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—
, 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.
– 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.