WOW. Just….wow. Easily the two best episodes Castle has ever done. It was very reminiscent of the two parter they did a few seasons ago (Tick, Tick, Tick & Boom) where I was on the edge of my seat dying to know what was going to happen next. But what put this twofer (a little 30 Rock reference) ahead of the others was the emotional tug on your heart-strings from so many angles in addition to the action packed portions of the episodes.
Believe it or not, I’m going to start with the 3 negatives so I can get them out-of-the-way and because they were so minor. First, I thought Dylan Walsh was woefully underused as a guest start. In these twofers, Castle has always had really strong guest stars from Adrian Pasdar to Dana Delaney who have been excellent in their roles and really added a strong character base to such a plot driven series of episodes. I was really excited to see Walsh as a guest star because I’ve always been a fan of his. But because this was so Castle focused, Walsh really wasn’t needed. I think we only saw him for about 5 minutes in “Hunt” so for me, you could have cast any actor to play that part because he wasn’t as integral to the story and didn’t seem to enhance it at all. Second, the lack of Beckett and Castle working together on this. Now I know they did, but not in their usual way. Again, this is minor because I liked the way she was more Kate the girlfriend than Beckett the cop in these episodes. She was there as the woman who loves him and is broken over seeing this happen to Alexis and to him. I was hoping to see them go off to Paris together to get Alexis back but I applaud Marlowe for taking the daring risk of not doing that because it honestly made better sense for the story. Rick would leave Kate behind because he couldn’t risk her doing the things he needed to do to get Alexis back because she is an officer of the law. He, on the other hand, is a desperate father frantically trying to save his little girl. Therefore, he can use his contacts, however shady they are, to get the information he needs and not put Beckett in a difficult situation. And even though it was the right call and I agreed with it 100%, there was a part of me, who so loves seeing them work together, sad that the one time you really need Beckett’s skills to team up with him, is the one time we can’t see it. Finally, the CGI of Paris was horrible. Wow, it couldn’t have looked any worse. But that’s all for the negative. See I told you it was minor!
I’ve read many articles over the years where the cast of Castle doesn’t get their due credit for being “serious” actors. Because this show has many episodes where the goofiness and silliness is played up, the serious tones don’t seem to carry as much weight. After watch “Target” and “Hunt” I would defy anyone to tell me these people aren’t serious actors. I’ve always said that Stana Katic is painfully underrated for her acting skills. She’s one of best on TV in my opinion who can really hit certain notes from a comedic side as well as a serious side. She has the chops for both. And over the years, she has gotten stronger and stronger. Her best scene of the twofers was when she was questioning Hanson’s girlfriend and that girl gave her nothing but attitude and disrespect. The next thing you know, Beckett kicks her chair so hard that chick goes flying off her chair into a wall and Beckett gets in her face screaming about how she’s in her way of finding a missing girl. Holy. Shit! I’ve seen Beckett get fired up before but this was something different. She would have been last person on earth (well maybe second after Castle) that I would have ever messed with at that point. She was brilliant! This was a combination of cop being agitated at a person blocking her investigation and a girlfriend so angry that this bitch would block her ability to find her boyfriend’s missing daughter. Not a good combination for little miss sassy pants!
I’ve never been a huge fan of the Alexis character. I certainly don’t dislike her but I always thought she was written a little too perfectly. And I know I’m being a hypocrite because I’m always the first one to defend the Reagan family on Blue Bloods and they (except for Danny at times) are written the same way. But it’s one thing for adults who have been around a long time and who are bound by the law, to be so black and white, good vs bad in their convictions. It’s a whole other thing for it to be a young girl in high school to be so righteous. See how I justify that? But seriously, Alexis seemed way too mature for her age. Now is there something wrong with showing a responsible, respectful, good person? Absolutely not. In fact, I wish we saw more of that. But no one is THAT perfect. I mean this girl never made a mistake. EVER. And making mistakes doesn’t make you a bad person, it makes you human. So that’s always been my gripe with Alexis. But I have to admit, there was no one rooting for her to be saved more than me. And Molly Quinn was sensational. True to Alexis’ character, she played her as calm and cerebral during the early parts of the situation always looking out for her friend. It wasn’t until she was able to Skype her dad and see him that she lost it a bit. And I would be the same way. If I saw my dad, I would lose it. It wasn’t until later when she realizes that not only is she not in NYC but she’s in Paris, did she really get scared. And later when we saw her in that cage not knowing what was going to happen, not knowing where her friend was, not knowing if she was going to live, did we see her eyes swollen and red with fear. I’m glad she played it that way and they wrote it that way because as strong and as smart as Alexis is, she’s still a 19-year-old person with no training or experience in these situations. You bet she’d be scared out of her mind. My only gripe is at the end when she is rescued and Castle brings her back home, when she’s walking up to her front door, all she says very cavalierly is “wow I’m so glad to be home” like she had a really bad flight back from spring break instead being held hostage for days by crazy people. Maybe it’s me, but I would still be a little more shaken up and she seemed like she was ready to just get back to normal. Even with that, Molly Quinn, you were outstanding!!
So 1,200 words in, let’s get to our main man and all that went down for him. Because not only did he have to save his daughter’s life, but in the middle of all this mayhem, he meets, for the first (really second) time in his life, his father! Nathan Fillion was BRILLIANT in these episodes. He didn’t just knock it out of the park, he drilled it to the moon! The first scene we really see a whole new Castle is from last week’s “Target” when he asks Beckett to have a moment alone with the man who drove the van with the girls in it. I know there has been much discussion over this scene and my opinion is that I have no problem with it. He’s a father desperate to find his daughter and this man is his only lead. You do what you have to do to find her. No issues at all with that. Extenuating circumstances cause people to do extraordinary things they wouldn’t normally do or condone. And I think it was even better that we didn’t see it!
So Castle has left everyone behind and has headed to Paris to find Alexis. Her friend Sara was released but Alexis was not. Fearing she’s not collateral damage, he high tails it to Paris to use his contacts there to track Alexis down. One of Castle’s old connections, that he used to help him with some of his books, introduces him to man named Jacque who will help him find Alexis. Jacque is able to help and tells Castle the kidnappers want 3 million in Euro in exchange for Alexis. When they go to the drop point, in a move I’m embarrassed to say I didn’t see coming, Jacque turns the tables on Castle and puts a gun to his head and takes his money. Just as Rick is about to meet his maker, bullets start flying from an unknown location and all the baddies (including Jacque) are taken out. Castle turns around to see Mr. Barbra Streisand standing there telling him that he’s the good guy and that he should come with him immediately. When back at his place, Castle sees all the pictures of Alexis on the wall and Jackson Hunt (that’s the name he gave to Castle) explains to him that this whole situation is his fault. That Alexis was kidnapped because of him as a payback for killing a former KGB member’s wife and child years ago. Castle is understandably confused and asks how this could have anything to do with Alexis and that’s when Hunt tells him that they went after her because he was careless and slipped. They went after her, because she is his granddaughter. “Rick, I’m your father.” As if this man doesn’t have enough to deal with….WOW!!!!! Now that’s how you introduce a long-lost father into the fold!
My fear with this storyline is that I really thought Brolin was going to end up being a bad guy. Turns out, he’s nothing of the sort. He’s actually a hero in many ways. We learn that he had a wonderful night with Martha but being a spy, was called away on an assignment, he couldn’t disclose that to her, so he left. A year later he learns about Castle. Then Castle learns that his father has been keeping track of him all these years and that they even met once. Curious, Castle asks when. He tells about the time they were in a book store and Castle was looking for something to read and his dad recommended Casino Royale. “That was you?” Rick asks him and he confirms it. Castle tells him that’s the book that made him want to become a writer. Aw. Then Hunt tells him the words every kids wants to hear from their father “Son, I’m really proud of you.” The look (and the tears) in Castle’s eyes were indescribable. It was beautiful. I loved the way the writers and the actors handled this moment and this whole encounter. It could have been really cheesy or really cliché. Instead, it was so perfectly handled. Brolin played it so well. He was very matter-of-fact about his life without seeming cold and distant. He also told Castle how he followed his life and career, as any proud parent would, without being creepy. It was perfection. And Rick, well talk about bad timing. Your whole life this enigma finally comes back and instead of having a Walton’s type reunion, you have to pull all that aside because your daughter’s life is at risk. And to top it off, once his plan to rescue her is enacted, they just have to run and not look back. He won’t know if his father made it out or not and that’s the way it has to be. So no steak dinner reunion for these men. It’s hi, nice to meet you, love you, now let’s go bomb these KGB freaks ok?
His plan works like a charm and Alexis is rescued by her dad and pop-pop. When they get home, Martha and Kate are both there so excited to see them and hugs and kisses are flowing everywhere. Castle walks into the kitchen where a package arrived for him. He opens it up and inside is a copy of Casino Royale. Dad is ok!!!! He then looks at Martha with a huge smile on his face and says “mom, there’s something I have to tell you.” Face to black.
What an amazing set of episodes from Castle. I really have to say that I am so impressed with how Andrew Marlowe has handled this season. He finally puts his leads together, Beckett’s mother’s storyline is no longer a who done it but a how are we going to catch him direction, Alexis is kidnapped, and Rick meets his father. And the fans were worried Season 5 might suck with Caskett together. Please!!!! This show is better than ever!!!