This Castle review contains spoilers.
We’re now two episodes into the likely long process of getting to the bottom of the mystery surrounding Richard Castle’s wedding day disappearance in last season’s finale, and yet despite that, there was no skimping this week as the show split its focus nicely. Before we touch on the deeper revelations and the surprising closing moments, though, lets paddle our way back to normal a bit by discussing Beckett’s actual case-of-the-week.
Discovered in New York’s sensational East River by a fit crew team, our victim appeared to have a broken neck and Rick appeared to be delighted to be back on a case. He also seemed surprised to learn that Lanie and Esposito had rekindled their affair thanks to the emotional punch of his disappearance. Who says nothing good came out of Rick’s absence? Frankly, Ryan and Esposito (and Lanie) don’t get nearly enough to do on this show. Hopefully that changes a little now that Esposito is in a relationship again and Ryan is apparently struggling to make ends with a new baby in the picture. Castle isn’t an ensemble, but the supporting cast is talented enough to carry a story that takes place outside of the precinct and their jobs every once in awhile.
Speaking of places that are outside of the precinct and ways to do lackluster segways in the midst of a review, it turns out that Rick and Kate’s victim is actually a toy mogul, allowing Rick to let his hair down a little as he plays with some of the toys that are scattered about at the departed’s offices. According to his wife, the victim was upset about the death of his dog from a few weeks prior and had been putting extra time in at work. According to his assistant, Matt, he was actually being very secretive while repeatedly leaving work early. Lies! Deception! Theatrics!
The evidence eventually points to an apartment and a woman who may be the victim’s lover, but after a nice mis-direct that had us thinking that this was some kind of murder spree, it turned out that the victim was actually living a double life while wearing old-age makeup to play a janitor at his own company. An undertaking done to get to the bottom of a drug smuggling ring at the toy company that had killed his dog after it ingested heroin that had been stuffed in a stuffed toy.
I like the contrast between the victim’s efforts to conceal his double life and Rick’s journey to reverse engineer his own. Tonally, they couldn’t have paired Rick’s hunt with a better case but there’s also enough distance to not make the effort feel forced.
As for Rick, he starts the episode on a talk show where he tries to discuss his latest novel. Unfortunately for Rick, the host only wants to talk about his disappearance and its effect on his relationship with Beckett. Frustrated by the growing idea that this may have all been a publicity stunt and still frazzled from the whys behind his disappearing act, Rick puts out a challenge to anyone with information leading to the capture of his kidnappers and attaches a $250,000 reward. Unsurprisingly, the idea initially backfires before bringing Rick to cosmopolitan Montreal and a safety deposit box that contains three memory cards with goodbye messages from Rick to his loved ones.
At the precinct, magical police computer things (because, c’mon. Also, Castle has the dullest tech geek lady in all of television. NCIS Abby would be ashamed to call Torie her peer) are unleashed to determine the location of the skyline view that was outside of the window when Rick recorded the messages on the memory cards. Predictably, the search is successful, giving a Rick an address, which he promptly goes to without telling Kate.
That reckless streak isn’t really accounted for or called for. It’s easy to see that Rick “needs answers” as Kate says, but after putting Martha, Alexis and Kate through so much for two months, it’s unconscionable that he’d risk doing it again and Rick is smart enough to know that he’s poking around in places that could get him into more trouble.
Once in Montreal, Rick finds the not real Henry Jenkins (Matt Letscher), who points a gun at him and tells him to stop searching because he might find the truth. Apparently, according to fraudulent Jenkins, it’s actually Rick who was behind his own amnesia because he didn’t want to remember… something.
“Some mysteries aren’t to be solved,” Fake Jenkins says, telling Rick to go home and live his life. “It’s what you wanted,” says Faux Jenkins after proving Rick’s past faith in him by bringing up some kind of mysterious and life-changing incident that occurred to Rick when he was an 11 year old in Hollander’s Woods.
So, will Rick take Not Jenkins’ advice and let it go, or will he continue to try and solve the mystery? At this point, I’m not sure. Rick certainly seems ready to get on with his life when he suggests a quickie wedding ceremony to Kate, but it all feels too easy. Especially with the mention of Hollander’s woods, which is the kind of juicy backstory item that never gets left on the table. With that said, though, the show has to pull back from the chase a little to fully get back into the swing of things. For one thing, they could never maintain this pace if they mean to suck on the marrow of this mystery for awhile. For another, that’s how they always pursued Kate’s mother’s case — in the background.
This episode and it’s conclusion found a way to put the show in a place where that is a perfectly acceptable move while also adding some texture to this now that we know that Rick’s boyhood is involved in some way. While the mystery should be left in a closet for a couple of episodes, I hope and expect that we will get to see more of the impact from this entire thing on Rick and Kate’s relationship. Her vent to Lanie seems to only be the tip of the ice-berg and these end-episode rap sessions aren’t showing us the real heft of Kate’s emotional burden.
It seems as though she wants to protect Rick from knowing that he broke her heart, but while it’s not his fault, you have to wonder if the belief that he asked for this may lead Kate to blame him in some way anyway. If that happens, will you blame her? It’s a tough question, I’m not sure that I would. Rick is a victim but he may also be the perpetrator — that’s a lot to handle for everyone.