The stars align to deliver one of the wackiest episodes of Castle in the show’s six seasons. With Captain Gates‘ (Penny Johnson) out of town on business and Beckett (Stana Katic) in charge, the police uncover the remains of a former head of a New York crime family killed and buried in cement way back in 1978. When the only reliable witness still living turns out to be the victim’s closest friend (Jon Polito) who is perpetually stuck in the 1970s due to “pathological grieving,” Castle (Nathan Fillion) convinces Beckett to bring the 70s back to life to get the man’s story.
With the help of Lanie (Tamala Jones), Beckett and Castle manage to dress up a body to fit a victim killed only days ago (rather than 36 years) while decking out the police morgue in 70s style complete with Lanie in her Foxy Brown Halloween costume. After an attack on their witness’ life, the man demands police protection forcing another layer of deception as the entire floor of the police precinct is transformed back to 1978.
Castle and Beckett’s trouble with finding Martha (Susan Sullivan) a wedding project that won’t actually ruin their wedding leads to Castle to enlist her help on the charade which, with her involvement, takes on a life of her own. Not only does Castle arrange for a local costume shop to dress the scene and police officers to fit the time period, but Martha takes it to an entirely new level by bringing in actors, including Alexis (Molly C. Quinn), and even writing a script to allow somewhat time-accurate scenes to take place while the witness is being questioned. Not surprisingly, that’s when Gates returns.
Although Castle, Beckett, Lanie, and Alexis all have fun with the retro clothes, Ryan (Seamus Dever) and Esposito (Jon Huertas) steal the show while recreating the style of a pair of famous cops from that time period while they are called upon to pry the truth out a guy who becomes confused when even a glimmer of the present (such as a ringing cell phone) intrudes on his delusion. A trip to a retro disco club, which was redone in the style of the club that was operating as a disco under the same high-ranking member (Ray Abruzzo) of another crime family the night of the murder decades ago, eventually leads Beckett and “Captain Castle” to uncover the events of that night and nab their killer.
Given the commercials or this episode I couldn’t see how the show could sell it as anything other than a period piece (like the “The Blue Butterfly“) or dream episode. Somehow, in Castle fashion, it succeeds and presents just the right circumstances for the cast and crew to go wild. With only two more (likely more serious) episodes to go before the big wedding finale, “That ’70s Show” delivers a fun episode that is likely to become an instant fan favorite.