Castle – Cloudy with a Chance of Murder

On Castle‘s “Cloudy with a Chance of Murder,” we get back to some case normalcy after the intensity of the finale and premiere . . .

The victim of the week is popular local weathergirl Mandy Michaels, shot in a park late at night. There’s a note in her purse that says “If any of this gets out, I’ll kill you,” so it’s clear she was mixed up in something, possibly – as Castle and Beckett are quick to assume – a secret affair. Another weathergirl with whom she fought quickly alibis out, as does married basketball player Reggie Blake, who Mandy was rumored to be dating, though Blake insists they were just friends. Reporter Miles Haxton claims to be Mandy’s secret boyfriend – and gives Castle and Beckett a nice little lecture about how secret workplace romances never work. Our heroes finally get a break when they find out that Mandy had been taken to the emergency room with an asthma attack after a ride on the news chopper. It turns out that during her volunteer work at a children’s hospital, she met a bunch of children with asthma who were all from the same neighborhood, and so she was secretly investigating the source of high levels of the dangerous chemical styrene. She traced it to a carpet factory, but though the owner admitted to threatening her, he denies killing her. When they find a picture of the factory taken while Mandy was on air, Castle and Beckett realize that she must have had a partner, and when entertainment reporter Kristina tells Castle that Mandy’s supposed secret boyfriend is actually gay, he realizes that Miles was actually her partner in the investigation. He agreed to help her in return for the exclusive on the story, but then she decided to go straight to the EPA in order to help the children as soon as possible. Miles confronted her, supposedly just trying to scare her, but she fought back and his gun went off and killed her.

Castle and Beckett remain adorable, but in this episode they start having to confront the realities of their relationship. This is Beckett’s first case back at work, so she’s worried that people will find out, and her fear isn’t unfounded: Esposito immediately notices that Castle doesn’t bring her coffee (because he knew she’d just had coffee at home) and keeps almost overhearing them talking about their relationship, and Lanie can tell that Beckett is having sex, though she hasn’t guessed with whom. Because of Beckett’s insistence on both of them appearing to be single in public, Castle accepts a date with entertainment reporter Kristina Cottera, who shows up at his apartment and immediately tries to seduce him. She gets aggressive about it, throwing him up against various flat surfaces, and in the process accidentally pocket-dials Beckett (who is, I should point out, #1 on Castle’s speed dial), who hears what sounds like a struggle and rushes to Castle’s apartment. She finds Kristina almost naked and straddling Castle on the couch, and is understandably devastated. Luckily, the show doesn’t drag this out, and by the end of the episode Castle is at her door apologizing. They agree that the case has them spooked about their secret relationship, but Castle convinces Beckett that they have to communicate and take things a step at a time. “Okay, maybe people find out and maybe we won’t get to work together. And maybe we’ll implode. Or maybe we’ll continue to be amazing. The point is, we don’t have the answers, we just have to live with the questions and find our way.” Beckett immediately declares that they will agree to talk about dating other people but not actually do it. Castle: “Yeah, I can do that.” Beckett: “Okay, good. Because I have a gun and you don’t really have a choice.” Heh. She leans in to kiss him but can’t quite follow through, because she’s still got the mental image of, as she keeps saying, Kristina’s boobs in his face. Aww.

Ryan and Esposito are still at odds for most of the episode, but that finally changes when they see video of a tussle they got into with Reggie Blake’s security detail and Esposito realizes Ryan took a punch for him. “You didn’t have to do that.” “Well, it’s what partners do, right?” Aww. They go have a beer and mend fences. I know some viewers were disappointed by how low-key this resolution was, but I thought it made sense in character the way a big emotional scene wouldn’t.

The rest of the Castle family is off in Europe, alas, celebrating Alexis’s graduation. I’m sure they’re having fun, but I hope they’re back soon, because the show is really missing something without Martha and Alexis around.

Overall, this was a solid episode and definitely reassured me that the season would play out the way it sounded from various interviews with showrunner Andrew Marlowe: That Castle and Beckett would have issues to work through but their relationship would be generally on a positive path, and that some of the playfulness of earlier seasons would return with this change in their status. I’m also very glad that Ryan and Esposito are getting back to normal. The team dynamics are one of my favorite things about this show, and it’s much more enjoyable when everyone’s basically getting along. And now that they can gossip and compare notes, how long do we think it will be until the boys figure out what’s going on with Castle and Beckett?

(Image courtesy of ABC.)

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