Stars: Nathan Fillion, Stana Katic, Susan Sullivan, Molly Quinn, Tamala Jones, Seamus Deaver, Jon Huertas, Penny Johnson Jerald
Writer: 
 David Amann
Director: Bill Roe
Network: ABC, Monday nights, 10 p.m.
Original Telecast: February 18, 2013

As much as I watch CASTLE because I enjoy its frivolity and silliness, I do generally love the more dramatic episodes because they tend to be the better crafted overall. Alas, not so with “Target.” This first of two parts feels like the writers had too much story for one episode, but not quite enough for two, since much of the episode involves Castle (Nathan Fillion) mooning about once everyone realizes that the kidnappers of Sara Al-Mazri (Karen Shenaz David) also kidnapped Castle’s daughter Alexis (Molly Quinn), too.

Of course, if the fact that Alexis was one of the victims hadn’t been relentlessly teased in the network promos, it probably would have had a lot more impact. As it was, I spent the first half of the episode wondering when and how she had gotten involved.

The episode starts off like your standard episode – we see the first body running and shooting at a van that’s coming straight at him. Then Martha (Susan Sullivan) is making pancakes for her son in a burst of motherliness, partly to help Castle feel better now that Alexis has moved on to college (foreshadow, foreshadow). And now that I think about it, that is kind of the problem.

I’ll bet that the episode was written with the intent that we wouldn’t know about Alexis  being the second victim. In that context, all the foreshadowing makes sense. What with Beckett (Stana Katic) reminding Castle that it’s time to let go of Alexis, the early stages as Beckett and company discover that the body wasn’t just a student at Columbia and that Sara Al-Mazri was abducted, and those shots of Castle expressing all that sympathy for Al-Mazri’s parents.

If you know Alexis was kidnapped, as well, then all that foreshadowing feels like you’re being sledgehammered. If you don’t know, then it’s a great set-up.

Admittedly, it becomes obvious fairly early on that Alexis was a co-victim, and I loved the moment with Lt. Gates (Penny Johnson Jerald), putting aside her usual animosity toward Castle to let Beckett know that she could do whatever it took to get Alexis back. I’m loving that whole Castle/Gates relationship. It’s obvious Gates hates him because he’s a dilettante, but she also has to respect him because he does get the job done all too often.

Because of the nature of the series, with its twists and  turns, we started to wonder if Alexis wasn’t the actual target, with Al-Mazri getting picked up in addition, rather than the reverse, especially after it came out that it was who Alexis posted that she and Sara were going to be at the hotel where they got nabbed, not Sara. They never did find Triple XXX’s body, you know, and Castle was convinced that he would be back. Although, in that case, why hasn’t he just killed both Alexis and Sara in some really grotesque way? And if he’s out for Castle, why keep Sara alive, then? Two live bodies are infinitely more difficult to manage than one, and it seems rather clear that they are needed alive for some reason.

I do love that Alexis keeps her head and helps Sara to stay calm by looking at their surroundings, but this is another area where something massive gets blown over. The big spoiler at the end, of course, is that the girls have been taken to Paris. Cool twist, will probably make for some fun shenanigans in next week’s episode. But here’s the kicker. European plumbing doesn’t look anything like American plumbing, even in Americanized hotels, and you’d think both Alexis and especially Sara would look at the bathroom and realize they aren’t in the States anymore. That’s exactly the sort of clue Alexis was looking for.

But back in the states, they find the wounded getaway driver, and while I questioned Beckett letting Castle come along to question him about where he took the girls, you kind of got the picture why when Beckett left Castle alone with the driver. Everyone’s a little surprised that Castle has that side, but we all know he does. We’ve seen it when Beckett has been threatened.

But here’s where the script bogs down. The girls are not at the farmhouse they were driven to, but their coats are. Castle’s a mess, Beckett tries to cheer him up by quoting him, Castle gets all moony remembering when Alexis was born (an understandable response), but all of this is intercut with scenes of Alexis working with Sara to formulate an escape plan, then escaping the room. As the girls split up, Alexis manages to Skype her dad, and omigod, she’s in Paris and captured again.

This could have been a better episode, but the scenes where Castle is stressing out about Alexis being kidnapped went on far too long and ultimately felt more like padding than showing the effects of this devastating occurrence. That’s not good. Oh well. We have next week’s episode to see how much more padding there will be.

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Article: TV Review: CASTLE – Season 5 – “Target”

 

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