Film schools should use “Castle’s” third season finale “Knockout” as the example of the perfect season ender. It paid off a long-gestating mystery without tying everything up in a bow, gave Castle-Beckett shippers the words they wanted to hear, and ended on a huge cliffhanger. Add in Will Beall’s great dialogue, and Rob Bowman’s direction that ratcheted up the tension to unbearable, and you have the strongest episode of the series so far. Watch it here:
Lockwood (Max Martini), the hit man that knows who killed Beckett’s (Stana Katic) mother, is moved to the prison’s general population against Beckett’s orders. He kills an inmate, then escapes from the courtroom at his hearing with the help of several imposter police officers. Beckett becomes obsessed with finding him, though she knows that she is the killer’s next target.
Castle’s (Nathan Fillion) writerly knowledge of typewriter ribbons leads him to realize that one of the names on one of the arrest reports pertaining to the original crooked cops who were holding mobsters for ransom was forged. The hunt for the third cop is on. Beckett does not care that she is Lockwood’s next target. She is determined to stay on the case. Captain Montgomery urges Castle to persuade her to give up before she gets killed.
This leads to an epic confrontation between Castle and Beckett about their feelings for each other. Castle speaks for the audience when he says, “We kissed, but we never talked about it.” When he tells her she fixates on her work because she’s afraid to be happy, she decides she wants nothing more to do with him. Montgomery (Ruben Santiago-Hudson) readily agrees to fire Castle, but thinks she could reconsider because he brought fun to her life. Their touching scene is foreshadowing for the episode’s huge plot twist: Lockwood shows up at the captain’s house to warn him that he was letting Beckett get too close. The captain is the third corrupt cop!
Why It Makes Sense:
Like all great reveals, it was both a total surprise and made a ton of sense. This is why the captain knew so much about the case, why Beckett could never fully unravel the mystery. The kind, paternal captain was trained by the ringleaders as a rookie. He was the one who accidentally shot the man who turned out to be an FBI agent and helped frame the mobster who Beckett’s mother was trying to free. Montgomery threw himself into his job as penance for his sins. Lockwood orders him to lure Beckett to an airplane hangar so he can kill her, warning that if he does not comply his children will be killed.
As Beckett arrives at the hangar, she gets a text from Ryan and Esposito, who have figured out the captain’s secret. Beckett orders him to drop his weapon. He confesses everything, then reveals that he brought her here only as bait for the bad guys. Castle steps out of the shadows and drags her away to safety. Then Montgomery makes like an old west gunslinger and kills three henchman in about five seconds. Lockwood manages to evade sharpshooting Montogomery’s bullets of justice.
He fatally shoots the captain, telling him he is still going to kill Beckett. When Beckett and Castle return to the hangar, both the captain and Lockwood are dead. I think the majority of viewers had Montgomery as their top pick in the “Castle” death pool, especially after last week’s sudden introduction of his wife, but I doubt many people imagined he would go out like this.
The captain gets a hero’s funeral. The precinct agrees to keep his secret. As Beckett delivers a moving eulogy, she’s shot by a sniper. That’s a second major plot twist in the episode’s final five minutes. Castle rushes to her side, pleading with her not to give up. He tells her that he loves her. Millions of fans simultaneously cheer and cry as the screen fades to black. Will Beckett remember what Castle said when she recovers — because she is obviously going to live? Who will be the new captain? Who was the mastermind who hired Lockwood? When does season four begin?