‘Castle’ 5.01 Recap: “We Should Have Done That Four Years Ago”

We’re officially in the fall TV season now. This week sees the premiere of several new shows and the return of a few favorites. Among the latter, ‘Castle’ started its fifth season on Monday. Geez, I wish this series would find a consistent tone and stick with it.

At its best, ‘Castle’ is light, breezy entertainment. Unfortunately, in recent seasons, the show’s producers have tried to go “dark” with the extended storyline about Beckett’s investigation into her mother’s murder. Those episodes are almost always the show’s least interesting. We want to see Castle and Beckett trade witty banter and barely resist their romantic chemistry. This broody stuff is no fun.

The fifth season premiere, ‘After the Storm’, tries to have it both ways. As we last left things, Beckett had both resigned the police force and finally slept with Castle. Was this a mistake? Will the show pull a ‘Moonlighting’? It’s too soon to tell.

The episode opens with some amusing comedy hijinks as the two of them try to hide their new relationship status from Castle’s family and the other cops. The silly tone seems a little forced, but it’s nice to lighten the mood for a little while. This lasts about ten minutes or so, and then the episode shifts gears and races to wrap up the other storyline as quickly as possible.

The assassin Maddox (Tahmoh Penikett from ‘Battlestar Galactica’) is still on the loose and a threat to Beckett. With some off-the-books help from Ryan and Esposito, Beckett and Castle discover the identity of the mystery man who’d been protecting Beckett. His name is Michael Smith, and he holds a secret file that he’s been using as leverage against the Big Bad behind the whole conspiracy. Maddox wants this file, and tortures Smith to get it. (Smith is later killed in the hospital.)

Long story short, the file is in a floor safe in an abandoned office building. Maddox finds it, but the safe is rigged with a bomb and Maddox gets blown to bits. Castle and Beckett retrieve enough scraps of paper to figure out that the Big Bad is a corrupt Senator named Bracken (Jack Coleman from ‘Heroes’), but the connections are circumstantial and won’t hold up in court. Beckett goes rogue and the others think that she’s planning to murder the Senator. However, what she really does is bluff him into believing that she has the whole file and will use it against him if he doesn’t call off his dogs. Thus, she strikes the same deal for her safety that Smith had. She may not have justice yet, but she’s finally safe, and can work to collect more information on the Senator later.

The episode ends with Beckett getting her job back, though she has to sit out a suspension for a few weeks. She and Castle have some ideas for what to do during that time.

Scenes for the next episode suggest that the show will shift back to its lighter tone, with a focus on Beckett and Castle trying to keep their relationship a secret.

The premiere is a schizophrenic episode. I’m not sure that I really liked it. However, it did its job in shoving the conspiracy storyline out of the way, at least for a little while, and I suppose that’s a good thing.

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