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Castle - XY - Review: "Dammit Kate, where are you?"

Out with the old, in with new. (But not too much!) “Castle” had a makeover over the summer, some new showrunners, some new cast members, a new job, a new PI Office, and new work relationships. The word to keep in mind with the new season of Castle is definitely “new.”

The show we’ve come to love for 7 years is now out of Andrew Marlowe’s capable hands and the torch has been passed down to two, equally talented, new showrunners: Terence Paul Winter and Alexi Hawley, and it shows. I’m not saying it’s bad, on the contrary, I’m saying it’s different, and after 8 seasons, different is definitely a good thing.

“Exhilarated and frightened, and everything in between.” – Beckett

This is how Beckett feels about her first day on the job as captain, and it’s a pretty accurate description of how I felt going into this 8th season, because I’ve loved this show, and I desperately want to keep on loving it for as long I can. If this episode is any indicator for the rest of the season, it’s going to be amazing. “XY” was dark-ish, it was fast-paced, it was tense and mysterious, a different kind of mysterious. It still had its funny dialogue, its heart-felt scenes, and its romantic moments. Their love story managed to transpire even though the two leads hardly had any screen time together, and proves there doesn't need to be as much. I sincerely hope this is how the rest of the season will be moving forward as the two-parters always have a different feel from the “normal” episodes, but this season's looking incredibly promising, don't you think?

“XY” was the opening episode of the two-parter, and mostly focused on Castle’s point of view, as he searched for his missing wife, and we"ll have to wait until next week to find out the reason behind Beckett’s actions. The episode started, with what I thought was a new format for the show, one where we knew right off the bat who the killer was, as we got to witness a professional hit on a man in the middle of a crowded bar. The new showrunners had hinted at a more character driven and less murder driven season, but little did I know, (After 8 years, I probably should have, though…) that the man wouldn’t be the body they found and the woman wouldn’t be the killer the team would ultimately be looking for, but still the introduction of the murder is differs from how they’ve been doing it for the last seven years. Do you think it will stick?

We were soon reacquainted with our favorite characters, as the episode cuts to the loft, where Kate is getting ready for her first day as Captain. The first thing that popped in my mind at the close-up of Beckett looking at herself in the mirror was “Why is this so dramatic?” Even the music added a sense of eerily drama to the scene, which I didn’t get, yet. In retrospect, her serious stare was probably a mix of nerves and of the problem bubbling behind the scenes with the Attorney General’s Office. Her features did light up when her husband walks into the room, and their interaction proves that Nathan and Stana’s chemistry is still there and well.

“Yeah, you’re great at fetching. I trained you well.” -Beckett

Kate’s new position implies a shift in their working relationship, and I am anxious to see how they will pull it off. Beckett’s comment about fetching coffee was brilliantly delivered, but 23 episodes of Beckett doing paperwork and Castle making her coffee would get long, quite fast. And as this episode proves, the leads don’t have to be actively working together for the show to be great. This season, while Beckett captains the 12th, Castle will go back to working as a PI and one of the biggest changes this season is definitely Alexis, who is a lot more involved than she has ever been. Castle has a awesomely remolded office and, albeit of his knowing, a new partner. His daughter, with school being a breeze, has been closing his files without him realising it. One thing that keeps me up at night is that we still don’t know what she’s studying in. I really want to know! (Anyone? Please? And, how old is she supposed to be? 22-ish?)

As much as everything else seems to have morphed, Ryan and Espo seem pretty much unchanged, in their job and in their relationship with each other, and Ryan is complaining about their lack of moving forward like everyone else, along with their lack of a higher paycheck. They’re still detectives at the 12th, still chasing murders. They’re still partners and still simply them, and only one of them gets to have Beckett’s old desk. Playing knife, gun, Kevlar for it, yielded the funniest quote of the episode, a comedic relief in an otherwise pretty tense episode.

“You fool. You brought a knife to a gun fight.” –Esposito

I feel this episode and this season, will give them more time on their own, more time to shine as the ending scene demonstrated at the end of the episode. We also got to see little bit of Lanie, still the ME, and there was mention of Gates, now Deputy Chief. The only character who’s whereabouts are unknown is Martha. Did she move out?

When the two detectives can’t get a hold of their new Captain, after being called to a scene with three dead bodies in theater in renovation, they call Castle who informs them of her supposed whereabouts at 1PP and he accepts to come out and help them. Soon afterwards, the tables turn and stakes get considerably higher as Beckett’s newly acquired bracelet is found at the crime scene in a puddle of her blood.

From there on out, “XX” was constructed around Castle and his PI Team trying to piece together the reason for Kate keeping them in the dark and trying to locate her, especially after their initial assumption that she was taken hostage is proven wrong, and they learn she is in charge. A lead from one of the dead shooters bring them to, Hayley, a newly introduced character, an ex-cop turned security specialist, who ends up helping Castle. She’ll be a good addition to Castle’s PI team if she stays. She’s sarcastic, she’s ballsy and she’s good at what she does, but she and Castle will get themselves into so much trouble working together. I wonder if Castle would turn out to be “The Reasonable One.” What’s your take on her? I side with Ryan, I love her accent!

“Have you seen the floor? If it’s all the same with you boys, let’s do this standing.” -Hayley

Hayley and Castle work together, while Alexis did her own thing in parallel, and her scene with the paramedic showed how much she’d grown, and how good she was at investigating. Impersonating Clara Stryker, she used her newly acquired skills on how to manipulate men to get them to do what you want them to. The relationship that quickly forged between Hayley and Alexis was great to witness and I absolutely loved how the security specialist pushed Alexis to follow up on her lead and not wait for “the old man.” Hopefully, Alexis and Hayley will get to work together more in the future.

While Hayley and Castle find a storage locker full of weapons, and Hayley gets to wrestles with the hit woman, Alexis uncovers where the taxi dropped Kate and the mystery man off: a prison, Bracken’s prison. Was I the only one disappointed they were going there again, with Senator Bracken? They’ve been there, they’ve done that, and he’s serving life in prison. I thought they had closed this story off with “Veritas,” a perfect ending to the 15 year saga. I’m with Hayley on this one, it’s just too much.

“She’s never going to be happy just being Mrs. Castle. She needs to tilt at windmills. It’s in her DNA, like a moth to a flame. And we all know what happens to the moth in the end.” -Bracken

I might not be 100% on board with Bracken being the ominous bad guy again, but Jack Coleman really does know how to play it. I still really hope Bracken is the red herring on this one, though, and that we really have no clue as to what’s going on, because it would make very little sense for him to want payback on Beckett two years later, and to kill the team she worked with in Washington for a couple of months as a result. It actually makes no sense at all. Right? It’s always a treat when they make allusions to past seasons or episodes, so going back to Rachel McCord made me really happy. I’m excited to see how it all ties up to Beckett’s time in DC. The professional hit has to have something to do with a case they worked when Beckett was still in Washington, right?

Castle isn’t the only one at the prison looking for his wife and he runs into the killer from the club, who shoves a gun to his side (No biggie. Right, Castle?) and takes him to a train track warehouse (?) to interrogate him. They don’t believe Kate could be keeping him in the dark when he tells them he doesn’t know where she is. To get him to open up, the fifth member of the hit squad decides against cutting off fingers or the “wedding vegetables” (Thank god!) and chooses psychological torture instead.

Spiders. Lots of spiders. I’m in no way afraid of spiders, but the scene still sent shivers up my spine. Is torture by spiders really a thing, though? Anyhow, the scene had the desired effect, the visual of it was scary and heightened the stakes even further. (I so hope there will be a behind the scenes with Nathan and the spiders.)

Moments before his execution, freed of the bag spiders, Castle managed to cut himself out of the zip ties and run. With the bad guys hot on his trail shooting at him, Beckett shows up to get him out of trouble. The scene was beautifully edited, added a sense of mystery and confusion, and had a lot of emotion packed into it. It leads to a very brief encounter between husband and wife, but she bolts as soon as she hears the sirens close by. She doesn’t trust the police, doesn’t want to put Castle in harm’s way. From what I get, she still distrusts the system, and we have to wait until next week to find out why.

“Beckett has a reason for keeping quiet. If you love her, you have to trust her.” - Alexis

A scene that deserves mention is the shooting at the precint. It was beautifully played, well executed. After Ryan and Esposito bring the hit woman in for interrogation at the precinct, as she I being transferred, she decides to go out on her own terms. She takes the gun of the officer handling her, and starts shooting up the precinct. This leads to a great moment for Ryan and Esposito, especially Esposito. The moment was action packed and heart-pumping. Esposito, in an intense, heroic way, with Ryan covering him, slides and shoots the woman dead. (I can’t be the only one who’s more stressed out about secondary characters when I watch TV shows? LT is supposed to be fine, by the way.)

The now dead woman had hinted that more than one team was in play, and it wasn't a bluff, and I'm not sure, but isn't the whole hit squad a bit much? All these people out for Beckett and a low level analyst? What in the hell did they do? They better have a good explanation and I’m willing to give the new showrunners the benefit of the doubt, but ever since Castle’s disappearance explanation in “Sleeper” I have somewhat lost faith in the plausible explanations. I will continue on Alexis’ advice: “If you love her, you have to trust her.” So I will trust them.

“You told me I had no idea as to what was going on, and you were right. But now I’ve got the edge of it and I’m going to keep on peeling it back until I know everything.” - Castle

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