Everyone is having relationship troubles in this episode of Castle. Ryan and Esposito are still dealing with the whole “Ryan shooting Espo in the ass” thing. Castle and Beckett are about to have their first wedding anniversary but are still on a time-out. And Victim of the Week Scott McCoy has a major falling-out with somebody because he is brutally stabbed to death.

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“Tell That to the Hole in My Ass”

In “The Last Seduction,” the Castle writers have come up with another item on their list of Convoluted Ways to Get Castle into Placed He Shouldn’t Be: Ryan and Esposito’s fighting is so bad that they need a buffer with them while they investigate Scott’s murder, and Castle is that buffer.

Scott McCoy was an unemployed actor who had a habit of getting into fights with a man named Anton. Anton initially seems like the perfect suspect; he’s extremely aggressive, strong enough to easily overpower and stab Scott, and his fingerprints were found in Scott’s apartment. But Anton has a sensitive side. He and Scott were friends, he tearfully tells the police, and the fights they had were staged. Scott had a taste for rich, married women, so Anton would purposefully lose fights to him to help him win over the ladies. 

It turns out that Scott’s trysts were far more sinister than just manipulating women. Vikram (hey, he’s still around!) finds out that Scott received payments of $5,000 from a shell company right after each seduction. He also discovers that Scott had a second apartment. When Ryan, Epsosito and Buffer Castle investigate, they find cameras and printers set up to capture Scott’s affairs. One picture remains in the cloud and it reveals Scott in bed with a tramp stamped woman.

Spa Day

Despite the fact that the tattoo looks like the most generic, picked-from-the-wall design ever, the team feels they can use it as a solid identifier. They also have sketches of the women Anton saw Scott seduce. From these, they find three suspects: Annika Smythe, Claire Stevens and Nancy Underwood. All three are BFFs and all three are currently in the middle of divorcing wealthy husbands. Did they find out about Scott’s scheme and band together in a murderous First Wives Club? I hope so because that would make a great movie.

Since the women overshare on Instagram, Beckett knows that they’ll be at a spa later. She and Hayley (who I assume is around because the actress has a set number of episodes in her contract) go undercover and try to coax the trophy wives into sharing some ink. But, finally, the fact that Beckett is married to a famous writer and kind of famous in her own right catches up to her. The ladies almost immediately know what’s up and refuse to cooperate. Luckily, one of them is jumpy and tries to run anyway. Is this Nancy, Claire or Annika? It doesn’t matter. They’re all the same.

Father/Daughter Mystery Solving

Nancy/Claire/Annika is taken to the precinct for questioning. She admits to sleeping with Scott and admits to that being a very bad idea. She also cheated on her last husband, an act that triggered the infidelity clause in her prenup and cost her $12 million. But she also insists that she’s not the killer. She confronted Scott about what he did and Scott was actually apologetic. His last job had been manipulating a good person, he said, and it gave him a crisis of conscience. 

So Nancy/Claire/Annika is innocent but still provides some valuable information. Her current estranged husband and her former husband both used the same lawyer, Lindsey Trent. The team assumes that, since multiple men have used both Scott and Lindsey’s services, Lindsey was the one who had Scott on contract. They need to look at her client log to find out who Scott had recently slept with, but they don’t have enough to get a warrant. Cue espionage.

Castle goes undercover as himself, just looking for a divorce. He wears livestream glasses and Beckett catches the feed. It’s not easy to watch her husband being questioned about whether or not there’s hope for his relationship, even though the split is entirely coming from her. She doesn’t have to watch much, though, because Lindsey is tipped off about the sting and has Castle escorted from the office. Little does she know that spy daughter Alexis is also on the case. I love Alexis sneaking around like this. It’s so Veronica Mars-esque, and anything that’s reminiscent of Veronica Mars is a good thing.

Happy Anniversary?

You’d think that seeing Castle meet with a divorce lawyer would lead to some progress on the Castle and Beckett relationship front, but no. Their saga is a convoluted and ultimately frustrating one in this episode. Castle starts by trying to surprise her for their anniversary and asking her out for dinner. It’s just a time-out from their time-out, he promises. He’s not expecting anything more. Beckett agrees. She knows it’s not a good idea, and so does Vikram. But she just can’t help herself.

Their plans are postponed, though, because Ryan and Esposito are a mess. Ryan thinks that Espo flaunted making Sergeant while he didn’t, Espo thinks Ryan shot him on purpose, and both of them are handling it with the emotional maturity of fourth graders. They try pretending to be one another, writing down nasty comments instead of saying them, and Castle and Beckett even postpone their anniversary dinner in order to talk with them. But Beckett’s talk about how a good partnership can survive anything and Castle’s talk about how no relationship can survive secrets are for naught; Ryan and Espo can’t get past their issues and decide they want new partners.

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What in the Greek Tragedy Hell?

As all this emotional turmoil is brewing, the investigation continues. Lindsey’s log reveals that her most recent office visit was George Keller, billionaire playboy. George is also a returning customer. He’s had several divorces before, and his last wife lost out on a lot of money because of the prenup infidelity clause. Beckett attempts to question George, but Lindsey prevents them from getting anywhere. Also, George is so not divorcing wife #3. He’s got a $2 million ring to prove it.

Scott didn’t exclusively work with wives, though. In an act of pure nastiness, George had Lindsey hire Scott to seduce his mother. Penelope Keller, recently widowed, had enjoyed a night of comfort and conversation with Scott, unaware that her son had orchestrated the meeting to tarnish her pristine reputation. Penelope explains that she is using her pull in the family company to prevent George from outsourcing jobs overseas, as hundreds of people would be out of work. She also mentioned this to Scott during their affair, which prompted Scott’s morality crisis.

Partners for Life

George has an alibi for the time of Scott’s murder, but Lindsey doesn’t. Esposito and Ryan go to Lindsey’s office and Espo confronts her with the facts. They figured out that Scott met with George and said that he was going to come clean about the entire operation. This was bad news for Lindsey, as she would lose her law license and be on the hook for entrapment. Lindsey initially tries to deny her guilt but quickly loses her cool and pulls a gun on Espo. He tries to talk her down, but she fires anyway.

Ryan, seeing what’s about to happen, pushes Esposito out of the way and takes the bullet himself. Luckily, the NYPD issues Kevlar notepads because the bullet is stopped by the very thing Ryan was using to record his rage. Lindsey doesn’t get far since stilettos are not conducive to escape, but she doesn’t matter. What’s important is that Ryan and Esposito finally get over their issues and heal their relationship, which is good because I can’t imagine either of them finding another partner who would put up with their ridiculousness.

A Reunion (Kind Of)

In other relationship news, Castle and Beckett have their anniversary dinner a night late. Though Beckett insists once again that nothing is going to change between them, they call a temporary time-in. Sex is had, dinner is not.

Things seem to be going well for a hot second. Castle and Beckett are lovey-dovey, and Beckett tells Castle never to lose hope in their relationship. But when she leaves the room, Castle sees a text on her phone from an unknown number saying that there is urgent news and that she must meet immediately. When he asks Beckett if everything’s okay, pretending not to have seen the message, Beckett lies. Yet another secret the relationship may not be able to overcome.

Next time on Castle, it’s the winter finale! What do you think will happen? Will Beckett learn to send signals that aren’t mixed? Will she get knocked up by this encounter, thus forcing an end to this bizarre storyline? Will Esposito’s ass finally heal? Share your thoughts below!

Castle airs Mondays at 10pm on ABC.

(Image courtesy of ABC)

Mary Kate Costigan

Contributing Writer, BuddyTV