'Castle' Recap: The Big Bad Returns
'Castle' Recap: The Big Bad Returns
M.K. Costigan
M.K. Costigan
Contributing Writer, BuddyTV
Katniss has nothing on Beckett. This week's episode of Castle, "In the Belly of the Beast," is a long overdue Beckett-centric story that shows why she would probably win the Hunger Games.

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This Never Happens to Underachievers

Since it wouldn't be season 6 without it, Beckett and Castle fit in a little wedding planning before the action gets going. Beckett has just discovered the joys of laziness (my favorite pastime) when she's called into the station by Gates. The head of narcotics, Captain Fowler, explains that a new drug ring run by the mysterious "Lazarus" has recently taken power and killed a bunch of dealers.  

They picked up a Russian immigrant named Elena who was forced to act as a courier for the ring. While in custody, she receives instructions for the next meet, but attempts suicide rather than following through with it as an agent for the police. Since Beckett is in Elena's age range, speaks Russian and is similarly hot, she's their only option for an undercover operation. Can't have those homely ladies going out in public, am I right?

Nerves of Steel

Fowler sells the mission as simple and safe, but as we're only 10 minutes into the episode, complications arise. Beckett is almost immediately abducted by one of Lazarus' lackeys, Mr. Harden, and her communication with the police is severed. And thus begins Beckett's saga of handling things like a boss. At first, she continues to play the part of scared, innocent courier, but it quickly becomes clear that Elena is anything but.

Another of Lazarus' associates, Mr. Jones, says they're interested in hiring her ambiguous services for $50,000 a week. Beckett understands that things have just gotten very real, and immediately switches gears to a fearless, no-nonsense attitude. And when Jones and Harden leave the room to discuss distrust of Beckett and the possibility of killing her, she manages to get a quick call into the station before the return. It's very different from how I would have handled the situation, which would be to curl up in a corner and cry.

It's a Hit

While Beckett is having remarkable success at not assuming the fetal position, things aren't looking so good back at the station. Gates, flawless as usual, brings Ryan and Esposito into the situation to counteract the incompetence of Fowler and his team. They know from Beckett's call that Elena isn't what she seems, but they are unable to trace it for technological reasons I don't understand. Even when Beckett manages to get another message to them, they can't locate her.

Castle shows up because his relationship ESP lets him know that things are amiss, which makes everyone put on their extra serious faces. He does handle the situation with a lot less outward panic than one would expect, probably because he was lucky enough to fall in love with an incredibly capable woman.

Ryan, Esposito and Fowler go to the hospital to question Elena. But when they get to her room, they find a dead cop and no trace of Elena. It turns out that she was the one killing the drug dealers, meaning that her correspondence with the ring was about contract hits and not packages. Now everyone knows just what level of crap Beckett is in, but they still have no way to help her. She's totally on her own.

From Bad to Worse

Luckily, Beckett is awesome on her own. She manages to buy some time by insisting that she meet Lazarus before taking the long-term gig. They decide to give her a trial assignment and if she is successful the meeting will take place. Before going, she leaves a freaking blood trail to a letter written for Castle detailing how much she loves him. Their romance is so happy, yet so morbid.

After that, she and Harden set off to her assignment. She tries to get out of it by saying that she doesn't do hits without gathering information about the target, but Harden insists that in this organization they simply kill whoever the loom tells them to whoever's next on the list. As it happens, the target is a corporate attorney with no discernible connections to the drug world. Beckett sets up a convincing crime scene in a ridiculously short amount of time, thus earning a meeting with Lazarus.

Lazarus' office is the dictionary definition of sketchy. He's in a basement, behind a hoard of semi-naked women counting his stacks upon stacks of cash. It seems for a moment that Beckett will be able to maintain the charade, but Lazarus turns out to be ... Vulcan Simmons! Simmons was last seen in the season 3 episode "Knockdown," in which Beckett mistakenly implicated him in her mother's murder and assaulted him. Since he never forgets a face that's smashed him into a mirror, her cover is blown, and Simmons gets to torturing her for information.

Beckett doesn't crack, and Simmons decides to have Harden take her out into the woods and kill her. Harden is way too excited about this, and Beckett seems resigned to her fate when Elena comes out of nowhere and slits Harden's throat. She doesn't kill Beckett because Lazarus insisted that she lives, saying that he owed her.  Now they're even.

This Jerk Again

Beckett manages to get back to the station. Despite her testimony, they will be unable to indict Simmons because he manufactured an alibi for the time of the events and had all the evidence hidden. The only lead they have is a name Beckett saw on a check: Future Forward. This turns out to be a political Super PAC being funded by the drug ring. All of this is anonymous and legal because of crappy Super PAC laws.

They would have no way of determining who was at the center of this, except our old friend Senator Bracken announces that he's running for president and already has a wealth of anonymous funding. He, not Simmons, is Lazarus, and continues to be responsible for most of the horrible things in Beckett's life.

Amazingly, Beckett doesn't fall into a rage spiral as she has in the past. This time, she has Castle to call her away from the situation, even if only temporarily. It shows a huge amount of growth on her part that she can be confronted with all this without being immediately consumed by it. Now she has something else to fill her life. At least until sweeps, that is.

Castle airs Mondays at 10pm on ABC.

(Image courtesy of ABC)