Every once in a while, the producers of ‘Castle’ throw in a serious episode, in some attempt to give the show a recurring “mythology” story arc, like a serial drama. While these are considered important episodes, they’re rarely among the show’s best. Such is the case with last week’s episode, in which Beckett gets a little closer to finding her mother’s killer.
None of this is to say that ‘Knockdown’ is a bad episode. It just lacks the breezy lighthearted tone that is usually the show’s strength. The series is most entertaining when it lets the characters goof around, like the episode a few weeks back where Laura Prepon played an actress shadowing Beckett as research for the movie version of Castle’s Nikki Heat book. There’s really no playing around in ‘Knockdown’. It’s all business.
Things start off when Beckett gets a call from Det. Raglan, an old cop who investigated her mother’s murder back in the day. Raglan is dying of cancer, and wants to come clean about all the corruption and misdeeds in his past, chief among which was covering up the real details behind the Beckett case. Unfortunately, he’s shot dead by a sniper before he can talk.
Beckett realizes that she may be close to a break in her mother’s case, and becomes obsessed. She pulls in a drug kingpin named Vulcan Simmons for interrogation, because Raglan used to work as his errand boy. Simmons knows all the interrogation tricks, and pushes Beckett’s buttons until she loses it and assaults him. This gets her (and Castle) taken off the case. Ryan and Esposito are made primaries, much to their own consternation, but they take this case very seriously.
Beckett of course isn’t about to give up just because her captain ordered her to. She tries to tell Castle to sit this one out, but he knows how important this is to her and won’t leave her side. “I’m your plucky sidekick,” he tells her. When Beckett reminds him that plucky sidekicks usually wind up dead, they settle on being partners instead, and secretly conduct their own investigation outside official channels.
What they learn is that Raglan had attempted to kidnap a mobster for ransom back in the day, and wound up killing him. The mobster was really an undercover fed. Raglan covered up the murder, but Beckett’s mother (a community activist working on a “Clean Up the Neighborhood” campaign) got too close to exposing the truth, so she had to be taken out. This all goes much higher than Raglan, though. A larger conspiracy of police and political corruption was in play. Raglan’s former partner threatens that Beckett has no idea what powerful forces she’s messing with. “You woke the dragon,” he says ominously.
While tracking the assassin who killed Raglan (Max Martini from ‘The Unit’), Ryan and Esposito get kidnapped and tortured to find out how much they know. Before they can get too badly hurt, Beckett and Castle storm in to rescue them. This prompts a big shootout in which the assassin gets a bead on Beckett until Castle bravely (though stupidly) throws himself in harm’s way to save her.
The assassin is arrested, but refuses to talk. The episode closes with Beckett informing him that she has connections in prison who will make his life hell until he finally breaks and tells her who he was working for.
Somewhere in the middle of all this, Castle and Beckett finally kiss. They do so as a ploy to distract a baddie, not out of any real romantic prompting, but I’m sure this will have further ramifications down the line anyway.
As I said, this isn’t a bad episode by any means. It just feels like it should be part of some other cop show. It’s a little out of place in ‘Castle’ – especially since it looks like the next episode will be back to the silly shenanigans. These tonal shifts don’t really work in the series’ favor.