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Castle season 7 recap: Hollander’s Woods

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Richard Cartwright/ABC

This post contains details from the Castle episode that aired May 11.

Castle’s season 6 finale ended with someone crashing into Richard’s car on the way to his wedding. Season 7 opened with Richard abandoned at sea, unable to recall the past two months. What better way to end the season than with another clue, or even a definitive answer, to this peculiar unsolved mystery?

Sorry to burst your bubble, but we’ll have to wait for season 8 to check that box off the list. Instead of honing in on “The Case of Richard’s Missing Months,” the writers cap the season with an origin story. After 150 episodes, it takes a murder for us to finally learn why Castle is a writer. Once the mystery is solved, and justice is served, the entire cast gathers together around one table to toast each other for being awesome. There is a palpable graduation vibe soaked in “this is the end” emotional dialogue. While I waited for someone to pull out a script for the other cast members to sign, I checked to make sure Castle had been renewed for season 8. (You can relax. It has been.)

Clearly this finale was filmed as a precaution in case the show wasn’t picked up for the fall. Thankfully, we have another year of homicides, witty banter, and Stana Katic calling Nathan Fillion “babe” in the precinct bullpen. Kate Beckett has the best job ever.

The (backup series) season finale begins how every other Castle episode begins—with a dead body. Only this time, Castle recognizes the ritualistic carvings on the dead woman’s face. He asks if the murderer wore a creepy porcelain mask? The answer is yes. It seems that the past has come back to haunt Castle.

Thirty years ago, he was staying with a friend. He was forbidden to go into the forest near the friend’s house. Naturally, that’s where the flashback takes us. Young Castle saw a body with the same symbols carved in her face. He also saw a figure, cloaked in black, walking away. As with any horror story, instead of booking it in the opposite direction, Young Castle meanders over to the body. Hooded Figure threatens to kill him if he ever tells what he has seen.

And thus, a mystery writer is born.

Castle wonders how many murders this man has committed and vows to find him before he kills again. Beckett quickly figures out that the killer is targeting women who don’t have any families. That way, no one ever notices they are missing. They track down a list of partial license plates they found on the dead woman and locate a car that is just blocks away from where she was last seen.

Beckett and Castle knock on the door of the house and it opens. A TV drones in the background. Everyone knows this is code for: We’re about to see a dead body enjoying a sitcom. I just wasn’t expecting to see a dead body that was three years decayed. I may have shrieked. Ever the professional, Beckett calmly dials the next-of-kin’s number and a phone starts ringing in the other room. A man hidden in a wardrobe begins shooting and escapes through a hole in the back. We can only presume it took him to Narnia.

A matchbook leads the team to mentally unstable Noah, who likes to leave the television on for his so-dead-she-doesn’t-smell mother. Anyone who watches this show knows that the first person Beckett interrogates is never the killer. We at least have to get to the third act before another suspect comes into play.

Enter Noah’s shrink Dr. Holtzman (Wallace Langham). I knew immediately he was the killer. So did Castle. He recognizes his voice from 30 years ago. There’s just one problem—Holtzman is a model citizen with an adorable family. Beckett digs a little and finds that his deceased parents owned a huge piece of land with nothing on it but a barn. This sounds like the perfect place to hide a creepy mask. Since she’s a cop, anything she finds won’t be admissible in court. It’s up to Castle to trespass.

Castle not only finds the mask, but he discovers an entire scrapbook of Dr. Holzman’s victims. Just as he radios this information to Beckett, Dr. Holzman attacks Castle with a knife. Beckett tries to force her way into the barn, but the good doctor is quick enough to bar the door before putting on his hooded cloak and creepy mask. Castle struggles on the ground, sees an opening under the barn door, and reaches his arm through. Beckett hands him her gun, and Castle shoots Dr. Holzman. The mask dramatically falls to the ground and crashes. Case closed.

That night, Castle accepts an award for his writing. He thanks everyone in his life with a hearty soliloquy. (What? No video montage?)

At the end of the night, the cast sits around a big table. Beckett has been invited (read: she auditioned) to run for the New York State Senate. If that doesn’t work out, she has the opportunity to be a captain since she aced her exam. She could be running her own precinct within a year. Hooray for convenient story lines! The only one who didn’t get a solid ending was Alexis. She may not have any idea what she wants to be when she grows up, but we do know her hair and skin will be flawless, whatever she chooses.

The finale ends with the entire cast agreeing that the future is bright. Each one is looking forward to a new adventure. Then a call comes in to report a murder. Here’s hoping season 8’s new showrunners will give us some answers to Castle’s whereabouts during his lost months. The least they can do is give us a Beckett baby or two.