Summary: Ryan takes center stage this week, as a simple security job with his brother-in-law takes a deadly turn. Meanwhile, with Castle’s support, Kate ponders her next career move.
Best Scene: Kevin’s sister Gwen and her husband Frank reunite after his arrest, and she reassures him that they will get through this together.
Best Line: “When you have a crazy theory, you don’t call the voice of reason.”
My Review: I enjoyed this one overall, and now that we’ve seen both, can say that I liked the Ryan and Espo-focused eps this season, more than say, season five’s, where Ryan’s was entertaining but riddled with plot holes, and Espo’s was sweet, but a little clunky in execution. In contrast, this season I think the writers focused on delivering a taut, tense case first, and then used the case as a way for us to learn a bit more about Kevin and Javi.
Focusing on this episode in particular, I think one of its strongest pieces was the sequence from the beginning of the ep to the shooting, which provided one heck of an introduction to the case. I’m a sucker for the “conclusion first” device because it really ramps up the tension in the scenes that take place beforehand, and in this case, I was on pins and needles waiting to see when the shooting would happen and who would be injured. Taking the time for us to get to know the Senator and his people also contributed to the tension; I felt much more of a connection to them than I do to say, a victim that we see for ten seconds before they’re killed. The fake-out with the man that Ryan took down prior to the shooting also added to the suspense, even though I knew it was a bit early in the evening for the shooting to happen. I did have to groan a bit though, at the “You may find yourself guarding the first Latino president” line that followed. Yeah, it was great that Ryan took Mr. Blood Bottle down, but that doesn’t necessarily mean he’s Secret Service material, especially with one night on the job. It did jive with what the Congressman implied in the limo, but at least there it was done subtly.
Even ignoring how gripping the shooting scene was, the case itself was also very good. It made total sense that their suspect would be from some kind of anti-government group, and I liked the twist that the victim was actually meant to be Carolyn and not the Congressman. Going into this episode, I figured that Ryan’s brother-in-law or sister had to be involved in the shooting somehow, and I wasn’t surprised that he was innocent of the murder, which is similar to what we saw with Gates’ sister last season; involved in something a bit nefarious, but not deadly. It was also really nice that Gwen forgave Frank so easily, especially since it’s not likely that we’ll check in on them anytime soon. Right from the start of the episode, I called the wife as the murderer, so I was pleasantly surprised that she was a last minute red herring, and it was really the chief of staff. That being said, I don’t know that I totally buy her motive; if Carolyn had already suggested that she be fired, would killing her really stop that from happening? I guess I could see it as a revenge murder, but they still kind of played it like she was just worried that she would lose the job that she had worked so hard for.
The case didn’t reveal anything new about Ryan so much as confirm what we already know: that his love for Jenny and Sarah Grace extends to his entire family. It was nice to see the bond that Kevin has with his brother-in-law and I liked that he supported him, even as he was forced to bring him in. And as short as their scene was together, I completely bought Ryan and Gwen as siblings, and would love to see her back on the show so we can learn a bit more about that relationship.
Another aspect of this episode that was really strong was how Castle, Beckett, and Espo each supported Ryan in their own unique way. Ryan texting Castle in the middle of the night to help with the bullet trajectory was perfect; I loved his reasoning for calling Castle instead of Beckett (and the way Beckett was kind of put out for a second was adorable), and he and Castle’s moment of bonding when they figured it out was great. And even though she wasn’t there as they worked it out, Beckett showed her support perfectly when, as the voice of reason, she convinced Gates that their conclusion made sense. One thing I might have liked to see between the two of them (even though it was a vastly different scenario) was a callback to “Recoil”. The scene where Kevin said that something didn’t feel right about the case might have been a nice moment for her to say “Hey, you know I had the same feeling about the assassination attempt with Bracken and it turned out I was right”, instead of Javi just reassuring Ryan that it was fine, as Castle did with Kate in that episode. Speaking of Espo, his role here was the simplest, but also the most effective, as, per usual, he was partner in every sense of the word: reassuring Ryan that it wasn’t his fault, providing backup, and reeling him back in after they caught who they believed to be the shooter.
Even though this was a Ryan-centric episode, they also kind of killed two birds with one stone by having it relate to politics, so that we could make some headway with Beckett’s career aspirations as well. I’m intrigued by the way that the writers are hinting at a couple different outcomes for her, with Beckett herself really only considering becoming a Captain at this point, but Castle (and, as was shown in this episode, random important people outside of the Twelfth), clearly thinking she could also do good elsewhere. I’m curious to see when she’ll start to seriously think about a career in politics, and what position in particular she’ll first consider (she can hardly jump into a Senatorial campaign with no experience, right?). I have no idea what kind of storyline the writers are thinking about if there’s a season eight, but I would kind of love it if they did an election one for her, with Castle supporting her as she campaigned for her first political position. It would be a great way to further her career without changing the format of the show too much; she could easily keep working cases while she campaigned, at least until just before the election. And really, a series finale that showed her winning would be kind of amazing. But again, provided that we get a season eight. Fingers crossed!