September 19, 2013

Bigfoot in Castle

In The Fast and the Furriest episode of Castle (airdate: 4/15/13), Native actress Marisa Quinn guest-starred as a homicide victim. Here's how her character was introduced:RYAN: Name is Anne Cardinal. Twenty-seven years old. She was Native American. Grew up on the Onondaga Reservation in central New York.

BECKETT: Any next of kin?

RYAN: No. She had no siblings, and both of her parents are gone. She lived in off-campus housing for Hudson University, where she was working towards a PhD in evolutionary biology.
The detectives learn she worked part-time at a primate sanctuary. But she was more than a primate caregiver:DR. MEEKS: Anne was studying evolutionary biology. She was an honors student at the university. But she was actually a hugely respected Bigfoot expert. She even gave me the extremely rare yeti finger.

CASTLE: Are you saying Anne was a Bigfoot hunter?

DR. MEEKS: N-N-No, no, no, uh, no, not a hunter. No, uh, Anne was, uh, Native American. And, uh, in her tribe's culture, a Bigfoot was considered...benevolent, or a protector. When she was a child, she actually saw a Bigfoot, and, so, after that, she devoted her life to their study.
Comment:  Alas, Quinn's character Anne appeared for only a few seconds as a corpse and a few seconds on a video recorded before her death.

After half an hour exploring the Bigfoot angle, the episode went in another direction. Turns out Anne wasn't hunting Bigfoot in New York City. She was looking for evidence to exonerate a friend accused of an earlier murder.

The key point here is how well the show treated the Native character. Her cultural beliefs were given respect, and she was described in positive, nonstereotypical terms. How often does a Native earn a PhD on television...never?

Castle continues to include Natives occasionally in a mostly respectful way. That puts it ahead of almost every other show on network TV.

For more on Castle, see Counting Coup in Castle and "Sacagawea" in Castle.

Below:  Marisa Quinn with Jonathan Frakes, who directed the episode.

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