Apparently, getting shot and nearly killed by a mysterious sniper in retaliation for investigating your mother’s murder is something that sticks with you. Viewers of Castle season 4 might have been wondering about that. Considering just how together and competent Kate Beckett has seemed since her shooting, we might have thought her trauma was all in the past.

“Kill Shot” proves that this is not the case — Beckett has a long way to go before she is all better. If this episode is any indication, it is going to be a disturbing and intriguing journey.

First, a warning: This is not your standard Castle episode. The banter and cleverness are kept to a minimum, replaced with serious interactions and violence. This isn’t meant to dissuade viewers from watching “Kill Shot.” But the episode isn’t as light and fun as you might expect.

“Kill Shot” begins, as Castle often does, with a murder. However, this is no ordinary murder. Instead of just seeing a body lying on the ground, we meet the first victim while she is still alive and happily chatting about her future. Then, thanks to a sniper’s bullet, she’s dead. It’s abrupt. It’s dark. And it’s downright terrifying.

While uncomfortable, this initial terror is a good setup for the PTSD and emotional trauma experienced by Beckett throughout “Kill Shot.” Obviously, she is going to identify with sniper victims seemingly killed at random and when they least expect it.

The results are not pretty — Beckett spirals quickly into a near meltdown while her coworkers and friends mostly watch with concern and confusion. As always, she doesn’t want to admit to weakness, only making things worse.

It’s interesting to see this side of Beckett, the emotionally-damaged undercurrent that Stana Katic often hints at in Castle. This is, after all, a woman who has dedicated her life to righting the wrong of her mother’s murder. While that impossible task is usually shunted into her work, it is entirely believable when the pain suddenly breaches the surface.

While Stana Katic is obviously at the center of this episode, she is surrounded by equally brilliant support. Nathan Fillion morphs the typically wisecracking man-boy of Castle into a concerned protector totally at a loss about how to help. Meanwhile, Jon Huertas’ Esposito (himself familiar with combat-related trauma) plays it cool-but-caring as the only person in the room who truly gets what is going on with Beckett.

“Kill Shot” is not a perfect episode — a scene in which Beckett falls apart while drinking seems odd (though incredibly acted by Katic) and the key to solving the crimes is a bit contrived — but it is one that cannot be missed.

It’s easy to forget about the talent on a show that feels as effortless as Castle. But fortunately, episodes like “Kill Shot” remind viewers of just how impressive Castle and its actors actually are.

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“Kill Shot” airs on Monday, November 21 at 10pm on ABC.

(Image courtesy of ABC)

Laurel Brown

Senior Writer, BuddyTV

Laurel grew up in Mamaroneck, NY, Grosse Pointe, MI and Bellevue WA. She then went on to live in places like Boston, Tucson, Houston, Wales, Tanzania, Prince Edward Island and New York City before heading back to Seattle. Ever since early childhood, when she became addicted to The Muppet Show, Laurel has watched far too much TV. Current favorites include ChuckModern FamilySupernaturalMad Men and Community. Laurel received a BA in Astrophysics (yes, that is possible) from Colgate University and a PhD in Middle Eastern Studies and History of Science from Columbia University before she realized that television is much better than studying.