Episode Title: "Til Death Do Us Part"
Writer: David Grae
Director: Jeff Blechner
It's a beautiful day in New York as a man and a woman flirt with each other over a fruit stand, only to be interrupted by a falling naked dead guy who crashes into the produce. This means it's Becket-time! Or Castle-time, if you prefer. Regardless, Richard Castle (Nathan Fillion) Detective Kate Beckett (Stana Katic) arrive at the scene and they soon identify the naked victim as Michael Bailey after locating his now empty hotel room. Lifting a print off of a glass, they locate Holly Franklin (Jaime Ray Newman), the woman who was with Bailey before he died.
Lanie Parish (Tamala Jones) quickly determines that Bailey died from a poison hidden in a chocolate protein shake he consumed hours before his fall, exonerating Holly. Lanie also finds evidence that Bailey slept with another woman hours before he met Holly, but when the detectives round up Bailey's previous sexual partners, the young women take up an entire room. More curiously, all of the women thought that Michael was only seeing them and only Holly knew him as Jake, his assumed identity that included a very real looking ID. Castle comes up with a theory that Bailey was a secret agent to explain the expertly made fake ID and background info, as well as the bricks of cash left behind in his apartment.
In the midst of trying to solve the case, everyone in the precinct is getting ready for the marriage of Detective Kevin Ryan (Seamus Dever) and his girlfriend, Jenny O'Malley (Juliana Dever). But mainly, Detective Javier Esposito (Jon Huertas) is obsessed with getting a wedding date to outshine Lanie's plus-one, while Ryan tortures himself with a multi-day purge ahead of his wedding. Eventually, the detectives track down one of Bailey's more possessive girlfriends who claims that she witnessed him being kidnapped just a few days before. And her story is proven true when the attack is captured by a nearby ATM.
After Ryan tags the car from a traffic camera, the detectives move in and arrest Bailey's kidnappers, who turn out to be Bailey's loyal wingmen. They only mock-kidnapped Bailey to help him escape from his stalker-ery ex-girlfriend. They also tell the detectives that Bailey was using the Jake alias while aggressively attempting to hit on a woman named Lisa Hill (Jenna Gering), who eventually left a bar with him. Castle and Beckett also uncover a book of Bailey's conquests; which includes Ryan's fiancee, Jenny.
Castle insists that they should tell Ryan what they found, but Beckett dissuades him from digging too deeply into any woman's sexual history. Back on the case, Beckett and Castle learn that Lisa's husband, Ron Hill (Brian Johnson) is an investment banker attempting to close a deal with the company that Bailey worked for before his death; which means that Bailey initiated the affair to steal corporate secrets. At the police station, Ryan displays erratic behavior during his cleanse until his friends sit him down and encourage him to eat. While trying to gently dance around finding Jenny's name and photo in Bailey's conquest book, Ryan casually reveals that Jenny told him the truth about it once Bailey's name came up.
After locating Bailey's suite at a local upscale hotel, Ryan and Esposito discover a fridge full of chocolate protein shakes left by Amy Camp, the COO of Bailey's employer. Castle and Beckett burst into the negotiations to arrest Amy, who was another one of Bailey's victims during his corporate sexpionage. But Amy insists that Bailey's murder was just business.
On the big day for Ryan, his friends and colleagues are there to support him. Espositio learns that Lanie's date is gay, while Ryan's date is simply his attractive cousin. Thus Esposito and Lanie reunite for at least the wedding. And since Castle and Beckett are both single at the wedding as well, they accompany each other to their seats after Beckett openly wonders if Castle's third marriage will be the charm.
"Castle" is the biggest tease on TV. Everyone should realize that this episode is just a test run for wedding episodes to come, right? Next it'll be Lanie and Exposito, then maybe Castle's mom and some random boyfriend (the ghost of Chet!). Hell, the producers will probably marry Alexis off before they finally get around to sending Castle and Beckett down the aisle. Knowing this show, that will probably happen in the series finale and they'll probably have one last murder to solve at the same time.
Again, that's "Castle" for you. But at least some of the more awkward stages are now out of the way. Maybe Castle will pick up on the idea that he shouldn't ask about Beckett's sexual history to avoid having that moment again. Likewise, Beckett seems to already have herself in mind for Castle's next wife, even if she can't admit that to herself.
The case of the week worked because Castle's crazy theories about Bailey could have been true. "Castle" can get away with more audacious premises than the usual cop shows. And using Jenny as one of Bailey's previous conquests was actually a fairly clever way to make the A and B stories intersect. Ryan's non-reaction to the news was also refreshing. I kept expecting a sitcom style freak out before Ryan would eventually come back to his senses. Instead, Ryan took the news in stride and revealed that Jenny had already told him about it. It was a quietly mature moment that grounded his character.
Of course, Ryan also got most of the comedic moments through his continuous discomfort during his liquid cleanse. Seamus Dever seems to have a knack for funny facial expressions.
The one real issue I have with this episode is the way that the murderer was once again someone barely glimpsed until it was time for them to be unmasked as the killer. Up to that point, the mystery was pretty engaging and fun. But "Castle" seems to use that trick a lot, and as a viewer it's kind of annoying to know that the mystery will never make sense until a few seconds before Beckett and Castle round up the perpetrator. Maybe that's the only way that the writers and producers are able to stay ahead of the audience, but it's become a predictable twist at this point in the series.
Which isn't to say that the show isn't entertaining. "Castle" is what it is, take it or leave it.
Crave Online Rating: 7 out of 10.