It should be pointed out up front that Castle‘s ‘The Squab and the Quail’ was originally slated to air later this season but was quickly swapped in after the subject matter of the original episode, ‘Still,’ was deemed too close for comfort after the Boston bombings. This may account for the chilly air between Kate (Stana Katic) and Castle (Nathan Fillion) that blows in seemingly out of nowhere.
Whether it’s the unplanned jump in storytelling or simply the presence of another rich, handsome man in the room, it’s clear Castle is on high alert throughout the episode – though he doesn’t start that way.
In fact, the episode opens with a scene all too familiar to anyone involved with a man who takes his video gaming seriously. Try as she might, Kate can’t quite pry Castle’s eyes from his TV, and by the time he gets a clue as to what’s going on, she’s not in the mood.
On the way to the crime scene at a high-end restaurant, she questions why she no longer gets an immediate response from Castle, but he doesn’t catch the insecurity behind the question and slowly but surely a gap builds between them. The gap only widens when Erik Vaughn (Ioan Gruffudd) comes on the scene, and while Castle is the first one to gush over his fellow millionaire, he’s not the last.
Unlike some episodes, there’s no clear divide between the main case and the secondary plot. Vaughn is the target not only of an unknown assassin, but also Castle’s jealousy. The man is every bit as rich as Castle, is equally if not more brilliant, and is decidedly more direct about his feelings for the beautiful Detective Beckett. Vaughn wastes no time at all getting Beckett assigned to his personal security detail instead of a regular beat cop in an attempt to woo her in the Presidential Suite of a swanky hotel.
Fearing that he’s up against a real threat, Castle goes into manic overdrive. Again, this seems a bit overblown given the circumstances. To be sure, there is precedent enough for Castle to have felt a twinge of jealousy at first, but why it persists throughout the entire episode seems odd and his frantic actions feel disjointed beside Vaughn and Beckett’s slower scenes.
Castle isn’t alone in his mood swings, however. Though not nearly as dramatic, Kate is also experiencing some inner turmoil when it comes to their relationship. Just as Castle’s mother questions Kate’s true commitment to him, Vaughn stirs up questions in Kate’s mind about her future with Castle. Yes, as a couple, they are serious, but she hesitates one too many times to say they are stable and secure, as well.
Overall, it seems there are still some wrinkles to be ironed out before any smooth sailing between these two can begin again. Could it be that all they had was the thrill of the chase and now that’s all over? Is there enough substance to their relationship to see them through the first storm? Perhaps the progression to this point would have developed more smoothly had this aired in its proper place, but now the questions are out there and it’s anyone’s guess as to how the remainder of the season will answer them.
Castle airs Mondays @10pm on ABC.