Last night’s Castle 4×21 “Headhunters” featured the kind of geeky reunion we could only have dreamed of: Firefly‘s Adam Baldwin appeared on-screen with his former co-star Nathan Fillion. (The last time we saw them together in a non-convention capacity was in the 2005 film Serenity.) Castle has been great about embracing Fillion’s geeky legacy, but it was extra-special that they let us pretend like Jayne Cobb and Malcolm Reynolds had reunited for one more job against the Alliance.
Baldwin played rogue cop Ethan Slaughter, but from the second he opened his mouth it was Jayne all the way. His funny way of talking, coupled with his love of brute force, brought to mind the mercenary whose emotions were swayed only by money but who loved his favorite gun Vera. By evoking the Firefly characters, we were able to better follow Baldwin’s guest spot: There was very little set-up between Slaughter and Rick Castle because we were already familiar with the dynamics of this relationship. Slaughter was the loose cannon, while straight man Castle hung back, ready with a snarky retort to disarm his hotheaded friend. Classic Mal and Jayne.
Except that there was one marked difference in their dynamic: Slaughter is in charge here. It quickly becomes clear that even though Castle has fun beating up gang members with his new friend, he’s completely out of his league. And whereas Mal could always keep Jayne in line no matter how much the mercenary whined or threatened, that hierarchy doesn’t exist when Castle is an author and Slaughter is a cop. Baldwin told Zap2it,
“The difference was, on Firefly, Jayne was always subservient. He would have this faux bravado, but he would know, in the back of his head, ‘I’d better not cross Mal, because he’ll space me.’ Not so here.”
In a fascinating reversal, Slaughter threatens to crush a suspect in a garbage truck, mirroring the famous Firefly scene where Mal almost shot Jayne out of the airlock for selling out the Tams to the Alliance. I couldn’t find that in .gif form, but this sums it up just as well:
There were definitely a handful of Firefly Easter eggs that the writers worked in and that Baldwin and Fillion tried to incorporate into the scenes. Fillion told Zap2it,
“You couldn’t stop us. We were doing stuff, going, ‘”Firefly,” is that too “Firefly”?’ [Screenwriter Alexi Hawley] was kind enough to build some right into the script, and we tried to see what we could do on our own. Sometimes we were saying, ‘That’s a little on the nose. We can’t do that. That’s just too much.’”
That said, we did catch a few of the shout-outs: Castle offered up his brown coat to Slaughter; there was mention of a “catalyzer”; and in the beginning, we watched Castle play with a Barbie and what sounded like a Japanese movie monster, much the way that Alan Tudyk as Wash played with dinosaurs in Serenity‘s cockpit. What other Easter eggs did we miss?
Photo: Randy Holmes/ABC; .gif: lvl48 on Tumblr