After last week’s outstanding episode, the bar was set pretty high for the conclusion of this two part season premiere. Last we saw. Castle had ingested a poisonous aerosol substance and has under a day to live before he meets his doom. I bet Rick is now thinking it was a mistake to pay a surprise visit to Beckett in D.C.! The episode begins with a solid start as Beckett and her new Fed friends try to figure out just how exactly they can save Castle within a ten to twelve hour window. Naturally Castle wants in on the investigation since he is the one that ingested the pathogen. Even when he is told the grim news and how long he has to live, Castle’s signature charm and wit never fail.
The best lead the investigators have to follow is the last words uttered by the special ops soldier who abducted Castle at gunpoint in the first part. “Dreamworld … dreamworld.” On a tip from Esposito up in NYC, the team figures out that Dreamworld is, in fact, a ghost base somewhere overseas. However the secretive nature of the base never materializes beyond mythical status. I always love when Castle is on the clock because it lends a sense of urgency to the always fun drama. However, as I feared, this two-part episode falls a little too deep into a 24–type world. While not nearly as violent, it still reminded me of the Kiefer Sutherland drama. More like 24-light. No matter how tense a Castle episode gets, there is always room for their signature humor which is what makes the show so utterly likable.
The investigation takes Beckett and her new partner Rachel McCord (the terrific Lisa Edelstein) all the way up the chain of command to question the Secretary of Defense. It’s a gamble, but her hunch was right and McCord followed, showing that she has faith in her new partner. I like the tandem of McCord and Beckett and it is a good match when Castle is not around to follow Beckett around like a puppy dog. The show escalates as time begins to run out for Rick and an antidote must be found before it is curtains for him. Naturally we know that our main character and hero is not going to be offed it is still a hell of a lot of fun to watch.
Sadly, the second episode does not have the pop of the first part which jammed every frame with action and cat-and-mouse antics. Part two is light on the action and heavy on investigation and analysis. Upon hearing the recordings that surrounded the Valkyrie operation, it is clear that the Secretary of Defense is the heavy. But, like most political episodes on one hour dramas, the heavy seems to get away unscathed. Castle is no exception. By the time we find out just exactly what Valkyrie is, it already failed to live up to the high expectations I had. That’s not to say that this second part was unwatchable because the characters really do a hell of a job coming through with their performances. Even when Martha’s gut tells her there is something wrong with Richard to Espo and Ryan, she embodies the classic worried mother.
My main concern is that I am not crazy about this NYC and DC thing where they are bouncing back and forth to locales. It feels off and there needs to be some balance as we head into week three. While I like the DC gang enough, it’s just not the NYC supporting cast that we have grown to know and love these past six years. It’s fun and it satiates the Castle jones you get for new episodes, but you can’t help waiting for them all to get back to the city that never sleeps. In the end, good triumphs over evil and the day is saved. But it was too formulaic, especially for a Castle episode. It is a lot of fun but the usual substance is not there. I also noticed the lack of Rick working on a new book, which is always fun because his character always seems a little more interesting as he tries to make real life events with Beckett into grandiose prose. But I really cannot complain. It’s still Castle and it earns a solid “B.”
Den of Geek Rating: 3 Out of 5 Stars