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Balaji Sivaraman

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Castle Review: Truth Conquers All

Tonya B, He doesn't say he had her killed. Yours was the first question I had until I had a second and third listens to the tape. Listen closely: He says, "If anyone gets too close like that *** lawyer Joanna Beckett has been poking around, I'll have them killed. I've had people killed before." The key words being "has been." He doesn't say "was." So he's admitting to intent to kill Joanna Beckett. But that still confuses me because in the end Kate arrests him for the murder of her mother. So there's that. But I guess that is possible when you can use the tape as evidence to show intent. I am not sure about the law though. So really, there are no holes in the writing of this episode as far as I can tell. Just a few cliches, but I'll forgive them that. :)

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Castle Review: A Terrifying Twist

This is one of those episodes for which Hitchcock famously coined the term "refrigerator film." I was absolutely riveted while I was sitting through the episode. But things started to unravel the moment I started to think about it in retrospect. Firstly I actually find it funny that I was riveted during the episode. I always do for episodes like this. We know nothing is going to happen to Beckett. She's one of the central characters of the series, and she is going to come out of it relatively unscathed. I guess that goes back to how much we care for the character. In the moment, we want her to survive and come through. (Though we know that is exactly what is going to happen.) Please don't take my post as if to mean I hated the episode. I cried when Beckett wrote that letter. I was also to the point of tears when Beckett was being interrogated. But as far as raw writing is concerned, this is not the best thing Castle has done. When I thought about it in retrospect, the following occurred to me (some of which have already been highlighted by other posters): 1) Why did Beckett take the job in the first place? Captain Gates offered her a way out, and she knew something was off from the get-go. So did the Captain. Something about this entire operation screamed wrong, and yet Beckett went ahead and took it. Now we all know Beckett is not going to run away from a difficult op, but this has to be the dumbest undercover operation I've seen in Castle. At least in The Wild Rover, Ryan's cover was already in place. The only risk was how they would treat him. Here, there's no cover in place. They know nothing about Elena, and the only similarity is that Beckett also speaks Russian (an amazing contrivance) and the fact that she looked like Elena. Becks should have never taken the job. 2) The moment the episode was announced, and I read it's name, I knew this would be about Senator Bracken. It was pretty obvious. He's one of the two major antagonists for the series, and we've already had 3XK make an appearance, so it was time for some Bracken. 3) Beckett's assassination of that guy depended on the person not going in and checking the pulse. She left a lot of it down to chance. What would she have done in that scenario? 4) Speaking of the takedown, why did Beckett continue the op knowing something was terribly wrong. She could've just made a phone call from the guy's office, she could've run through the back-door, she could've taken down the driver and the other guy, why did she continue the operation? In reality (i.e. if this were not a TV show), she would've just gotten the hell out of there. 5) The whole operation seemed to have been set up by Bracken to taunt Becks and even the scores between them, as someone else mentioned. Elena is a professional contract killer. There is no way she would let herself be captured by the police if it wasn't part of her plan. She is caught, stages her suicide, and escapes just at the right moment to come and save Beckett. Becks (and especially Castle) have to realize that this was setup by Bracken to even the score. More importantly, Bracken's taunting Beckett. She has now seen the deep inside of his operation. She knows the kind of money he is pulling in, and how he is doing it. It looked like Bracken was telling Beckett, "This is what I am doing. You know it, and you can do nothing to stop me." Finally I have a big gripe with regards to the future of the series, and it has to do with Senator Bracken. They have written him as a bonafide genius (by Beckett's own admission), albeit working on the wrong side of the law. Right from the 80s when he took money from Montgomery and his buddies up till right now, he's run all his operations so that he is virtually untouchable. His planning is almost Godfather-esque in its implementation. The only hard evidence linking all the wrongdoing to him is an account number that Beckett and the gang know. And that is practically of no use in reality. With the exception of that, no one can already touch him. What's even more disturbing is that he is now running for President with an almost unlimited supply of funds? How can he be stopped? My worry is that anything the writers do to stop him will be unsatisfactory. We're entering Absolute Power territory here. And David Baldacci had an entire book to bring down the President of the United States in that one. They've built Bracken up as an untouchable villain, and they need to find a way to stop him for the show to reach a natural conclusion. I don't envy them.

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The Blacklist Review: Who is Tom?

Plus the conversation Red has with Tom outside the hospital was a huge give-away for me. The way Tom stares at Red. It was a knowing stare of a man who knew that Red had found him out for what he was. The only interesting thing to see is whether they do a Severus Snape on him. As in, he was one of the baddies, but ultimately turns because of the love he has for Lizzie. If they do, they better make it worthwhile, or it is going to turn into a cliche. We'll see.