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ABC (ended 2016)
After the last three episodes of Castle, I didn't really know what to expect from "Time Will Tell," the latest installment in a series that has just gotten done with some major backtracking. The first four episodes of this series thoroughly dismantled every ounce of change that the D.C. job storyline created, with some fun sets and a slew of new characters vanishing into the preverbal mist (for now, at least). When the show left us last week, Beckett had just returned to the force, and everything effectively went back to normal easier than a penny fits into a sinkhole.

So I have to be honest with you: I was worried about this episode. This pivotal episode could have sent this beloved show into the Dark Ages with Castle and Beckett starting to have inane arguments again for no reason, Pi being promoted to a main character, or even worse...actually no, there's nothing worse than that second one. Bottom line: it could have been bad.

But you know what? It wasn't. On the contrary, this episode was awesome. Sure, "Time Will Tell" didn't introduce a season arc like I was hoping for, and nor was it the start of an epic two-parter. And this episode certainly didn't launch us into the future of this show, indicating where Castle is headed. Instead, we were brought back in time tonight, way back to the Golden Age of Castle. And let me tell you, that was more than enough.

Tonight's episode was spectacular for so many reasons. Let me count the ways. First off, there was that great opening sequence. Is it just me, is Castle trying to up the ante with their openings lately? Last week's episode opened with a victim fleeing the scene of a murder, while the police were beating down her door. She was chased out of her apartment and into an office building, where she took everyone in a dental practice hostage. And this week we had a guy coming home from shopping to not just discover a dead body, but have a red-handed suspect run past him.

It used to be that Castle's openings were far more lifeless (pun intended), but in a good way. The camera would pan around a room to reveal some creatively killed victim, while we were treated to a nice taste of musical irony. But there was very little movement in these first few minutes of episodes. Sure, we often got to see a random bystander discover the body by opening a door, or peer into some small crevice, but the murder had usually long been committed. But now we've had two episodes in a row that feature suspects fleeing the scene in real-time, something that we haven't had that much of in the past (unless I'm forgetting several such openings, in which case I'm sure some of you will correct me on this).

Anyway, this episode's opening was great, and it reminded us of just how gruesome this show can be.

After meeting this episode's first victim, we were briskly shuttled over to the Castle residence. Here we were treated to this week's installment of When Hell-spawn Come to Stay. The title character was attempting to navigate his own living room at night, while having to tiptoe around the heaps of things that his unwelcome house-guest had left scattered around. Once again, as I'm sure most of you did too, I found myself asking the question: "Just how bad is Pi?" And the answer apparently is: "Even worse than you thought." Seriously, this was worse that walking into someone's bedroom in the morning without knocking. Now, I'm not the tidiest person in the world, but when I am a guest in someone's home I don't do a recreation of the effects of a tornado in their living room. Seriously, how has this guy ever been a guest anywhere?

Anyway, Castle got stabbed by Pi's belt (even his clothes are heartless) and promptly did something that I thought he was incapable of: stand up for himself. He called Alexis into his office and told her that he had had enough, and that Pi simply had to go. And to her credit Alexis wholeheartedly agreed with him.

So there you have it, ladies and gentlemen. The big payoff of Pi making Castle's home life a living nightmare. Alexis is moving out of her dad's place (which isn't that big of a deal considering she was suddenly going back to college in a week), AND she's going to move into an apartment with Pi. Daddy's little girl is making her next big step in growing up: living with a boyfriend that she'll soon come to hate. Seriously, she's going to need the help of every deity known to man in order to get through the next year. If what we've seen of Pi is any indication (and be honest, the writers only scratched the surface of his depravity) he must be absolute Hell to live with. As expected, Castle wasn't a huge fan of his daughter's plan, but for a completely different reason than the lion's share of people watching. He didn't think Alexis was old enough to live with a boyfriend, which isn't surprising considering that in his mind she's just learned to walk.

So as with many an episode's start, Castle started his day thinking that his daughter wasn't old enough for something, even though she's more emotionally capable of it than him (speaking of which, when are Castle and Beckett planning on moving in together?). There was no Martha this week, which is probably for the best. She probably would have recalled first sharing an apartment with a boyfriend when she was fifteen. Either that or she would've told her son that she would be teaching rats Shakespeare all week in his study.

Back at the crime scene, the team was trying to solve the victim's murder. She happened to be named Shawna (Shauna?) Taylor, and it looked like she was tortured before she died. They interviewed the victim's family (her stepbrother and his wife) who revealed that just prior to her death someone had been stalking her. Now, normally on a show like this, when a family is interviewed and none of them are suspected, one of them ends up being the murderer. And usually it goes down like this:

But thankfully the shy, silent family member didn't turn out to be the killer. No, this episode went in an extremely different direction. Not long after interviewing the family, Castle and Beckett discovered the identity of both the stalker and the man who fled the scene of the crime. It was this guy:

The dude had pulled an Anton Chigurh and gone back to the scene of the crime, where he was promptly apprehended.

He also dropped the bomb that we had all been waiting for. What about this episode made it worthy of being part of this show? What gave it that zany Castlesque edge that we always look forward to? Well, according to their prime suspect he was from the future.

Boom! The mike had officially been dropped. Now this is what I'm talking about. It's been too long since Castle has had one of its bordering-on-supernatural episodes. It's been too long since the zombie walks and underground steampunk clubs. And to top it off, Castle was impressively grown-up in the wake of this revelation. While normally he comes up with the wackiest theories over the slightest whiff of the supernatural, this time around he actually didn't think that their suspect was from the future. I was certainly shocked, as well as very pleased.

This episode wasn't entirely grown-up though. The writers couldn't resist having one of the team made fun of for something extremely trivial.

Seriously, I wouldn't be surprised if everyone makes fun of Ryan for having to leave early to be at the birth of his child. Anyway, the self-proclaimed time traveler was behind bars, but according to Laney he couldn't be the killer. We already knew that anyway, since we'd seen his face as he fled the crime scene at the very start of the episode.

Now at this point in time, Castle still believed that time travelers from the future didn't exist, and that the dude they had in custody was simply mistaken as too his time of origin and recent activities. But this being Castle, and Castle being Castle, this streak of sanity couldn't last forever. That other shoe had to drop at any moment. And we certainly wasn't disappointed.

Somehow Simon Doyle (the time traveler), had disappeared from the holding cells without a trace. And From this point on, Castle was a true believer in all things time travel. He remembered that Doyle had said a number of times that he was about to be "recalled," so he believed that the man had jumped forward in time in order to report in to his superiors, or something like that.

Normally this is the point in an episode of Castle where I roll my eyes, and utterly fail at suspending my disbelief, as a grown man (and often a few of his teammates) go about trying to solve crimes with the assumption that aliens or ghosts are responsible. But you know what? For once I was actually with Castle on this one. I could see why he'd think that Doyle was a time traveler from the future, especially when the alternative explanations for his escape made absolutely no sense.

Beckett's explanation for Doyle's disappearance was that, and this is a direct quote: "There was a mix-up with the paperwork when his charges were dropped, and some desk monkey accidentally let him go. And now they're all trying to cover their asses." Wait, what? This was her only explanation for how this man simply disappeared from a crowded police station dotted everywhere with security cameras? Okay, so there could have been a mix-up with the paperwork and he could have been let go. But...wouldn't there have been footage of him walking out of holding, or leaving the station for that matter? Something tells me that a desk monkey wouldn't go to the trouble of altering footage from a police station in order to cover up a comparatively minor mistake (it's not like someone died because of him/her).

Normally in episodes like this there is always an easily grasped-at logical explanation for any seemingly supernatural occurrences. It wasn't an actual zombie but a person dressed as one, it wasn't Santa that fell from his red sleigh but a professional department store Santa who fell from a red helicopter, etc. In fact, usually Castle has to jump to several conclusions in order for his supernatural solutions to make any kind of sense. But this time around, it was the logical explanations that were sounding half-baked, and the supernatural explanations that were becoming more and more plausible.

Meanwhile, Ryan and Esposito were tracking a series of leads that involved them interrogating some people that were so inconsequential that I won't even bother looking up their names. The last one revealed that their killer was probably some super scary dude that they knew almost nothing about, except that he was part of some violent anti-science group and could very well have been former military.

Ryan made some big deal about how they had no information on their new suspect (who was named Garret Ward) prior to six years ago. Castle suggested that this was because he was from the future, and didn't exist prior to six years ago, even though there were dozens of possibilities for how his record could have been wiped clean. Namely that Garret Ward was an alias, his previous record had been deleted across the board by a hacker, or he was involved in some sort of classified, shady government organization. But that's Castle for you: grabbing at any supernatural straw that he can.

Apparently Ward had attempted to bomb a conference six years ago, and had been in jail ever since. Now, here's where I wonder why someone from the future would go back in time to try and stop Ward from doing terrible things AFTER he had been released from jail. You'd think the mission would be a lot easier and a lot more likely to succeed if you visited him in jail, dragged him back with you to the future, and then imprisoned him there. But I digress.

In an awesome twist, Castle discovered that Dr. Wickfield (Shawna's step brother) had been a speaker at the conference. Which meant that he was probably Ward's real target, and he had tortured Shawna for information about where her step-brother lived. Our heroes rushed to the Wickfield's house, but they were too late. According to his wife (she could have been his girlfriend), Ward simply walked into their house (he had the decency to knock first, unlike someone much, much worse) and demanded to know where "the child" was. After hearing sirens, he killed the good Doctor and ran away, leaving only Wickfield's poor wife/girlfriend to tell the police what had happened. And her being so innocent-looking, they believed every word she said, even though she was the only person who claimed to have seen her husband die, and it could actually have been her. Yep, I really thought it was her.

Anyway, it turned out that Dr. Wickfield was actually a pretty big deal. His work could have had some major effects on the future, future being the important word here. After interrogating another thoroughly unimportant person, Beckett and Castle discovered that Ward had previously been staying at a power plant. So they went there in search of him. And found him. And fought him. And lost to him. Thankfully Doyle got there just in time to chase him away, though unfortunately for him he got handcuffed for his efforts.

I don't know about you, but I loved the bit where Doyle told Beckett and Castle about what they were going to be like in the future. Once again, his self-declared job description seemed oddly believable as he effortlessly listed their future occupations and children. He even alluded to the fact that "crazy" things will happen to Castle and Beckett. Stranger still, future Castle will apparently write serious fiction. At least then it'll be clear that he doesn't just solve crimes with Beckett and the boys to give him inspiration for his books.

Ward had successfully fled the scene, but after looking around his lair they found a photograph of an old letter that had been written to Dr. Wickfield. It had been dated six years ago and written by a high school student. Ward had circled a number of the words that gave clues as to the author's identity, and it was clear he was searching for whomever had written this letter. And it sure didn't look as if he wanted to become pen pals. No, evidently Ward had killed Shawna and Dr. Wickfield in search of this guy, and it looked like he was his ultimately target.

Doyle, being the surprisingly useful guy that he was, suggested that they find the original letter that the photo had been taken of. That way they would have the name of the person they were looking for, as well as an address.

So Ryan and Esposito tracked down the original letter, and discovered that the target's name was Paul Deschile. Now I know that many of you, like me, assumed that Ward was actually looking for a child, like in Terminator. But as it turns out he was just bad at pronouncing words, which probably explained why he didn't talk that much. He had been asking Wickfield where Deschile was, not "the child." What a silly misunderstanding. I'm sure that Dr. Wickfield was chuckling in his grave.

The hunt was on for this dude.

And the stakes could never be higher...according to the guy who was still claiming to be from the future. Doyle believed that if they didn't save Deschile, billions of people would die in the future. He was so resolute in his belief that he had to be carried away. They just couldn't handle all of that conviction. Even after watching Doyle being dragged away, Castle once again claimed that he didn't believe that any of this time-travel stuff was true. And I swear to you that in that moment, a tear of joy fell from one of my eyes, and a tear of pride fell from the other. The person who stood before me was actually an adult; I couldn't believe it.

But now's not the time for dwelling on the incredible growth that this man experienced over the course of this episode, because Beckett was able to discover that Deschile was at the planetarium.

What followed was one of the trippiest scenes of Castle ever. Ward and the NYPD faced off in a planetarium full of people, and in one last-ditch effort Ward tried to stab his target to death. And for his part Deschile looked like he'd never seen the night sky before.

Anyway, Ward was foiled and Deschile lived to stare in wonder at mediocre animation another day. Yay! The case had been solved and everything went back to normal. Or did it?

Now, people, here is where the episode got crazy, and I'm not referring to the part where Beckett spilled coffee without crying. No, all the unexplained prison breaks, talk of future assassins, and trippy planetarium takedowns were nothing to what happened next. Ward didn't confess to anything.

That's right. THE KILLER DIDN'T CONFESS. I know, I couldn't believe it either. Now, correct me if I'm wrong, but I think that this is the first time, in the history of this show, that a killer hasn't admitted to any part of the crime whatsoever. I mean, even Senator Bracken practically admitted to ordering the hit on Beckett's mom, and he was never even interrogated or officially suspected of any crime. But this guy, this random guy, didn't say anything. Like, anything. Wow. I don't care what actually happens to him in the world of Castle (presumably he'll go to prison for life since there are numerous witnesses to him murdering and attempting to murder people), he's the real winner of this episode. Way to stay strong, buddy. Way to stay strong.

Oh yeah, and then there's the fairly minor point that THE TIME TRAVEL THING ENDED UP BEING REAL!!!???!?!?!?!?!?! Whaaaaaaaaaaaat??!?!?!!? Okay, so it's not like Doyle just disappeared into thin air to be replaced by glitter, or anything like that. But the writers made it practically inescapable for us to think that anything but time-travel was at work here.

First of all, there's the fact that the "logical" explanation for what happened actually makes less sense than the supernatural one. And I'm not just referring to the freak prison break here, which I already discussed in detail. According to Beckett and the NYPD, Ward actually wanted to kill Paul Deschile because the kid had foiled his bombing of the conference six years ago. So after spending six years in prison he had: 1. tracked down a relative of Wickfield's to find Deschile's location 2. killed Wickfield because he wouldn't reveal the location of Deschile (a few speech classes and that wouldn't have been a problem) and 3. attempted to kill Deschile because he had suffered through a six year sentence. Now, that's an awful lot of work to go through in order to kill someone who sent you to prison for only six years. Especially when it involves you implicating yourself in worse crimes to get to this guy (If six years of prison was so terrible, why did he leave Wickfield's wife/girlfriend as a witness? Why did he even kill Dr. Wickfield in the first place?).

Also, the "logical" explanation for why Doyle was involved in this whole thing doesn't make that much sense either. They have footage of him being in the same psych hospital that Ward was in. Okay, so they've got a past connection. But...they think that Doyle somehow overheard Ward talking about his plan and that's how he came into this picture? Umm...first of all, Ward doesn't talk unless he absolutely has to, as he's admirably demonstrated. Second of all, Doyle started out this case protecting Shawna from being attacked. But back when he was incarcerated with Ward, Ward wouldn't have known who Shawna was. Doyle also mentioned the exact time at which Shawna's watch had stopped, something that Ward also didn't know.

Sure, it could be that Doyle overheard Ward talking about wanting to track down Wickfield, and he could have later seen Ward following Shawna. That's how he could have gotten onto Shawna's trail in the first place, with his delusional mind providing him with reasons for why he had to protect Shawna. But still, that's some damn selective remembering/forgetting. To have a made-up backstory that meshes surprisingly well with the actual killer, and the events that end up taking place, is extremely lucky. Couple that with his lack of faltering, his steady supply of details (Beckett and Castle's futures actually sounded realistic and like something they'd do. And while he could have researched them in the press, he would have had to do this before meeting them), and his ability to pass a psych eval effortlessly; and, the whole idea of him being a crazy person doesn't really add up.

And then of course there's the almost irrefutable physical evidence in support of the crazier of the two possibilities. Now, I wasn't surprised in the least when Castle followed Doyle closely around a corner, only for the guy to have completely vanished. In fact, I was expecting something like that. It's your standard "maybe ghosts are real after all" scene that can still be explained logically. Doyle could have simply run forward a bit and slipped into a room. Problem solved. But what about the letter?

Yeah, what about the letter. That letter which was described by Beckett to appear old in the photograph, even though it had been written only six years ago. That letter which was stained with coffee in the photo, but had no stain on it up until the end of the episode. And which was stained by Beckett in the exact same way; the EXACT same way. I can think of no other explanation for this except time travel. None. I mean, Ward would have had to have taken a picture of a copy of the letter that someone had spilled coffee on (and that didn't look like your average copy, btw). And Beckett would have had to accidentally spill it in the exact same way. And it would need to be the same general color of coffee (not too much milk, etc.). And it would... Yeah, the coincidences and series of unlikely occurrences actually seems like a crazier theory than time travel. Which is...wow. I don't even know what's going on anymore.

Anyway...yeah. Still getting over that one. Time travel is basically an official part of the Castle universe now. I mean, we'll probably never see even a glimmer of it ever again, but still. Time travel. Yeah. I mean, every single supernatural thing on this show has been explained away before (except for Pi's impossibly annoying presence). Even in those episodes where it's been possible that a curse was real, or something like that, the logical explanation is far more likely, and meshes a lot better with the facts. But this time there really isn't a proper logical explanation for things. It's like the writers spent hours constructing a timeline and backstory for the time travel explanation, and then threw out a few random ideas at the end and had Beckett say that they provided a simple logical explanation. Yet all they succeeded in was making Becket look like she was crazy, and Castle look like he was sane. I never thought I'd see the day.

In case you were wondering, the episode officially ended back at Castle's apartment (if any of you were still paying attention what with your mind being officially blown and all). Alexis had already packed up and was ready to go (I think, though with what little she was carrying she might have just been loading up the car). She was going through with moving out (which was going to happen anyway) and moving in with Pi (which should never happen to anyone ever). And our hero was left looking mournfully at a closed door, pondering the grown woman he had just seen leave his apartment. He ended with the same two words he must say at the end of every joke: too soon.

I was having a similar feeling, as the credits rolled over Nathan Fillion's brilliant display of emotion. Well, not the too soon bit, but the whole grown up bit. So far this season we have seen a far more mature, grown up Castle. He first displayed this maturity when he proposed to Beckett, and told her that it wasn't about her job offer, and that they could work their relationship around her having to move or anything like that. He had demonstrated it time and time again in the fact that he and Beckett have not fallen back into their childish, meaningless arguments. And in this episode he was possibly the most grown-up of all, as he resisted the urge to delve into his usual crazy, supernatural theories until the supernatural explanations were the only ones that made sense. And granted, he's still overly possessive of Alexis, but at the very end of "Time Will Tell," he realized that she had grown up. And it had happened too soon.

So while this week we got an almost entirely standalone episode, devoid of any new arcs or directions for the show, I thoroughly enjoyed it. If every episode of Castle were this entertaining, I could almost live with it always staying in the same place, with the same dynamics. Almost. But hey, time will tell what the future holds for Castle (I won't tell you where, but I've cleverly hidden a pun in that sentence). For now, though, I'm content with where it is.

Notes of Complete Craziness:

1. What did you think of this episode? Did it make your top ten?

2. So time travel is real. Again, whaaaaaaaaaaaaaat???!!!??? Was this a big deal for you? Do you think it's a big deal for the show? Do you feel like it's possible that time travel wasn't at work in this episode? If so, explain. Please explain. Because I can't see any other way.

3. For those of you who are preparing to inform me that cylons never actually impersonated other people, and that they only ever took their own, original forms, I am well aware of this fact. But if you still feel you must, or if you've already written five paragraphs on the matter, go ahead and relive the glory days as you try and forget for a moment that one of the greatest shows ever is gone, and has been gone for a long time. It's okay, I hurt too.

4. Oh, and for those of you who feel the need to inform me that my font changed midway through this article, I'm also well aware of that. Thanks for pointing that out.

5. So Castle is sad that his daughter is moving out/is all grown up. And now she'll be living with Pi, and he's just not ready for that. Honestly though, give him a few hours alone in his apartment without Pi, and he'll behaving a partay like there's no tomorrow.

6. Do you think we'll ever see Doyle again? Wouldn't it be awesome if he became a semi-regular installment with missions from the future and all that. Seriously, what if Castle became a sci fi show? How cool/weird would that be?

7. Once again, TIME TRAVEL IS REAL!!!!?!?!!? I'm sorry, but i just can't get over that. At least the writers choose the most likely crazy thing to end up being true. I mean, it's not like time travel is even scientifically impossible or anything. In fact, scientists have proven that it is possible, it's just crazy difficult to pull off. But all we need is for us to be able to do it at some point, any point, in the future, for there to be time travelers in our time. I just hope that this doesn't mean that next episode we'll find out that the Easter Bunny is real too.

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