Castle’s eighth season kicked off in high octane fashion that ended with viewers having more questions than answers. “XY” is written by new showrunners Alexi Hawley and Terence Paul Winter and directed by Rob Bowman. Because of Stana Katic’s limited availability for the first episode, the writers found a workaround to tell a story from dual perspectives. First up is Castle’s search for Beckett.
The episode opens up with a different twist because we know who the killer is immediately which gives way to the idea that it is not so much who the killer is but the reasons behind it that sends viewers on a big journey.
It’s Beckett’s first day as captain and Castle gives his wife a nice bracelet which later turns up in a Resevoir Dogs-esque scene at theater. It’s here where Castle’s desperate search begins because the bracelet was found in a pool of Beckett’s blood. But the newly minted captain is clearly hiding something, is hurt and is on the run or being held against her will.
The search for Captain Beckett turns up new series regular Hayley Shipton (played by the delightful Toks Olagundoye) who is a no-holds-bar, willing-to-go-to-any-length to get the job done private investigator. Castle tries to get her to help but she brushes him off.
Hayley clearly knows more than she is saying and has a much bigger role in the story that meets the eye. One, she is well-connected and has a lab on speed dial that can run fast analysis on some material that rubbed off during a fight with a female assassin. Two, the person she had on speed dial clearly was someone connected.
The boys follow a lead to a dry cleaner’s where Beckett and a mysterious man show up. She’s not a hostage but rather on the run with this man. Beckett was shot in the shootout at the theater and patches herself up before bolting off with her new pal.
Hayley gets a change of heart and shows up at Castle’s P.I. officer where she gives Alexis a few pointers on investigating. Alexis takes the advice to heart and is more effective at tracing Beckett’s movement: first to busting into ambulance to get some medicine for her pal and later to a prison upstate where she met with Bracken (Jack Coleman). He is now serving a life-sentence for his crimes and naturally, everyone assumes Bracken is behind all this.
But is he? He could be a red-herring or the operatives he once used are unhappy they’re services are no longer needed and decided to go after Beckett as a form of payback. Perhaps. One thing is clear, Bracken can mess with people’s heads and he does a number on Castle who begins to have doubt with what is going on.
Is Beckett chasing down imaginary demons? Hmm…
The female assassin (Daisy Betts) kidnaps Castle as a way to draw Beckett out. The assassin and her pal torture Castle about Beckett’s whereabouts but accept the fact he clearly has no clue where Beckett is or what she is doing. Just as things go south, Castle busts free and tries to make a getaway only to get recaptured. Just as he’s about to go down, Beckett busts in shoots the woman and tries to shoot the other guy.
Castle and Beckett’s brief reunion is short and to the point. He doesn’t understand why Beckett is shutting him out. She can’t tell him what is going on and tells him she loves him before running off.
At the precinct, Castle is confused, worried and angry that Beckett didn’t tell him what is happening. But Alexis tells him he needs “protecting.” She tells him about when he went missing last year and how she thought he was dead. Alexis also reminds Castle he is a writer and Beckett is a cop. She has training, he doesn’t and then tells her dad to have trust in his wife.
Ryan and Esposito learn who Beckett is on the run with and it’s an analyst with the Attorney General’s office who worked in the investigative division. However, Beckett and this guy—Vikram Singh—never crossed paths. And the only person who could possibly shed light—Beckett’s D.C. partner, Rachel McCord—is dead, along four members of her team. The fourth was the guy killed in the opening. It’s not a coincidence.
This piece of knowledge should cast doubt on Bracken’s involvement unless the A.G.’s office crossed paths with something he was involved in before he was sent up the river.
The female assassin lets it be known her and her partner were not the only ones after Beckett. She won’t let herself be taken into custody and gets gunned down in a shootout at the precinct. She went down on her own terms because what she faced as a fate worse than death.
A few things more…
It’s hard to analyze an episode when we only know “half” the story. So to characterize this episode as knocking Beckett back a few pegs doesn’t jive with what is happening. Did she lie? She lied about the phone call. But from Beckett’s perspective, it was a necessary lie to protect Castle. The reasoning may not be fully explained in the second part, “XX” but should at least cast some light on Beckett’s decisions in the episode.