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Castle - At Close Range - Review:"It's Ryan Time!"

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"You know what time it is? It's Ryan time."

“At Close Range” dove into the world of politics in a Ryan-centric episode, which was visually superb. In an episode where a conspiracy really was afoot, Ryan worked at piecing together the assassination attempt from memory.

“At Close Range” proved that the show didn’t have to be all about Castle and Beckett; that the cast and crew could deliver something equally great, when showcasing the other characters, often taken for granted. The episode had a different feel to it, without it being over the top, and restrained from diverging from its roots that much. The episode stayed true to its basics, about solving a murder. “At Close Range” was perfectly executed, storyline, character and acting wise.

The episode started out, with a blood-covered, angry Ryan, crashing his fist in a mirror. We were then brought back, to 6 hours before it, with the gang coming back from a boring Crime Stat Presentation. A presentation the boys conned Castle into coming, promising an interesting research opportunity. I love the idea of them, at the precinct, even when there isn’t a murder to solve, and enjoy the fact that the boys thought Castle should endure the less glamourous aspects of the job, just like the rest of them. I absolutely adore this cast's chemistry.

Their evening meant to continue at the Old Haunt, with drinks, on Esposito, is cut short by the mention of Ryan heading off, working a security gig. It was mentioned, in the beginning of this series’ seventh season, that his NYPD salary alone wasn’t enough to support his wife and daughter. The only thing missing, to have made this episode better, was an appearance from Jenny and Sarah Grace, in the usual Castle and Beckett at the loft type of scene.

It’s not the Pope, not the Dalai Lama, but Ryan is moonlighting as a security guard and he is tasked with protecting a an important person. The identity of his protégé is on the hush, hush and Ryan can’t even tell his friends who it is. It isn’t a member form One Direction either. I’m not that surprised that Esposito is New Directions fan, more so, though, that he openly admits it.

It was great to see Ryan in action, in this one, and not the butt of the joke. Don’t get me wrong, I love the comedic relief, the mini-Castle type character, and Seamus plays it brilliantly, but I also love seeing the competent police cop in him, love seeing the more serious and involved side of his character, and loved seeing the range of emotion Seamus can pull off.

The low threat event, turns into a high threat event when a shooting takes place on Ryan’s watch, as he was tasked with protecting the congressman. The suspect flees the scene, and manages to get away from Ryan.

The shooting soon becomes a homicide case, when the woman standing with congressman during the shooting, dies during surgery. Beckett catches the case and in her phone call to Ryan, the sentiment of camaraderie, of friendship, transpired through, as she called him Kev (twice!). She calls him by his first name, reserved for moments such as these, and in this small detail, we could feel how much she cares for him. It’s usually the other way around, since she and Castle have a way of finding trouble. Esposito and Ryan are always there for her, following her hunches, helping on the cases where she gets too involved, where she buries herself too deeply. It’s Ryan’s turn, and she’s there for him.

But it’s not just Beckett, they’re all there for him, in their own way, and when he needs to be alone, they can understand that too, and I found it beautiful.

“Hey, bro. We’re gonna get this guy.” -Esposito

Ryan feels guilty for letting it happen, and won’t rest easy until they catch who’s behind the murder. Even after catching the suspect, the man who fled the scene, who had motive, even when all the evidence points to him, Ryan still feels something is off, feels they are still missing something.

There’s something wrong with the story, something that doesn’t make sense and what Ryan needed was not a good night’s sleep, but a night of crazy theories, with the king himself. Ryan’s sleepless night brings him to text Castle, not Beckett, the voice of reason, with his doubts, with his theorising. Of course, Castle comes to Ryan’s aide, it’s what he does, and he does it so well.

They follow his hunch, together, and Castle and mini-Castle call Beckett, after determining they’ve got the wrong guy, who, in turns convinces Gates they should look into other people.

“We got the wrong guy.” -Castle

Chambers was set up to be the fall guy, and ballistics confirms he could not have been the shooter from his vantage point. Ryan takes another run at the guy, and plays into the his paranoia. He gets him to tell him what he knows, to spill which lead to incriminating evident on Ryan’s brother in law, Frank, but honestly, I’m pretty sure we all expected him to be involved somehow.

It seems everyone in the team is waging a war against their own internal struggles, questioning their future and careers. Like Beckett last week with Zhuang, it was easy to see the struggle in Ryan, as his sister’s husband explains how easy it is since he retired from the force, how more stable his life and finances got after starting his security company, even offering him a permanent spot in his company. But once again, the perfect balance, the perfect professional, and personal life is a front. Ryan’s struggle isn’t the same as Beckett, but they feel alike nonetheless, trying to attain an unachievable ideal.

And once again, once the mask is off, reality is a lot less pretty than described, and Frank was getting money on the side, to give illegal access to events, but he’s no murderer and manages to point the team in the direction of the murderer, and ultimately at the congressman’s counsellor. I have to say Castle’s face when the Senator’s wife tells him and Beckett she was with another woman was golden.

“Backstabbing, adultery and betrayal. That is why I hate politics. Representatives of the people should be honorable. They should be trustworthy.” -Beckett

In last week’s episode, Beckett was searching for another mountain to climb. “At Close Range” seemed to be hinting at a political career for Beckett. She’s going to take the Captain exam, it’s the next logical step, but I feel like they’re setting her up for something even bigger. This episode had her talking about making a difference, about how politics are corrupted, how she hates them, but at the back of my mind I’m still thinking, “Richard Castle lives in New York with his wife Senator Beckett and their three kids.”

This made even more sense as the politician mentioned her outstanding reputation which caught the attention of the people in his line of work. Could this be the future she’s hinting towards, is it the next step?

Side Note: After this episode, and the whole season 8 contract debacle. I have concluded I am invested enough in Ryan’s character, enjoy his quirks enough, that I would still watch the show if he was the center of more episodes, and Beckett and Castle were sidelined, though still there. This way, Nathan could have his four day week, or what not. Regarding Seamus’ pretty pessimist tweet regarding the fate of the show, it seems like he definitely wants the show to come back. I would watch a Ryan Spinoff if it all came down to that.

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