As I mentioned in my “Still” recap, the last two episodes of Castle had their order switched because of the proximity of a bomb-related plot to the bombing in Boston. Therefore, “The Squab and the Quail” aired two week ago, but it was supposed to air before next week’s episode, “The Human Factor.” This sets up some weird continuity things, as we’ll discuss below.
But first, the case of the week: venture capitalist Arthur Felder is poisoned at a fancy restaurant, but it turns out that the waiter mixed up the orders and the poison was actually meant for billionaire entrepreneur Eric Vaughn. Basically everyone on the team is in awe of Vaughn, and when Beckett is ordered to personally protect him against future murder attempts, Castle is none too happy. (More on that later.) Lanie discovers that the poison is a supercharged version of saxitoxin – which is something for which Vaughn was involved in developing an antidote. This points toward lead researcher Cindy Paralti. She had personal issues with Vaughn, but it turns out that she actually sold the poison to have money to save her father’s farm. She thought she was selling it to a competing lab, but it turns out that the perpetrator was actually the lawyer David Anderson, who was trying to kill Vaughn to keep him from uncovering a fraud his lawyer was perpetrating. He threatened the child of one of the restaurant’s busboys to get him to poison the food, and when that didn’t reach the desired target, he hired a gunman.
Luckily, the gunman misses – because he happened to take aim at Vaughn from an opposite building just as Vaughn was kissing Beckett and she was pushing him away. Beckett obviously has something of a crush on Vaughn, though, which isn’t helped by some uncertainties she’s having about her relationship with Castle. At the beginning of the episode, she starts worrying that Castle is taking her for granted because she can’t distract him from his video game, and Vaughn shows obvious interest in her. Castle’s jealous, of course, but he has no real</em. need to be. “The guy’s so impressive.” “But he’s not YOU.” Aww. For the record, Esposito thinks Vaughn could seduce Beckett but Ryan doesn’t – though Ryan rushes to say he wouldn’t want his own wife anywhere near Vaughn. Castle: “I can’t believe the department is making her hang out with some womanizing rich guy against her will!” HA. On the home front, Alexis doesn’t think Castle has reason to worry but Martha insists Beckett isn’t really committed until she has a ring, so there’s that set up, potentially.
Beckett and Vaughn do bond a bit over the way that personal loss changed their career plans, and Vaughn lays on the charm: “Do you have any idea how remarkable you are? You don’t, do you?” When Vaughn asks about Castle, Beckett tells him that the relationship is serious but hesitates a bit, and this apparently gives Vaughn the encouragement he needs to kiss her. Now, there’s been some discussion about this kiss, because on the one hand, Vaughn moved in very slowly and Beckett did not step away. But on the other, as I mentioned, as soon as he actually kisses her, she pushes him away. It’s a bit of a gray area, but I would not say Beckett cheated on Castle.
Beckett does “confess” about the kiss as part of her statement about the attempted shooting, so at least this won’t be a big secret between her and Castle. And Vaughn and Castle have an interesting little exchange: “You know, that’s an extraordinary woman you have there.” “I know.” “Do you?” Apparently he does, because he symbolically cuts the cord of his video game controller. But when Beckett tries to ask where the relationship is going, Castle sort of deflects and distracts her with a massage. It’s not entirely clear whether Castle was avoiding the topic on purpose or just being oblivious to what Beckett was getting at, and here’s where the changing order of the episodes makes things weird. Since we saw this before “Still,” the implication is that some of these doubts were alleviated by all the relationship discussion in “Still.” But since it was supposed to air after “Still,” we should perhaps assume that this is where the relationship stands going into the last few episodes of the season. And “Still,” since it was an extra episode added in late, never really fit into the timeline properly anyway, so it would have been a bit out of place no matter what.
I don’t really think there’s a lot of risk of Castle and Beckett actually breaking up or anything at this point, but we’re definitely going into the penultimate episode with two wildly different takes on the current state of the relationship. Where will things wind up? We’ve got two weeks until the season finale, so hold on for the possibly bumpy ride.
(Image courtesy of ABC.)