Last night’s ‘Castle‘ season premiere was a masterclass in how to write a character-driven, sexual tension-filled procedural. The episode started off with a literal bang, as Castle (Nathan Fillion) appeared holding a gun in a hall of mirrors. A second later he and Beckett (Stana Katic) were shooting at each other.
The episode then flashed back to a few days earlier. Everyone at the police station is irritated that Castle has not called all summer, though Beckett will not admit that she cares. She investigates a murder scene involving a body that fell out a window. The victim turns out to be holding a piece of paper with an address written on it. When Beckett goes there, she finds Castle holding a gun and standing over another dead body. Now that’s an act break. She promptly arrests him for murder.
Of course, Castle’s innocent. He was buying a sculpture from the victim and picked up a gun when he heard noises and thought the killer had returned. A ballistics test reveals the gun Castle was holding was not the murder weapon. Beckett forbids him to work the case, using the excuse that he is a witness.
The great thing about this episode is that it is all about Castle and Beckett’s relationship without there being any dialogue whatsoever about the issues between them. Beckett is furious that Castle is dating his ex-wife and has seemingly forgotten about her, while Castle has been doing everything he can to get over Beckett but cannot stay away from her. This dynamic is explored through a mystery that ostensibly has nothing to do with their history. That’s good writing.
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Autopsies reveal that both victims had tattoos and phone records showing both were called by a man named Todd. When Beckett goes to question Todd, she again finds Castle next to a dead body. It turns out he used *69 at the prior crime scene to track down Todd. Beckett, realizing she cannot get away from Castle, agrees to let him work the case. They make a bet. If she figures out the connection between the three seemingly random victims, he will stop working with her forever. If he cracks the case, they are partners again.
A trail of clues leads them to an underground burlesque club with a circus atmosphere. Why such a relatively tame place by New York standards would be underground is never explained. It turns out that all three victims were in a burlesque troupe as a hobby. Further investigating reveals that the victims — a chemistry teacher, a sculptor, and a vending machine worker — had formed a counterfeiting ring. The head of the burlesque troupe killed them to keep all the money for herself and cover her tracks.
A shootout at the club ensues, which brings us back to the beginning image, of Castle and Beckett shooting at each other. The camera pans to reveal they were actually shooting past each other, at the killer and her accomplice. Castle actually manages to hit his target in the leg. Though they both figured out what was going on at about the same time, Beckett proclaims that Castle won the bet. The dynamic duo returns!
This was a great premiere that brought Castle and Beckett back together while delivering a well constructed mystery with plenty of twists and turns.