Recap: In the Belly of the Beast

CASTLE - "In the Belly of the Beast" - Beckett is recruited to assist on a Narcotics investigation, but a routine mission turns deadly when an undercover operation goes array. To survive, Beckett must engage in a battle of wits against some of the most dangerous men in the New York underworld - including a powerful enemy from her past, on "Castle," MONDAY, MARCH 3 (10:00-11:00 p.m., ET) on the ABC Television Network. (ABC/Nicole Wilder) PENNY JOHNSON JERALD (BACKGROUND), STANA KATIC

“Beast” starts strong and ends strong but leaves us wanting a different twist

First a few thoughts | “In the Belly of the Beast” knocks “Valkyrie” off the number one spot and puts the rest of our best dramatic episodes this season to shame. For starters, we have preferred this episode to explore another part of Beckett’s mythology instead of another trip down Beckett’s backstory of her mother’s death. But we understand the reasoning for this exploration. As with other episodes that touched about Johanna Beckett’s murder that came in the mid-way point, they always reveal a nugget, which will progress further into the season. It’s almost safe to assume that this whole ordeal will come back by season’s end.

But that doesn’t make the choice to return {spoiler} in this episode any easier to swallow or the expected twist involving {spoiler}. With the whole 3XK/Nieman thing from “Disciple” earlier this season, the events of “In the Belly of the Beast” allows Marlowe and company two viable options to throw whatever Caskett nuptials into the plot mixer for the finale. Both storylines are his one-trick pony and well, the law of predictability pretty much means their wedding is going to face serious complications.

Editor’s note: To show our disapproval of the direction this episode took at the end, we will not use “certain names” in the recap. Though we’re sure you can figure it out. If not, we recommend “Knockdown” and “Recoil” as review episodes to clear up any sort of confusion.

One of their own | The case starts off pretty routine for Beckett. Brought in on her day off to help with the drug squad on a case, Beckett is asked to pose as Elena Markov, a “low level drug courier.” The law of TV plots demands that something must go wrong to move the plot forward. And so it does, in more ways than one. Beckett’s not made as a cop but the people she’s going to meet definitely don’t think she’s a drug courier, but something far more dangerous that anyone realizes. Gates is not happy about the assignment and even offers Beckett an out. But she’s never been one to shy away from a challenge and this is no different. Despite having backup, the bad guys have different plants for “Elena” and they kidnap her.

The police have no idea where Beckett went and Gates immediately brings Esposito and Ryan into the loop. From there, the story progresses as expected, with each element building on the previous. Beckett’s able to make contact with the 12th and tells them Elena is not a drug courier but something else. It quickly becomes clear to Beckett that Elena is a contract killer and is subsequently faced with a more dangerous mission—kill an innocent man.

Luckily, Beckett, even with her life in danger, won’t sacrifice her values even if her life depended upon it. She “fakes” the assassination of the target, but leaves him with some helpful intel that he later delivers to Gates. Now that her mission is complete, Beckett meets the figurehead of this drug organization and it’s our friend, {spoiler}, the one Beckett tried to throw through a mirror and the one that her mother had a run in with many, many years earlier.

As expected, things go south for Beckett. The torture scene was difficult to watch but she doesn’t give up what she knows (which is pretty much nothing) and is willing to suffer through the ordeal. {Spoiler} tells his henchmen to get rid of her and put her where she’ll never be found. Beckett tries to strike a deal with one of her captors but he soon meets his demise in a grisly way thanks to the real Elena Markov. The real Markov simply tells Beckett that someone wanted her to live and that would be {spoiler}.

Back at the precinct, there’s a recap. {Spoiler} was picked up but they can’t prove anything (apparently the word of a cop isn’t worth much these days), so {spoiler} will end up back out on the street, probably with a short shelf life. The money trail leads to some super-pac that’s connected to another super pac that’s allowing {spoiler} to build a war chest for an eventual (yeah, right) run at the presidency.

The State of the Caskett |  Thankfully, Marlowe is a better fan fiction writer than 99.9% of all the fan fiction writers out there and can sell a sweet moment of what do Beckett and Castle do on a day off that doesn’t sound cheesy or read like an instruction manual. What starts off with look at picking a font for their wedding invites ends up with an attempt at some afternoon nooky. Of course, that won’t happen.

”I need you to know that our partnership, our friendship is the greatest thing that has ever happened to me. You’re an amazing man, and I love you with all my heart. Always. — Kate

The letter | It’s not often we get to see or hear Beckett’s inner monologue when it comes to her relationship with Castle. Unlike her soon-to-be-husband, Beckett doesn’t have that sounding board when it comes to her relationships. Obviously, Beckett and Castle can talk (now, thankfully) but there are times when you can’t talk with your significant other. Beckett knows things are bad for her and sets out to leave some trace of herself. She writes a letter to Castle, which if they follow the Bones route will end up in her vows, letting him know how much he means to her. She didn’t have time to relay a lot of emotion but what she said made the most sense and worked for the scene.

Castle’s not completely helpless | The dangers of the job hit home for Castle in this episode. Sure, he’s always accepted that this job is dangerous—considering what they’ve been through together, but they weren’t engaged then. We would have liked to see Castle look at the murder board and seeing Beckett’s face up there but that would have taken away from a later scene where he’s in his chair and he looks at her empty chair. Castle’s not helpless in this episode, he does help. Gates is straightforward with him. Two years ago, she would have kicked him out of the precinct, instead she now values him as a member of her squad.

Setting up for the finale | It’s safe to assume that the events of “In the Belly of the Beast” are going to come back to haunt Castle and Beckett over the final six episodes. While the events of “In the Belly of the Beast” won’t specifically come up, it’s hanging there over their heads and will come back up again when we least expect it. And that’s okay. At least they’re doing it at episode 17. And not waiting until episode 21 to tell us trouble’s on the horizon and not allowing for further momentum.

A few final thoughts | We like the fact that they’re taking the time to set things up for what could be an epic showdown for the finale. Have we seen the last of Elena Markov? She definitely likes to use knives and if bodies start dropping with similar wounds, you can expect things will get deadly. But that’s where our praise stops. As said at the beginning, we would have preferred a different trip into Beckett’s mythology. Something new would have been preferable but the organic nature of the show’s writing doesn’t allow it. Once they find something that works, they don’t change it. They only add to it to make more complex. At this point, however, we feel it’s time to close the book Johanna Beckett murder mystery and allow the Beckett family its closure it so sorely needs. Beckett will never truly be at peace until {spoiler} is in jail, dead or rendered so powerless that {spoiler} can’t even get a job at McDonald’s.


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