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A timey-whimey murder mystery? Yes, please. “Time Will Tell” is easily the most energetic episode of Castle so far this season. It may be a harbinger of an apocalyptic future in which Richard writes serious literature. Or so says the ‘time-traveler’ Beckett finds at the crime scene.

The Players

Director: Rob Bowman
Writers: Terri Miller and Andrew W. Marlowe
Cast: Nathan Fillion, Stana Katic, Jon Huertas, Seamus Dever, Molly Quinn, Susan Sullivan

Episode Title: “Time Will Tell”

The murder and torture of a parole officer appears to be the work of a John Doe, who claims to be a time anthropologist from the future. He’s supposedly working to maintain the continuum. The fantastical story irks Beckett, but gives Castle life, especially as a distraction from Alexis moving into an apartment with Pi. Shouldn’t he have been deported to Amsterdam by now? No one believes Time Doctor (hehe) ‘Simon Doyle,’ but his delusions lead them to another crazy guy without a record named Ward. It appears the parole officer was killed to get to her alternative energy-studying scientist brother. This was a way to get to a young college kid Doyle claims is going to save the world from neo-fascists. Whatever his motive (Ward remains mute), they catch him before he can hurt the kid. Even though there’s a reasonable explanation in the system – Ward’s ultimate target was the same boy who turned him over to the police six years ago. Doyle shared a cell with Ward long enough to absorb his crazy and the time-traveler vanishes.

The Good

  • “This Is My New Favorite Case”: Ours too, Castle, at least of the season. The giddy appreciation for mystery, which translates to Fillion strolling through police headquarters like a kid in a candy store, was much more present for this plotline than others. It was very welcome.
  • Three Kids: Beckett and Castle’s repartee was squarely back in the professional realm, but nothing really changed. This is a wonderful dynamic, not the least because Beckett was so annoyed with Castle’s time-travel love. However, the two had a nice moment to talk about Alexis and their future together. One that will involve three children if Doyle’s right, and the episode (for comedic purposes) seems to back him up. So Stana Katic totally has an out if she ever decides to get pregnant.
  • Like a Cross Between 12 Monkeys And Terminator: And the episode ends with the disquiet of La Jetee! The time-traveler references were spot on, as was the moment Esposito may have outed himself as a Whovian. It’s the little things that kept this plot percolating, but they were well balanced enough not to wear down the action. Good job, team.

The So-So

  • Signing a Lease: Good on you, Alexis, to ask for forgiveness rather than permission. But considering all we’ve seen Pi do is couchnap and make smoothies, how’s he going to pay his end? Alexis has a blind spot for the boy  and it’s absolutely fine. But it does feel like she’d be slightly more practical about the rent.
  • Why is The Junk Food Gone?: Was Sully also a time cop, recalled to his life in the future now that Castle and Beckett are back where they belong? The rhythm of the old gang absolutely works, but I hate to think they’d be so blithe about a man getting fired just so Kate could come back.

The Bad

  • Weep No More, Ye Sad Fountains: Castle is a procedural, and some characters exist only to provide the information to get our heroes to the next stage of the story. But the widow who saw her husband’s neck snapped before her eyes without any warning was an unemotional exposition machine. It actually took us out of the plot for a moment.
  • Sonic Me, Doctor: It fits the show that our supposed time-traveler’s perspective on strolling around ancient Egypt or Nazi Germany is, “Pfft, it’s fine.” It’s clear the writers’ sympathies are with the sci-fi story, not the ‘he’s a crazy person angle.’ He’s wearing way too nice a watch, for one thing. A little more ambiguity would’ve been nice, however.

Overall

Despite the slightly cutesy ending which seem to confirm time-travel, “Time Will Tell” is easily the most fun Castle has had this season. Anchored by the sober home-front story of Alexis moving, the episode is balance between its flashy gimmick, fun plot, and some character substance. And Senator Beckett? That’s a change we can believe in.

Rating: 7/10

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

What did you think of Monday’s episode?