This week on Castle, things get very “rise of the machines” as Castle and Beckett investigate a drone strike in the middle of Manhattan. The case certainly brings out the inner conspiracy theorist in Castle (always just a scratch below the surface) as he develops an elaborate Skynet-esque theory. It’s the singularity! The machines are sentient … and they have a plan! (Wait, wrong show.) Unfortunately for Castle, there are no Cylons or Terminators in sight, only a complicated family dynamic turned deadly.

But perhaps the biggest moment of the episode occurs near the end in response to Beckett’s top-notch work on the case. Jared Stack, working for the Attorney General’s office, sees just how extraordinary Beckett is. 

It seems like there have been a lot of ruggedly handsome men telling Beckett she’s incredible lately, but unlike Ioan Gruffudd’s millionaire, Stack is less interested in her beauty and more interested in her crime-solving brains. He sees a bright future for her, a future she doesn’t seem 100% ready to either embrace or turn aside. The only problem? That future is a job with the Attorney General in D.C., not cozy with Castle in New York City. 

Will Beckett and Castle’s Relationship Survive? 

The last few episodes have been poking at the frayed edges of the Castle and Beckett relationship. While the couple has been happily together all year, as the season draws to a close there’s been a storm cloud gathering around our favorite couple. Beckett is looking towards the future, while Castle is all too happy to ignore what will be and focus on the present. 

As we saw a few weeks ago, Castle doesn’t even know Beckett wants to find out where the relationship is heading. But perhaps Beckett is thinking about more than her relationship now. With big chunks of the mystery surrounding her mother’s death solved, Beckett is freer than ever to let go of the past and embrace the future. 

Plus, given how many high-profile cases she’s solved recently, it was only a matter of time before something bigger and better came along. Stack is offering her a golden opportunity on a silver platter, but what will that mean for her relationship with Castle? 

It’s not like Castle couldn’t move to be with Kate, but he certainly would no longer be able to trail her in the field wearing his “writer” flack jacket. If she seizes this opportunity, things will change dramatically, and Castle seems fairly resistant to change lately. 

The show has certainly set up a big, dramatic storyline going into next week’s finale to test our core couple. Whether they come out the other side intact and together remains to be seen. 

Still, I appreciate that the relationship drama has built steadily and feels earned, instead of coming as the result of some outside plot contrivance. There’s a reason Beckett held back telling Castle about the job offer, and it’s because the two have larger issues in their relationship they need to hash out.

I’m interested to see where they take this in the finale, and how it all plays out next season. If Beckett takes the job, how long until she ends up back in New York? After all, it’s not like the show can transplant all the characters to D.C. (However, if Beckett spends some time in D.C. next season, can we see her bump into ABC network mate Olivia Pope? Scandal and Castle cross-over, anyone?)

Watch Out for Skynet

The rest of the case-of-the-week is a mash-up of ripped-from-the-headlines, Terminator and some weird conspiracy theorist wearing a tinfoil hat. To wit: Dale Tanner, who runs Whistle Blowers Anonymous, is blown up in a drone strike. It’s one part WikiLeaks and one part Men in Black as mysterious federal agents are all too quick to confiscate all of the evidence. 

Did the government really blow up Julian Assange … erm, I mean Dale Tanner? Of course not. Even for a show that likes to give in to a good conspiracy theory, Castle isn’t that far down the rabbit hole. 

This is, however, how they meet Jared Stack, who lets them in on the secret that the drone strike leading to Tanner’s death was the result of a hacking. This leads Castle and Beckett to the weird home of Simon Warburg and his home protection drone squad. Beckett and Castle both shoot down the drone, although Castle thinks that he was probably the one responsible for taking it down. (Since when does Castle carry a gun?) 

Warburg used to build drone programs, but stopped when he thought about the doomsday scenario of drones without human pilots, unable to spot roses. Castle looks pretty bummed his rise of the machines scenario does not seem to be panning out. I get it, Castle, in almost every series where machines rise up against us, they almost inevitably end up taking the form of a really hot woman like Summer Glau or Tricia Helfer. I’m not sure why we’re all so afraid of the singularity. 

Instead, it turns out Tanner was killed by his own son, angry at his father for abandoning his family. Finding out about Tanner’s affair was the last straw, and his son accessed the drone override program Warburg was trying to pass on. 

It should have been obvious it would turn out to be someone unexpected as soon as Warburg went on and on about how “user friendly” the drone software was, like he was starring in an Apple commercial. 

Toy Story 4: Rise of the Machines

This was a pretty heavy outing, with a big case and an even bigger relationship hurdle to set up for next week’s season finale. But that doesn’t mean the show didn’t have time for some classic Castle fun. 

This week, Castle, like the big five-year-old he is, begins the episode playing with his toy tank, using the tank’s video camera to spy on Beckett.

Later, after all his talk of the singularity and robots rising up to attack their human oppressors, his toys turn against him in the night. Et tu, helicopter? Let’s just say Castle does not fight very bravely, and Beckett practically falls over laughing at her joke. 

What do you think will happen on next week’s season 5 finale? Will Beckett take the job? Will the Caskett relationship survive? Sound off in the comments! 

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(Image courtesy of ABC)

Morgan Glennon

Contributing Writer, BuddyTV