Those expecting an episode where Castle (Nathan Fillion) and Beckett (Stana Katic) work together like they did in "Cuffed" last year might be highly disappointed with "Hunt." But those who enjoy a white-knuckle spy adventure that keeps you glued to the television and swearing at commercial breaks can rest easy - this one delivers!
It turns out that visiting FBI Agent Harris (Dylan Walsh) is all but useless now that the search for Alexis (Molly C. Quinn) and Sara (Karen David) has moved onto foreign soil, as he offers little more than trite platitudes to the frantic parents. So it's little wonder Sara's parents ditch him and the police when the ransom call comes in.
The twist comes when the ransom is paid, but only Sara is released. And that's when Castle decides to take himself off the grid and fly to France. Alone.
Apparently, being a very successful author with contacts that span the globe has its advantages when it comes to getting in touch with the unsavory lot lurking in France's underground PI network. For the first half of the episode, there's a nice back and forth between Castle's efforts in Paris and Beckett's back in New York.
It's interesting that the writers choose to have her stay and work the cop angle, though it's a good call as the back half might have felt too busy had they tried to squeeze her in. What they do allow her is the discovery of the sole piece of evidence that turns this case on its ear: Alexis has been the target of the kidnapping all along.
While Beckett is busy intimidating witnesses in New York, Castle hires himself a man who promises to deliver Alexis to him dead or alive. Of course, Castle is only willing to sit on the sidelines for so long before he demands to join Jacque Henri (Christopher Heyerdahl) on the hunt. One bug and a telephone call later and Castle is feeling like they are finally making progress. Progress that comes to a grinding halt when Henri double-crosses him in order to make off with a cool $3 million.
And here things take another sharp left turn. The plot twist puts Castle face-to-face with a man whose apartment is covered with pictures of Alexis from her early childhood on. A man who kills Henri and the men he made a deal with, then casually suggest Castle should recover the briefcase full of money. A man who utters the jaw-dropping words, "Richard, I'm your father."
Okay, so maybe the signs were all pointing in that direction, but it's still fun to watch the reveal after not knowing who Castle's dad is and why he left without a backwards glance. That the actor chosen for the role is James Brolin makes it all the better. Brolin and Nathan have great onscreen chemistry and their scenes are powerful. It's nice that the writers choose not to make their relationship an angst-filled one, but rather reveal that dear old dad is an "intelligence asset" whose identity is so secret we're never actually given a name.
Castle's dad's plan to keep his family safe may have failed when it came to Alexis, but father and son are more than up to the task of rescuing her. There's a moment when the audience is tricked into thinking Castle has bumbled the job before being fed a series of flashback scenes a la Mission Impossible to show just how intricate the plan was after all. Woven into the planning scenes is a nice moment where his dad tells him that he is proud of who Castle has become, though it's quickly apparent that he won't be dropping in for dinner any time soon.
Castle and Alexis arrive safely back home, sworn to secrecy about everything that's happened. The end scene where Castle opens the envelope to find a copy of the novel Casino Royale is a nice touch and the perfect ending to a near perfect episode.
Castle airs Mondays @10pm on ABC. New episodes will resume March 18th.
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