“At Close Range” delves into Detective Kevin Ryan’s second job as a private security guard. We find out he’s been working for his brother-in-law’s company and this latest gig has him protecting Congressman Alex Lopez (Ricardo Chavira) and his wife, Mia (Reiko Aylesworth) at a party. And since it’s not a Castle episode without a murder, the murder victim is the congressman’s “friend”, Carolyn Decker (Annie Little).
The death happens right under Ryan’s nose at this charity function. At first, it looks like Lopez was the target of assassin orchestrated by political radicals. As with most Castle episodes, it’s always something more and in this case a lot more.
As the team investigates, they find out that someone had slipped access to a man Eric Chambers (Charlie Hofheimer). And that leads them to group that wants keep Lopez out of the running for future political office.
This allows for a side discussion between someone with the state party and Beckett who tells her she’s on people’s radar. The whole bit fuels a side discussion about politics and politician and Beckett thinking she’s not doing enough in her life. If anyone remembers from “Time Will Tell” the uber-unfunny episode from season six that projected a future for Castle and Beckett that involved her becoming a U.S. senator.
The investigation continues and the team learns Ryan’s brother-in-law Frank Kelly (David Conrad) was the one selling access, the case centers on him and Ryan finds his loyalty tested. Unwilling to accept that his brother-in-law may have been the shooter, he seeks answers. Kelly admits that the security business isn’t going as well as everyone thinks and sells access to events to earn extra cash to keep the business from going under.
And that quest sets the team onto the congressman’s assistant, Megan Brooks (Ali Hillis). She felt that as Lopez’s star rose she felt that Decker’s close-relationship with the congressman would mean she’d find herself without a gig. Brooks eliminated the competition.
This episode is the first one to bring politics into the discussion of Beckett’s future. Given the shows history and experience with politicians, the fact that Beckett would even consider a run for any office, including dog catcher, is laughable at best. Idealism and seeing the world in black-and-white doesn’t play well in politics, including the fictional world. But we all know that there’s no show if Beckett is making policy and not collars. That funnels into something Castle finds on Beckett’s a test: an application for the captain’s exam and a practice test. She wants to see if that’s what she wants.
Overall “At Close Range” was one of the better one’s this season. It had a healthy dose of twists and turns that weren’t silly or complicated. The Ryan-centric episodes always seem to be more well-rounded and handled than the other secondary character-centric episodes. This is because Seamus Dever just brings it all in and nails every scene.