castle-valkyrie

Castle picked up right where it left off. In “Valkyrie,” Beckett said yes and yes to both Castle and her dream job. Still, a long distance relationship has its problems, especially if it involves gross breeches of national security, government cover-ups, and overly complex yet predictable plots. Thank goodness Lisa Edelstein was there to balance things out.

The Players

  • Director: John Terlesky
  • Writer: Rob Hanning
  • Cast: Nathan Fillion, Stana Katic, Jon Huertas, Seamus Dever, Molly Quinn, Susan Sullivan, Lisa Edelstein

Episode Title: “Valkyrie”

After a satisfying coda to the proposal, we jump two months ahead to Washington D.C. Castle surprises Beckett in the midst of a chase for an encrypted hard drive with national security implications. When he decides to nose in on the investigation, both of our heroes get more than they bargained for. Castle’s kidnapped, briefly, by ex-special forces, who almost immediately keels over dead. Beckett wraps the case only to find it’s all a set up. The hard drive wasn’t the mysterious evildoers’ MacGuffin. It was a chemical agent used to poison Castle’s kidnapper/fall guy, which means that Castle… uh oh.

The Good

  • The Cold Open: The show spent much of last year recovering its mojo through the deft advancement of Beckett and Castle’s romance. In the premiere, the new, relaxed dynamic holds up well, and there’s no better proof than Fillion and Katic’s comedic timing.
  • Beckett’s New Partner: All hail Lisa Edelstein! She’s capable of making the most vague and obscure federal agency in television seem lived-in and legitimate. She has a great rapport with Katic. In fact, a series where these sharp, confident women solve crimes without talking about Beckett’s boyfriend every five minutes would be delicious to watch.
  • Obstruction of Justice : The biggest hurdle of Beckett’s new job is how to incorporate Castle into it. Going into the show knowing this is the end to which the plot’s going to bend, the producers do a pretty admirable job outlining all the ways in which Castle’s interference is not even a little bit ok.
  • Quote of the Night – Castle didn’t always keep its balance on the high-wire act of spy agent clichés in “Valkyrie,” but the exchange between Edelstein and Katic in Union Station – “You were the one who told me to follow my intuition, and my intuition is telling me to wait.” “Fine. Your intuition has two minutes.” – was delivered with outstanding verve.

The So-So:

  • “Federal Agent!”: Does anyone remember which agency Beckett is working for again? It’s hard to say why the show is being so obtuse, but it’s more than a little lame. Until this is clarified, we reserve the right to pretend she’s been recruited by S.W.O.R.D. and that Clark Gregg is going to show up for a crossover during sweeps.
  • That Baby Plot’s Still Happening?: This illustrates how superfluous Esposito, Ryan, and the gang are that they didn’t show up until the second act.
  • Harold’s Purple Maps?: All the routes and stuff in Beckett’s Weirdly Nonspecific Investigative Unit (WNIU?) were outlined in purple, and it was super distracting. Purple is the comic sans of spy touchscreen layouts, y’all.
  •  The Life of Pi: The specimen Castle’s daughter brings back from her Central American vacation is precisely the kind of free-spirited, incense-burning boy toy she deserves to have a fling with. No judgment, Alexis. But he’s cut from the roughest possible hippie cloth (“I’m a fruitarian!”), and the level of laziness on display in the writing was grosser than his grey fruit shake.
  •  Ghost Base: Something about the way Jon Huertas pronounced the o in ‘ghost base’ was just plain funny. It underlines the ridiculousness of the plot the hour set up for next week. It’s like the producers sent an assistant to copy the backs of Lee Child novels. All the buzzwords are there, but there’s no depth to them.

The Bad:

  • Two By Two, Hands Of Blue: So Castle’s been poisoned, and has maybe a day and a half to live. Did anyone else immediately envision a scenario where he jacks a late ’90s gold sedan and spends the next 23 hours Crank-ing his way through landmarks of our nation’s capital? If you’re gonna drape your plots in 24-speak, you might as well go all in with it.

Overall:

From act to act, Castle often can’t make up its mind on what to be. In terms of plot and emotional tone, this new setup only heightens its narrative ADHD. What saves it is the playful warmth and good will Fillion and Katic bring to their scenes.It’s enough to surmount even the zaniest plot twist through sheer force of chemistry. We’d watch Fillion make faces at a papaya steak for 42 minutes. Still, steady as she goes isn’t a bad way to start a season, especially for a show so comfortable in its routine.

Rating: 6/10

Castle airs Mondays at 10 p.m. on ABC.