This week on Castle, the team investigates the death of Kris Kringle in “Secret Santa.” They find a bearded man in a red suit in Central Park, which leads them to explore both the naughty and nice aspects of his life. Meanwhile, the team makes their Christmas Eve plans. What will Beckett and Castle do for the big day?

The Players:

  • Director: Paul Holahan
  • Writer: Christine Roum
  • Cast:  Nathan FillionStana Katic, Jon Huertas, Seamus Dever, Penny Johnson Gerald, Molly C. Quinn, Tamala Jones, Susan Sullivan

Episode Title: “Secret Santa”

While investigating the murder of Santa Claus, the team must determine their Christmas Eve plans. Castle’s slightly upset that Alexis, Martha, and Beckett are all busy. Ryan wants to spend the day with his wife instead of Esposito this year, and Captain Gates reveals her dislike for holidays with her in-laws. Meanwhile, the investigation leads them into a world full of Santa schools, aviation and holiday events.

The Good:

  • Holiday-Themed Tunes: Relax, this isn’t traditional caroling! The theme song and other music throughout the episode were tailored for the Christmas theme. It gave us a tinge of holiday cheer.
  • Ryan’s Concerns: Because of his job as a homicide detective, Ryan has a heightened awareness of corruption, ill-will, and harsh realities in the world. It’s a plausible and legitimate concern he expresses about having children in a society that can be unforgivably cruel. In fact, it’s a concern many new parents face. We’re glad Esposito eases his mind, albeit through his awkward demand to “go make a baby.”
  • Family Matters: From the importance of Martha and Alexis sacrificing their alternate plans to honor a family tradition to Gates’ frustration with her in-laws, we get a view of different family situations. Esposito’s role as citizen Santa leads him to a massive Christmas dinner, which is great because family is more than just blood relatives.
  • Holiday Partnership: Lanie’s denial of Esposito’s request to spend Christmas together is brilliant. Her reasoning is sharp and witty, and leaves the door open for them to date again. It was very admirable and strong of her.

The So-So:

  • Mistletoe Kiss: Why don’t Castle and Beckett kiss under the mistletoe at work? It’s the perfect–and probably only–opportunity they’d get to do so without Gates catching on. If their relationship is the main focus of the season, we’re okay with that. But *SPOILER ALERT* lack of kissing under mistletoe and gift-giving are disappointments!
  • Identifying Santa: It’s not everyday our detectives are too efficient. We liked the mystery surrounding Santa’s death. His identity is revealed by the team right after the first commercial break. But we’re okay with it since the investigation has many twists and turns that revealed this Santa’s desire to do good.

The Quotes:

  • Beckett: “I hate to break it to you, Castle, but Santa’s not real.” Castle: “Well, not anymore.”
  • Castle: “He hit turbulence and fell out of his sleigh.”
  • Castle: “Talk about a war on Christmas.”
  • Beckett: “Christmas means something different to me than it does to you.”
  • Castle: “I was thinking it’s time for a new tradition.” Beckett: “Me too.”
  • Castle: “Santa is dead? When will it end!”
  • Castle: “It’s bad enough that Santa has been murdered!”
  • Javier: “Shouldn’t you be at home stuffing your wife’s stocking?”

Overall:

“Secret Santa” leaves us on a high note until the next episode airs in January. The case explored the unique world of career Clauses, and provided a unique propellant in Caskett’s relationship.

Rating: 9/10

Castle airs Monday nights at 10 p.m. on ABC.

Photo Gallery:

Dd you enjoy Castle’s first “breaking of tradition” at Christmas? Let us know in the comments!