Castle Continues Its Reign of Awesome

It's been over two weeks since Castle was renewed for Season 3, but I'm still on cloud nine. It's not often that truly great shows get to live beyond one or two seasons, and Nathan Fillion didn't have the best luck before Castle; he was anchored to a show that was too much for the masses—and so it was lights out for Firefly. But Castle is flourishing marvelously—and it's turning into the best cop show on television.

The last four episodes of Castle have been fantastic. The show nailed both the first and second installments of its two-part event in March, and then followed up with back-to-back creative-as-hell cases. Last week's "Wrapped Up in Death" paid both dramatic and comedic homage to the Indiana Jones movies while making awesome use of its three awesome guest stars: Navi Rawat, fresh off her 5-year Numb3rs stint; Currie Graham, who you've seen in everything; and Erick Avari, that other guy that you've seen in everything. For a night, the trio of big-ish names became big authorities on mummification at the New York History Museum—and suspects in Castle and Beckett's investigation. It was plenty of fun to watch the suspicion jump from guest-star to guest-star, but it was even better to watch this already-silly cast play with a mummy-based plot. Beckett (Stana Katic), Esposito (Jon Huertas), and Ryan (Seamus Dever) tricked Castle into thinking he was cursed with the help of a few carefully planned gags, and the entire team also quoted Scooby Doo throughout the episode (my favorite was Beckett's "Ruh roh!"). And let's not forget the show's running joke: After almost two years, Castle still has his bulletproof "WRITER" vest ready at a moment's notice.

The show also deserves major credit for not moving backward in the URST department. The "Tick, Tick, Tick..." and "Boom!" episodes were pivotal for the Castle-Beckett relationship; for the first time, Beckett trusted Castle's intuition (and instincts with a gun). In "Wrapped Up in Death," Castle asked Beckett to take care of Alexis in the event that something should happen to him. This is major, real progress—progress that a show like Bones has taken five long years to really get going on (though Castle is a faster-paced show, so it makes sense). While Beckett is still quick to question Castle's judgment, she no longer dismisses it.

Which brings me to this week's episode, "The Late Shaft," which also made fantastic use of its guest stars and wove an extremely detailed case out of two recently-ripped-from-the-headlines tales. Tom Bergeron played Bobby Mann, a late-night host who's one part affair-having Letterman and one part ever-irrelevant Leno. Mann's sidekick was played by none other than the great Fred Willard, who I can only hope we'll be seeing more of (Phil Dunphy's dad, yo!). How great was it that he ended up being the killer?

Bergeron and Willard weren't the only famous cameos. French Stewart popped up as suspect Zach Robinson, and Kelly Carlson played starlet Ellie Monroe, whose chemistry with Fillion was much more palpable than Alyssa Milano's earlier this season.

On the joke front, Castle quipped about Twitter, explained the meaning of "FTW," tried to coin a catchphrase, and decided that, as a writer, he should brood more. As usual Fillion delivered every one of his lines with his trademark eyebrow-raising blend of sincerity and silliness. Seriously, where's his "Best Actor in a Comedy" Emmy nomination? Oh, right. Castle is a cop show.

Follow writer Stefanie Lee on Twitter: @StefAtTVDotCom

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