[This is a review of Castle Season 6, Episode 17. There will be SPOILERS.]

“You’ll be out in no time.” Or so they say. But what fun would an episode of Castle be if those didn’t prove to be the famous last words they sound like? Turns out they spell nothing but trouble for Beckett (Stana Katic) as she’s hurled head first ‘In the Belly of the Beast.’

The first tip-off that this was not your everyday assignment is Gates’ (Penny Johnson Jerald) directive to leave Castle (Nathan Fillion) at home. It’s also never a good sign when the Deputy Commissioner is leaving as you’re heading in. Add that to the glib words of Captain Fowler (Carlos Gomez) quoted above and you’ve got a trifecta setup for an intense ride ahead. But it’s made clear that this is Beckett’s decision, free and clear, and she’s not backing down from where she thinks she can help.

It doesn’t take long for the op that was supposed to deliver Kate home in time for dinner to spiral into a textbook definition of a SNAFU. And yes, it’s everything we’ve come to enjoy in a good Castle thriller episode, but helping it along the way are the newbie, Harden (Kenneth Johnson), as well as a couple of old familiar faces: Vulcan Simmons (Jonathan Adams) and Senator William H. Bracken (Jack Coleman).

As he was back in Season 3, Simmons is the facade again here and yet again Adams’ stentorian voice lends credence to the role. The foley guys get props here too for the long walk to Simmons’ office. Being plunged from the stark void of the mansion’s labyrinthian hallways to the noisy chaos of counting machines interspersed with screams is unnerving on both sides of the screen.

Hands down, however, this is Katic’s turn to shine, and shine she does, delivering one of her best performances to date. A wide range of emotions are covered in a relatively short span of time, from the ease she exudes in Castle’s apartment to the gritty determination that she will escape this mess alive. No less riveting are her emotional letter to Rick and the interrogation scene with Simmons in his lair.

But as we said, Simmons is just the front man. The rest of it reeks of Bracken so bad Kate can smell it coming long before the news announces that his brand new campaign came fully funded. Funded with the laundered money she’d seen only hours before.

Technically, this episode isn’t a cliffhanger meant to leave fans dangling until the next new episode two weeks from now, but it does create a nice foundation for the writers to build upon the next time Bracken comes out to play.

Castle returns on March 17th with ‘The Way of the Ninja’ @10pm on ABC.