Heads up: Beckett is not in this episode of Castle. Is she off doing actual Captain’s work? Is she in pursuit of her new obsession? Is she buying more power suits? Who knows?! Instead, we get Ethan Slaughter, known for his appearance in a season 4 episode and for being played by Adam Baldwin, Nathan Fillion’s former Firefly co-star. The entire episode is really just a means for them to hang out and make one “shiny” reference. It’s a good thing.

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Martha Rodgers, Bestselling Author

This episode, “Cool Boys,” finds Castle as he has been all season; moping around without Beckett and insisting that he doesn’t know why she left. Martha makes her weekly five-minute appearance to pitch a book called Unsolicited Advice that she plans to write. I strongly suspect that it would be a bestseller and solve all of the problems in my life. Martha has that kind of power.

To everyone’s surprise and horror, Detective Slaughter stops by the PI office in hopes of recruiting Castle’s services. Castle is understandably wary, since last time he worked with Slaughter he was nearly killed several times. But he’s got nothing better to do and it’s an interesting case. A building owned by billionaire Ronald Booth was broken into the night before, and a very valuable microchip was stolen. Slaughter wants Castle’s help finding the chip and suggests meeting with his CI Victor to begin the investigation.

One problem: Victor is dead. He was stabbed to death the night before. Slaughter learns of an electronics fence named Trucco that they can interrogate, so Victor’s death doesn’t create a dead end. What it does create is an arrest warrant, as Slaughter’s fingerprints were found on the knife. Curse his sudden but inevitable betrayal!

Was the Knife Called Vera?

Ryan and Esposito are understandably keen to arrest Slaughter, especially when they dig more into his recent past. Slaughter is facing disciplinary action with the police force and may even be kicked out without a pension. This gives him a good reason to steal the million dollar microchip. Slaughter, though, insists that he gave the knife to Victor as a gift, along with a few punches. To be fair, this does seem like the kind of gift Slaughter would give.

Continuing his long and proud history of making unwise choices, Castle covers for Slaughter and continues to help him find the chip and the murderer. They’re also working with Hayley because I guess she’s basing herself in New York now. The central question they have is how Victor managed to steal the missing chip, as the building had a seemingly impenetrable security system and Victor wasn’t exactly the sharpest tool in the shed. Hayley finds the answer: Victor had been mentoring Louis Prince, a teenager with a checkered past and an “I can kill you with my brain” level IQ. 

Castle and Slaughter visit the director of the mentoring program that placed Victor with Louis. In addition to dropping some exposition about how he used to work on Wall Street, the director explains that Louis comes from poverty and, other than his mother, never trusted anyone in his life except for Victor. This gives him a decent motive for murder, since finding out that Victor was using him for his genius would have been devastating.

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Slaughter Gets Character Development

Castle and Slaughter find Louis in an apartment, but the kid is being attacked by some guy when they get there. Louis gets away because Castle doesn’t know how to deal with teenagers who aren’t freakishly well-behaved, but Slaughter captures the guy. Through his less than gentle style of questioning, they find out that he works for Dave Lacy. Lacy is a theft-loving sociopath whose attention was grabbed by the chip heist. This was Victor’s plan. He stole the chip not just for its value, but to advertise that his criminal services were available. Now that Victor’s dead, everyone is after Louis and his giant brain.

In the middle of this less than gentle interrogation, Ryan and Esposito show up. They arrest Slaughter and will not listen to Castle’s assurances of his innocence because, you know, that’s their job. But there’s a reason why only one of them passed the sergeant’s exam; Slaughter is in custody not five minutes before Castle manages to steal both him and the car he’s in right in front of Ryan and Esposito. Our days of not taking them seriously are certainly coming to a middle.

Since they’re now on the run, Castle and Slaughter hide out at Slaughter’s ex-wife’s house — who just so happens to be a mega-famous opera singer who Slaughter met while studying musical theatre. Also, Slaughter periodically cooks amazing meals while wearing a cunning apron. And he gives fairly decent relationship advice. What universe have we landed in?! Beckett is missing, Slaughter has layers, and Ryan and Esposito have officially renounced any shred of dignity. It’s a brave new world.

The Power of Theatre

Using his crazy genius powers, Louis finds Slaughter and contacts him, saying that Victor told him to seek Slaughter out if he ever needed help. The video call cuts off as Lacy’s gang seems to find Louis, but not before Castle manages to get enough information to figure out where he’s being held.

The two go to a warehouse and find Louis, along with a half dozen armed miscreants. Things do not look good. They have no gun, no backup and Lacy has just ordered their deaths. What does one do when faced with such a situation? If you answered “break into a musical number,” you are correct! Castle and Slaughter bust out the jazz hands and spirit fingers long enough to disorient the gang before jumping into a physical attack. By the time Ryan and Esposito arrive with a police team, they’ve taken down the entire gang. “You think we enjoy this?” Ryan asks. I certainly do.

Both Louis and the gang have alibis for Victor’s murder, meaning that Slaughter is once again the prime suspect. Also, Louis reveals new information about the night of the theft and murder. They had planned to have Victor take and fence the chip, but Victor got spooked while they were in the building and changed the plan. It seems like someone else was there, and there’s still nothing to suggest that it wasn’t Slaughter.

That is, until building owner and certified tax dodger Ronald Booth arrives. He takes Ryan and Esposito aside and tells them that $50 million was stolen from secret bank accounts the night of the chip theft. He assumes that Louis did it, as no one else would have been smart enough to pull it off. But there is someone else who had all the right information. The former Wall Street broker turned youth mentor from earlier had previous worked for Booth and had access to all his banking information. After being blacklisted from his profession for sexually harassing Mrs. Booth, the director orchestrated his revenge by teaming up with Victor to manipulate Louis.

Poor Louis has had no shortage of terrible people in his life. Slaughter seeks to change that. He may be a horrible choice for a mentor, but hey, he has layers now. He’s willing to learn. And anyone who can jazz hands his way out of certain death is a positive influence in my book.

Castle airs Mondays at 10pm on ABC.

(Image courtesy of ABC)

Mary Kate Costigan

Contributing Writer, BuddyTV