TV Time: Castle 5.16

Title Hunt

Two-Sentence Summary With Castle in Paris after going rogue in his quest to get Alexis back from her kidnappers, Beckett and the team back in New York City make the chilling discovery that Alexis was deliberately targeted by her kidnapper. As pieces to a puzzle long left unfinished are revealed, it’s discovered that Alexis was kidnapped as bait to lure an elusive intelligence asset—her grandfather (aka Castle’s dad).

Favorite Line
“I just want you to know, son, I’ve always been proud of you. Always.” (Jackson Hunt)

My Thoughts It’s official: Castle has grown up. Who would have thought five seasons ago that the show which began as a quirky take on the procedural genre would be capable of producing something as intense, complex, and riveting as these last two episodes have been? I’m not ashamed to say I never saw it coming. I’ve always loved Castle’s more dramatic efforts, but “Target” and “Hunt” surpassed even my high expectations for what this show is capable of. I think it’s safe to say I have a new favorite two-parter.

“Hunt” took all the best things about “Target” and added another powerful ingredient to the mix with the introduction of Castle’s father. This was the first episode to separate Castle and Beckett for nearly the entire thing and have me walk away impressed, which is a testament to both Nathan Fillion and Stana Katic’s great standalone performances as well as the impressive work done by the supporting cast, especially James Brolin and Molly Quinn.

The episode began with another quietly powerful moment between Castle and Beckett, building on the shift in their dynamic that we saw last week. Once again, it’s Beckett’s turn to bring Castle a cup of coffee as well as the reassurance and stability that comes along with it. The whole scene was a beautiful parallel to the moment Castle held her hand in the precinct in last season’s finale. This time, it’s Beckett’s job to remind Castle that he’s not alone. She’s not giving up on this case, on Alexis, on him. Because she loves him. It wasn’t the time for her to make that big confession, but it’s been there in all of the little things she’s done for Castle in the last two episodes.

I was especially happy to see Castle accept Beckett’s hand and hold it. To be honest, it wouldn’t have bothered me if he didn’t; the man has a lot on his mind that he has to face down on his own. But he held onto her hand; he let himself lean on her if only for a brief moment. This episode was Castle’s time to make a stand for Alexis, the person he loves more than anything on Earth—even more than Beckett. And this moment was Beckett’s way of showing that she’ll stand with him for as long as it takes. He’s done that so many times for her. It’s her turn now.

Throughout both of these episodes, I loved watching Beckett work to stay strong for Castle and help him in the only way she really could—by being a good cop. But we were able to see the strain it put on her in this episode. Katic made Beckett’s helplessness tangible. The scene between Beckett and Esposito in the precinct was heartbreaking because you could tell she was so torn between wanting to be with Castle and wanting to stay in the precinct for as long as it took to get Alexis safely home.

The relationship between Beckett and Esposito is one of my favorites on the show. From early on, he’s been her voice of reason, her guiding light when she’s searching for answers or the right path to follow. Esposito has always helped her see who she really is and what she really wants. I have such a soft spot for moments when he nudges her towards the man she loves, so I thought it was a great touch to include the scene between them where he basically tells her it’s okay to leave the case behind for the night to comfort the man she loves (him calling her “Kate” for the first time was a beautiful little detail to show how serious and personal the situation is for all of them).

From the moment Beckett and Martha discover that Castle is in Paris (I’m just going to try to forget how bad the backdrop of Paris was in that shot of him on the phone with them), the plot starts running and never looks back. There were so many twists, turns, and betrayals that it left me breathless. “Hunt” was a spy-family thriller in the same vein as the greatest spy-family thriller of them all, Alias.

Castle’s initial meeting with his contact in the Parisian café was another stellar acting moment from Fillion. The man is a master of restraint. He says more with the simple act of fighting back tears than most actors can say in any sob-filled monologue. He was also brilliant in the scene where Castle is forced to listen to his conversation with Alexis over and over while the audio technician analyzes it. The anxiety, exhaustion, and desperation Castle felt could be seen in his body language and the darkness in his eyes. The score in that scene was also astounding. Robert Duncan’s work this season has been nothing short of extraordinary, and he outdid himself yet again with the tension-filled arrangement he composed for “Hunt.”

Katic also had her dramatic moment to shine in this episode, and she ran with it. After an episode and a half of stoicism, she got to explode in a very raw, real way. Her interrogation scene was unsettling in the best possible way—much like Castle’s torture of the suspect last week. This is a woman pushed to her breaking point, desperate to help the man who has always helped her, the man she loves. Kate Beckett doesn’t like feeling helpless; she’s a woman of action. The way she kicked over the suspect’s chair was amazing, but it was Katic’s delivery of “I’m not a cop today, honey,” that got to me the most. Beckett has her own dark side, and, like Castle, it comes out when the people she loves are in danger. She has always been a cop, even when she was forced to defend the man who killed her mother. But when it comes to Castle and Alexis, she’s willing to put aside the job title she defined herself by for so long and let her usually rational self be driven by the most irrational, volatile force of all—love.

Going back to the Paris scenes, I was very impressed with the actor who played Castle’s guide through the Paris underworld/betrayer. There was something incredibly dark and sinister about him without being melodramatic. In that sense, he was a great match for Fillion.

You know who else was a great match for Fillion? James Brolin. I was spoiled for the big reveal, but that didn’t ruin anything about the episode for me. In my opinion, the story of Castle and his father’s reunion was less about shock value than it was about depth and character development.

As the episode progressed and we saw Castle interact with Hunt, it became clear that—although Castle got some traits from his mother—he’s his father’s son. Brolin had a wonderfully sarcastic side at the beginning which gave way to a sad kind of softness that was quietly heartbreaking in a way so few things on Castle are. When he told Castle that the life he chose to live before Castle was born meant that he could never have any real relationships, I felt ready to cry. Brolin’s regret and sense of loss were palpable as Hunt looked at the son he could only watch from afar for 40 years.

Brolin’s subtle depth brought out the best in Fillion. While I’m not sure anything could beat the work he did last week in “Target,” his performance here was powerful in a different—but still affecting —way. My favorite moment of his was the look on his face after Hunt revealed that he gave him Casino Royale in the library when Castle was a boy. You could almost see the wheels turning in Castle’s head, the pain and the joy of knowing that his father was the one who put him on the path to becoming a writer, a path that ultimately led him to Beckett as well. I remembered Castle’s connection to Bond from “When the Bough Breaks” back in Season 2 (one of my favorite episodes), so I found that moment to be a beautiful little bit of continuity.

Another beautiful bit of continuity was the use of “Always” in this episode. In Castle mythology, that word is synonymous with unconditional love and support. I found it incredibly moving that Hunt used it when talking about his pride in his son. The way Fillion’s eyes filled with tears upon being called “son” by his father for the first time was exquisite, as was the little choked-up swallow he did after Brolin said his line. The connection between these two actors—both masters of quiet poignancy—created a moment of love so layered that it transcended the procedural genre and instead entered the realm of great TV drama.

But Castle has never been just a procedural. It’s a love story. However, it’s not just a love story between Castle and Beckett. It’s a story about the love between family, friends, and friends who become your family. And every single kind of love was on display in this episode.

We saw the love between friends in that great scene between Beckett and Esposito. We saw the love between a father and daughter when Castle finally found Alexis. (Molly Quinn’s acting has never been better. Her tears were gut-wrenching when she thought they were both going to die.) We saw the love between a grandfather and his granddaughter. A father and his son. A mother and her son. And of course, romantic love was on display, too.

I adored the look of relief on Castle’s face when he was finally back in Beckett’s arms. And I loved that Beckett told him not to do anything like that again without her—and that he agreed. She knows he would do it all again if it meant Alexis would be home safely again, and his dedication as a father is part of what initially drew her to him. She just wants to stand by his side, to be his partner, and I love that he understands how important it is for her to say that—how much it says about her feelings for him.

Of course I loved the big twist in the action sequence part of the conclusion. I loved the shots of Castle and Alexis running through Paris. But what made this episode so strong to me was the very ending, with Castle surrounded by all of the people he loves in whatever way they can be there (the Casino Royale book). Castle is a show about two people slowly becoming a part of each other’s families as they fall in love. Castle is part of the precinct family now, and Beckett is a part of his family.

There were so may layers to this episode, and I’m sure I’m going to uncover even more after another viewing (or 10). But even after just one viewing, I’m blown away by the depth and power of this two-episode arc. Were you as impressed as I was? What did you think of Castle’s dad? How can this team possibly top this two-parter next season?

10 thoughts on “TV Time: Castle 5.16

  1. GREAT write up, Katie – thanks! I absolutely loved every minute of both episodes – I was so excited to watch the conclusion that I woke up in the middle of the night just to watch it (and I have a 2 week old, so that says something that I was willing to voluntarily get up without the baby!) I keep getting choked up thinking about those scenes in Jackson Hunt’s apartment, with all the baby pics of Alexis (great touch) and how Brolin said so sweetly that he’d been keeping track of all of them over the years – I loved that he clearly knew who Beckett is and what she means to Castle too. I loved Fillion’s delivery of the line “I need more time”. And the “always…” – I’m going to cry again just thinking about it. I also loved how Castle called/or referred to Martha as “mom” a few times – I can’t recall him ever doing that before, but that small nuance made him seem like a young boy in a way and really emphasized the feeling of the moment for me. Martha’s face at the very end – she looked so young and almost innocent, and I loved that Castle decided to tell her what had happened with “Jackson” because you have to think it wore on her just as much on him over the years. And everything with Beckett was perfect for me. It made so much more sense for them to be split up to make the story work, and I loved the reunion. I love this show so much, and I’m so glad to see it get back on track with the better parts of the first half of the season!

    • First of all, congratulations on your new motherhood—and I’m pretty sure you should win some sort of “Awesome Fan” award for getting up to watch this episode!

      I echo your thoughts about all of the little details that made this episode so special. Fillion did such a good job of showing Castle’s childlike vulnerability upon seeing his father for the first time. His delivery of “I need more time” was one of my favorite parts of the whole episode.

  2. I think this week’s and last week’s recaps have been some of your best yet, Katie. I’m so proud of what you’ve done with this site.

    This was a very Alias-like episode and they pulled it off so well. I loved all the scenes between Castle and his dad and I love that he’s been there looking out for him all these years even if he couldn’t be apart of his son’s life. The repetition of “always” was exactly what that scene needed.

    I loved the cinematography in this episode. It was so dark and suspenseful and it made the contrast of Castle and Alexis being reunited with Beckett and Martha even more striking. The scene of Castle and Alexis running to the embassy were really powerful.

    • Thank you so much, Heather! It’s been a really busy week both for the site and for me personally, so for you to say that means a lot.

      I’m so happy you pointed out the cinematography because I loved it too. It really added to the episode. Castle is often beautifully shot (“Always,” “Setup/Countdown,” and “The Blue Butterfly” especially come to mind), but this was some of their best work yet.

  3. My word I’m loving this website. Yes! I was so impressed. I got up early so I could watch it on Hulu before class this morning, and boy, I was not sorry. With stories like these, so many actors overact. Not here. Every instance was the perfect blend of frustration, pain, regret, and fear. These were HUMAN emotions, which was why this episode was so powerful and poignant. I loved Castle’s dad. I love how he’s been checking in on his family, especially since Martha and he never actually had a relationship. He had made his choice and stuck with it, but his regret is so powerful and heartbreaking. As to next season, I have no idea. None at all.

    • Thank you! 🙂

      I completely agree with you when you said that no one overacted here. The emotions may have been heightened given the situation, but each actor played them perfectly. This episode shook each character to their core, and it was amazing to see the dark, complicated, human emotions that came out as a result.

  4. I just watched! Finally! I was waiting to watch with my roommate, and ohhh was this worth it (green screen aside). I love love love love when my new shows remind me of my first show (I miss you, Alias). When Castle’s dad asked him if he was ready to play spy, am I the only one whose mind went immediately to “Yes, I’ll break into the Vatican with you”?

    And that whole “we think Castle’s mission has been blown, but it’s all part of the plan” twist? LOVED IT. I liked the way they played around with that timeline: VERY Alias. Their escape was just plain exhilarating. I so appreciated that Castle and Alexis got to spend a few moments sharing the kidnappers’ crosshairs: it was great to see them completely united like that, as they cried, comforted each other, and faced potential death together. I just loved that the playing field between them was leveled, and it suddenly became a story about Castle and Alexis breaking out TOGETHER. Even though in a way he was still saving her the whole time, they also saved each other.

    The episode really took off when Castle Sr. entered the picture. Brolin was just the right amount of funny: snarky without being flippant. (I especially appreciated the crack about getting his $3 million briefcase), and his scenes with his son were too few and too rushed, which is exactly the point. They had no time to be together! So sad! And again, I couldn’t help but miss Jack Bristow.

    Nathan Fillion impressed me even MORE in this episode. I’m a sucker for subtlety. I like it when the tears well up without ever falling. You can’t fake that; you have to feel it. And his kiss with Beckett at the end of the episode was maybe my favorite of their kisses, with the exception of their very first. It was like they were drawn to each other.

    Also, “I’m not a cop today, honey.” I LIKE THIS SIDE OF BECKETT. I thought Stana Katic’s delivery was perfect, but I also just thought the line itself was perfect: it says everything it needs to, in terms of how she feels and what her motives are, without spelling it out or talking down to viewers. I generally don’t turn to this show for super subtle writing, but this episode gave us exactly that, and (like everything in the episode) it rocked.

    Definitely my new favorite two-parter!

    Loved this recap, loved this episode!

    • “I love love love love when my new shows remind me of my first show (I miss you, Alias). When Castle’s dad asked him if he was ready to play spy, am I the only one whose mind went immediately to “Yes, I’ll break into the Vatican with you”?”

      YOU ARE PERFECT. I annoy the heck out of my sister whenever I compare things to Alias (which happens at least once a day), but when a show is your first love, it’s fun to find things in other shows that take you back to that first love. And this episode certainly did that.

      Castle’s dad reminded me of Jack Bristow in the best possible way in that you could see the toll that years of living with secrets have taken on him. James Brolin did an amazing job of balancing that weight with some humor and a very nice badass streak.

      The side of Beckett we saw in that interrogation was amazing. It was so raw and slightly (or more than slightly) unhinged. It was a nice way to use the “show, don’t tell” method of good writing. We didn’t need to be told how desperate Beckett was because we could feel it in that one little moment.

  5. Pingback: TV Time: Castle 6.12 | Nerdy Girl Notes

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