There’s good news and bad news in this episode of Castle. The good news is that Castle and Beckett finally get back together. The bad news is that we can now confirm that their separation was, in fact, utterly pointless. Glass half full, I guess?

Castle Recap: Castle and Beckett (Sort of) Celebrate Their Anniversary >>>

A Locksat Clue at Last

“Mr. & Mrs. Castle” begins, as all episodes of Castle do, with a murder. Laura Madden’s body washes up in New York, and Perlmutter takes the case. Did the actress playing Lanie kill someone’s dog or something? I barely remember what she looks like with how little screen time she’s gotten this season.

Dog murder or no, Laura Madden was killed by a bullet to the head. From her ’20s attire, the team is able to place her as a performer in Speakeasy, a themed dance show performed on board the RMS Bently. More importantly, they find a bag of pure, uncut heroin in her stomach, on the other end of a piece of floss tied to her molar. The street value of said heroin: $30,000. And it’s a perfect match to the heroin Vulcan Simmons sold. It may have ended up in Laura’s stomach, but it came from Locksat.

Needless to say, Beckett has a special interest in solving this case. She goes to the Bently to investigate, but the cruise company that runs it wants to avoid scandal at all costs. They’ve ordered that no one assist the police in the investigation and take off for international waters while Beckett is still on board. Also, Castle is there. Because of course he is.

The Good Ship Death

Castle and Beckett now have 60 minutes to solve this case before they are picked up by another boat. They decide to divide and conquer, with Castle off to interview Laura’s fellow dancers and Beckett set on talking to some old ladies that live on the boat full-time. Castle doesn’t gain much info, except for the fact that Laura likely hid important personal belongings somewhere on the boat. Mostly, his assignment is just to get Nathan Fillion awkwardly dancing. 

Beckett’s job is a bit less physically strenuous. She interviews the elderly “gossip girls.” They only factor into the episode for about 90 seconds, but they are the best. They sit around drinking all day and playing shuffleboard. I want to either hang out with them or be them. One in particular is having fun in her retirement; Elaine likes to toke, and she gets her weed from Isaac the bartender. Keep doing you, Elaine.

Isaac has a history of legal troubles, but it’s quickly clear that he’s small time. Castle and Beckett meet on the deck to share information and look for Laura’s hiding spot. What they find is the crime scene; there’s a trail of blood on the side of the ship where Laura’s body was thrown overboard, and blacklight reveals bloody footprints on the deck itself.

Castle and Beckett manage to find Laura’s hiding spot. She put a camera in a life vest, which is pretty genius. From the footage, they learn that Laura was not a drug smuggler, but she accidentally discovered the smuggling ring while investigating illegal waste disposal. The video shows a man named Acosta loading block upon block of heroin onto a shipment marked as waste. Again, a brilliant plan, though a much less altruistic one.

Castle Finally Figures It Out

Acosta is guilty. We don’t really need to get into the details of his case because it’s not actually that important to the episode as a whole. There is no debating the fact that he killed Laura or was at least complicit in her death; from the two footprints at the crime scene and a bunch of calls to a burner cell, the police figure out that he has a partner who could have just as easily done the killing. What’s important is that Acosta gets a public defender named Caleb Brown.

The fact that a public defender gets any screen time is red flag number one. The fact that a public defender on a crime drama is actually slick and capable is red flag number two. Caleb knows what he’s talking about; he calls Beckett out on having no physical evidence and puts a deal on the table. He doesn’t give her any room to press Acosta for information about who he works for.

Beckett has bigger things to worry about, anyway. Hayley has been working with Castle to figure out who sent Beckett the mystery text during their anniversary date, and she’s come through. She not only figures out that it’s Vikram but also identifies the crazy spy server process they’re using to cover their tracks. This info is all it takes for Castle’s mental dominoes to start toppling. Since Vikram arrived on the scene at the same time as the Locksat/Allison Hyde case, he realizes that Allison Hyde likely died of murder rather than suicide. This means that the case is still open and Beckett is still investigating it.

Martha is Wrong for Once

Castle is just about to go into full investigative mode on his wife when Martha arrives. Now, I love me some Martha. She’s the best and she’s usually right. But in this instance, she’s a device on the part of the writers to build fake emotional stakes. Martha is horrified by what Castle is planning to do. She says that he should trust Beckett and he risks crossing a line by investigating her that he won’t be able to uncross.

This is crap. Beckett separated from Castle, giving him no reason for doing so but refused to actually break up with him and give him any kind of emotional closure. Beckett’s intentions were never bad, but she’s been stringing him along all season for entirely personal reasons. There is no spin on this situation in which she is a victim, unless we’re talking about her being a victim of her own psychological damage. What Martha warns about doesn’t end up happening, but it’s clear that the writers want us to worry that it will. This is essentially an attempt to emotionally manipulate the viewers into feeling what their sloppy storytelling isn’t able to make us feel on its own.

Best Castle Quotes from “The Last Seduction” >>>

A Duel of Lies

So does Castle listen to his mother? Of course not. This storyline has to end at some point, and now is the time. Castle calls Beckett while she and Vikram are talking shop in their secret shop-talking spot. Using her location, Hayley starts breaking through the crazy spy server’s firewall. If they get through, they’ll get all the information Beckett and Vikram have on the Locksat case.

The only problem is that Vikram is an FBI-certified computer genius. He catches on to Hayley’s antics real quick, and her attempts to slow his roll with cat videos doesn’t do much. Instead, Castle and Beckett call each other, each hoping to distract the other long enough for their respective hackers to get the job done. And this is where it gets interesting because Beckett learns that the hack is coming from Castle’s office and Castle knows that she knows. Their phone call consists of both of them lying, both of them knowing that the other is lying and neither of them wanting to admit it. 

In the end, Vikram evades the hack by nuking Castle’s computer system. “I hope I didn’t just nuke my marriage,” Beckett says. You should have thought of that a few months ago, honey.

A New Lead

The case continues, marital crisis be damned. By investigating Friendly Island Sanitation, the company contracted with the Bently, Beckett and Vikram manage to find a suspicious warehouse and Sam. Sam is a delivery man in the drug ring, but he’s not a bad guy; he’s a family man forced into the business by hard times, and now he can’t get out. He doesn’t actually know any useful information. But since his options are certain death if he’s arrested and therefore made a liability, or probably death if he becomes a police informant, he chooses probable death. He’ll likely pop up at some point later in the season.

Ryan and Esposito also locate Acosta’s partner. His name is Leo and he actually is a bad guy. They team up with Beckett and go to Leo’s apartment, where he immediately spots them and makes a break for it. When they think they’ve caught him, Leo pulls a gun, and Ryan and Esposito open fire. Beckett watches with horror as her best lead in the Locksat case dies.

Luckily, Vikram has an even better clue. He investigates the Friendly Island Sanitation warehouse and finds that its purchase was handled by Caleb Brown, Competent Public Defender. Caleb wasn’t always a suspiciously slick and underpaid civil servant. He used to be a big shot corporate lawyer. Beckett realizes that his public defender position is perfect for work in a drug ring. The fact that he convinced Acosta to take the blame for Laura’s murder also means that he’s very powerful in the organization. It may take a long time, but if they follow him, they may finally find Locksat.

Reunited and It Feels So Pointless

On the personal side of Beckett’s life, things aren’t looking so bright. Castle visits the precinct to talk to Beckett about the obvious. Since there’s no point in lying anymore, she admits everything. She says that Locksat will kill anyone investigating him or her, and she needed to separate herself from Castle in order to protect him. He is having none of it. Instead, he tells her that if she’d just come to him with this information, they could have broken up as a cover and worked on the case together. But that never occurred to Beckett. “And that’s because, deep down, you like being broken,” Castle tells her. This is the first emotionally satisfying scene in this entire storyline. Too bad it didn’t come five episodes ago.

Later, after she learns about Caleb’s true identity, Beckett swings by the loft to apologize. She admits that Castle was right about everything. She should have trusted him enough to involve him instead of pushing him away. Now that they’ve gone through this crap and she’s learned how much she needs him, she wants to go with his plan and fake their break-up. Though he has a moment of hurt, Castle almost instantly takes her back.

So Castle and Beckett are back together — hip hip hooray — but one question remains unanswered: why did this happen? Half a season of this storyline and literally nothing was lost or gained. Yeah, Beckett says that she learned about needing Castle, she grew slightly as a person, whatever. I’m not buying it. What has really changed between them? What is different now that they’ve gone through this that wouldn’t be different if they’d gone with Castle’s plan from the beginning? What. Was. The. Point?

On that note, Castle bows out for the calendar year. Will the back half of the season reveal some purpose to this separation? Will Castle and Beckett manage to take down Locksat together? Share your thoughts and theories below!

Castle returns Monday, February 1 at 10pm on ABC.

(Image courtesy of ABC)

Mary Kate Costigan

Contributing Writer, BuddyTV