Review: Castle – After the Storm

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by Stephen Janes (@stephenkjanes)

Castle premiered its fifth season in a very dramatic fashion. Many viewers have fallen in love with the buddy-buddy romance featuring Richard Castle and Kate Beckett, and their constant denial of each other’s feelings. The season premiere, however, featured very minimal laughs and showcased a strong narrative that served as a great start to a new season.

This article will contain spoilers and reference moments from last season, so be warned and read on at your own risk.

We open up on the morning after Castle and Beckett hooked up with the two of them discussing how they should have done it four years ago, much to the agreement of everybody watching. Castle’s mother and daughter arrive home, prompting Castle to sneak Beckett out of the apartment in a humorous high-school manner. It’s obvious that the two aren’t ready to go public with their relationship and the fact is confirmed later when the two talk about it. Neither one regrets what they did, but both are too afraid to speak about their true feelings toward each other, something that viewers are used to seeing from Castle and Beckett since day one.

Meanwhile, we see Mr. Smith (Castle’s informant from the previous season) being tortured by Cole Maddox, the man who shot Beckett in the season three finale. Maddox wants the information that Mr. Smith is using to keep Beckett in check, but he refuses. Maddox leaves Mr. Smith barely alive and the file that he was after in the fireplace. Mr. Smith mutters to Castle, “Eighty-six, muh-muh…” before he is taken to a hospital. Castle and Becket discover that “Eighty-Six Markwell” is a rundown building owned by Mr. Smith, or Michael Smith as Castle and Beckett discover.

When Beckett and Castle arrive at the building, they discover an oddly placed mailbox with various names on it, including Michael Smith. The couple is then ambushed by Maddox, who apprehends the two and locks them in a nearby bathroom. Maddox discovers a floor safe that contains an unmarked file, and just as Beckett and Castle are prepared for the worst, Detective Esposito arrives to free the two. Esposito, Beckett and Castle then corner Maddox, who attempts to lift the file and defend himself. Unfortunately for Maddox, a booby trap goes off incinerating him and leaving the file in pieces.

When the police department arrive to investigate, Captain Gates doesn’t buy that, “three unarmed civilians just happened to be in the neighborhood,” questioning the real intentions of Esposito (who was suspended), Beckett (suspended but elected to resign) and Castle (who she never liked). Detective Ryan covers by saying he has no idea what’s going on, a change of heart considering it was he who turned in his partner (Esposito) and Beckett in the last episode.

Later that evening, as Esposito, Castle and Beckett are discussing their next move, Ryan makes up for his past mistake by bringing the destroyed file in a plastic bag. The group then discovers the file was actually various money orders. They run the account number through a bank database to find that the owner of the account is a senator, William H. Bracken, who is to become a presidential candidate.

From here, we piece together that Bracken is the mastermind behind everything; Beckett’s mother being murdered, Roy Montgomery and his shady involvement and the assassination attempt on Beckett herself. Bracken also has apparently funded his campaign and rise to power by ransoming mobsters and eliminating anybody who was getting “too close to the truth.” This included Beckett’s mother and Beckett herself. Beckett and Castle visit Smith in the hospital, but Smith tells the duo that he cannot confess the truth about Bracken because he would be dead anyway, and that the best thing to do is to disappear. Shortly after the two leave, an unnamed assassin hired by Bracken kills Smith and covers it as a heart attack.

Esposito, Ryan and Castle all decide to stay at Beckett’s place for protection, but somehow Beckett manages to bypass all three of them (and police security detail) and confront Bracken face to face. Beckett is finally within striking distance of her mother’s killer, ready to pull the trigger and end her nightmares until Bracken calmly says, “It’s not who has the gun, but who has the power.” Beckett gets emotional over the man who killed her mother in cold blood but quickly turns the table on her foe. She tells Bracken that she has his old account information and will use it to destroy his career if Beckett’s life is threatened in any way, claiming Bracken’s deal with Mr. Smith is now “our deal.” After he agrees to the terms, Beckett pistol whips Bracken in the temple and says, “That’s going to leave a nasty scar. Every time you see it, think of me.” The episode ends with Beckett and Esposito being reinstated, but only after they fully serve their suspension.

Castle usually features a clever blend of witty humor and nail-biting action, but this episode was almost entirely run by the action. This didn’t seem like a typical episode that we are used to, but that isn’t meant in a negative connotation. It was difficult to keep track of who was blackmailing who and why, but there weren’t a lot of new names thrown into the mix. We can expect Senator Bracken to be a major part of this new season, but exactly how he will be utilized remains to be seen. He and Beckett have an agreement that neither will harm each other, but both want each other dead. Surprisingly, the new relationship between Castle and Beckett really took a backseat to the strong story telling this episode, but expect this to change in the next episode.

In terms of storytelling and narrative, one of the stronger episodes we have seen and a great way to start the new season.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars


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