Wow, Castle was genius tonight! Kudos to the writers on this one, as they managed to surprise me with this episode. Not in the standard "OMG Twist!" way either, but with a great character moment.
The plot starts out well enough; DA gets murdered, suspect list leans strongly towards someone he put away having a grudge, then it takes a twist...the DA was also running a call girl ring. Not bad, standard Law and Order twist, nothing earth-shattering. One of the call girls (Scarlett) worked in the DA's office, and tells Castle and Beckett that Jack Knox (one of the earlier suspects) was the one who killed the DA. Still standard. Then the girl shows up at Castle's place, all smacked around. They have a heartfelt moment, Castle drops her off at the hospital, then shows up back at the police station to surprise Beckett with a solved case and throw off a couple of witty quips. Instead, Castle has f'ed up royally, and Beckett lets him know it. The "outsider with a specific skill set helps the police" setup is all over TV right now, but this is one of the first I've seen that actually plays off the downsides of having an enthusiastic amateur running around with the professionals, and it does it in such a one-two gutpunch of reveals: that Knox checked Scarlett out of the hospital, and then her panicked phone call to Castle. The next scene has Castle decked out in his "WRITER" Kevlar vest, only the visual doesn't seem as funny anymore. Scarlett manages to shoot Knox and everyone lives happily ever after...except that Scarlett played EVERYBODY and is running the call girl ring. Almost one twist too many, as leaving it with Scarlett as the victim and Castle having learned a lesson would have been a pretty ballsy way to end the episode. The extra twist ending was by no means bad though. Great show, great acting all around.
Heroes, on the other hand, was merely adequate at best. After weeks of threatening, Mohinder finally comes back, and we get a tedious set of flashbacks as he uncovers a rare copy of "Exposition: The Motion Picture", and we finally start digging into Samuel's story...or what little there is of it. He was born at Coyote Sands, he has the ability to get more powerful when surrounded by supers, but he doesn't know it until two months ago. We also get to meet his brother Joseph, who has been keeping the secret of Samuel's powers from him all their lives. Nice to finally know it, but way too late to really make me care. Hiro goes back in time, gets the film, saves Mohinder (dammit), and then sticks Mohinder in a psychiatric hospital. If it's that easy, why not stick Samuel in there, then threaten to leave him in there forever if he doesn't tell him where Charlie is? Oh yeah, that would require good writers. Never mind.
Peter and Nathan continue to bore me, Parkman "probably" gets rid of Sylar in his head, Peter says "Screw Hiro" and swaps healing for flying, and Nathan just counts the days until he's written off the show for good.
Oh, and Claire and Tracy have a pointless pajama party. Meh.
How I Met Your Mother had a nice standalone episode (or as standalone as this show can get), as Barney decided to bounce back from his breakup by digging out: The Playbook.
HIMYM's strength lies in how their characters can have all of these complicated rituals, references, and lists; and The Playbook is another in that great tradition. It's a book detailing all of Barney's elaborate ways of lying to score with chicks. Best one: The Ted Mosby (dressing like Ted and telling women he was left at the altar). One most likely to become our Pub Trivia name: The Lorenzo von Matterhorn. Barney finishes with an epic "The Scuba Diver", and has grown absolutely zero as a person by the end of the episode. Robin, on the other hand, is given a wisp of a storyline in which she claims she'll be putting relationships on the back burner to focus on her job, followed by the Greek chorus of Ted and Marshall telling her that that statement is usually the last thing said before someone gets married. And in the final scene of the episode, she meets the hunky new co-anchor. Huzzah! Anyway, great palate cleanser of an episode after all of the Barney/Robin relationshippyness.