21 June 2018
Murder most cool: Castle’s creepiest mystery corpses
There’s nothing that stimulates the imagination of crime fiction author Richard Castle (Nathan Fillion) more than a bizarre real-life murder victim. A flashback in the Season 7 finale of Castle (2009-2016, the full boxset of the series is now on Showmax) reveals Richard’s first corpse encounter when he was 11. He found a body in the woods that had ritualistic markings carved into its face. Young Castle saw a figure dressed in a black cloak and an eerie porcelain mask walking away from the victim – and a mystery novelist was born. Thirty years later when he’s successful, rich and bored, Castle is thrilled to team up with NYPD detective Kate Beckett (Stana Katic) to investigate a copycat killer who is basing their murders on his novels, down to the sunflowers in the victim’s eyes. It’s a match made in heaven … and the morgue.
“Castle wouldn’t be interested in your normal, everyday, garden-variety murder, because he knows the story,” says series creator and executive producer Andrew W. Marlowe. “We are looking for mysteries that have more of a layer, something that will capture his imagination as a writer, so he will want to fill in the blanks. The murders we’re looking for are always the ones that are a little bit more heightened, not necessarily the street-level murders which suggest exactly who did it and why, but ones that lead us on a little bit more of a twisting path.”
The result is often a visually intriguing body to watch or a wickedly twisty case to analyse. Here are 5 of our favourites.
1. Ice maiden (Season 1, episode 5)
The corpse of a beautiful woman in a white nightgown is found frozen solid and tangled in the iron bars at a building site. Well, she certainly didn’t get there under her own steam. While she was freshly frozen, the victim had been missing for the past five years, forcing the police to re-open a cold case (it’s Castle – there will be puns). Besides being visually arresting, this is the first case that gets Beckett to open up to Castle about her own mother’s murder.
2. Mummy’s curse (Season 2, episode 19)
A museum curator’s head being smashed in like a tomato by a falling gargoyle is just the start of a wild ride that takes us through the supposed curse afflicting members of an expedition that brought back the mummified remains of a Mayan king to put on display at the museum. When Castle takes a look at the mummy himself, his prankster colleagues set about making him believe that he has also been cursed. But the case gets creepier when a graduate student working on the project is found mummified in the museum.
3. Steampunk (Season 3, episode 4)
The police are baffled when they pull a bullet from a random dead guy only to find that it’s a lead ball that was made in the 1800s and could only have been fired from an antique gun. In the hilarity that follows, Castle investigates a secret duelling ritual at a private steampunk society. And that means we get to see the Castle costume department go all-out as they dress the dapper novelist up like a loony Victorian gentleman-engineer-adventurer.
4. The writer did it (Season 5, episode 5)
Did Castle drug and strangle a young woman to death before stringing her up in her apartment using barbed wire and carving a symbol into her forehead? All clues point to yes, including emails proving that they were having an affair, Castle’s fingerprints on her doorknob and a piece of jewellery owned by the victim but bought by Castle. And, oh yeah – there’s a “deleted” file on Castle’s computer hard-drive that describes the murder in detail. Even with all the evidence mounting up, the cops are unwilling to suspect Castle… until they search his apartment. Uh oh!
5. Out of time (Season 6, episode 5)
Castle and Beckett’s prime suspect in the electrocution and torture of a parole officer who died with a lipstick mark on her neck claims to be a time traveller who’s trying to prevent an apocalyptic event involving energy wars in the future. So far, so cuckoo – until evidence keeps supporting his outlandish tale and the suspect vanishes from custody, only to show up and save Castle and Beckett’s lives at a power plant. In the end, even Beckett becomes a believer thanks to the ultimate cop clue: a coffee stain.