Mal Reynolds makes a cameo appearance in "Castle"
WARNING: This review will contain spoilers.

There is very little about "Vampire Weekend" that was not a carnival roller coaster of fun. But the best part of the episode had to be the nods of appreciation to Joss Whedon. Not only is our lovable Rick Castle dressed as the notorious Mal Reynolds of Whedon's Firefly, but there are even more references to Fillion's old friend in this delightful season two episode of Castle.

In the opening scene, Alexis teases Castle about his costume. When he tells her he is a "space cowboy," she insists that "there are no cows in space," adding that he wore the costume five years ago and that it was time for him to "move on." This jibe is a blatant reference to Fillion's role as space cowboy Captain Malcolm Reynolds five years previously. It's also a nod to all the dedicated fans, who, along with some of the actors and Whedon himself, are still trying to keep the sci-fi series alive in some way shape or form. (See link for more on that front).

But this isn't the end of the homage to the wonderful Joss Whedon. In the very next scene, we have a classic Sunnydale locale: A cemetery. Striding amongst the graves side by side, surrounded in misty fog-like spooky fog, we see Rick Castle (still in his Firefly costume) along with badass detective Kate Beckett. As if Mal Reynolds "patrolling" a graveyard with a smart, strong and savvy woman (who could probably kill him in ten seconds, if she so chose) wasn't enough, Whedon's work is actually mentioned by name in the episode. Upon finding the staked vampire victim, Castle quips "Looks like Buffy visited the Big Apple."

The whole episode is filled with all sorts of Halloween fun, from a dead man dressed as a vampire, to a dead man who looks like an honest-to-Joss werewolf, to the ghost of a woman, eighteen years dead, who haunts the drawings of a troubled young man.

All in all, the entire episode was fantastic. The tragic story that Castle relates to Beckett as his "childhood trauma" was both touching and hilarious when we found out that he was making it all up. And Beckett's surprise "snake-in-the-pants" comeback was equally riotous, giving true meaning to the "trick-or-treat" spirit of Halloween.

The case was fascinating, and not just because the victims were legendary Halloween creatures. The fact that two new murders were linked to an eighteen-year-old cold case added a ghostly chill to the tale. The real tragedy, however, came with the conclusion to the case, and the reveal that a stepmother, who had acted as a true mother to her stepson her whole life, actually ended up murdering him to keep her secret.

The sweet side of the episode comes along with Alexis' story, and the way Castle takes care of her and her friend is truly parental. When Alexis brings her drunk friend, Paige home from a party, Castle insists on calling Paige's parents. Castle, though very clearly a father in a lot of instances, often acts more chummy with his daughter than like an average dad, but scenes like these prove that he can, in fact, act like a grown-up when his daughter needs him to do so.

If I were to rate this episode on Fanpop standards, I would give it five stars. I was thoroughly entertained by every aspect of it, and, as a Whedonite, was thrilled to see Captain Reynolds on the small screen once again.
Castle and Beckett "patrol" the graveyard. Are they looking for vampires, or dead bodies?