This week on Castle,
a hostage situation puts Castle in danger but brings Beckett back into the fold at the precinct. What begins as a hostage situation soon unfolds into a more traditional whodunit, as Castle comes to believe his unstable number one fan is actually telling the truth about her innocence.
It's a surprisingly tense episode, despite threats to Castle's well being always feeling a bit toothless. Much of this tension is created and maintained by well-placed twists and turns in the story, but the episode really rests on the work done by guest actress Alicia Lagano.
As the hostage taker, Emma has to feel at once frightening and sympathetic. You have to understand why Castle would be willing to believe this woman's story (besides her encyclopedic knowledge of his oeuvre), while at the same time wondering if she just might have done it after all. Her swings between believable and unstable have to seem realistic, and Lagano does a good job at making Emma feel like a damaged but realistic person.
With all the emphasis on Beckett's Washington career, it's felt like we've barely seen our favorite partners team up to work a case together this season. Despite Castle's stint as hostage negotiator, this is perhaps the most screen time Beckett and Castle have shared together all season. It's a reminder of how good the two are, not just in a romantic context (although they have several cute moments), but also as a detective duo.
Back to Status Quo
A show like Castle might be willing to rock the boat in some regards, like finally pairing Castle and Beckett together after years of sexual tension, but in other aspects it's very much a crime procedural. So when the season started out with Beckett holding down a new job in a brand new city, it was clear the show was either going to dramatically shake up the foundations or it would slowly undo the big changes set in motion last season.
After getting Beckett fired from her DC post, it was pretty clear that it would only be a matter of time before she was reinstated back at the old precinct. (What desk will Sully use as a garbage disposal now?) This episode works as the final link to restoring the ecosystem of the show back to its natural state.
Perhaps it's a missed opportunity not to explore some of the storytelling avenues opened by having Beckett out of the precinct. It does seem like the show could have taken more than one episode before slotting Beckett comfortably back in her own world. Still, the show does what it does well, so it makes a certain amount of sense that the creative team decide they had rocked the boat enough.
As soon as Aaron Stokes (Everwood's Tom Amandes, now sporting a beard) turns out not to be an evil mastermind, it's pretty clear he's going to help Beckett get her old job back. In Castle's version of New York, the police commissioner is willing to do some crazy favors for his best pals.
The Writer Vest Returns
While Beckett is wondering what she's going to do with all her free time, Captain Gates calls Castle with a special request. It seems a woman ran into a dentist's office with a gun and is holding five people hostage. The only one she wants to speak to is Richard Castle, an odd choice for a hostage negotiator.
Of course, the actual hostage negotiator in this episode is almost entirely useless. Seriously, after one brief scene with Castle, he pretty much entirely disappears into the woodwork. I know the show has a lot to compress into 40-some minutes, but there is no way a hostage negotiator would let someone completely untrained into a situation like that without any coaching. Instead, this guy is like, "He seems to be doing pretty good! Hope no one decides to dot the 'i' in writer with a bullet!" Thanks for nothing, guy.
While Emma seems completely unhinged, Castle still sees a glimmer of truth to her story. So with Beckett's assistance, the whole gang reconvenes to figure out if Emma is telling the truth or if she really is a crazy murderer.
As the team put the pieces together and realize not everything is adding up to Emma having committed murder, one of the hostages continues escalating the situation. It's always a bad sign when you have more sympathy for the hostage taker than one of the actual hostages, but from the first moment you see this guy, he's pretty much the worst. His attempt to wrestle the gun off Emma ends up getting Castle shot in his bullet-proof writer vest.
"Oh no, did something go wrong when I sent in that untrained mystery writer to talk down an unstable, possible multiple murderer? Maybe send in SWAT guys now?" says the useless negotiator, shrugging, before going back to texting on his phone and ignoring the actual hostage situation.
It turned out Emma was telling the truth and was entirely innocent of the murder of her boyfriend, who really was a pretty decent guy. Angelo was just trying to help Emma reconnect with her birth parents, but unfortunately the wrong person was at the house of her prominent bio-dad, Aaron Stokes, the day he came for a visit.
When Aaron's son-in-law found out he had an illegitimate daughter, he began to worry it would effect his wife's trust fund. So using the information from Emma's unsealed juvie record about how she killed her foster brother (in self-defense), he went about framing Emma for the murder of her boyfriend. And it would have worked, too, if it weren't for those pesky NYPD officers!
At the end of the episode, everyone gets a happy ending. Aaron decides to stand by his daughter from now on, Emma has her name cleared of her boyfriend's murder and Beckett gets her badge back. Plus, Castle and Beckett share their last unprofessional kiss in the office before she's officially reinstated as a detective.
Elsewhere in the City of Living Room Stage Fighting Classes...
-- "From his big house ... to the big house": even Castle seems ashamed of that obvious pun. Although Sully seems to enjoy it.
-- Hey, is that Lanie I'm seeing? I think I might have blinked and missed her.
-- Pi is still living in Casa de Castle, using Castle's razors and parading around in a towel. I hope Pi never leaves.
-- Is it just me or is "cheeseburger" an obvious and completely terrible code word to use in a hostage situation? I mean, obviously there's no organic way to work that into the conversation, so the hostage taker is going to know you're dropping a code word. Another reason that negotiator is the worst.
-- Beckett says they're in no hurry to rush down the aisle, but if I was a betting recapper, and I am, I'd say they're going to be getting hitched sometime around sweeps.
What did you think of this week's episode? Are you glad Beckett is back with the force? Sound off in the comments!
Castle airs Mondays at 10pm on ABC.