Every show that makes it to 100 episodes likes to spice things up a little, but when Andrew Marlowe and his wife, Terri Edda Miller, sat down to write one for Castle, they decided to make their title character sit down too. Literally.

And thus the episode – ‘The Lives of Others’ – begins with viewers plunked down two weeks into Castle’s (Nathan Fillion) recovery with a broken kneecap and two weeks of recovery to go. Now, if you haven’t seen the episode, back slowly away from this review and watch before reading any further.

Because the genius of this episode is that it’s all one big con. (Okay, maybe three.)

The first con is between the writers and the audience. Throw in a pair of binoculars, a Rear Window reference and a strategically-placed set of blinds and you’ve got a recipe for the perfect misdirection. Aside from snappy writing, this 100th episode also highlights the skill of the director and the editing team behind the scenes. Sure, Castle’s birthday is mentioned in passing, but who would have guessed the whole thing was a setup?

Castle season 5 episode 19 Beckett Ryan Espo Castle Season 5, Episode 19: Staged

Plus, the audience is given some fun moments, too! Ryan (Seamus Deaver) and Esposito (Jon Huertas) posing as Charlie’s angels is something long to be remembered, as is Kate (Stana Katic) in her little black dress. It’s also good to see Alexis (Molly Quinn) safe and sound and munching a bowl of popcorn. And sharp-eyed viewers will not have missed a Marlowe/Miller cameo at the beginning of the episode.

The second con is between Kate and Castle. And just as the audience is fooled, so, too, is Castle. While viewers at home may have started to suspect something was amiss, Castle sticks to his guns to the very end.

This makes for a fun ride, watching him alternate between freaking out and trying to rationalize everything. That Kate knows how bored he is and sees a way to relieve said boredom and get everyone else in on the con is a great testament to her character’s growth over the past five years. This is a good “team” episode to begin with, but when it’s revealed how much they’ve all worked together to pull the wool over Castle’s eyes, it’s all the better.

Castle season 5 episode 19 Castle Alexis Castle Season 5, Episode 19: Staged

Ironically enough, it’s the second con that leads to the third. On the surface, nothing seems off about the opening security footage that leads to the discovery of Clara DeWinter’s body in the dumpster. As the case unfolds, it’s clear Clara has made more than a few enemies and that something is off between she and her husband Gavin (John Griffin).

Nothing, however, indicates that Gavin and his security chick staged the body dump in order to give him a clear alibi. It’s a nice twist, and also nice that Castle gets to enjoy the rest of his party before Kate reels in the bad guys.

All in all, this was a delightful way for Castle fans to celebrate 100 episodes, and it’s an episode worthy of the schedule gerrymandering that occurred for it to air on April Fool’s Day. Here’s to 100 more!

Castle airs on Mondays @10pm on ABC. New episodes resume April 15th, 2013.

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