And Castle is back with a bang, literally. And what a great way to kick off the second half of the season.
We rejoin Castle and Co. with our favorite cop and writer team standing outside a burning a building when Beckett receives a phone call from Jenny, who can’t reach Ryan. We learn that Ryan and Esposito are inside the burning building, (GASP!) and we cut to twelve hours in the past with Castle and Beckett coming across a murder victim in the burnt remains of a building, thus revealing our CoW (seriously, has that caught on yet? Someone let me know.)
Our murder victim is a member the New York Fire Department who was on the trail of a serial arsonist. This leads to Castle and Beckett picking up where he left off, with some help from Lt. Delia Burton from the NYFD, and I think we will take a moment to discuss her. She was a decent enough guest character for the episode. While not anything overly spectacular, it is always a nice change of pace to include another member on the crime solving team, even if it is only temporary, and she did serve a good purpose. She was the friend and partner of the victim, she was the one grieved for the loss, giving the audience someone to sympathize with, and she did pull her own weight in the investigation. Basically, while she did nothing to stand out as a great addition to the team, she brought something new that was a breath of fresh air for the episode.
Back to the case, things proceed as you would normally expect in Castle, leads are found, suspects are questioned, and the drama builds as they don’t pan out. Pretty much the standard formula for this genre of show up until we hit the halfway point of the show. While our second favorite crime solving team, Ryan and Esposito, are following up on leads left behind in the case files of the victims they stumble across the arsonists lair and trigger a bomb that torches the building and sends them tumbling to the basement. This is what made this a great episode and a fantastic kick off the second half the season, we are faced with the very real possibility of two major characters not making it to the end of the episode. Granted, most of us watching were probably able to guess in advance that they wouldn’t die, they are two major characters on this show and it is highly unlikely they would waste a character death of that magnitude on a mid season episode, if it was season finale I could see it happening, but not here. However, what they did do is make us think that they could die. The stakes were high, they were trapped in a secret sub basement, running out of air, building could come tumbling down at any second, and Jenny went into labor! All of these were solid misleads and did a great job of making you think, even for just a second, that one or both of them could in fact die.
The thought they we could lose Ryan and Esposito is further built up by Castle and Beckett. Both of them do a great job of selling the idea that they could lose their teammates and friends. The concern, sorrow, and fear they show as they stand outside the blazing inferno works to beautifully capitalize on the already present drama of the situation. This also serves to further increase their drive in finding the killer, he is the only one that knows the way out. We also see Captain Gates get in on the investigation, her interrogation scene was fantastic to watch, Penny Jerald is amazing in her role and I really hope we get to see her in more scenes like this in the future.
In the end, it is learned that the arsonist/murderer is a member of the fire department, and after a pretty solid arrest scene, Beckett threatening to kill the arsonist if Ryan and Esposito die, we see them rescued and Ryan meeting his newborn baby girl, Grace. This episode was great from start to finish, Ryan and Esposito got a lot of screen time, their scenes together in the basement were amazing to watch, and did a fantastic job of showcasing the deep friendship between the two, Ryan even choosing to name his kid after Esposito if its a boy. There was some amazingly fun banter between Castle and Beckett, and a nice little dig at Castle for the lack of set wedding date, their upcoming wedding being something I really think we need some more focus on, I am hoping we’ll see the season close out with them getting hitched. I would say that the one weak point to this episode was the lack of Martha and Alexis, but even then it wasn’t anything too bad, what we missed off them was more than made up for with added Ryan and Esposito scenes.
Overall, this was a fantastic way to return to Castle after the break and sets a high bar for the rest of the season.