There were no new layers in “Recoil.” Instead, we saw the new directions “Castle” could take from here.
The conspiracy branches out
This episode marked a turning point in the murder mystery surrounding Beckett’s (Stana Katic) mother. For four seasons, that mystery grew pretty much straight up from its roots: The seemingly random murder of Joanna Beckett became a targeted hit. The discovery of the hit led to the conspiracy. The retired cops in the conspiracy pointed the way to Montgomery. Because of Montgomery, we got a hired gunman and threats from above.
Then we got Senator William H. Bracken (Jack Coleman), the end of the line.
By the beginning of season 5, “Castle” could not go up any further. The show instead took the chance to spread laterally in “Recoil.”
How can “Castle” branch out from here? If you think about it, a man like Bracken pretty much has to be responsible for more deaths. He has other enemies. Thus, we got the episode’s deranged father of a dead intern. And the financial kingpin made angry by the politician. These victims are only the tip of the iceberg representing the Senator’s crimes.
Is this the saving of the storyline? Beckett can’t just destroy Bracken — she’s one of the good guys. But the story has to continue in some way. Delving into the other crimes and vendettas surrounding the Senator might just do it.
Beckett vs. Bracken
While everyone had their part to play in “Recoil,” this episode was essentially a dance between two people. Beckett and Bracken circled each other, occasionally sparring with words and understanding each other completely. Everyone else — even Castle (Nathan Fillion) — had to stand on the fringes.
This was a new relationship for the show. This episode’s two central figures were the epitome of mortal enemies. Each wanted the other dead, and neither had any reason to hide that wish. They may have worked together, but the murderous tension never lessened.
High tension and brilliant dialogue were the results. Take, for example, Beckett’s opening question when speaking to Bracken about the case: “Is there anyone that you can think of who would like to kill you?”
Both enemies smiled at this one.
And a little bit of whiplash to end it
The episode wasn’t perfect.
Some guy named Ben Moss, a man we have never heard of and who got approximately 2 seconds of screen time, was the force behind everything in this episode? And now he’s ruined?
Is it just me, or does that seem a little too neat and tidy. Sure, it’s possible that the “Castle” writers needed to squeeze in some finality and didn’t have the time to connect this coda a little better. But it felt… odd.
We didn’t actually need to see Senator Bracken take down his king-maker in this episode. Just the knowledge that there was a powerful and vindictive man out there was enough. Another episode in the future could have covered this plot in a much more satisfying way. Alternatively, it could have been left to our imaginations what sort of revenge Bracken would take.
A short clip unattached to anything else in the episode seemed wrong. Out of respect for “Castle,” I’m going to assume that we did indeed need to see it. The alternative is no fun.
And even in these intense episodes, we need our “Castle” fun.