Review: Castle 8.16

This was a strong episode overall, and any qualms I had were small ones that didn’t hinder my enjoyment of it. It was obviously a big one for Javi, and Jon Huertas gave a series’ best performance, completely making me buy his feelings for Sonia in a very short amount of time. It doesn’t say great things about the show’s character balance that it took eight years for us to hear this story, but that imbalance is nearly always highlighted in Ryan or Espo-centric hours, and I’m glad that it doesn’t stop the writers from doing them.

Javi and Sonia had a nice, easy chemistry that not only made me believe their romantic history, but also made me root for them to work it out, even with the deck stacked against them. I actually feel like I got more invested in them than I ever was in Espo and Lanie, which probably shows that they made the right call in the ending that relationship. Plus, if Javi really does consider Sonia to be “the love of his life”, then his relationship with Lanie didn’t stand much of a chance.

Sonia’s reappearance also allowed us to meet Espo’s family, and it was great to see some of the people who have made Javi who he is, however briefly. Though for me, the scene that revealed the most about Espo came just before he arrested Sonia, where he admitted how close he came to running away with her nine years ago. It was the kind of reveal that I wouldn’t have bought on paper, but completely did after hearing their story in this episode and seeing Huertas’ honest, emotional portrayal. That moment also showed just how important being a cop is and has always been to Javi; he may be willing to bend the rules for people he cares about (as he did in this episode), but he’s not willing to throw away a job that means so much to him.

Kate is someone who can relate to that struggle between loyalty to the job and doing the right thing, especially where personal feelings are involved, so I appreciated that she wasn’t hypocritical when she talked to Espo at the end of the hour. She acknowledged that she’d done the same in the past, but that there still had to be repercussions for his actions. I also liked the beat where she paused and reassured him that he’d done the right thing. Having been in a similar situation before, she knew exactly what he needed to hear. One of the small joys of this season has been watching Kate slip pretty seamlessly into that boss role without ever sacrificing her friendships with Ryan and Espo, and this scene showed that perfectly.

In addition to telling a good story about an underserved character, this episode also put two of my least favorite aspects of this season, the LokSat investigation and Castle’s P.I. business, on the backburner. I’ve talked ad nauseum about why I don’t like LokSat, so I’ll leave that alone. As far as the P.I. stuff is concerned, it’s not that I dislike it per se. Hayley’s a great character, and I’m glad it’s allowed Alexis to play a more active role. My problem is that I don’t like what it’s done to the structure of the show. It’s meant that we almost never see Castle, Beckett, Espo, and Ryan working cases the way they used to, running down leads and trading theories. I miss the banter and teasing that comes from those scenes, and it’s sucked a lot of fun and lightness out of the show. It’s worth noting that the separation and Beckett’s promotion have definitely impacted that as well, but this episode proved that it’s still possible to have those fun bullpen moments with Captain Beckett. For example, I loved the bullpen scene at the beginning of the episode where everyone reacted to Espo’s history with Sonia. It was the kind of scene that’s become a special treat rather than the norm, which is definitely a bummer.

Much as I liked that scene, I wasn’t crazy about the loft ones in this episode, but I think that may have been more a matter of personal preference than them actually being bad scenes. The first one was adorable (I definitely swooned when Castle called Kate his “love, heart, and bride”), but man, I find the Lucy “subplot” (and I use that term loosely) to be so dumb. I get that it’s a symbol for Kate maybe struggling a bit to fit back in at the loft and telling that story with some levity, but I feel like there were more intelligent ways to do so. Kate’s sweet scene with Martha and Alexis proved that they at least are glad to have her back, so hopefully we can look forward to more interesting home plots in the future.

What are your thoughts on this Espo-centric hour? Hit up the comments and let me know!

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