Stars: Nathan Fillion, Stana Katic, Susan Sullivan, Ruben Santiago-Hudson, Jon Huertas, Seamus Dever
Writer: Will Beall
Director: Tom Wright
Network: ABC, airs Monday nights
Original Telecast: November 24, 2011

“Knockdown” is not your typical episode of CASTLE. The usually light-hearted whodunnit with a hint of will they/won’t they goes to the dark side as Kate Beckett (Stana Katic) gets some more tidbits about her mother’s murder.

Oh, and things are heating up between her and writer/hanger on Rick Castle (Nathan Fillion), but forget cutesy romance, the heat has everything to do with why the wealthy best-selling author is spending so much time going out on homicide cases. Hint – it isn’t merely heat.

The episode starts out with an almost suicide that results in retired cop John Raglan calling Beckett to get something off his chest. Not surprisingly, a bullet from a high-powered rifle stops Raglan before he can do more than dandle a clue about Beckett’s mother’s activities when she was killed before Beckett and Castle.

Things go quickly to hell after that, with Capt. Montgomery (Ruben Santiago-Hudson) booting Beckett and Castle off the case in favor of Beckett’s henchmen Ryan (Seamus Dever) and Esposito (Jon Huertas), who immediately set off on the trail of a professional hitman at the top of his game.

This is a rare episode in that it’s more dramatic than usual. However, it also gives almost all of this cast some room to work some chops, and oddly enough, it isn’t Katic so much who blows us away (although she’s perfectly capable). Fillion gets some rare moments working through some tough issues, such as watching a man die – after all, he shows up after the fact – not to mention the whole reason he’s around in the first place.

And the scene that starts that whole line is dynamite – Castle’s mom Martha (Susan Sullivan) goes off on him, worried that the bullet that got Raglan could have gotten him. Sullivan knocks it out of the park, as if we needed any more reminding of just how good she is.

Besides the drama and the danger, what makes this work is that the relationship between Beckett and Castle has actually grown. Forget the “will they/won’t they” stuff. That’s just silly teasing. When these two finally connect, it’s going to be real and that’s good for the series, as a whole. After all, real relationships are far more interesting that unresolved sexual tension.

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