Castle Season 6 Episode 11 Ryan Esposito Fire

Castle made a clever move, returning with an episode that makes good on the title “Under Fire.” Can Esposito and Ryan escape a conflagration by relighting the forges of Erebor and smelting a giant dwarf statue? Or maybe they’re just hoping for the fire department to rescue them?

The Players:

  • Director: Paul Holahan
  • Writers: Andrew W. Marlowe and David Amann
  • Cast: Nathan Fillion, Stana Katic, Jon Huertas, Seamus Dever, Molly Quinn, Susan Sullivan

Episode Title: “Under Fire”

The show returns with Castle and Beckett already grim-faced at the site of a blaze. Jenny, Ryan’s very pregnant wife, calls asking Kate where her husband is. Has something happened? Of course it has! Cut to 12 hours earlier. A body found at the site of a fire turns out to be a fire department investigator. He was on the trail of a serial arsonist called The Phantom” and was killed at the scene of one of his trademark fires. Castle and Beckett are on the interview trail, talking to some pyrophiliacs, while Esposito and Ryan check out a prospective target building. They stumble into the arsonist’s lab, and it self-destructs in an exposition that engulfs the warehouse in flames. So 20 minutes in, Castle and Beckett are standing helplessly outside a burning building, not knowing if their friends are still alive. Richard realizes the arson lab must have a contingency exit below, so there’s still a chance his friends could have gotten out. Even though they fall to the basement mostly intact and called Beckett, the boys are passing out from carbon monoxide. It’s all Ryan can do to settle on a name for the baby with Jenny, who’s now in labor. Castle figures out that a building inspector is behind the fires, which is why he’s so good at setting them and has an excuse to watch. He’s eventually persuaded to give up the secret entrance. The detectives are rescued, and Ryan “smells great” when he greets his wife and new daughter.

The Good:

  • New York’s Finest: It was nice to have a little assist from FDNY. The day players were as competent and sharply dressed as our regulars, adept at delivering exposition and interesting. They were also a perfect group to tuck the real arsonist until he was exposed. Hiding in plain sight, indeed.
  • Fire Cannot Kill A Regular Cast Member: All due homage to the script. The button opening the episode, of Jenny’s phone call to Kate, did a fantastic job of setting up the tension for Ryan and Esposito’s inferno. Of course the odds are mostly in your favor if you’re a supporting player of six seasons. But Castle starts in peril and gives credence to the idea that this is how they would kill someone off. Thank goodness the possibilities of goofy-dad Ryan and awkward-with-babies Esposito are too great to pass up on. But the episode is structured to make you genuinely scared for them both. It mostly works.
  • King Under The Mountain: He may not be dragon-amazing, but Kevin Ryan is pretty great. Seamus Dever is often called on for levity, exposition or action, but not necessarily all three in the same episode. The show gave him a meaty (flamey?) dilemma and he did a heroic job facing it. The tortured phone call between husband and wife reminds us of the opening of Star Trek but hey, steal from the best.

The So-So:

  • If You Can’t Stand The Heat: The script does a number of interesting things to make the arsonists as pathologically crazy as murderers and make arson even sound like murder. The first fire freak the cops talk to does a fine job of this. “A building is like a person” was the creepiest line of the night. But the geek owner of a fire enthusiast web site? The “accelerant signature” that was just a big ‘X’? Not so much.

The Bad:

  • Expedited Delivery : Giving birth in an ambulance can be sitcom-acceptable. But there was not a hair out of place on Ryan’s wife’s head. Someone should’ve been capturing that business with a smart phone: Jenny secretly mastered the art of painless childbirth, aided by Lanie’s benevolent gaze. C’mon, show, put a little more effort into it.

Overall:

Castle overworks itself trying to make arson-homicide feel the same as good-old fashioned murder. The results are mixed, but “Under Fire” gets almost everything else right. There’s snappy dialog, an interesting play with structure, and the plot of a new CBS procedural about fire investigators in the making. What a way to bring Ryan’s daughter into the world, and what a way for Castle to return.

Rating: 7/10

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

Happy Castle came back with a bang? Let us know in the comments.