Castle, Season 5, Episode 16: Hunt: Save Alexis Part II, Review

Castle wraps up the two part "Save Alexis" arc in spectacular fashion. Nathan Fillion AND James Brolin . . .

 OK this was definitely the best two-parter that I’ve seen in a very long time. The “Save Alexis” arc on Castle really put the show into the stratosphere. Like anything on TV, we watch to escape our monotonous daily lives. Work, school, kids, family, repeat over and over again. Sometimes our only respite is to kick back and let our television shows do exactly what they are meant to do. This week’s wrap-up of “Save Alexis” may just have restored my faith in Network television.

After the Skype call from Alexis last week we know that she is in Paris, being held against her will. Both Castle and the El-Masri families are at the 12th Precinct along with Beckett and FBI Agent Harris. A sketch of a man who was in the vicinity of the farmhouse, where the Feds originally believed the girls to be located, is passed around by Harris but no one seems to recognize the man. That is to say that none of the fictitious TV characters recognized the man in the sketch. However, I recognized him. Are you intrigued? You’re darn right you are you wacky Castle lovers! The El-Masri’s are able to speak with the overseas bad guys and reach an accord to release their daughter. Since the El-Masri’ s are a wealthy Egyptian family with worldly enemies, the presumption is that Alexis was just in the wrong place at the wrong time. When an exchange is set up in France, Castle, the El-Masri’s and company are watching everything via remote video. After the exchange of Sara and the money, the terrorists drive away. No Alexis.

Distraught, Castle leaves the precinct telling Beckett that he wants to tell Martha what is going on alone. Rejected, Beckett is toiling away for hours on the case looking for clues from frames of the Skype call. After some gentle nudging from Esposito, Beckett goes to Castle’s loft to find Martha and just the FBI Agents; no Castle. Martha calls his cell and sure enough he is in Paris. He is ready to do whatever it takes to get Alexis back in a foreign land using whatever channels he can. Castle has officially gone rogue. Nice!

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He quickly meets with his old friend Gaston, an advisor to the French Minister of Defense. Gaston helped Rick on some of his Derrick Storm novels and he once told Castle tales of a man who was hired by the French when they needed something done unofficially. Gaston iterates to Castle that this is not one of his books, but Castle’s determination to find Alexis is growing by the minute. Gaston sets up a meeting with Henri, a French expat who specializes in covert ops. He brings Castle to the underground lair of “The Mole,” a blind Frenchman able to analyze Alexis’ Skype call using auditory clues no one else can find. The Mole is like Daredevil without the skin-tight unitard. Henri and Castle follow a lead from The Mole and investigate the room Alexis called from. Henri spots a bug behind the wallpaper in the dilapidated room that the kidnappers have been using. Henri talks directly into the bug telling them that if they are smart, they know who they are talking to and they will call toute suite. The phone rings and Henri is able to work out a negotiation meet. Henri does not want Castle to come and pleads with him to get some sleep as he has been running himself ragged being awake for over two days.

The Mole assures Castle that Henri always comes through and just then, the mercenary arrives with proof of life for Alexis; a picture of her holding that day’s newspaper as well as the amount of money the kidnappers want. Henri and Castle drive into the Fontainebleau forest area of Paris to make the exchange. But as Castle exits the car and sees the kidnappers in masks and no Alexis, he knows something is up. Just then he feels the barrel of Henri’s gun against the back of his head. Confused, Castle asks why he would set him up and Henri explains that if he had known who kidnapped Alexis he never would have taken the job. On his knees, the masked men are about to shoot Castle when shots ring out taking out the three kidnappers and Henri. The man from the sketch has just taken out all four of them with precision accuracy.

Castle and the mysterious shooter (who identifies himself only as Jackson Hunt) drive back to a safe house in Paris. Upon entering, Castle notices the wall is filled with pictures of Alexis from her entire life from infancy on. Rick is taken aback and demands answers. Was he hired by the El-Masri’s? The government? He wants to know who hired him and why Alexis was taken. Castle’s cell phone rings and the man on the other end of the phone demands to speak to Hunt. He is an ex-KGB Russian known only as Volkov who Hunt put away years ago before escaping from prison. Oh, and Hunt was forced to kill Volkov’s wife. Alexis is being held in a cage-like structure at Volkov’s compound and he wants Hunt there the next morning. After hanging up, he explains to Castle that he got sloppy; that somehow they figured it out. They discovered that Alexis is his Granddaughter. That’s right folks; James Brolin is Castle’s father: CIA spook.

They discuss the past briefly and unbeknownst to Castle, Hunt (obviously a fake name) has made cameo appearances throughout Rick’s life. A few seasons back Castle talked about Casino Royale and how it was the book that made him want to be a writer. It was Hunt who approached a ten-year old Castle in an NYC library and gave him the book all those years ago. The spy had been keeping tabs on Martha, Rick and Alexis all this time. Hunt has read all of Castle’s novels and even greased the wheels to get him some key information for his book plots. Hunt has a plan and jabs his son with “you’ve been playing cop for years, are you ready to play spy?” So cool. Brolin rocks.

The finale is too good to spoil and it plays out far better than Taken 2. The op plays all sorts of fun tricks on the viewer and I watched it a few times to pick up what I missed. For Castle nuts like me, the show could end tomorrow and I would be satisfied with “Save Alexis” as an ending. When Castle and Alexis return to New York City to the waiting arms of Martha and Beckett, I was overwhelmed with the well constructed happy ending. An overnight package that arrived earlier in the day is on the counter for Castle. Inside is a copy of Casino Royale and nothing else. He lovingly looks up at Martha and says, “Mom, there is something I want to tell you.” Aaaand scene.

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This was the perfect end to the very tense two-part episode. Castle has learned a great deal about himself and when he pushes Hunt for information wanting to make up for lost time, the veteran spy sticks to his code of silence. It is remarkably sad as Castle has never expressed much concern or worry over just who exactly his father was. Now that he knows, he wants to know it all. Martha has always been secretive about her one-night liaison never even hinting to Rick just who the mystery man in her life really was. In my opinion, it was worth the wait.