CASTLE 3.24 ‘Knockout’

Two cops go down in the line of duty and Castle confesses his secret to Beckett.

Blair Marnellby Blair Marnell

Episode Title: "Knockout"

Writer: Will Beall

Director: Rob Bowman

Previously on "Castle":

For years, Detective Kate Beckett (Stana Katic) has been obsessed with finding the truth about who was behind the murder of her mother. Now teamed up with novelist, Richard Castle (Nathan Fillion), the unlikely duo has discovered that the murder of Beckett's mother was tied to a group of three cops who kidnapped mob bosses for ransom decades ago. They also managed to track down and capture Hal Lockwood (Max Martini), a trained killer who may have been directly involved with the murder. And although Lockwood remained quiet about what he knew, Beckett promised to keep the pressure on him until he breaks.

Story:

True to her word, Beckett visits the prison again to convince Lockwood to talk. Except this time, she's horrified to learn that someone transferred Lockwood to the general population, where he immediately murders former police officer, Gary McAllister(Brian Goodman)… the second of three cops tied to the mobsters-for-ransom ring. With the first cop, John Raglan murdered earlier in the season, there is almost no one left who knows who killed Beckett's mom. And at Lockwood's court hearing, Castle and Beckett are both witness to his daring escape from custody. Lockwood and his accomplices then flee in a waiting helicopter.

The police quickly discover that Lockwood's transfer and escape may have been aided by Beckett's friend, Officer Chuck Ryker (Matt McTighe). But he soon shows up with a bullet in his head, tying off that potential lead. They also find the helicopter back in New Jersey, where only the bullet holes from Beckett's shots remain as evidence that it was ever gone. Castle is convinced that the mysterious third cop is pulling Lockwood's strings, but Beckett is so on edge that she takes her anger out on him and Detectives Esposito (Jon Huertas) and Ryan (Seamus Dever). But Castle and his friends soon find evidence that third cop altered the records of his arrests to hide his identity.

Captain Roy Montgomery (Ruben Santiago-Hudson) seems unusually bloodthirsty when he suggests to Ryan and Esposito that they should shoot Lockwood on sight. Beckett's dad soon pays a surprise visit to Castle and begs him to convince Beckett to stop risking her life over this investigation. Incredibly, Castle actually agrees with him and he tries to get Beckett to back down. In the ensuing argument, Castle admits that he doesn't know where they stand as friends or potential lovers, but Beckett angrily tells him that their partnership is over. Later, Beckett is stunned when Montgomery tells her that he could have gotten rid of Castle at any time.

But Montgomery points out that having Castle around was good for Beckett. And he also argues that Beckett won't find any justice in getting herself killed. But later that night, Lockwood visits Montgomery in his home, exposing Montgomery as the third cop. Lockwood tells him that he has a plan to kill Beckett, and when Montgomery refuses, Lockwood threatens his family instead. The next day, a shaken Montgomery takes the time to kiss his wife and kids before sending some secret files off into the mail. He also sets Beckett up for her murder by telling her to meet him at the hanger where the helicopter was found.

Ryan and Esposito discover Montgomery's involvement on their own and frantically try to warn Beckett. She gets their text message just in time to pull a gun on Montgomery at the hanger. He explains that he was a rookie when he got caught up with Raglan and McAllister. He confesses that his actions helped lead to the death of Beckett's mom, but he spent  his career trying to make up for that. He then motions for Castle to come out and restrain Beckett as he awaits the arrival of Lockwood. In the ensuing gun battle, Lockwood and his men are killed by Montgomery, who also dies in the process.

Before Montgomery's funeral, Castle, Beckett, Ryan and Esposito make a secret pact to protect Montgomery's reputation while investigating the case. At the funeral, Beckett's tribute to her mentor move the mourners, but an assassin shoots her in the middle of her speech. Racing to her side, Castle pleads with Beckett to hold on before admitting that he loves her. Beckett smiles softly before closing her eyes and losing consciousness.

Breakdown:

Alright, who thinks that Beckett is really going to die?

Anyone?

Though I have to admit, killing off Beckett would be a pretty ballsy move for the show and it would actually take it into much darker territory. But that would never happen unless Stana Katic went on a bender of Charlie Sheen proportions. This show might as well be called "Castle and Beckett," because it wouldn't work without both of them together.

I hate to say it, but Montgomery's pending death was pretty obvious. The producers and ABC overplayed their hand by hyping up the death of one of the original characters in this episode. It doesn't take a mystery writer to figure out that Montgomery was the most expendable person on the show. At least Ruben Santiago-Hudson made the most of the opportunity to flesh out Montgomery's backstory and gave us one last memorable performance.

Montgomery's presence on this show is often overlooked (hence his expandability), but the character had the right balance for both the lighter moments and the more serious action in this episode. I'm actually more curious about who's going to take his place and how it affects Castle and Beckett than I am about the new boss on "The Office."

Just to be clear, this was a very good season finale and one of the best episodes of "Castle" to date. Beckett's survival may be certain, but putting her in serious jeopardy is a classic way to go out. It also made a perfect time for Castle to confess his feelings for her. But knowing this show as I do, I wonder how the producers will try to walk that back and not deal with it. There's only so long that they can delay getting Castle and Beckett together romantically and the fans aren't going to put up with keeping them apart forever.

I also suspect that the murder of Kate's mom won't be solved until the very last episode of the series, ala "Monk" and "The Fugitive." The writers actually progressed the case a lot further than I expected them to this year. But how much complexity can they pile on top of this story before it becomes unbelievable? In my mind, there's only one viable suspect: Beckett's dad. But check back in three to five seasons and see if I got it right.

The episodes dealing with this investigation have tended to be more intense than usual. It was a great moment for Ryan and Esposito when they actually started physically fighting over whether Montgomery was the third cop. And the funeral sequence was genuinely moving, even during Castle's last moments with Beckett. Everyone really hit their marks here and it made for an extremely enjoyable hour of television.

There were too many weeks this year where I didn't stay current with "Castle." So, my spring resolution is to change that next season. "Castle" isn't always high drama, but it's always fun to watch.

Crave Online Rating: 9 out of 10.