Castle "Hunt" Review: I Met Him in Paris

By Alex Navarro

Feb 26, 2013

Castle S05E16: "Hunt"

The subject of Castle's father has always been one of those weird, dangling plot threads that fans of this show have always known would come knocking one day. It's never been something the show has focused on with much scrutiny, save but to suggest that Castle's pop probably has some kind of shadowy past, considering that nobody seems to really know who he is. But outside of occasional mentions and tacit connections to cases Castle has become involved in, the dad storyline always seemed like the sort of thing that would get explained eventually, but not anytime soon. That was, of course, until last week.

The kidnapping of Alexis in last week's episode raised a lot of questions as to whether or not she was actually an inadvertent victim. While it sounded perfectly plausible that her Egyptian friend would make a prime target, given the friend's father's wealth and stature, there was something off about the whole endeavor, and not just because somehow, for some reason, the girls had been whisked away to a safehouse in Paris, of all places.

"Hunt" didn't waste much time acknowledging those inconsistencies, and in fact revealed very quickly what many of you in the comments last week suspected: Alexis was the target all along. 

After a deal was made to have the girls returned in exchange for ransom money, the FBI was able to wire into a camera feed to see the exchange go down in Paris. They weren't there because of various diplomatic complications, but they could watch as the Egyptian girl's uncle dropped the money, and she was freed. Unfortunately, there was no sign of Alexis.

Castle was understandably distraught. The kidnappers didn't contact him, nor did they make any overtures toward indicating they might want to let her go. With the FBI of no immediate help and the investigation in New York seemingly at a standstill, Castle did the only thing an exceptionally wealthy, marginally trained father would do: He flew to Paris to get his goddamn daughter back.

We knew this was coming. Last week's preview signaled that Castle was about to go fully Liam Neeson all over Paris to find Alexis, but we also heard that Castle's father would somehow be involved in all of this. The worry I had going into this episode was that the Castle's Dad storyline was going to be awkwardly inserted into what was otherwise proving to be a pretty good little self-contained story arc. I am pleased to report that at no point did any of this become awkward, or frankly anything but entertaining.

And that's the key word when summing up a good "serious" episode of Castle ; it's got to be entertaining. My problem with the show's sometimes overly serious story arcs is that oftentimes I don't have a whole lot of fun watching them. The "Target"/"Hunt" story, however, was never anything but entertaining. Even in its darkest, most troubling moments, the episodes retained all the good qualities of a proper thriller, keeping the pace just below breakneck, constantly diverting our attention with potential red herrings and other flummoxing details, and pulling off just enough exciting action to make us forget that we were watching a serialized TV drama with a somewhat-limited budget. Even when I knew the Castle's Dad reveal was coming, I was too transfixed on what was happening from scene to scene to worry about it. And then the reveal did happen, and all I could do was throw my hands up and say, "Sure! Yes! Why the hell not?"


Because honestly, why not have James Brolin play Castle's deep-cover CIA operative father? That's a fantastic casting choice, and one that paid dividends last night. Before we arrived at Brolin, Castle spent much of the early episode wandering around Paris with an off-the-books French operative who'd agreed to help him. But by the time the episode reached the halfway mark, Castle was already double-crossed, left to be taken by the men who had Alexis—or so we thought. Suddenly, gunshots rang out, and the meeting point was littered with bodies in a matter of seconds. And up strolls Brolin, carrying a ludicrously massive rifle and that winning James Brolin smirk that I'd forgotten I even missed.

It was a surprisingly deft introduction of the character, and his continued presence throughout the episode was more than welcome. Brolin simultaneously got to be a badass and have a tender moment with Nathan Fillion that rang truer than such a scene probably ought've. I mean, just about any other grown man meeting his absentee father for the first time might've had a more enraged reaction to the realization that he's been around all these years, watching (or, perhaps stalking) his family while never making contact. But considering the stakes, the situation, and the fact that Castle's dad is a frigging spy, I think Castle just kind of going with it for the sake of getting Alexis back made sense. And it made for a great scene between the two as they briefly caught up. I know I wasn't the only one who let out an uncontrollable "D'AWWWW" as Brolin told his son about the time he showed up just long enough to give Castle his first spy novel— Casino Royale , of course—when he was ten years old. If I was the only one, then screw you all. You're heartless. All of you.

If I have any beef with how the "Target"/"Hunt" story came to a close, it had to do with the relatively unremarkable villain at the center of it all. A former KGB operative (played by the usually great Nestor Sorano) had it out for Brolin, as Brolin had killed his wife decades earlier during a mission. So the whole thing was all about revenge, using Alexis (and, eventually, Castle) as bait to try to lure Brolin out so that Mr. KGB Man could extract his vengeance. That's all well and good, except that Sorano doesn't even arrive on camera until there were maybe 20 minutes left in the episode, and his few lines of dialogue don't do much to engender much feeling toward him one way or the other. He was just kind of a nasty dude who apparently had ample resources at his disposal. Thankfully, the dispatching of this character, as well as the final chase out of captivity, made for a an entertaining climax with a relatively sweet ending.

I doubt we'll see too much of Brolin again for a while, as his character seems built in such a way as to put him in prime position to make very specific guest appearances when/if necessary, but not much else. Still, I like that we finally have an answer to the Castle's Dad question, and it's one that's juuuust open-ended enough to allow James Brolin to stroll in again whenever he likes. I will never, ever complain about the possibility of more James Brolin in things, so congratulations Castle writers, you pulled this one off beautifully.



NOTES

– Beckett and the home team didn't have a whole lot to do this week, but I did very much enjoy Stana Katic's sudden rage burst at the dead kidnapper's ex-girlfriend, who was stonewalling the investigation. That was some really good bad-cop business, right there.

– I like that the writers randomly decided to introduce a French version of the Whistler character from Sneakers as a way to find Alexis's location from last week's Skype call.

– So, will Sarah return? I mean, her and Alexis were kind of besties, right? Or is she just going to be one of those random friend characters we never see again?

– Dear Castle writers: If you wanted to maybe write a storyline where Castle has a half-brother he doesn't know about, and that brother is played by Josh Brolin, I'd be super okay with that. Just putting it out there.

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  • GirishKrishna1 Jun 25, 2013

    How could you not have realized that the French guy was played by the brilliant Christopher Heyerdahl! Anyway, a very good arc. The best arc was in season 3 though.

  • tamaabi Mar 21, 2013

    I loved the first part of this two-parter but OMG please use Wikipedia before setting an episode in a country/city you're not familiar with! I just need to rant, cause I loved the first part and now it just wasted it for me. American tvshows very very often completely mess up anything related to foreign countries, I just hoped Castle wouldn't be one of them. - "we need to reach out for the embassy, it'll take a day or two" WTF?! This is what Interpol is for. - second, that part of the Seine for an exchange? There's ALWAYS someone there, it's in the middle of a touristy area, there are police patrolling all the time, and cars are not allowed here so a car would be like a giant neon sign saying "cops, please come look what's going on!" - a crappy building like that with this kind of corridors/lights/switchers/walls/etc. in Paris16th arrondissement (one of the fanciest ones)? Right. Plus these are all American stuff, not used in France. I get this was filmed in a Californian studio but come on! - also, carrying a gun in plain view in a building where uninvolved-people might see you? In France? I don't think so. - OH MY GOD "Today's paper", so the name of the paper is "Ce jour" ("Today" in French). It doesn't exist. - The forest of Fontainebleau certainly doesn't look like that. This kind of trees don't even grow around Paris. (plus it's completely flat, whereas their forest is on hills) - Also, once again, you don't shoot without a silencer. Guns are prohibited. Plus in a wood around Paris you're ALWAYS near people and cities. (and Fontainebleau is a touristy area too, so.. yeay for stealth) - And then the guys arrives in the middle of the day in a touristy forest with an ASSAULT RIFLE and nothing to conceal it. Ha. Hahaha. I really hope the Castle writers never try to be bad guys in France cause they'd be prodigiously bad at it. - "3 million dollars", esp. since these are euros. Does Caste's dad have a converter in his head? - Ahahahahaha, the Russian guys in the Parisian palace with all the guns. And the windows are not covered. Ahahahahaha. - Right. 6 am in front of Palais Bourbon. With guns. Palais Bourbon is the seat of the French National Assembly. There are several dozens guards around 24/7. It's also on a big artery, so there is traffic 24/7, esp. at 6am where it's picking up. But stealth, you know, who needs it? - Am I the only bothered that it seems like Paris is the place where the CIA and the KGB do their little affaires? I mean what better place that one where carrying a firearm will get you to prison for most of the rest of you life ; difficulties getting a visa etc? - Ah, see what I said with the firearms? The guards are outside, guarding the door, in plain view of everyone, with rifles. In France. - Also, this place? Where the Russians stay? Doesn't exist in Paris. Sorry. - That is not the US Embassy. - Also Interpol is not the European equivalent of the FBI. The FBI is part of Interpol. Wikipedia or their website is your best friend.

  • mromer Jul 16, 2013

    You should be thankful, tamaabi. You can´t imagine what they do to Brazil when they portray it in a movie or series. Like putting a giant sand desert in the middle of Rio de Janeiro. Or making us speak spanish and not portuguese. Or even putting mayan temples around just, you know, to give it a more exotic feel.

  • tamaabi Jul 16, 2013

    ... I've actually been to Brazil, and enough other places to facepalm 99% of the time when tvshows set an episode abroad or talk about anything regarding something that is not the US, Canada and Mexico.
    (I'll always remember that episode of White Collar when, after recovering a priceless stolen Chinese artifact, they gave it back to the Ambassador... of Japan. And they said "A terrible diplomatic incident has just been avoided". *cough cough*)

  • Whatifnuts Mar 09, 2013

    I loved this two part episodes. Loved Castle going darker because of Alexis being kidnapped and Castle doing whatever he could to get her back. And perfect way of introducing Castle's father. I hope we'll see him again. I'd love to see him again maybe trying to be a normal father and grandfather. That would be funny.

  • keniswari Mar 05, 2013

    Overall, I like it. I can see they were tight in budget though, but it was alright. And those goofs like the "8 blocks" and stuff clearly was the writers' fault--their lack of research, maybe. I'd guess that none of them has actually gone to Paris before and this is a bit vital for the details. But again, it was alright. I still enjoy the show. The dad-thingy was good, it's just that something wrong with the scene when they come home. I'd expect something better than Alexis walk through the door and hug everyone and Beckett should be kissing Castle like never before---I mean, he almost got killed! And she only gave him a hug and a slight kiss? Come on! Let alone the CGI and other effects. Tight budget always ruins everything.

    It was alright, though. I think maybe this episode could be better if they made it as a two-hour film with bigger budget and better writers who can write better stories. Also better details. Better plot. Better everything. I mean, come on, where's Alexis' mom? Her daughter been kidnapped and it was supposed to be all over the news (to make Castle's dad come out, remember?) and yet she was nowhere in both of the episodes. These two parter could be big and epic, but it didn't reach its maximum point, and that was a bit disappointing.

    But, hey, it was alright. So, yeah.

  • Placebo_obecalP Feb 28, 2013

    I would have enjoyed this episode a hell of a lot more if Alex hadn't spoiled the fact that Castle's dad was in the second part.

  • MisfitChicks Feb 28, 2013

    Oh. One more add for me. I was really impressed with Gates this time. I still don't think she fits in too well, but at least they gave Penny more to work with. Making Gates just a little more likable. Maybe in time, I will like the character of Gates more. At the moment, I'm still iffy on her.

  • erinahbing Feb 28, 2013

    Nice, just is was not a "Castle" episode. So out of character, out of style.

  • Kerkesh Feb 28, 2013

    So the whole nefarious plan of revenge by the Russian ex-KGB villain was to wait until Alexis went to college and meet the foreign daughter of a very wealthy politically connected father, who was in trouble in his country, and wait then until they were alone in some out of campus affair and kidnap them. Then step two was to pretend the foreign enemies of the father were behind it, which meant that he had to hire extra men from that country, and have an American low life criminal liaise between both parties before having him killed. Wow!!!!! A which writer came up with that plot, pretty please?
    But that's not all, then the plan was to take both to Paris , not any actual KGB hideout, where they stayed in a chic (posh) neighborhood, without the French authorities, or it's internal intelligence service, keeping watch. Later on, the attack on the said posh residence in a neighborhood of the wealthiest people in France, goes unnoticed by same authorities, and the Americans tell them nothing of the going on in the capital of their country; at less than a mile away from the Elysee, where the French President lives and conducts the country's business. Again wow!!!!
    So Castle's father instead of contacting him directly , allows him to recruit a stranger of very dubious background to negotiate a three million dollars release of Alexis , follows him obviously on foot to the Forest of Fontainebleau, thirty miles outside Paris, allows the mercenary to betray his son, shoots the well spread bad guys with the same magic bullets that killed Kennedy, and then reveal himself at last to his son.
    So, the network actually paid good money to writers to come up with this BS, gave the okay for having it filmed and aired.
    Well, I have a bridge in Brooklyn I am certain they'd be interesting in acquiring for a very good price. Call me, folks.

  • hbf716 Feb 28, 2013

    I loved this episode. It had heart, reveals, action ... fun all around. Love your Josh Brolin idea.

  • CarlosR628891 Feb 27, 2013

    The WORST ever! Ridiculous plot, super-spy grand-dad who knows all, has all sorts of equipment at hand (like the CIA leaves that stuff lying around for people to take with), magically arrives in the forest without any transport, shoots five guys standing far apart without any of them taking cover or shooting back, Castle runs through a strange building full or armed thugs without any problems and finds an unlocked exit, a totally cartoonish evil mastermind (who threatens someone of the phone by waving his gun around - as though the other person could see him), armed guards prowling the outside of a building in plain view (as though the French would EVER allow that), the "embassy" being just around the corner, the embassy steps which OBVIOUSLY were some sort of public building and not an embassy (guys, did you ever see the fencing around a real US embassy?), the appalling green screens with the Eiffel Tower shifting place and perspective, and plenty other idiocies (some mentioned by other posters). Even Liam Neeson got beat up and shot, and he was better than Ashley Judd (did you pick that up? Nice line!). Pure cartoon territory - stupid!

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