Review: Castle 8.09

Welcome back, Castle fans! The winter hiatus is finally over, which means it’s time to talk about the first ep of 2016. This probably comes as no surprise (given my feelings on the first half of the season), but I was nervous about this one. I heard a lot of chatter about it being a return to form for the show, but I was definitely hesitant about getting my hopes up. Luckily, I agree that it was a return to something better than what we’ve seen so far this season, though I don’t know that it was to the form we know and love.

First up, the case. I thought this one was great, one of their strongest in awhile, actually. It had enough twists to keep me guessing, and what’s more, each one felt purposeful rather than random. The connection to Robyn’s arrest was one of those twists that I probably should have predicted but totally missed. Same goes for the husband murdering her on his wife’s behalf, though I did figure out early on that both knew more than they were letting on. The mysterious benefactors are hardly ever in it for the right reasons…

The Martha connection made this one feel more personal than the average case, and it was great that we got a look at her theatre life, even if it was for a depressing reason. I was laughing a little (just a little, I’m not a total monster!), at Martha’s increasing attachment to the victim, though. At the beginning she said she’d only met Robyn once, and by the end it felt like she was waxing poetic about what a great person she was, but I think that bit, along with her sweet moment with the Aca-Cons at the end of the hour, was more about showing Martha’s inherent kindness towards others than anything else, and it’s always nice to be reminded of that.

Finally, that extra fun acapella element. I love that the show really committed to this aspect of the case, even hilariously changing the theme song and musical cues to acapella versions. The riff-off discovery was an example of one of my very favorite Castle bits: turning a scene that’s about to get real dark into something totally innocent. That’s basically the tone of the show in a nutshell, which is why those moments work so well. I also liked that Alexis tagged along there; the expanded roles for both she and Martha have easily been the best part of this season, and this episode was another example of both characters being used well. And then of course, the acapella context allowed for that epic, epic Espo song-intimidation, which I’m pretty sure has ruined all future suspect interactions for me. Kudos to Jon Huertas for that, because it may go down as my favorite Esposito moment of all time.

So yes, the case was definitely a return to form for me: fun, quirky, twisty, basically quintessential Castle.

The other aspect of the episode, namely Castle and Beckett’s secret re-coupling, didn’t work quite as well for me. Let me preface by saying that I’m beyond relieved that they’re back together and recognize that this new situation is a heck of a lot better than their contrived breakup. And the secret aspect of it did lead to some fun moments, especially the transition from Castle and Beckett’s phone call to yelling at eachother in the precinct. Unfortunately though, the main reasons why I disliked the breakup storyline so much are still in play with this new development, mainly that that characters are 1. acting really out of character and 2. lacking a lot of common sense.

On the common sense side, Beckett continues to be pretty confused about the dangers of Locksat, who she believes is too much of a threat to give Castle details about, but is also apparently dumb enough to not realize that she’s sneaking into Castle’s building, provided that her terrible attempts at hiding her feelings in the first eight episodes didn’t tip them off already. Also, I suggest not thinking too hard about the logic of Beckett intending to tell Castle about Locksat at a later date versus now, because there is literally no reason for her to wait, aside from the possibility of Castle’s curiosity getting him in trouble again. But, if he hasn’t insisted on Beckett telling him the whole story yet, then that doesn’t seem likely (and that’s where the OOC behavior starts for me, because I feel like Castle absolutely would have insisted on the whole truth by now).

Also acting pretty out of character? Espo and Ryan, whose feelings on Castle cheating were awkwardly played for comedy and seriousness, something that didn’t work for me at all. I think their reactions had to be toned way down for the comedy moments (i.e. Svetlana and Livingstone) to even work a little bit, and the result was that they didn’t freak out nearly as much about Castle cheating as I think they believably would have. Sure, they were pissed at the guy, and they made it clear that they were there for Beckett, which was sweet, but they’ve known Kate a long time and didn’t seem nearly as angry or disappointed by Castle hurting her as they should have been. Basically, comically pushing Castle into a wall but then joking around with him later did nothing to make me buy any genuine emotion on their part. But really, all of the characters have been weirdly accepting of Castle and Beckett’s relationship drama this season, so I didn’t expect the fake cheating situation to be any different.

And sure, characters acting like imitations of themselves is less frustrating when Castle and Beckett are at least happy, but when I like a show as much as I do this one, I’m always going to hope for it to be the best that it can be, not just better than what it was.

What are your thoughts on the winter premiere and the new Caskett development? Let me know in the comments. Also, don’t forget, two episodes next week, so check in here on Sunday and Monday!

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