Recap: The Human Factor



Every Monday from now until the season premiere in September, we’ll be feature a random episode of the week. There’s no method to our madness other than we won’t select an episode twice and it won’t be a recently aired episode on ABC (in the last four weeks). So without further delay, this week’s episode is:

5×23 — The Human Factor

Logline: When Homeland Security inexplicably seals the crime scene of a car bombing, Castle and Beckett find themselves with two mysteries on their hands: who murdered the victim, a government whistleblower, and why are federal agents trying to take over the case? The plot thickens when they discover that the victim wasn’t killed by a car bomb but by a missile from a military drone.

Original Airdate: May 6, 2013

Written by: David Amann

Directed by: Bill Roe

Guest Cast:

Eric Lange as Simon Warburg
Hrach Titizian as Omar Dixon
Carlos Bernard as Jared Stack
Catherine Dent as Beth Tanner

What we liked about this episode | Since a couple of us are “24” fans we’re going to have to go with the mini-“24” reunion with Carlos Bernard and Stana Katic. But that’s a minor point. One of things that we liked about this episode Castle freaking about the rise of the machines and Beckett playing on his insecurities.

The case | An outspoken anti-government lawyer is blown up in the middle of the street by what at first appears to be a car bomb. But when Beckett arrives, the feds are taking over the case out of “national security” concerns. Off in the distance, a man (Carlos Bernard) watches Beckett as she tries to get more information from two men who were reportedly watching the murder victim. The story progresses into a possible pseudo-cover-up by the government. Beckett gets played and gets the upper hand in the end when she gets the mysterious Special Agent Stack to reveal more details about the murder victim. It’s an uneasy partnership. It ends with the victim’s son admitting to killing his father with a drone that he was able to hack. At the end, Stack makes Beckett an offer she almost can’t refuse.

Is it just us, or did others feel this as well | When we sat down to re-watch this episode the other night. We saw something that we hadn’t picked up on before. Beckett seemed a little annoyed with Castle throughout this episode. The first clue is when they approach the Agents J and K in the car at the crime scene. There’s also a few other points in the episode where it felt as though having Castle around was becoming more of a burden than a helpful factor. The linchpin comes during the drone attack at Warburg’s farm. Castle taunts Beckett’s shooting abilities and almost treats her as though she’s not as good as she thinks she is. It could be a bit of a lover’s teasing, yeah. However, we think that there was some intention laid out in that scene.

The job offer | At the end of the episode, Agent Stack pulls Beckett aside asks her about her future. Beckett is at first turned off and tries to walk away. He asks if she saw herself moving up the ranks. Beckett says she doesn’t, it’s not where her heart is. Stack levels with her—he was a homicide cop in Chicago when someone tapped him on the shoulder. He offers her a chance to interview for a job with the Attorney General’s office—part of a special investigative team. He strokes her ego. He compliments her on her abilities as a detective. She has what it takes for the job. Beckett says she’ll think about it.

Best dialogue | After Beckett is told to spring Stack and she asks for something in return—an in on the federal investigation, Stack tells Beckett and Castle what is going on. Stack tells Castle no one is supposed to know about this “special investigation” unit. He adds that he’s wearing a mask (like “Mission Impossible”). Even Stack has a bit of fun with Castle’s conspiracy theories. In the scene following there’s a slight wink to 24 fans when Stack call the NYPD’s anti-terrorism unit “counter terrorism unit.”

The takeaway moment | The job offer is the takeaway moment of the episode. Going into this episode, it was already known through spoilers and teases that some shake-ups were likely to come into play as the season closed out. It’s also forcing Beckett to think about her future in a way that she probably never thought about and probably what sparked her interest was that Stack stroked her ego, complimented her on intelligence and ability to think “outside-the-box.” He recognized that when she demanded something in return from the AG.

Worth a rewatch or two, or three |  The rise of the machines scene midway through the episode. Beckett plays into Castle’s conspiracy-laden theories. It was hilarious and a welcomed scene through what was a dark episode.

How well does this episode set up the finale | If we go with our feeling that Castle is ignoring Beckett and downplaying her abilities as a cop and her feeling annoyed having him around, then yes. This episode effectively sets up the finale in terms of the job and where the relationship is headed. Considering this episode was originally supposed to follow “The Squab,” the relationship issues also appear to continue. The sequence at the beginning of the loft where he spies on her with the tank is evidence that some rough waters ahead.



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