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Castle - Castle, P.I. - Review:"They're baaack!"

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Captain Victoria Gates dropped a bombshell in “Castle’s” last episode before the holiday hiatus, when she informed Castle, that due to his involvement with the mob, he would no longer be allowed to shadow Detective Beckett in her investigations. We’ve had to wait until 2015 to see how this announcement was going to affect our favorite crime-solving couple, in an episode that felt light and fresh, and well worth the wait.

Castle hasn’t been very productive during our time apart. Prior to this case, he was even having trouble finding the motivation to put pants on, now that he’d been stripped of his honorary title on the police force. He manages to get his mojo back when, without telling anyone, least of all his wife; he gets his PI licence and an office to go with it.

Oddly enough, (or not!) he finds himself at Beckett’s crime scene, and the episode has them working the same case, as Castle conducts his own parallel investigation. It’s an attempt for Castle, to get back into the crime-solving business, to get back to working with Kate, to spend time with her, and for the writers, it’s an attempt to bring back the couple’s old dynamic and banters, way back when Beckett had to pretend she didn’t like having him around. And they did a pretty good job at it, though it can’t be a permanent solution, because this arrangement could get old fast. How many times can PI Castle and NYPD Beckett work the same case side by side, in opposing teams, before it starts to feel forced? Not that much, I fear. But, for a few episodes, I think they could render me interested in this type of dynamic between the leads.

“Welcome to Richard Castle Investigations!”

The murder, this week, is of an admission’s director in a prestigious pre-school, found shot dead, in her apartment. Castle surprises everyone when he shows up at the crime scene unannounced, with a piece of paper stating he’s now a PI as the only explanation necessary. Though she can’t help him, on the Captain’s orders, Beckett doesn’t do much to stop him, but really what could she do? It’s Castle here. She also feels a little bit sorry for him, that he has do all this, jump through all these hoops to spend time with her. Would she have spared his feelings back in the day?

Beckett thinks it will be harmless, something that will help him pass the time, a reason to put pants on the morning. She thinks that without the resources the NYPD has to offer, he can’t get himself in too much trouble, but really, does she know her husband, at all?

“Harmless? This is Castle we’re talking about.” - Esposito

And Esposito is right. Castle is proving himself more knowledgeable than anyone could have imagined, when without any ‘legal’ resources, he keeps showing up, always a tad before Beckett and the boys, to the people, the locations, related to their victim and to the crime they’re investigating. And that’s scary, because maybe, just maybe, he’ll solve the murder before them, and then, they’d never hear the end of it. Never.

Just like in the olden days, Alexis is there to cheer on her father, to help him in his investigation, attesting once more, this episode’s mandate, to bring back the feeling I had from watching the earlier seasons. I was always a big fan of the relationship between father and daughter, the Little and Big Castle dynamic, and it’s been lacking, now that Alexis is all grown up, in college, and that Castle has Beckett. I’m happy to see their bond, light and cheery, remains unsevered.

“Did I tell you I got pepper sprayed today?” –Castle
“You say like it’s a good thing.” – Alexis

My favorite scene of the episode goes out to the one where Beckett and the boys are on one side of the conversation, the boys doing a poor job at remaining hidden, and Castle and Alexis are on the other side of the line, Alexis not making her presence known, in an extremely, purposefully awkward conversation between husband and wife. It wasn’t the funniest, but it’s the one that made me smile, smile in recollection of how good this show could be, how it used to be. Not that I haven’t been enjoying the seventh season, because believe me I have, but this scene was for me a reminder of how the show entitled “Castle,” isn’t all about Castle, or even Beckett, but also about the characters around them, with them. I feel I’d lost that, felt I didn’t care for the others. (Except for Ryan, mildly.) But in that moment I loved them all, loved their whole extended, unconventional family of friends, and that’s why I loved that scene, because it made the secondary characters loveable again.

The case quickly becomes Beckett and the guys, against Castle and his wits, because they can’t have this happen, can’t have Castle solve the case before them, their reputations are on the line, and Castle’s circling above them, and that’s scary. They won’t put anything past him, they can’t, and as things must, the murder investigation turns into a competition.

Castle and Beckett, on their respective sides, get stuck midway through the investigation, and both believe the answer to their troubles lies in whatever the other is hiding.

Beckett is on an incredibly unsubtle detecting quest, trying to uncover the information Castle is not sharing with her, and he quickly sees through her game. Come on Beckett, who wouldn’t have? You’re better than that! Castle tries his hand at getting his wife to tell him what she knows, firstly by trying to appeal to the once rebellious Kbecks that still lies inside her, then by appealing to her compassion, to her need for justice, and he knows her well, because it works. When it’s clear none of them will reveal what they know with nothing in exchange, they agree to trade the information they have.

And after an intense session of “theorizing,” the case can, once more, start moving forward. Seriously, is this the biggest amount of not so subtle sexual innuendos we’ve had in an episode of “Castle”?

Shana, the victim, was conducting an investigation of her own about the murder, 15 years ago, about the murder of her college boyfriend, and I’m going to let slide that there is no way that Beckett and the boys couldn’t have figured it out without Castle’s help.

After finding the editor of the school paper, that edited a story on the murder, after proving that the man Beckett had in the interrogation, their primary suspect could in no way have been in Shana’s apartment, that the prosecutor was being framed, Castle merits a place in front of the murder board with his wife and friends. Or so he thinks, but Gates isn’t so forgiving, but really it’s not her fault, she’s just enforcing the directives she’s got. He can’t be in the precinct, can’t be helping on the case, however useful he proves himself to be.

Castle thus finds himself back at the office, alone, with no one to theorize with, leading to a scene which was a strong contender for my favorite portion of the episode, as Castle, 40’s style PI, voices over his sorrows, a soundtrack to his thoughts, reminiscent of “The Blue Butterfly” one of my favorite Castle episodes. (I’m probably the only one on that one. I didn’t particularly like it the first time around, but rewatching it, I found myself loving it more and more every time.) Even Beckett’s voice, when she made herself known in the room, reminded me of the voice he took in that episode, deep and sexy.

Together, because that’s how it should be, Castle and Beckett arrest the true killer, and in that moment, you know, Kate’s really okay with what Castle is doing, that she’s happy that he’s happy, that she’s proud of him and that she’s behind him, supporting him on the whole PI venture, given he finds himself real clients. To show him, and because she married a kid, she ends the episode with a gift, a goofy, Castle themed gift, of a magnifying glass and a Detective hat.

There’s one party that will never be fine with Castle barging in on a crime scene. Castle’s PI stunt surprises everyone, most of all the ME who doesn’t particularly hold him in his heart. The episode is the return of Perlmutter, as the ME on this case, and his presence adds a fun dynamic to “Castle, P.I.” And it begs one question, where has he been all this time? When did we last see him? Okay, I know that makes two, but they really need to make more use of him, because his interactions with Castle felt like a treat in this episode that was already great to begin with. His exasperated reactions, his fights and let’s say it, his banters. Because Castle and Beckett, in a loving relationship, will never manage to recreate the feeling of exasperation Beckett portrayed in the first season, but Perlmutter certainly can, and he proved it, first at the crime scene, then in the hilarious scene at the morgue.

It’s pretty safe for you to assume I loved the episode, because I did, and there’s really nothing left to add.

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