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Castle - XX - Review: "Are you f*cking kidding me?"

Honestly, scrap the last 5 minutes of this episode and “XX” was pure genius. Seriously, just rewrite the episode to end right after Vikram asked “Is this really over?” Then cut to the Castles eating their much deserved “Smorelettes” and this review would have been nothing but praise for an otherwise spectacularly gripping episode. I loved the episode, loved the feel of it, loved the pace and the storyline, but the angsty ending undeniably taints my appreciation of this episode. Did we really need that to shake things up? I’m inclined to answer no, but maybe we did, as long as the relationship drama doesn’t become the focus of the show. I like to give the writers the benefit of the doubt, so that’s what I’ll do, but right now, I’m not too happy about where this is headed.

First, let me talk about the rest of the episode, which was positively brilliant, and let’s talk about how totally badass Katherine Beckett was (is) as she and Vikram are hunted for sport by the “zero dark thirty all-stars.” It’s a surprise to no one, really, it’s the way they’ve always portrayed her, the somewhat invincible yet immensely flawed Kate Beckett, but it’s always entertaining to watch.

“Worst thing I thought I was going to have to face was working without Castle.” Did you ever take a step back and look at your life, Kate? You’re a magnet for trouble. The trouble she attracts in “XX” will cause her to add a scar to her already mutilated body, and given the patch up work she did, it’s going to be one hell of a scar. The scene where she was sewing her own wound was positively disgusting but undeniably badass. Man, I could never be a doctor.

“You have stumbled upon something so over your head. I am amazed you’re still alive.” -Bracken

Bracken said it, Rita said it, and everyone is thinking it. Katherine Beckett is one hell of a fighter. Through a fast-paced episode with a very different feel from last week’s dark, mysterious and broody “XY,” “XX” walked us through the happening from Beckett’s perspective in an action-packed and explosive episode and answered every one of last week’s interrogations. The way the episode was constructed was different, and the way the storylines intertwined was beautifully crafted. There was a mixture of Kate explaining to Rita what they had been doing, with scenes of them actually doing it, and there were scenes with the Castle PI team piecing together what had happened. The flow was hygienic, as they jumped from a group of characters to the next, from a timeline to another. The episode, just like the last, shows how the new showrunners are trying to incorporate things from past seasons, and we can see a better continuity in the storyline than we did in the past.

Beckett’s hellish 36 hours was caused by a search she initiated 2 years prior, when she was with the AG, searching for criminality linked to the ex-senator Bracken. A redacted memo sent her old team to their deaths, and caused the pursuit of the NYPD Captain and AG Analyst. The explanation was simple and complex all at once. It seems probable and explainable, which is something that has sometimes been troublesome in this show. Simplicity is always the way to go.

In parallel to Beckett’s adventure, Castle, Alexis and Hayley alongside Ryan and Esposito, are trying to find her, to save her. Hayley came back to help, and we got to see a glimpse at Martha, gone from the first hour of the two-parter, who doesn’t start off a fan of the Brit, and her jokes, but who gets won over by her PI skills and devotion. Who wouldn't?

“If I would have known I could use you as bait, I would have stuck around and followed your kidnappers.” – Hayley

“XX” delivers with a pretty big plot twist as Rita comes to Kate and Vikram’s gunless and vulnerable rescue. Castle’s classified step mom, which I have a feeling will pop back, is also a spy and has been married to Hunt for almost 10 years, whom she hardly sees. We still don’t know much about her, I don’t know if we can really truly trust her yet, but she seems like a decent person. One thing they pointed out was that she’s not CIA. What does that make her? NSA? DOD? And that about sums up my knowledge of three letter American agencies.

The no-nonsense step-mother has been on the trail of the ominous bad guy for quite some time now and hasn’t seen her husband for 9 months. The new big bad, the ominous puppet master, aka Kate’s new nemesis is Bracken’s mystery partner in the CIA. The episode proved to be an important milestone, as it was the end of Bracken, who got murdered in the SHU after talking with Castle. It was time for him to go, he’s done his time. This means, though, that after Kate will be someone much worse than him. She thought she was done with him, but I expected a bigger reaction on her part upon learning of his demise. At that point, Kate had two choices before her, running or staying and fighting.

“I’m sure as hell not going to let anyone chase me away from the life I’ve worked so hard to create.” –Kate Beckett

This is Kate Beckett, so of course she’s going to stay and fight. She’s not going into hiding hoping one day, Rita manages to bring the CIA mole into the light. She’s not leaving her faith into any hands but hers, that’s just how she rolls. She says doesn’t want to leave her life behind, and as she says it, you can definitely feel it, but it seems like she did, though. She let herself indirectly get chased away from her life. She’s kept it at arm’s length, but she still ran away.

As Kate and Vikram try to understand the meaning of Locksat, Team Castle gets their hands on the deadly redacted memo due to the incredibly high quality surveillance cameras of the hotel bar, and also try to understand its meaning. Castle and Beckett have one of their mind melts, finishing each other’s thoughts, from a distance, and both teams find themselves at the hanger at the same time. After 36 hours of running, they’re reunited again. Haley’s reaction at the Castle and Beckett reunited kiss makes it in my top favorite moments of the episode. I really do love the character. Her goodbyes at the end of the episode were just for now, right? Wasn’t she supposed to be a series regular in season 8?

“You were so cool.” -Vikram

Yes, that was incredibly cool even though everyone saw it coming from a mile away. Their whole set up was beautifully executed. Castle and Beckett used their limelight and a fake exclusive interview to draw the hit squad out of the darkness and into Castle’s PI Offices. Ryan and Esposito were hiding in the Chamber of Secrets ready to taser the bad guys. (At the last possible second!) Their plan goes awry when a third man shows up holding Hayley at gun point, and Castle gets to be the hero on that one, as he used the gun from his secret desk compartment. Vikram ‘s reaction was hilariously accurate.The hacker/analyst then manages to crack their phones and leads the team to the AG woman who was helping them on the case. The woman, who killed herself was obviously a patsy for the real treat and an escape from this battle, that Kate chose not to take.

Okay, now for the bomb that got dropped on us at the end of the episode. I’m not sure if they’re going with the motto “Speak about in good, speak about it in bad, but at least speak about it.” If that’s the case, then it worked, and I guess you can see how invested people are in the show by the amount of complaining that’s been going on around the web. I guess a negative reaction is better than no reaction at all. In my case, now that I’ve taken a step back and taken the time to chill, I’m less “WTF” about the ending than I initially was. I mean the actions kind of fit with Kate’s profile, and I’m afraid there was a little bit of truth in what Bracken told Castle. She needs something to be obsessed with. “It’s in her DNA.” I just thought she’d grown out of it.

“Why? What is this obsession in the heart of you? You’re mother’s murder has been avenged.” - Rita

I loved the speech with Castle’s step mom. She was spot on and I thought she was going to sway Kate in the right direction and talk her out of it. She didn’t and now, I need a better explanation as to why Kate has a new obsession, there is always going to be a bad guy, always, why does Kate feel like she has to have the weight of all of his on her shoulders. I absolutely get why she doesn’t want to involve Castle, I just don’t understand why she has to go solve this mystery, why she has to dive back in. Also, putting Castle on the sideline is never a good way to keep him out of it, he investigates alone, and that’s the danger in the situation. Maybe he’ll be so pissed at her that he won’t, maybe that’s what she’s going for.

Does this mean we’ll be pry to a less fun-loving side of Castle? I kind of like darker Castle, so I could live with that for a couple of episodes.

Will Castle go on a destructive rampage with Slaughter? I kind of hope so. (If you’ve seen Nathan’s Instagram, there is hope for that!)

What I really hope we’ll get to see though, is Castle giving Kate a bit of sh*t, he needs to call her out on it. She’s been forgiven way too easily by Castle in the past. I’d kind of love some Dr. Burke marriage counselling, having them just air everything out. I think they need it.

One thing we can’t argue on is Stana’s ability to act the crap out of any scene. That ending was heart-breaking.


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