Season 2 spoilers

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The Time:
Mondays, 10:00 PM, ABC

The Show:

Richard
Castle is a rambunctious and wisecracking best-selling author of crime
fiction who has used his charm and connections
to finagle his way into the NYPD to shadow the beautiful and streetwise
Detective Kate Beckett, who is the inspiration for his newest character, Nikki Heat.  At first, Beckett was resistant to the smarmy Castle, who continually threw
every
cheap line and innuendo her way and generally made a nuisance of
himself on her cases.  But as Castle has proven to be an asset, albeit a simultaneously annoying yet entertaining one, Beckett has since warmed to his presence and even come to rely on his insights.  Together, they’re the city’s best crimebusting team, frequently tackling an array of bizarre and baffling cases.

The Stars:

- Nathan Fillion as Richard Castle
- Stana Katic as Det. Kate Beckett
- Susan Sullivan as Martha Heath
- Ruben Santiago Hudson as Capt. Montgomery
- Molly Quinn as Alexis Castle
- Jon Huertas as Det. Javier Esposito
- Seamus Deaver as Det. Kevin Ryan

The Episode:A Deadly Affair”

Castle returns to New York at possibly the worst possible time from his summer home in the Hamptons as he finds himself suspected of murder when Beckett and the others catch him at a crime scene next to a dead body and holding a gun.  Beckett has no choice to arrest him, which gives them an opportunity to catch up and realize that there are hurt feelings over neither of them contacting each other after almost admitting their feelings at the end of Season 2.  Those issues take a back seat to the case, however, as neither of them can seem to make the connection to three seemingly unrelated murders that were made with the same gun.  A wager between Beckett and Castle renews the old rivalry and partnership, with Castle’s future with the team on the line.

The Lowdown:

Fun opening to the season that has a few things to resolve from Season 2 in terms of Beckett and Castle’s relationship.  When we last visited our heroes, Castle was behind on his next novel because of his dalliances with Team Beckett.  His poker cronies (Stephen J. Cannell, James Patterson, Michael Connelly) got him thinking that Beckett could actually be a hindrance to his productivity rather than an inspiration.  It turned out that Castle has been solving too many crimes and not writing enough pages; and his publisher / ex-wife, Gina (Monet Mazur), was on him to meet his deadline.  The fact that Beckett had begun a romance with Robbery Homicide Detective Tom Benning (BSG’s Michael Trucco) didn’t make things any easier.  Once the final case of Season 2 was resolved, the ending found Beckett within a thin blue line of telling Castle her feelings for him.  Castle had already been there for some time, but when Demming entered the picture, he backed off and ultimately resumed a relationship with Gina in the Hamptons over the summer while he finished his next Nikki Heat book.

“A Deadly Affair” opens with Beckett and Castle each staring down the barrel of each other’s guns and then both firing.  The back story finds Beckett three days earlier feeling Castle’s absence at the station and wondering if he plans to return to the team.  He hadn’t been in contact since he left and there was a lot that went unsaid.  That takes a back seat for the time being as they get the call about a murder of a young woman who then fell out a window onto an awning.  While on the case, Beckett and the others discover that Castle is back in town and has completed his novel, Naked Heat.  This doesn’t sit well with Beckett that he hasn’t contacted her yet.  Esposito and Ryan are also defensive, although mostly for Beckett’s sake.  Things take a turn for the unexpected though, when the team gets a line on another murder and heads to the crime scene, only to find Castle standing over the body with a gun.  Beckett has to arrest Castle, and he finds himself on the other end in the interrogation room.  It gives Castle and Beckett a chance to dance around the elephant in the room before Castle is ultimately cleared.  As a result, Castle and Beckett are in a weird place as neither knows where the other really stands.

The case perplexes them for most of the hour as there are ultimately three murders of seemingly unrelated people with the same gun.  A lead takes them to a back alley carnival-themed club which finds Castle in nirvana.  Resolving the case that has three related / unrelated crimes gives Beckett and Castle the chance to hash out their issues and wager on Castle’s future with the team.  If he figures out the angle to the murders, he stays; if not, he leaves.

The opening was obviously misdirection; otherwise the show would have had the most unusual – and shortest – series finale ever.  Castle continues to coast on the chemistry of Static and Fillion, and there’s been no drop off in quality of that interaction, nor in the machinations of the writers on the bizarre cases they devise.  The entire episode is sold on the unspoken shorthand between the two leads.  Not too spoilery to say the wager works out as one would expect.  Obviously Castle and Beckett are going to be doing the relationship dance for a few seasons and the show seems right on pace in that area.  Hopefully the show runners find a way to avoid a Moonlighting-type meltdown when the relationship progresses to the inevitable. 

Molly Quinn’s Alexis continues to be a touchstone for Castle regarding his dealings with Beckett, as she has a similar issue that he does: whether or not to continue a relationship with a boy she spent time with over the summer who has yet to call her.  Susan Sullivan is fine as Castle’s mother, Martha, although she doesn’t see much face time this episode.  Jon Huertas, Seamus Dever and Ruben Santiago-Hudson bring their usual high level of support to the show as well.  A solid, slightly twisty episode.

 

7.9 out of 10