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Castle - Backstabber - Review + POLL: "Hayley"

Bar a couple of exceptions, Season 8 of ABC's Castle hasn't spent a lot of time developing new series regular Toks Olagundoye's character, Hayley Shipton. That all changed in tonight's episode, however, with Hayley becoming deeply involved in the murder of two of her colleagues from her MI6 days. "Backstabber" was written by Robert Bella and was directed by Jessica Yu.

The hour kicked off with Hayley taking on a one-off favor entering the premises of Manchester Energy with fellow spook Marcus Janek. Tasked with uploading some spyware onto an employee's computer the stealthy duo were interrupted by another drunk employee and a woman he picked up at a bar.

Not wanting to hang around and watch the sexy shenanigans unlike the rather sleazy Marcus, Hayley decamped, leaving Marcus there, unaware that it was the final time she would see him alive.

Why do I feel like a murder just saved my life?

In the Castle household Kate and Rick shared some humorous morning banter just like we've seen many times before. Martha appeared just the once as she showed Hayley and Alexis her refined autograph for her new book. The changes were lost among her audience, but her son arrived right on cue and understood the point of the changes right away. Nathan Fillion has always had a unique way of conveying this sort of humor to the audience and he was on point throughout tonight.

As teased in the episode's promo, Hayley talks Rick into letting her ride along to the morning's crime scene upon hearing that a body was found in the very building she spent part of the prior evening in. While Ryan and Esposito joked with Hayley at Rick's expense, Hayley had other things on her mind and quickly set about attempting to cover up her role in the murder of Marcus. That started when she intentionally fumbled a tin of mints which had her fingerprints on it, nullifying its use in the case.

All you need to know is code 44.

The pretend fun and games came to and games came to an abrupt end for Hayley when she received a call from her other colleague, Bryce Robert, notifying her that the job was a trap and they were now being targeted. She excused herself from the crime scene and rushed to her apartment where she took an axe to the floorboards to retrieve a go bag. Alexis got a rude shock when she let herself into the apartment while Hayley was doing this and found herself thrown onto the floor.

Fortunately the creative team made good use of the strengthening bond between Hayley and Alexis to unveil more about the story. Alexis also talked Hayley out of fleeing immediately and to make use of her connections at the 12th instead. Rick quickly picked up on the fact that something was wrong with Hayley, and the truth was revealed to his wife when she found Hayley waterboarding Ned Werner who entered the Manchester Energy office when she and Marcus were there. In a hilarious moment a short time later, Rick used his rather intimate knowledge of corsets to help identify the woman who accompanied him, known as Karla. That moment is sure to go down as one of the series' more bizarre and unusual moments in the 8 seasons on air.

The case continued to pick up momentum when Hayley's other colleague involved in the bad job was killed in identical fashion to Marcus. An MI6 agent also warned Rick of the danger Hayley would pose to him and his daughter. Karla was tracked down and interviewed by the team which revealed that she was hired by the deceased Marcus to lure Ned into allowing malware into the company network which was used to cut the power to the city of London.

As far as storytelling goes, this development probably wasn't as good as it should have been, but with Hayley and MI6 originating from the UK the creative team had to connect everything to the UK in some way or another. The creative team were obviously trying to run with the legitimate concern in this day and age that hackers could disable vast utility networks causing untold chaos but the episode failed to delve remotely deep enough to make this wash with me. Targeting a particular electricity generation plant or substation wouldn't have been that much better but it would have been far less ridiculous than just flicking the switch on one of the world's largest cities.

Moving right along nonetheless. Hayley managed to identify some of the code used in the malware which switched off London as coming from her own hand as well as that of a supposedly dead former colleague, Wesley Connors, now the prime suspect in the two murders thus far. The hunt was on, with Hayley predictably going AWOL on her own mission to locate Connors. Inevitably she found herself in deep trouble and mere seconds away from death when Ryan, Esposito and Rick burst in just in time to scare Connors off. Moments later, Hayley was forced to kill Connors herself, bringing an end to the episode's case, which had a higher than usual body count.

I say piss off mate.

As always, the episode closed out on good terms. Kate took her two detectives to a bar for a drink while Rick and Alexis consoled Hayley on the rough day she had endured. An MI6 agent even called by to offer Hayley a position with the agency, but Hayley wasn't having any of that. However the best was yet to come when Kate arrived home to see Rick's incredible present for his wife. Without her knowing, he had Kate's old motorcycle refurbished and presented it to her in its new-found glory. He acknowledged that Kate had undergone significant changes in her life recently, including moving out of her apartment, getting married, and becoming captain of the 12th. Going one better, he suggested Kate take the motorcycle on a cross country tour, and he even bought his own bike and got his license so he could join her.

For longtime Castle fans of the series who have endured a bit of a rough season here and there, this was a pretty special moment to end tonight's episode. It's been years since Kate's love of motorcycles was last mentioned, and in addition to this bit of continuity it was great to see Rick and Kate further deepening their bond. As the season nears its ending on May 16 there's little doubt that things will heat up concerning some of the long running story arcs, and Rick and Kate will need to rely heavily on each other to get through it intact.

In all, it was good to see some focus and depth given to Hayley in this episode. The case was reasonably well constructed and kept me interested in it for its duration, even though flicking the power off to London was a bit far-fetched for my liking. Rick and Kate's strengthening bond is ultimately what I'll take away from this episode though - this episode was better than most in that regard.

Thanks as always for reading! The poll is below for you to let us know what you thought of tonight's episode, and don't forget to leave your thoughts and theories in the comments section below. I'm looking forward to next week's episode - the synopsis sounds pretty interesting. You can check out the press release, promotional photos and episode promo here.

About the Author - Jimmy Ryan
Jimmy Ryan lives in New Zealand, and works in the IT industry. He is an avid follower of drama television and has a keen interest for television ratings and statistics. Some of his favorite shows right now are Person of Interest, Scandal, House of Cards, Orphan Black, Mr. Robot, Suits, The 100, How To Get Away With Murder, Elementary and Castle. You can visit his television ratings website, www.seriesmonitor.com or follow him on Twitter, @SeriesMonitor.
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