“The Wild Rover,” an episode of Castle timed to coincide with St. Patrick’s Day, finally gave Kevin Ryan a spotlight. And it might have just happened to push a lot of my buttons, but it was one of my favorite episodes the show has ever had.
Our victim of the week is Jimmy Whelan, a baker who’s shot in the back and falls into his mixer. A cute little Easter egg: in the bakery scenes at the beginning of the episode, the camera pans over a bunch of baked goods including a “Happy 99th” cake. And yes, this is in fact Castle‘s 99th episode. But it turns out that it’s not all fun and cupcakes: Whelan is connected to the Irish mob and mob boss Bobby S. (Esposito: “Looks like Jimmy kept a lot of dough around here.” Castle: “Well, it is a bakery.” Hah.)
Whelan has been in close contact with bar owner Siobhan O’Doul, whose name causes Esposito some trouble. (Castle: “The Irish are notorious for spelling names in wild and unpronounceable ways.”) But when the cops bring her in, she immediately runs to Ryan and kisses him – and then slaps him when she finds out that he’s married and a cop. It turns out that – unbeknownst to anyone currently in his life – before he became a homicide detective, he was undercover with the Irish mob for over a year. This means that he knows Bobby S – and that he was in a relationship with Siobhan.
An FBI Agent named Walker informs the team that Whelan and Siobhan were both informants, and that Whelan was trying to steal Bobby S’s “bible” of information to earn witness protection. But when Ryan realizes that Walker wants Siobhan to go back in and get the bible, he becomes worried for her safety and volunteers to go back in himself. This is an interesting time for Ryan to resurrect his Fenton O’Connell identity, as we also learn at the beginning of the episode that he and Jenny are visiting a fertility doctor to find out why they aren’t pregnant yet.
I loved seeing Ryan undercover, and as he worked his way back into Bobby S’s trust (and tried to win over Bobby’s deputy Liam), the rest of the team continued to work the case more traditionally. When they figure out that Bobby S was in fact being framed for murder, Esposito insists on meeting with Ryan to warn him, but fails to convince Ryan to walk away. After a heart-to-heart with Siobhan – “Was any of it real?” “What I felt was.” – Ryan goes to Bobby S’s private poker game and successfully steals the bible from the office safe. But Liam, who is now the team’s main suspect, gets a call reporting that there’s a rat, and when he forces Ryan to drive to the docks, Ryan assumes Liam plans to kill him.
The team is worried when they can’t get in touch with Ryan, and when Jenny goes to the station to find out what’s going on, Beckett finally explains it all to her. Meanwhile, Ryan is surprised to discover that Siobhan is actually the suspected rat – and Bobby S gives him the option to prove himself “innocent” of collusion by shooting Siobhan himself. Ryan can’t do that, of course, but he tries to shoot Bobby, only to discover that the gun Bobby gave him is empty. Luckily, he’s got a trick up his sleeve: He announces to Bobby and Liam that he’s a cop, and that he took Liam’s phone and called Esposito, leaving the line open so Esposito would hear where they were going and follow with help. And Esposito comes through: When Ryan calls out “Yo Javi, where you at?” he appears, followed by Beckett, Castle, and plenty of backup. They take down the whole crew with the help of the bible Ryan took, but it turns out that the killer was actually Liam’s wife Maggie, who framed Bobby S in the hopes that if the boss went to prison Liam could take his place.
Siobhan finally gets her witness relocation and Ryan goes to see her off. Awww. Siobhan: “Why’d you do this? Risk your life for me?” Ryan: “You know why.” Siobhan: “This Kevin Ryan guy? Wish I could’ve met him sooner.” Awww. But Ryan goes home to good news: Jenny makes him promise that the dangerous undercover part of his career is over – because she’s pregnant! Yay!
Elsewhere, Castle and Beckett have their own bit of relationship drama involved trust. Beckett confesses that she’s avoiding sleeping with Castle because she heard him saying the name “Jordan” over and over in his sleep. He swears that Jordan isn’t a woman, but is hesitant to tell her what it is: “What happens if you don’t like what you see?” Beckett: “What happens if you don’t let me look?” He finally confesses: When he was struggling in his first semester of boarding school, he bought a term paper on the Jordan Motor Co., and his teacher read it out loud to the class as an example of good writing. “It was the first time I was celebrated for anything, and it was a fraud. . . . I wrote and wrote trying to be as great as everyone thought I was.” Ohh. Beckett assures him that this story actually makes her like him more, and I really liked this subplot, because it seemed like a relatively realistic relationship issue that helped keep things from being too perfect between them while avoiding making it seem like the show was constantly threatening to break them up just to add false stakes.
Next week is Castle‘s 100th episode, so don’t miss it!
(Image courtesy of ABC.)