This review contains spoilers if you haven’t yet seen the episode.
It feels like it’s been a long time coming, but finally, Castle returned to our screens this week. And the episode started off strong with Richard Castle (the mighty Nathan Fillion) running through a warehouse of some kind, glass shattering everywhere, gun in hand.
He runs into a disorienting hall of mirrors where we are treated to a shot of dozens of Nathan Fillions reflected over and over again. It’s classic Castle, made even more suspenseful since we don’t know what’s going on. Kate Beckett appears, and they face off, guns loaded and ready, and so the episode begins as the audience gets hit with a frustrating but exciting “Three Days Earlier.”
When we left off last season, Castle had left for the Hamptons with his ex-wife/publisher, leaving Beckett right before she confesses her feelings (it was very stressful for fans). Here, we see Beckett, Esposito, and Ryan in the precinct talking about their missing friend Castle.
I was as surprised as they were to hear that Castle hadn’t yet returned to work with them, even though he had promised to in the fall. Beckett is visibly upset, and Ryan and Esposito were hurt, both for themselves and for their partner. They all seemed a bit listless and lost without him, which, while sweet and funny, felt a bit out of character.
I guess I hadn’t realized how Castle affected everyone in the precinct. Apparently Castle didn’t realize it either, because later he seems genuinely surprised when they’re angry with him. The first dead body is discovered and we get to see the charming Lanie Parish, who also questions Beckett about Castle. (An interesting note, all of the female characters have let their hair grow longer, and they look fabulous.)The plot thickens as they follow a lead to another house, where the second dead body is discovered, along with Castle standing over the body with a gun. Surprise!
The team reacts very appropriately by taking Castle into custody, handcuffs (and shots fired) and all. Personally, I was glad they hadn’t just let it go because they know him. Castle is questioned and, of course, released when the gun in his hand was found to be a different caliber than the wounds found on the victim.
This wasn’t a surprise: if Castle had been found to be the killer, there would be no more show, so the suspense wasn’t really there. Castle and Beckett share some really close moments, though, proving that their chemistry is still in full force. Thank goodness.
So then. Beckett makes Castle leave because one of the victims was a friend of Castle’s (plus she’s still angry). Castle, of course, can’t let anything go and follows a lead all on his own and stumbles upon a third body right before Beckett does. He’s found with the body (again) and is taken in (again). The fact that this happened twice is hilarious rather than repetitive, and the parallels there are so clever. He strikes a deal with Beckett: if he can find out the connections between the victims, he gets to stay, but if she finds it first, he has to go away forever.
This was the one bit that really bothered me, because obviously he’s not going away forever, it’s only the first episode! He has to win the bet, or if he doesn’t, then she would let him back anyways, so it seems a silly wager, at least to me.
The connection is found, in a…strip club. It’s a bit of a stretch, but once they explain it, the connection is clear. The underlying story here is clearly deeper than anyone expected, and some major scandals are revealed in typical Castle fashion, but of course missing one crucial detail. As the climax of the episode approaches, we get a marvelous scene where Beckett and Castle fire thoughts back and forth, faster and faster until they reach the same conclusion at the same time.
They chase down the killers, the only two people who connect the three victims. Beckett gives Castle her gun (which is a bit unbelievable, she is too professional for that, I guess she really cares) then we see the scene from the beginning with the dozens of Castles and shattering glass, then Beckett and Castle are face to face, gun to gun. Even though I knew that they would never shoot each other, I still felt a moment of fear as they both pulled the trigger at the same time. Of course they shot the killers, one behind Castle and the other behind Beckett, and the case is solved. Things go back to normal, complete with coffee and a roguish smile.
Throughout the episode, there is, of course, the tiny parallel subplot starring Alexis, Castle’s sweet-faced daughter who is back from her Princeton summer program and misses her summer fling. The similarities between father’s and daughter’s situations are very obvious and a bit cheesy, but both end up right in the end, and that’s what matters.
All in all, a very strong opening to a promising season. And there’s more than enough here to get me looking forward to next week’s show!