Celebrating the Big 100: My Favorite Castle Episodes

Tomorrow, Castle hits the milestone 100-episode mark. I’m proud to say I’ve never missed an episode, from the quirky-yet-charming pilot to this week’s exploration of Ryan’s past. I can count on one hand the number of shows I’ve stuck with from Episode 1 to Episode 100 (actually, I can count them on two fingers: Castle and Alias). Sure, there have been some bumps along the way (Gina…Josh…The “secrets” that took over the last half of Season Four…), but, ultimately, this 100-episode (and counting!) journey has been one of the most fun rides I’ve ever been on in my years as a fangirl.

Castle has given me a love story to root for—a love story that proved to me that a strong but flawed woman can find happiness with someone who truly respects her. Castle has given me one of my favorite fictional characters ever in Kate Beckett—a woman who proves with each episode that she can succeed in a man’s world without ever having to give up her femininity, a woman who’s her own hero as well as a hero in the world at large. Castle has given me a fandom that I’m proud to be a part of, a fandom whose support is largely responsible for the creation of this website.

One hundred hours is a long time to spend with anyone, and I’m thankful that Andrew Marlowe created a show that’s made those 100 hours—these last 4+ years—thoroughly enjoyable for myself and for so many others.

Before I begin a Castle-induced emotional tailspin, let’s get to the point of this post. Out of all 99 episodes of Castle that have aired so far, which are the best of the best? Read on to discover my Top 10!

10. Knockdown (3.13)

knockdown

Yes, this episode will always be known as the “first kiss” episode, but it’s so much more than that, too. “Knockdown” features some truly great moments from Ryan and Esposito, the first time Castle and Beckett acknowledge his role as her “partner,” and the first “Always” of the series—which was also the most meaningful considering what it told both Beckett and the audience about how committed the usually-cavalier Richard Castle was to this woman.
Favorite Scene: “Thank you—for having my back in there…”

9. Kill Shot (4.09)

kill shot

This episode was one of the most emotionally intense hours Castle has ever had, and that’s due to the fearlessly raw way Stana Katic brought Beckett’s PTSD to life. In this episode, we see Beckett fall apart, but we also see her begin to climb out from under the weight of a decade of pain. This episode began Beckett’s journey towards becoming her best self, and by the end of it I was in tears because of how inspired I was by this woman’s struggle to embrace her own damaged self and to strive to be more than who she was—not for Castle but for herself.
Favorite Scene: “…Make it a strength.”

8. Tick, Tick, Tick…/Boom! (2.17/2.18)

tick tick tick

There’s no way I could possibly separate the two halves of this two-part episode, because together they make one heck of an action movie. These episodes introduced us to one of my favorite guest stars in Dana Delany as FBI agent Jordan Shaw, and it found the perfect balance between comedy, suspense, and just enough flirtatious romance to advance the Castle/Beckett relationship in both fun ways (Castle’s sleepover) and serious ones (Castle telling Beckett she has a home with him).
Favorite Scene: “Witness refuses to cooperate.”

7. Target/Hunt (5.15/5.16)

target

I don’t know if any Castle episode will ever feature better acting than this phenomenal two-parter. Fillion was nothing short of brilliant (and heartbreaking) in every scene, and his gift for subtle, believable emotion was perfectly matched by James Brolin as Castle’s father. The storytelling in this pair of episodes was perfectly paced, and it gave Castle’s character new depth that came from a painfully believable place.
Favorite Scene: “Did she die in there?”

6. Secret’s Safe With Me (5.03)

secret's safe

This episode remains in the standard for balancing Castle and Beckett’s new romantic relationship with the other facets of the show, especially Castle’s relationship with Alexis. (Seriously, the scene where he drops her off at college puts tears in my eyes every time.) The combination of playfulness, warmth, and sexual tension in their interactions proved that getting this couple together made the show even better than it was before. Plus, this episode gave me one of my favorite Castle quotes: “Even on the worst days, there’s a possibility for joy.”
Favorite Scene: “I so wish I could kiss you right now.”

5. A Chill Goes Through Her Veins (1.05)

a chill goes through her veins

Every time I watch this episode, I’m amazed by how many of my favorite moments from Season One are in it: Castle and Alexis playing laser tag; Beckett’s first visit to the loft; “If we’re married, I want a divorce”…In addition to these fun moments, the case in this episode is one of the saddest and most interesting the show has ever had. And it led to the first moment of Beckett really opening up to Castle about her past, a moment that still gives me the best kind of goose bumps almost 100 episodes later.
Favorite Scene: “Until tomorrow is more…hopeful.”

4. Flowers For Your Grave (1.01)

FFYG

It’s amazing when a pilot is able to the get the tone of a show exactly right from the get-go, and that’s exactly what Castle’s pilot was able to do. The seamless blending of interesting cases with quick-witted humor was there from the start—as was Fillion’s irresistible charm and his crackling chemistry with Katic. The scene where Beckett walks away from Castle as “Stop and Stare” plays in the background is still my favorite start to any TV love story.
Favorite Scene: “You have no idea…”

3. When the Bough Breaks (2.05)

when the bough breaks

The case in this episode, featuring the aftermath of babies switched at birth, is still my favorite case in Castle history because it had such a strong emotional undercurrent and such great performances from the guest actors involved. The sparks between Fillion and Katic were also never better than they were throughout this episode. And who else felt their heart skip a beat at the revelation of Heat Wave’s dedication when they first watched this episode?
Favorite Scene: “You are extraordinary.”

2. Always (4.23)

always

Everything about this episode worked—the character development, the acting, the writing, and the romance. This was the episode that changed everything, and it did so in a way that felt natural to these characters and the journey we’d been on with them for four seasons. Before “Target” happened, this was Fillion’s finest hour, and Katic was also brilliant in her depiction of Beckett finally choosing happiness for herself and growing immensely as a character in the process. And then there’s the ending—a love scene filled with more passion, tenderness (the scar touching!), and genuine adoration than even most of us in the fandom thought was possible.
Favorite Scene: “I’m right here!”

1. Sucker Punch (2.13)

castle-scene

This was the episode that made Castle my favorite TV show. I can still remember watching it on the tiny TV I have in the corner of my kitchen and falling head-over-heels in the love with both the show and Richard Castle as a character when he showed up at the end of this episode, bringing Beckett every kind of food imaginable in order to make up for the death of the man who killed her mother. This episode is Castle at its best and most dynamic, shifting from comedy (“I own a boat!”) to drama abruptly, the way life often does. The revelation of the connection between the case-of-the-week and Beckett’s mother blindsided the audience in the best possible way. And the revelation that Beckett actually likes having Castle around may have been even more shocking to the audience. But it was a shock (and a scene) that moved both characters and their relationship forward in an organic, beautiful way that still makes me tear up every time I watch it.
Favorite Scene: “I’ve gotten used to you pulling my pigtails.”

So tell me, fellow Castle fanatics, what do you think of my choices? What are your favorite episodes from the first 99 adventures with the crew from the 12th precinct and a certain ruggedly handsome novelist?

 

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31 thoughts on “Celebrating the Big 100: My Favorite Castle Episodes

  1. I think once again you have hit it right on! Fillion’s comic timing is great and Katic is one of the finest dramatic actresses I have seen in years,,,,and I have been around for quite a while..LOL.We and they are so lucky that the lead duo are complemented with sterling performances from the rest of the cast. I can’t remember when such a fun and tralented bunch were together on the same show. cudos all around!

    • Thanks so much for the comment! I completely agree: Fillion and Katic are pure magic together, but what really makes Castle work is the chemistry between the entire cast. They all work so well together.

    • Subtle and believable are words that I’d never put in a sentence regarding NF’s acting abilities: he overacts to a degree I’ve never seen before, and hope to never see again! Some of his facial expressions are ridiculous – and he’s about 1% as funny as he thinks he is. I do like the show, especially Beckett, Ryan & Esposito, but I so wish someone else – hell, anyone else – had been cast as Richard Castle…apart from being unbelievably one-dimensional, he annoys the hell out of me.

      • I’m sorry to see that you’re so disappointed in Castle’s leading man. I find Fillion to be an incredibly strong dramatic actor who I think gets to show off his talents in dramatic episodes far more than he does in comedic ones. So I suppose we’ll have to agree to disagree on this one.

      • Haha I just posted the same sentiment, but I have the opposite issue with Beckett , to a much higher degree!! She is one-dimensional and annoying because well, she UNDERREACTS!!! I could find 100 people on the street with better acting abilities. Rather than breathe any life into this show, she sucks it right out, draining all the fun I was having enjoying Javi’s character, and cracking the case. It shouldn’t be so excruciating to watch what could otherwise be a very pleasant show.

  2. I am mild-to-moderately certain that Knockdown is my fave, partially because of the kiss, but mostly because the final montage is fantastic (and that song is amazingggg). But I also really like Sucker Punch and When the Bough Breaks and OF COURSE the pilot and, let’s face it, pretty much all of these 🙂 But I’m generally terrible at ranking the episodes of any of my shows. I like whichever episode happens to be on my TV!

  3. I love that I discovered this site and really enjoyed your top 10 leading into this week. I often think of moments I love within the show which makes it hard to pick full episodes and like you the darker episodes remain prominent in my memory as well. “Knockout” would make my top ten for sure (but don’t ask me which one of your 10 I would swap it out for) because it had one of the truly most surprising twists since Sucker Punch and completely changed the game. NOBODY saw Montgomery as the third man and Ruben gave such a great performance. The scenes with Castle/Martha, Castle/Beckett’s father and ultimately Castle trying to stop Beckett made for an emotionally packed hour, not to mention the hanger scene. Her getting shot and his declaration of love were almost secondary. I also would give honorable mentions to “To Live and Die in LA”, “Recoil”, “After Hours” and “The Final Nail” because they took a different lense to the leads. I also think that perhaps a there needs to be a comedic top 10 (or top 5 at the very least) to make room for episodes like “Nikki Heat” and my personal favorite “The Mistress Always Spanks Twice”. Watching Lanie wax on about what fetishes she’s willing to entertain and Castle’s reaction shots are 4 minutes of TV gold and it’s one of the first times we see a conversation from the pilot come back into the dialogue with his safe word ‘apples’. Great stuff.

    • I love the episodes you chose to single out! If this would have been a “Top 11” list, “Knockout” would have been my #11. I’m not sure I’ve ever been as emotional watching TV as I was during the hangar scene. From the cinematography to the acting, it was such a powerful moment.

      I also agree that the comedic episodes deserve their own special category. While I may love the dramatic episodes more, the comedic episodes have some scenes that I could watch over and over again and still laugh every time.

  4. Love your choices. I’d have to have a baker’s dozen, because I’d have to include:
    1. Cops and Robbers-The scene with Beckett telling the bank robber, “Listen to me Jackass…” was epic. And the scene where Castle and Beckett are reunited and staring into each other’s eyes only to have Martha interrupt, Nathan Fillion’s acting at that moment was perfect.
    2. Cloudy with a Chance of Murder-I enjoy the funny stuff, and this episode really delivered. My favorite scene was the end, because it advanced their relationship with discussion of a problem and developing a plan for their future.
    3. To Love and Die in LA- The hotel sofa scene is one of my favorite of all scenes (NF looks like my late first husband in that scene, I think it’s the hair). Royce’s letter is also in that episode. Stana Katic did some wonderful acting in that episode.

    Found your site by way of a tweet from Terri Miller. Glad I found it.

    • I’m glad you found my site, too, because I love your choices! “Cops and Robbers” is another favorite of mine. Beckett talking to the head bank robber is one of her best moments because you can feel how serious she is, and, by extension, how much Castle means to her. And I also adored “To Love and Die in L.A.” because that sofa scene is the epitome of why Castle and Beckett were the greatest will they/won’t they couple of all time. The tension was just so delicious!

  5. I am so behind on your posts, I’m disappointed with myself! Anyways, my thoughts:

    These are all episodes I loved as well! Particularly my favorites out of your list are “Kill Shot,” “Tick, Tick, Tick…”/”Boom!” and “Sucker Punch”. I’d also include “Knockout” (3.24) as part of my top favorites list, because the shock and emotion of that episode were definitely stand-outs for me and it is one of the episodes of tv I would put on my “tv episodes that made me feel incredibly strong emotions” list 😉

    In terms of other episodes I really like that would maybe or maybe not be on my top 10 list, but at least be close to it, I’d include 3.16/3.17 Setup/Countdown, 4.01 Rise, 4.04 Kick the Ballistics, 4.07 Cops and Robbers, 4.14 The Blue Butterfly, 4.19 47 Seconds, 4.22 Undead Again, and 5.01 After the Storm. (Apparently it is harder for me to choose favorites than I thought!)

    • Don’t be disappointed – you’ve had a lot to do! I’m just happy you’re here now!

      I said this is another comment, but “Knockout” would definitely be my #11 choice if I’d have extended this list. It still gives me so many feelings, but nothing will ever top the shock I felt the first time I watched it. I was shaking for most of the hour and for the next hour after it was done.

      I love your other choices, too—especially “Undead Again.” I thought I was the only one who was ridiculously in love with that episode. It’s one of the best of Season Four, which was filled with good episodes. And, as you know, any episode that ends with a “Tomorrow…” instead of “Good night” automatically has my heart.

  6. I love your choices, of course, and I could add many, many more! I would honestly need a top 20 list because 10 picks just aren’t enough (and maybe…just maybe…I’d need 30 options). I think it says a lot about the strength of this program’s cast and writing that I would happily watch most every episode multiple times. In fact, I’m with you…besides Castle, the ONLY show that I own every episode of is Alias. Seriously, the only other TV couple that I’ve shipped as hard as Castle and Beckett were Sydney and Vaughn. Always happy to meet another Castle AND Alias fan!

    • First of all, congratulations for having flawless taste in TV shows and TV relationships. 😉 Sydney and Vaughn are the only couple I’ve ever been attached to as strongly as I’m attached to Castle and Beckett. I also agree with you about being able to watch most episodes over and over again. Ever since Castle started airing reruns on TNT, I’ve discovered that I could really just sit down and watch so many of them on repeat and be a happy girl.

      • TNT has been my complete downfall into slightly obsessive rewatch. My poor DVR doesn’t know what to do with itself and the number of episodes (most of which have been listed above) saved for scene/periodic watching. I will say this, the syndication deal has made me appreciate Marlowe and co.’s meticulous continuity not just in sound bites, but laying foundations for characters. I saw a lot of feedback (much of it negative) about 1) Rick’s dark side and 2) The back story for Jordan and 3) His ultimate reaction to the birthday surprise. When you watch the back episodes, you see in the smaller moments throughout the series the surface of that dark side that make it much less a leap to his dark side. There is an actual scene in one of the episodes when he talks about changing your name to take on a new identity that so clearly resonates with the Jordan reveal of a less than shiny side of Castle and of course in the Valentine’s Day episode the idea that he was being stumped makes Monday’s set up so revealing. TNT aired Poof you’re Dead last night (yes I may need an intervention) and I had forgotten it was the episode he breaks up with Gina. There is an entire scene with Martha where he talks about wanting so much more than ordinary. Monday night’s pay off gave us that. I think the joy this series first 100 episodes gives is a richness of characters that is unusual in broadcast TV these days, especially within the context of a procedural.

        • I would love to get some insight to some of the mysteries of Rick’s hidden side. Not the side who appealed to the van driver’s humanity, because as a parent I truly understand that he would do anything for his daughter. Hell, I ran out in front of a car to grab my son many years ago. The mysteries I want info on are: where did he learn to shoot so well; why does he hide the competent side of himself that he exposes occasionally like when he over-powered Lockwood; why has he only called Martha “Mom” twice in the whole series (1st laser tag scene and at the end of Hunt). There are scenes in the early seasons where Rick shares insights into his character with Alexis. I want to see more scenes where he does that with Kate.

        • Nicademus11, your obsession with the Castle re-runs on TNT made me laugh out loud…not because I think you’re ridiculous, but because I understand ALL TOO WELL! The truly ridiculous part for me is that I already own every episode on iTunes, commercial-free…and I STILL watch the TNT airings when time allows. Even my 12-year-old son is fan of the show now (another convert…yay!). He was thrilled to be on spring break this week so he could stay up late and watch the 100th episode with me. Best. Kid. Ever.

          Also, I couldn’t agree with you more about the continuity and character foundations that were so carefully laid out in the past. Over the years, I have watched few shows that invest in their characters like this one does, and with such wonderful, satisfying results. I recently recommended Castle to a friend, and I talked about how smart and laugh-out-loud funny it is, how outstanding the more dramatic outings have been, how electric and unique the chemistry between Nathan and Stana is, etc. But in the end, the thing I emphasized most was that while the show isn’t necessarily special or original as a crime procedural, it’s the characters that make it shine, without fail. They have been allowed to grow and develop into these dynamic, three-dimensional personalities. They have their talents and strengths, but they’re flawed as well, and the show doesn’t shy away from that aspect. I’m a person who needs to feel connected to the characters I’m watching, and Castle does not disappoint in that regard. I feel invested at this point, and I literally CARE about what happens to them next. That’s no small feat, I say.

          In a sometimes barren TV landscape of reality garbage, heavy drama, and bathroom-humor sitcoms, Castle has always been a breath of fresh air for me. I’m thrilled that there are others that appreciate it like I do!

        • I’m glad you enjoyed my list! And I was late to the Chuck/Sarah party (only watched the whole series after it was over), but they’ve now joined the ranks of my favorite TV couples, too.

  7. Ok, I am very late here, but in Italy the show is on air in strange hours and with strange order (as usual here).
    Anyhow I found all the episodes online at last and I can say that now, with no doubt, one of the best episodes ever is “Number One fan”, season 6 episode 4.
    It’s simply perfect, even if I wanted to see Lanie’s reaction to the wedding in some previous episode.
    Castle is one of the best series I’ve ever seen in my whole life

    • Thank you so much for the comment—it’s never too late to talk about how much we all love Castle! And I echo your love for “Number One Fan.” It was such a great reminder of all of the best things about this show, and it makes me happy that this show can still produce episodes that are so strong so many years into its run.

      • Well, it’s one of the few (very few) series able to create such an incredibly beautifule clip episode (season 5, ep 22, Still). I think I watched that episode 10 times

        • Honestly, I am so in love with Castle that I honestly almost had to tear out my heart to pick the top ten:
          1. Cuffed (They were taken and handcuffed together. No other reasons nescessary)
          2. Always (FINALLY MY CASKETT DREAMS COME TRUE)
          3. Knockout (Who knew Mongomery was the Third Man? Amazing!)
          4. After the Storm (the scene where Martha and Alexis return home and Castle and Beckett freeze made me laugh so hard I cried!)
          5. Secret’s Safe With Me (where Beckett finds Wendell’s partner and she yells ‘Take your hand off your tool, Marco!” and the boys try to conceal their laughter and she says ‘Shut up.” with a perfect face i almost peed my pants laughing)
          6. Vampire Weekend (Castle knows someone who does fangs?!? Hilarious!)
          7. Flowers For Your Grave (Beckett’s near perfect timing and Alexis’s seamless reaction was gold)
          8. Cops and Robbers (When Beckett rescued Castle and they stared at each other until Martha announced the other prisoner’s prescense. Loved it!)
          9. Undead Again (It’s zombies with the extra amazing combo of Castle’s 12-year-old excitement and Beckett’s cyncism. How could anyone not love this episode?)
          10. The Final Frontier (Beckett reveals a deeper, fangirly part of herself that no one knew about, and Castle learns that his modest, mature Alexis is not quite as modest as he knew)
          So hard to pick!

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  10. Am I the only one here? :
    FAV EP: 88 The documentary film one ..Vthing very comical. This show gets a little too dramatic/stale at times

    FAV CHARACTER(s):
    Javi Esposito: Tons of personality…or “swag” if you will. Very believable character. Basically only real comic relief. Even his facial reactions are comical. Castle on the other hand, while making more obvious ‘jokes’ is more corny. . . and his arrogance kills the punchline. For whatever reason he is semi-likeable. . . Probably bc Castle behaves like an actual human being… Unlike his gf/wife… (See below)

    WORSE Characters:
    1 KATE Beckett: Im not sure if it’s the script’s fault or her acting but Kate is about as emotionless and bland as her boring face suggests! Her expressions rarely change, & her voice is so one-note that her angry interrogations are the least bit believeable. Her screen presence annoys me. If Jon ( Javi) wasnt part of this show, I could barely make it through a full episode. And her lack of personality coupled with her prudeness, boring face, & near non- existant femininity makes me seriously question and doubt the legitamacy of Castle & Kate’s “special relationship”. Honestly Lanie wouldve been a better choice as the love interest. Sad that a secondary character with few lines makes a bigger impression than a supposedly feminist protaganist.

    2. Castle: The writers missed a big opportunity to have the main protagonist, an untrained no-it-all that swoops in and saves the day amongst trained experienced pros, BE PLAYED BY A WOMAN. A sexist Disney storyline gets more views than one with a herione not waiting to be saved. Besides this… Castle is way too cocky and has bad jokes. And the mere premise of a WRITER being able to clock in to police investigations …and him WANTING TO DO SO…WITHOUT THE BENEFIT OF A PAYCHECK??? I would’ve liked anything more believable than this.

    3Ryan I don’t HATE Ryan.. i just think his character is bland as well… if not a little weird or “off”. Not sure how to explain it, but Ryan seems a tad bit abnormal in a cringeworthy way to watch. Prob bc his partner is a sexy bad-ass mfr haha

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