Summary: In the wake of Beckett’s kidnapping, Castle and the team try their hardest to track her down, first falling for a couple of Tyson’s tricks, including a phone call that seems to come from Castle’s loft, and a Beckett lookalike who is killed in front of them. This leads Castle to seemingly go off on his own, tracking Tyson to an old family cabin, though in the end it is revealed that Castle had Esposito and Ryan as backup the whole time, as Espo takes Tyson out from afar. Meanwhile, Nieman tells Beckett that she intends to take her face and nearly begins doing so, until Beckett, who has been slowly working her way out of her restraints, turns the scalpel on Nieman and kills her.
Best Line: “I open my eyes and look at you.” – Castle to Beckett, on how he stops himself from seeing 3XK
Best Scene: Castle gives Esposito the go ahead to shoot Tyson while Beckett takes out Nieman.
My Review: My immediate reaction is that this is my favorite two-parter since season three, which is a big declaration to make. Season five’s is close, but I’m giving this one a little bit of an edge because of how contained it was. There were no trips to Paris or appearances by Castle’s spy dad, which made this episode feel much more grounded. It also helped that there was no threat of city or world-wide destruction; unlike many of the other two-parters, all that was at stake here was Beckett’s life, and trust me, that was more than enough to keep me invested.
Everybody brought their A-game to this episode; the writing, the directing, the music, all were top notch. But I think the most impressive thing for me was Nathan Fillion’s acting. Much like the episodes with Alexis’s kidnapping, he really carried this one, and he made me buy every single emotion in the process. I love seeing the dark side that Castle has when the people he loves are in danger, and that definitely came out in all of his scenes with Tyson, especially the one that led to his own arrest. The scene where he believed that Beckett had been killed in front of him was some of the most heartbreaking work he’s ever done on the show, as he let all of that guilt that Castle has in regards to 3XK (guilt that would have increased exponentially if Beckett were truly dead) show on his face when he collapsed in front of her, trying to hold her face in his hands. I also loved that this episode allowed Castle’s wonderful (and sometimes overlooked) intelligence to shine. There’s no way that they would have found Beckett and taken down Tyson and Nieman if it wasn’t for his understanding of how Tyson’s mind works.
And along with that, Michael Mosley, Annie Wersching, and Stana Katic were all excellent in this episode. While the character of Tyson is controlled, Nieman’s is a bit more unhinged, which makes them the perfect creepy serial killer team, a contrast that was portrayed to perfection by Mosley and Wersching in this episode. I’m happy for Castle and Beckett, but I’m also weirdly sad that we won’t see these two on the show again because they are such great villains. Katic wasn’t in this episode a ton, but she made her scenes count. For her first couple of scenes, she had to rely mostly on her eyes, and the panic that filled them as she took in her surroundings was affecting in and of itself. She also did a great job of expressing Beckett’s rising urgency to escape as Nieman got closer and closer to completing her mission. Her triumphant smile of sorts when she turned the tables on Nieman was earned and so very true to how Becket must have felt in that moment. There was also something haunting about the way that she just slowly turned and looked at Castle upon his entrance, her body language perfectly expressing the shock that it was finally over.
And there was also something special about Castle and Beckett’s interactions in this episode. Even prior to their reunion, things like the way Castle pleaded when he told people that Tyson had his wife; as mentioned, his anguish when he believed that she was dead; his reaction to seeing her strapped to the table; etc. did a great job to emphasize how deep his love for her goes. There was also that lovely moment of mirroring earlier in the ep, where we were reminded that she feels the same way about him, evidenced by the interview that she gave while he was missing. As heartbreaking as it was, it was an appropriate reminder of the similar hell that Beckett went through during that time, even though we didn’t see a lot of it on screen, and even though many of the details are probably unknown to Castle. As he watched, you could see the facets of sadness on his face; on the one hand he was sad simply because it was another dead end in the search for Beckett; but he was also sad because it was another reminder of just how desperate and lonely Beckett must have been during that time.
Their reactions to finally seeing one another after Beckett killed Nieman were perfect. Instead of running to each other and embracing, there was something so sad and moving about the way that they kind of collapsed on one another, as if they realized just how close they had come this time to never seeing one another again. I think that relief also carried over into the next scene, with a very haggard looking Beckett being supported by Castle on her way into the precinct. And the end scene in their bedroom was excellent; I loved the honesty in their conversation, and Castle telling her that he escaped seeing 3XK in his mind by looking at her was just beautiful, and very representative of their relationship. Castle and Beckett have been through hell together and sometimes apart, and the thing that has kept them sane is that happiness that they share together. Always indeed…
Backing up a little bit, I loved the poetry in Castle being the cause of Tyson’s demise and Beckett Nieman’s. Tyson’s affect on Castle has been clear for the last four years, that guilt that he has carried with him after what happened in that hotel always apparent. And Nieman, though a relatively new foe, has had a greater hold on Beckett than anyone else, made clear by her reaction to the song at the end of “Disciple”. So it was rather perfect that Tyson died because Castle outsmarted him (their’s has always been a battle of wits more than physicality, so I don’t mind that Espo was the one to actually pull the trigger) and that Castle did so by surprising Tyson and relying on his friends. I also loved that Beckett, kept at her most vulnerable for most of the episode, took control of her own fate (as she always does) and used Nieman’s own tool against her.
Another aspect of this episode I really enjoyed was Gates’s role in it. Honestly, this may have been my favorite episode ever for her. She’s always so great in episodes where her people are at risk, but it went even further than that in this one. She was Castle’s biggest supporter throughout the hour, and I loved the moments like when she repeated what Beckett had told her about Castle seeing the story, knowing that it was just what he needed to hear. I also really liked the way that she understood why Castle had attacked Tyson, even while explaining to him why it was a bad move. And her relief at seeing Beckett back at the precinct at episode’s end, as well as her (multiple) hugs with Castle was just the icing on the cake. With how inconsistent her characterization has been, is it too much to hope that we never hear her yell “Mr. Castle!” again?
And in that vein, as with pretty much every episode, it wasn’t completely perfect, and these are a few things that bugged me while watching:
-I know it was a very hectic moment, but I would have loved to see Martha and Alexis ask about Kate/express some concern over her whereabouts. It’s totally possible (and I’m actually assuming) that Castle told them off screen, but it’s the kind of thing I would liked to have seen rather than imagined, especially with how much of a family they have become this season.
-The lack of continuity in (criminal) Gates saying that he didn’t have any family, when we know perfectly well that Tyson manipulated him using his sick foster brother.
-The logistics of Nieman “taking” Beckett’s face. It took me out of the moment for a second while I tried to figure out how Nieman intended to attach Beckett’s face to her own, while being the only plastic surgeon around.
-The last scene at the precinct was a little jarring for me. I wish they hadn’t tried to go for comedy at the end there. I think the scene would have had a greater impact if they had just keep it a little more serious, and I also think it would have provided a better connection to that wonderful end scene in the loft. But then, they did have to address Castle being allowed back into the 12th, and there’s no doubt that that needed to be a joyous and (when it comes to Castle and Gates), somewhat humorous moment.
But all things considered, a very strong episode, and a fitting, satisfying conclusion to the long running 3XK/Nieman arc.
Next week we’re off to Mars, which should be a nice comedy reprieve!