Cryonics on Castle [Spoilers]

Check out the lat­est epi­sode of Cas­tle (Head­case) to see Cry­on­ics cov­ered in main­stream fic­tion in a not en­tirely ter­rible man­ner. The de­tails are not ex­actly ac­cu­rate but prob­a­bly not more in­ac­cu­rate than similar fic­tion­al­ised cov­er­age of most other in­dus­tries. In fact there is one ob­vi­ous im­ple­men­ta­tion differ­ence that the com­pany in Cas­tle uses which is how things clearly ought to be:

Amulets of Immortality

It is not un­com­mon for cry­on­ics en­thu­si­asts to make ‘im­mor­tal­ity’ jokes about their ALCOR neck­laces but the equiv­a­lent on the show make the ob­vi­ous prac­ti­cal next step. The pa­tients have heart rate mon­i­tors with GPS sig­nalers that sig­nal the cry­on­ics com­pany as soon as the pa­tient flatlines. This is just ob­vi­ously the way things should be and it is re­gret­table that the mar­ket is not yet broad enough for ‘ob­vi­ous’ to have been trans­lated into com­mon prac­tice.

Other things to watch out for:

  • Pre­dictable at­tempts by the cops to take the already pre­served body so they can col­lect more ev­i­dence.

  • A some­what in­sight­ful ques­tion of whether the cry­on­ics com­pany should hand over the corp­si­cle with­out tak­ing things to court be­cause that way they would not risk le­gal prece­dent be­ing set based on a case where there are un­usual fac­tors which may make them lose. It may be bet­ter to lose one pa­tient so that they can force the fight to hap­pen on a stronger case.

  • Ac­knowl­edge­ment that only the head is re­quired, which al­lows a com­pro­mise of hand­ing over the body minus the head.

  • Smug su­pe­ri­or­ity of cops try­ing to take the cry­on­ics pa­tient against the will of the pa­tient him­self, his fam­ily and the cus­to­di­ans. This is differ­ent than cops just try­ing to claim ter­ri­tory and do their job and to the hell with ev­ery­one else, it is cops try­ing to con­vey that it is morally vir­tu­ous to take the corpse and the wife would un­der­stand that it was in her and her corp­si­cle hus­band’s best in­ter­est to au­topsy his head if she wasn’t so stupid. (Which seems like a re­al­is­tic at­ti­tude.)

  • Costar and lead de­tec­tive Beck­ett ac­tu­ally at­tempts to mur­der a cry­on­ics pa­tient (to what­ever ex­tent that mur­der ap­plies to corp­si­cle des­ic­ca­tion). For my part this gave me the chance to ex­plore some­what more tan­gibly my eth­i­cal in­tu­itions over what types of re­sponses would be ap­pro­pri­ate. My con­clu­sion was that if some­one had shot Beck­ett in or­der to pro­tect the corp­si­cle I would have been in­differ­ent. Not glad that she was kil­led but not proud of the per­son kil­ling her ei­ther. I sus­pect (but can­not test) that most of the pain and frus­tra­tion of los­ing a char­ac­ter that I cared about would be averted as well. Cu­ri­ous.

  • Brain de­stroy­ing dis­ease vs cry­on­i­cist stand­off!

  • Beck­ett re­deems her­self on the ‘not be­ing an ass to cry­on­i­cists’ front by be­ing com­pletely non-judge­men­tal of the woman for com­mit­ting “in­vol­un­tary eu­thena­sia” of her tu­mor-in­fested hus­band. (Al­most to the point of be­ing in­con­sis­tent with her ear­lier be­hav­ior but I’m not com­plain­ing.)

  • A clever “Romeo and Juliet” con­clu­sion to wrap up the case with­out Beck­ett be­ing forced to put the wife in jail for an act that has some fairly rea­son­able con­se­quen­tial­ist up­sides. Played out to be about as close to a happy end­ing as you could get.

Over­all a pos­i­tive por­trayal of cry­on­ics or at least one I am happy with. It doesn’t con­vey cry­on­ics as nor­mal but even so it is a step less weird than I would usu­ally ex­pect. I’d call it good pub­lic­ity.