The third season premiere of Castle [ABC, Mondays, 10:01/9:01C] finds Rick Castle [Nathan Fillion] in the unlikeliest of positions – seated in the interrogation room after being charged with murder! The arrest comes after Castle is found at the scene of a murder – with a fun in hand. Beckett [Stana Katic] is not amused – and not just because she’s found him in such incriminating circumstances!
A Deadly Affair opens with Castle ducking gunfire and bursting through a door to find Beckett holding a gun on him. He, too, has a gun. They fire and… we go to “three days ago…” Beckett, Ryan [Seamus Dever] and Esposito [Jon Huertas] are sitting in the bullpen; Dever and Esposito are trying to cheer her up because Castle hasn’t been in contact and she’s more than a bit on the glum side. Then the call comes in and they have a murder to investigate.
One thing leads to another and a lead turns up that finds the three detectives on the scene of the second murder – and arresting Castle. When it turns out the gun he was holding wasn’t the murder weapon, he’s released and told to go home, but, being Castle, he decides to do a bit of digging on his own – which places him on yet another murder scene as Beckett, Esposito and Ryan arrive.
Three victims, one male, two female, and none of them connected. It’s the kind of puzzle that would normally spark Castle and Beckett, but now, things are tense. Castle begins to break the tension by betting Beckett that he’ll figure out the connection before she does. The bet? If she wins, he’ll go away for good; if he wins, they’re partners again. The problem? How do a high school chemistry teacher, a sculptor [and friend of Castle] and a vending machine operator connect?
The obvious suspect is a jealous fiance´, but that’s a bit too obvious. And the vending machine operator’s girlfriend is sure that he’s not into anything crooked – even though he did time for some incidents that involved violence. Then there’s Kitty Canary’s Burlesque Troupe…
Meanwhile, Castle’s daughter, Alexis [Molly Quinn] is morose because her boyfriend hasn’t called and she knows he’s been home from his summer in Europe for a while.
Series creator Andrew W. Marlowe wrote A Deadly Affair and he gets the season off to a great start. The mystery is a solid one; the balance between Castle and Beckett, which seems off as the ep begins, moves back to its crackling self; the plot arcs of the mystery and Alexis’ problem dovetail without being forced, and everything comes together with Castle and Beckett shouting “I know who the killer is” simultaneously.
Director Rob Bowman varies the pace according to Beckett’s mood so that the opening is more deliberate but things pick up when the first murder is called in. Once Castle is on the scene, and has been cleared of murder by forensics, things resume the snappy pace that we expect from the series. For one of the best characters bits – involving Castle, Alexis and their fridge – Bowman slows things down a moment to showcase the sort of father/daughter moment that has helped give Castle, the character, the kind of unexpected depth that makes the series more than just another mystery of the week procedural.
There’s a reason why Castle gained viewers in its second season. It’s a really good series – and A Deadly Affair is yet another example of why.
Final Grade: A
Photo by Bob D’Amico/Courtesy of ABC