Castle: Eye of the Beholder

On this week’s Castle, Castle and Beckett are plunged into the world of high-stakes art crime with a case that feels like it’s straight out of White Collar. A sculpture called “The Fist of Capitalism” is stolen from the Cosmopolitan Art Museum and the museum director, Brian Hayes, is murdered, all during the museum’s annual gala. (The museum setting gives Beckett the chance to mention to Castle that she worked as a nude model for art classes in college, and Castle to adopt a facial expression that clearly says “Why does she do this to me?”) Much to Castle’s delight and Beckett’s chagrin, a sexy art thief-turned-insurance investigator, Serena Kaye, is assigned to work with them on the case.

This is another case in which the mystery itself is less important than the implications for the characters, so I’m going to skip you right to the ending. It turns out that the Fist was owned by rich museum patrons Joy and Anton McHugh – and had become a point of contention in their divorce negotiations. While the piece was on loan to the museum for an exhibit, Joy constructed an elaborate plan to “steal” her own sculpture to keep it out of her husband’s hands. She hired art thief Falco to “test” the museum’s security and therefore disable the alarms for the real thief. Joy hid the sculpture in a compartment in another piece of artwork in the exhibit – one she’d already purchased. Therefore, when she took her newly-purchased art home, her stolen Fist would be inside.

At the beginning of the episode, Martha sets the tone for the interpersonal machinations to come when she tries to fix Castle up with someone from her acting class. When he demurs, she points out that his social life has been nonexistent lately and that he needs to start living his life again – “Unless you have some reason for not putting yourself out there.” He’s not hearing her – until he meets Serena Kaye. Beckett either doesn’t or can’t hide her obvious jealousy over Castle’s interest in Serena, and tries to keep Serena from working with them on the investigation, but in a nice callback to last week’s “Castle isn’t really a cop” theme, Gates answers Beckett’s request to work with just her team with a wry “Which includes a consultant with no expertise at anything.” Gates wins, of course – she’s the boss – and the not-a-cop issue gets turned on its head when Serena refuses to take any cops along when she talks to an informant – but does take Castle. Ryan and Esposito are amused, but Beckett’s just annoyed.

This leads to a really well-executed scene in which we cut back and forth between Castle talking to his mom and Beckett talking to her therapist, all about Serena. Beckett says “Yes, of course it bothers me. Because he’s supposed to be – ” but before we can hear what exactly Castle’s supposed to be (in love with her, I assume?) we’re back to Martha, encouraging Castle to ask Serena out. “Beckett’s made it clear that she’s not available . . . for now.” Beckett’s therapist gets right to the point: “Kate, what are you really scared of? That he won’t wait for you, or that he will?” Unfortunately, we don’t get to hear Beckett’s answer, if she even has one. The next morning, Beckett assumes that Castle spent the night with Serena – he didn’t – and he takes the opportunity to ask “So you think I should . . . pursue it?” “Well, you know, suit yourself,” Beckett says, which, okay: Memo to Castle: THAT MEANS NO.

Before Castle has to decide what to do, though, the team finds out about Serena’s past as an art thief and she becomes their primary suspect. Neither Castle nor Gates is thrilled about having been played by Serena, and Beckett suggests that Castle take Serena on a date to give the cops time to search her room. At dinner, Serena says she was going to wait one more day before asking Castle out herself, and she also gives him her version of her past – she’s an art “retriever,” starting with a Rembrandt that the Nazis had stolen from her grandfather. This convinces Castle of her innocence in their current investigation, but he still warns Beckett when Serena wants to skip dessert and take Castle straight back to her room. (I mean, who wouldn’t? Can’t really blame her for that one.)

Back at the room search, Beckett’s blinding rage over the Serena/Castle situation is obvious to everyone, as shown in this conversation with Esposito:

Esposito: “You really want to nail this chick, huh?”
Beckett: “Yeah, well, that’s what we do, isn’t it? Catch bad guys?”
Esposito: “Yeah, but this one seems like it might be about more than that.”

They find some evidence that seems incriminating, but isn’t exactly a smoking gun, and when Beckett gets Castle’s text about Serena heading back to her room, she tells him to stall her – which he does by making out with her in the hotel hallway. Beckett is obviously upset to see this, and promptly arrests Serena for theft and murder. She won’t let Castle in on the interrogation because she insists that he’s compromised, but he keeps saying things like “I was only doing what you asked.” Which . . . this is one of those situations in which they’re both right, really. Ryan and Esposito are extremely amused by the whole thing:

Ryan: “Rick? You on a first name basis now?”
Esposito: “Well, he was making out with her in the hotel hallway.”
Castle: “Beckett told me to stall her!”
Esposito: “She also tell you to use tongue?”

Oh, boys. You’re adorable, but has it ever occurred to either of you to tell Castle that his instincts aren’t wrong and Beckett does in fact love him, even if she can’t say so yet? Because obviously you both know.

At the end of the episode, once they’ve caught the real killer, Serena thanks Beckett for working with her, and seems really nice and sincere about it. Beckett, in return, tells Serena that Castle never believed she was involved, because “I think that you should know what kind of person you’re dealing with.” She walks off, clearly expecting Castle to leave with Serena, but Serena tells Castle: “I’m going back to my hotel. I’d ask you to come, but it’s like I said: I don’t steal things that belong to someone else.” Sometimes this trope of “newcomer appears and immediately sees that our heroes secretly love each other” annoys me, but in this case, Beckett was so obvious about her jealousy that I bought it. But it also made me start wondering: Since everyone is pointing out Beckett’s jealousy, Castle himself can’t have just not noticed. Even if he doesn’t want to accuse her of lying about her memories of the shooting, at this point, why does’t he just ask her out? Why, Castle, why?

Next week: Ghosts! Whee!

Photo Courtesy of ABC.

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