“Dig in,” Castle instructs when he gives his wife her first-day-on-the-job morning cupcake. And dig in, she does. Beckett never has been afraid to get her hands dirty.
The season 8 premiere of Castle heralds the reign of two new showrunners: promoted writer Terence Paul Winter and fellow alum Alexi Hawley, recently of The Following. Last season’s finale handed Winter and Hawley a warm and happy ending (Rick received a big deal writing award and dedicated it to his wife, friends, and family, all of whom were proudly looking on) and a set of options for the next phase of the show. Bypassing the traditional Castle cliffhanger was a smart move — not just because another season wasn’t a done deal yet, but also because disjointed two-parters are the pits. Minus some clunky but necessary exposition, this transition was pretty smooth.
As of right now, it sadly looks like Campaign Wife Rick Castle will be shaking hands and kissing babies only in my Caskett fan fiction. (I wish I wrote Caskett fan fiction.) Beckett is our new Captain, despite having passed that cruel little test proctored by Special Agent Broyles from Fringe, who hoped to groom her for a run for State Senate. Castle has meddled with the standard Rick-and-Kate-are-partners structure before, but this change feels at least semi-permanent. Castle couldn’t be more proud, and he marks the occasion with the aforementioned baked good and what looks like a very pricey platinum and diamond bracelet, inscribed on the inside with the word, “Always.” Kate promises to treasure it, but right now, she’s got to get to 1 Police Plaza for a meeting.
In the face of his wife’s promotion, Castle has decided to resurrect his P.I. firm so he can stay in the business of solving cases. (Just writing would be a bore after all this, wouldn’t it?) What was once a scheme to stay in the loop when Captain Gates banned him from the 12th is now a full-fledged operation with a spring-loaded gun drawer, a badass secret back-office, and a new “associate,” who basically just hired herself.
Let’s not take it for granted that it’s easy to grow a teenage character in a drama that’s primarily about adults. Alexis has been bounced around in the story since heading off to college, but she’s retained her pragmatism and, for lack of a better word, spunk. Before Beckett came into their lives, she and her dad were very “us against the world,” and she’s matured quickly because of it. Now they’re partners again (because she says so), but Castle has got to learn to trust Alexis’s instincts as much as she does.
In fact, he can use all the instincts he can get his hands on right now, since his world has just been turned upside down. Ryan and Esposito call Castle when they can’t get through to his wife; there’s been a triple homicide in an under-construction theater, and they need the boss’s okay to call in more officers. Granted, Castle can’t help doing some detecting when he drops by. Three men were felled by a balcony shooter; Laney helps the guys find the spot where the gunman would have been standing and along with it, Beckett’s new hardware lying in a pool of her blood. Rough meeting.
Obviously, Castle is shaken by the discovery, though certain that his wife is still alive. (“She’s as tough as they come.”) But there’s another concern to fret about, once she’s found safe. The bracelet was introduced as a device to mark Beckett’s involvement in the case. But it also serves as a symbol of their marriage and of that domesticity she and Castle were enjoying just that morning. She leaves it behind to do whatever it is that she needs to do, and perhaps that’s indicative that the desk job of a captain won’t hold her interest for long. More troubling still, Beckett lied to Castle’s face. She wasn’t due at a meeting that morning, and that certainly wasn’t a telemarketer she politely hung up on. First clue: No one is that polite to telemarketers.
Meanwhile, a promotion-less Ryan and Esposito are still the best posse a missing cop could ask for. They track the fake IDs of the slain men and find a rental apartment linked to one of them. The place is trashed and empty but for a scrappy lady who comes at Castle after he pulls her back from escaping through the window. This is Hayley Shipton (Toks Olagundoye), formerly of East London, and a new recurring cast member for season 8. Ideally she and Castle will develop a better rapport as they get to know each other; at this point, she’s defiant, aware of her rights, and not at all fond of cops. She has to give some context to her alibi, however. Shipton is a “freelance security specialist” who’s currently operating as sort of a cyber bounty hunter. The dead men were involved in a personal information hack; she came to New York to track them and two others. None of this is ringing any bells for Castle, Ryan, or Espo in terms of a connection to Beckett. Still, Shipton only told them what she had to in order to walk out the door; Castle makes an emotional plea for more information. The woman is sympathetic, though not moved enough to open her mouth. Or is she?
NEXT: Manipulating Men, 101