stood out to me. She was a strong woman, both emotionally and physically speaking, she was kind, she was funny and she never seemed to give up her femininity just to fit better into the “tough cop” prototype. The Final Frontier, sixth episode of the ABC show’s stunning fifth season, provided us with a deeper look into Beckett’s past and a better understanding of how she came around to being the way that she is.

As the episode title suggests, The Final Frontier offers a hilarious yet touching look into the sci-fi subculture. The case, fittingly enough, takes place in a spaceship at a sci-fi convention. The victim is one Anabelle Collins, a 28 year old woman in charge of fan reenactments and webisodes of a cancelled sci-fi show, Nebula 9. The murder weapon was, hear this out, a laser. It sounds right up Castle’s alley, right? Well, not exactly. Castle hates the show, whereas Beckett loves it. She is, by own admission, “a sci-fi loving, costume-wearing geek”, a bit of information that Castle wastes no time in using to tease her mercilessly.

In true Castle fashion, the episode is packed with a series of twists and false suspects that culminates in the arrest of Stephanie Frye, the actress who played Lieutenant Chloe, Beckett’s favorite character. Apparently, the resurrection of the show got in the way of her and an actual acting career. Yeah, it was a stupid motive from where I was standing, too. But nevertheless, the case as a whole was great. Smart, witty and very reminiscent of old school Castle. I approve.

But the episode shone for other reasons as well. Beckett’s defense to Castle of Nebula 9 and Lieutenant Chloe was a brilliant moment, perfectly written and acted (again, props to Stana Katic. I’m starting to feel as though I should just add that bit at the beginning of each recap as a general disclaimer), in which she explained why the show meant so much to her. I don’t think I could really do her words justice, so I’ll simply add the quote and let it speak for itself: “You’re right, okay, it was a stupid show. It was cheesy and melodramatic (…) I completely understand why you hated it. But Castle, I also understand why people loved it, why Annabelle loved it. It was about leaving home for the first time, about searching for your identity and making a difference. I loved dressing up like Lieutenant Chloe. She didn’t care what anybody thought about her, and I kind of did at that time. I mean, she was a scientist and a warrior, and that was all in spite of the way that she looked. It was like I could be anything, and I didn’t have to choose. So don’t make fun, OK?”

Castle’s response was lovely as well. A simple “okay”, said with an entranced smile that sent the Castle/Beckett shipper in me reeling. I’m loving every bit of them as a couple that we’re getting this season… including the hilarious final scene, in which Beckett complied to Castle’s request that she dress like her beloved Lieutenant Chloe. Only, she added the head of a Creever (a Nebula 9 type of monster) to the whole ensemble. That was probably the first and only time that Castle will ever run away (literally) when Beckett asks him if he wants to make out with her. Ah, well. It’d be a nice story to tell the kids, if they ever have them. Or Martha. Or both.

One more thing. I loved how Beckett stood up for Alexis when they ran into her at the convention, dressed in a revealing outfit that made Castle have a semi panic attack (understandable for a dad, but still). Her “she’s a full grown woman”, clearly stating that she’s a functional adult and therefore completely capable of deciding what she wants to wear without it giving anyone the right to insult her for it, was the perfect response to Castle’s insinuation that she looked like a prostitute. Again, I understand why Castle would be shaken, but he would’ve gone too far if Beckett had not intervened. I’m really looking forward to more interaction between Beckett and Alexis now that they stand on different ground than they did pre CB’s relationship. It’ll be interesting to see how they react to each other.

Did you enjoy the episode? Drop a comment and let us know!

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About the author: Caro
Caro
Book blogger, coffee junkie extraordinaire, lover of all things storytelling.

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  • Eric Pharand

    Fun but not great.

    • Caro

      I’m glad you liked the episode, even if you didn’t love it.

  • http://twitter.com/jennyad Jen Dickson

    I thought this episode was a blast. Perfect subculture of the week filler ep with tons of fun inside references for the fantasy geeks watching (see: me). One of the strengths of this show is that it can have a lot of fun, lightheartedness, and humor but have a really effective more dramatic arc running through the season as a whole. I think Castle strikes a good balance when it comes to that.

    • Caro

      I completely agree. Castle’s such a well written show, and I adore how it can balance comedy and drama (and now romance) without making it seem forced at all.
      Also: yay for another fantasy geek! *fist bump*

  • LC11

    Great TV show, and this episode dedicated to SciFi fans was fantastic! It also coincides with the 10th anniversary of “Firefly”, Nathan Fillon’s old SciFi TV show, which like the fictitious “Nebula 9″ was cancelled after one season. I’m not a SciFi buff, but it was fun to recognize many SciFi actors and references. I’m sure that the cast had a lot of fun filming this episode.

    Nathan got the cover of Geek Magazine recently. So in a role reversal, Becker (no SciFi background) gets to play the geeky fan, while Castle (previous SciFi roles) makes fun of it. Becker’s micro expressions of a disillusioned SciFi fan were brilliant. Castle’s fake website continues the charade of ridiculing Nebula 9. http://www.richardcastle.net/news/nebula-9

    In my opinion, the silly motive for the murder fits well with the funny and dorky theme. The inside joke was that SciFi actors are often accused of overacting, being overly dramatic and silly. Both Captain Max and Lieutenant Chloe do a great job of playing stereotypes of pretentious, self centered actors.

    I loved the scene where Ryan was trying to speak to the snowman-like creature who only speaks an alien language.

    The episode was directed by Jonathan Frakes (Commander Riker, Star Trek The Next Generation). He made a cameo as Castle’s “number one” fan (his nickname in Star Trek).

    The shop owner with the Thorian blaster was Armin Shimerman, famous for playing a ferengi alien in Star Trek The Next Generation and Deep Space 9. Perhaps “Nebula-9″ was a nod to DS-9?

    The “Nebula 9 fan experience” seems to be inspired by “Star Trek The Experience” (1998-2008), a similar attraction inside Las Vegas Hilton. It was fun. Happy I got to try it before it closed.

    Firefly director Joss Whedon is mentioned when Castle says “…that Whedon show” – in his short list of SciFi TV series that didn’t suck.

    In real life, Molly Quinn (Alexis) is the voice of Bloom, a fairy in the Winx Club animated cartoon (Nickelodeon). Not sure if the 3 fairy-like fluffy costumes (in violet, cyan, and lime) was a reference to that.

    William Shatner (Captain Kirk, Star Trek) speak-singing at the end.

    I would have loved to see a complete list of all the hidden SciFi references, to check what I may have missed.

    Tim Allen (Home Improvement, Toy Story) did a similar SciFi spoof named Galaxy Quest.

    • Caro

      Oh, wow. For not being a sci-fi buff you came up with an astounding amount of references! I’m impressed, I didn’t catch half of these. Thanks for digging all of this stuff up!