I have to admit that I was not looking forward to this week’s episode of Castle, “Headhunters.” The show has been falling lower and lower on my priority list lately, but I can’t quite bring myself to cut ties with it just yet.
Before we jump into this week’s episode, I want to quickly touch on a few main points from the last episode, “The Limey,” that I was unable to recap due to unforeseen circumstances. The most important things to know about that episode are: Castle started dating bimbos and partying again, Lanie is the best and basically goaded Beckett about how she was going to miss her chance and lose Castle if she didn’t admit that she had feelings for him and most of the episode involved Beckett working with a different partner, some British guy. It’s not important.
The important part is that I was warned before watching this week’s episode that instead of Beckett, it would be Castle working with a different partner for most of the episode. Adam Baldwin, who costarred with Nathan Fillion in Firefly, guest starred as Detective Slaughter, a member of the gang task force who has a reputation for being insane and taking unnecessary chances. A friend told me that there were a few references to their work on Firefly, but I didn’t watch that show so I have no idea what they were. (If you were a fan, feel free to leave them in the comments below).
Early in the episode, Castle admitted to Martha that he was having a hard time finding inspiration for his book and she suggested that maybe a new case with Beckett would help him. Castle explained that he needed something different just as he saw a news story about a man being found dead with a bag of severed heads and then Castle is captivated by Detective Slaughter and wants to shadow him for awhile.
Slaughter is basically everything Beckett is not. He drives too fast, he breaks the rule, he lets Castle have a gun. Castle is impressed and loving every minute of it despite the warnings that Esposito, Ryan and Beckett give him. The case itself is pretty generic. The victim was a gang member, the heads belonged to rival gang members and the murders are going to lead to a major turf war. Slaughter intimidates witnesses and Castle is proud of himself when he takes one of the guys down in a bar even though he gets pretty beat up in the process.
Beckett is not amused by any of this. Her shrink from earlier in the season returns so she can complain and get her anger out which comes off sounding a lot like jealousy. She tells him that she doesn’t understand why Castle is pulling away and the doctor gets her to admit that she’s worried she waited too long but he points out that maybe Castle is just protecting himself. He’s right, of course, but Beckett just takes more time to think. (Head meet wall).
After a while, Slaughter’s tactics start to scare Castle and he admits to Esposito that the man is insane. But Slaughter is mostly just messing with him, making (gross) jokes about Alexis, Beckett and pretending to kill someone, who turned out to be an undercover detective. He told Castle that he was just testing him to make sure he had his back. Castle tries to play it off like he was amused, but he was mostly scared.
Speaking of Alexis, Castle has been hoarding her college acceptance/rejection letters so that she can open them all at once. Alexis gets into most of the schools that she applied to, including Stanford, her dream school that had originally rejected her. Alexis isn’t sure how she feels about that and Castle says he understands. They rejected her so she feels betrayed. (In case you missed the shovel the writers are beating us over the head with, Alexis’s issue was just a metaphor for Castle and Beckett’s relationship).
Going back to the case, Slaughter figured out that there was a third gang in the city, an even more powerful one and Castle theorized that this new gang leader had set up the other two to go to war with each other. It sounded plausible (read: boring) enough to make sense, but then Castle was upset after he realized Slaughter coerced someone into confessing in order to put the new gang leader in jail. He went to Ryan and Esposito for help, but they weren’t interested since he’d been cheating on them with a new detective.
Beckett, however, was willing to help Castle. (I would just like to point out that at this part, there were only seven minutes left in the episode. I’ll come back to that). Beckett had run a traffic camera search and discovered that it wasn’t possible that the new gang leader was the killer. Castle and Beckett went to investigate, Slaughter showed up to yell at them and threaten Beckett, they discovered the kid’s father had actually killed him and then Beckett threatened the gang leader to get out of her city and never look back. Slaughter punched Castle for defying him and when Castle thanked Beckett for having his back, she reminded him that was what partners did.
The episode ended with a cute scene between Castle and Alexis. She was still pondering schools and was still considering Stanford even though the school had initially rejected her. Castle pointed out that she had to ask herself if she wanted it badly enough to get over being hurt. (Yes, he’s talking about Beckett again. Subtle is not a thing on this show).
I didn’t dislike this episode as much as I thought I was going to, but sometimes that happens when my expectations are already in the sub basement. I still had major issues with it though, the main one being that we had to wait until the last seven minutes before we had any real Castle and Beckett interaction. I think it’s past time for these two to quit playing games and admit that they’re in love. But if the writers want to continue to drag it out, fine, drag it out. (Please stop dragging it out). However, do not put on two episodes in a row where the main characters barely interact and have boring cases on top of that.
There are two more episodes left in the season and it seems like they’re building toward Castle and Beckett finally taking that big step. I hope they do, but as much as I want that to happen, I also want the show to go back to being fun. I’ve been saying this for weeks. The cases need to be more interesting. This is a procedural show. I want to care about the case and I want suspects and twists and hear Castle spout crazy theories while Beckett rolls her eyes and mocks him. I don’t think it’s too much to ask for the show to just follow the premise it was built on. Do you agree? Disagree? Sound off below.