'Castle' Recap: Best of 'Kick the Ballistics'
'Castle' Recap: Best of 'Kick the Ballistics'
This week on Castle the shadow of the 3XK serial killer looms large over our favorite crime fighting team. While Castle's fun romps like the super hero and heads-on-ice episodes are always a good time, it's the more serious mythology pieces the show always hits out of the park. This week is no exception when Ryan's stolen service weapon allows the audience to find out more background about the team's most cheerful member.

Seamus Dever, who plays Ryan, really gets a chance to shine in this episode as Ryan slowly unravels from anger and guilt. It's also great to see the team rally around another member. We all love Castle and Beckett (and Caskett, let's be honest) but it's nice to see some of the fantastic supporting players get a chance in the spotlight. It's also great to have an ongoing nemesis like the 3XK killer out there somewhere, ready to strike. My guess is around sweeps time.

A Concrete Murder

As Castle and Beckett walk to their murder site of the episode, they touch briefly on "that day". That day, of course, being the day Kate got shot and Castle told her he loved her. Beckett still denies having any memory of what happened and Castle looks sad and forlorn until he gets to the body covered in cement and realizes the pun potential of the crime scene.

They find out the victim isn't the usual kind of mob hit, she's just a pretty college student named Jane that tutored people in her spare time. She also apparently had a very specific type when it came to guys and that specific type was "drug-dealer".

While investigating her ex-boyfriend the team is shocked to find out that Jane was killed with a familiar weapon, Ryan's service weapon once stolen by the 3XK killer. This causes Ryan to throw himself into the investigation with crazy abandon to assuage his guilt over losing the weapon.

Doubt and Advocacy

Poor Castle is feeling the pressure just as much as everyone else in their little crime fighting family. Back at home with his own family, he talks to his mother about how he likes to think of himself as Beckett's real partner. (All together now: aww!) But the reality is that he's not actually a real cop.

His mother gives him the sound advice to just be there for his friends when they need him the most. Martha has certainly been doling out the pearls of wisdom this season in between dressing like King Lear.

Alexis is also feeling sorry for herself, but for a much less serious reason. To pad up her college resume she's taken on the class advocacy role from her friend, who gave it to her as a favor. Except it wasn't a favor, because it's a terrible job and clearly her friend knew this. Perhaps her friend was just tired of hearing Alexis whine about how her future was over because she didn't get into one school?

While Alexis has seemingly pulled herself out of the sweatpants, trophy boxing phase of her downward spiral, she apparently hasn't left the "poor me" stage. It's nice to see Alexis act like a normal teenager though, so I'm not complaining. This friendship betrayal gives Castle an idea about the case and he runs off to the precinct. It's a good thing Castle's family is always having case-relevant issues that give him eureka moments!

Rookie Ryan

The investigation leads them to a Seth Carver, who turns out to be a narcotics cop with a bad attitude that rubs Ryan the wrong way. Turns out Carver was using Jane to get inside information on a Chinese drug dealing family called the Lees. Jane, in her tutoring line of work, had gotten close to the youngest son Ben and Carver wanted to use her to get information on the family. Ryan is grossed out by the cop as soon as he figures out that the officer probably planted evidence on Jane in order to use her as an informant.

We also learn some background about Ryan before he joined homicide. He used to work in narcotics and as a rookie he gave away the identity of one of their informants. He managed to get her into protective custody, but it was the stupidest thing he'd ever done as a cop. Until, that is, he lost his weapon. Beckett tries to console him but he's still too upset to listen.

While Castle goes through reams of criminal files, Beckett and Ryan head to talk to the Lees. The Lee patriarch is none other than Mr. Hanso from the Dharma Imitative. We never learn how he got off the island and into organized crime, but he has alibis for both his sons for Jane's murder. Maybe the smoke monster did it?

The Trial of 3XK

When they find a bag Jane packed with two tickets and an inhaler that wasn't hers, they realize that Jane was intending to skip town with someone else. Castle meanwhile has taken Alexis's mean girl story and used it to come up with another classic Castle theory.

The way Castle sees it, 3XK wouldn't have given that gun to a friend knowing it's history, but to an enemy. And as it so happens, Ben's big brother Philip had gotten on the wrong side of Jerry Tyson aka 3XK in prison before mending fences. Except 3XK doesn't forgive, he gives away stolen police guns. It's like in Mean Girls when Lindsay Lohan gave Rachel McAdams those nutrient bars to make her gain weight. Only with more shooting and death, but otherwise the same.

After a phone call puts Philip Lee around the murder scene they finally think they have him. Except his lawyer points out that doesn't prove anything and Ryan becomes furious when Lee is allowed to walk. Chief Gates tells Ryan to take the day off and he stalks out of the office. But Esposito, like any good bestie, is waiting outside to help him with his plan to talk to Ben.

Undercover Fresh Prince

This plan is awesome on a lot of different levels. Mostly, it's awesome because it allows Esposito to both dress and act like Will Smith in the Fresh Prince of Bel Aire. The only way the scene of his yelling at Ben could have been better was if he randomly broke out into "Parents Just Don't Understand" after.

But that's ok, because that's basically what Ryan is saying to Ben Lee after Esposito gets the security to leave. He says he knows that Ben loved Jane and wanted to run away with her. The family doesn't understand that he wants to live a normal life instead of living life like a more studious Soprano.

Ryan's talk really gets through to Ben, because he shows up at the precinct and agrees to wear a wire to get his brother to confess to Jane's murder. In the basement of their criminal enterprise, Ben questions Philip while the crazy music in the background sounds like it came from a karate movie or a Chinese bordello. Philip refuses to confess and begins to get suspicious of all Ben's prodding, finally pointing a gun at Ben and demanding to see if he's wearing a wire. At that moment the team comes crashing in, but Ben pulls out a gun to threaten Philip and catches a bullet.

Like a Real Cop

Back at the office, Philip is trying to make a deal. Less time in exchange for telling what he knows about the whereabouts of 3XK and his new identity. When Beckett asks Castle for his opinion, he says no deal. 3XK, according to Castle, would have known that the gun would get Lee in trouble and therefore wouldn't give away any real information. Castle thinks it's more important to get justice for Jane.

Beckett is impressed with Castle's deducting skills and says that Castle is starting to think like a real cop. Will there ever be a time when Castle just trades in his writer vest for a police one? I mean, he's basically a police officer in all but title now anyway. He used to be a writer who hung out with the police for his books, now he's more like a police officer who occasionally writes. Of course, if that ever happened Gates' head would probably explode.

The end reveal is that Ben Lee is fine, having pretended to take the shot in order to go into witness protection. Ryan has, once again, atoned for his mistakes and gotten the criminal informant out safely. As the episode ends, our favorite little family huddles together, still worried about 3XK but happy at a job well done. They toast each other and then toast love and Jane. Let's hope soon we'll be able to toast Beckett coming clean about her love-related memories.

Next week Castle meets a lady Indiana Jones (complete with whip!) and makes out with her while Beckett undoubtedly wants to murder everyone. Should be fun!

What did you think of tonight's intense episode? Did you enjoy the focus on Ryan? When do you think we'll be seeing 3XK again? Sound off in the comments!

Morgan Glennon
Contributing Writer

(Image courtesy of ABC)