Last night’s episode of Castle taught us something that we all should have learned from the movie Friday back in 1995: never, ever, ever ever ever go into work on your day off.
“In the Belly of the Beast” was one of the best episodes of the season. Castle’s murder mysteries—and the pop culture tie-ins—are always interesting, but this is the first time in a while that we’ve seen Castle or Beckett in actual danger. And while we hated to see Beckett suffer, all of the drama made for an excellent storyline, especially since it brought back some throwback plots and villains.
The episode opens with Castle and Beckett doing the unthinkable—absolutely nothing. It’s the middle of the afternoon, and Beckett has finally taken a day off. She’s in her bathrobe, about to settle down to a plate of food, and their only plan for the day is to pick out a font for their “Save the Date” wedding cards, and make love—which they are just about to do when the phone rings. Naturally, Beckett has been called in to the office for an emergency, top-secret situation and her glorious plans for nothingness and sweet love-making down by the fire are cancelled.
Given specific instructions to leave hubby at home, Beckett goes to work and is greeted with a pretty frightening proposition. The NYPD narcotics division wants her help with a huge bust, involving drugs, money laundering, and a slew of dead guys who’ve all recently had their throats slit in conjunction with all of the other illegal going-ons. She agrees to pose as an informant named Elena, though she and the rest of the detectives have no idea that Elena is not who she claims to be.
Beckett can’t tell Castle anything, so when he prepares a romantic dinner for two he has no idea that she’s knee-deep in a drug sting. Of course, the very simple game plan for her to meet at a hotel with the big bad guys (who all work for a fella named Lazarus) goes horribly wrong, and Beckett soon finds herself in the back of a van, clueless as to where she’s headed.
She manages to fool the first few bad guys into thinking that she is Elena, but she knows her cover could be blown at any moment. Once at the location, she has to play Elena (who she believes is a low-level drug courier) and also play detective, fishing around for information as a part of her assignment. So, she boldly requests to meet Lazarus before she will accept a new position that pays a whopping $50,000 a week (her first clue that Elena had to be doing more than just moving “packages”). She manages to also make contact with the guys back at the precinct, soon joined by Castle, but they cannot trace the phone and there’s a good chance this is all going to end badly, especially since one of Lazarus’ men is seriously onto her. In one especially compelling scene, Beckett leaves a trail of blood in the room that she’s been locked inside, and pens a final letter to Castle. It’s one of those “in case I don’t make it out of this” letters and, considering that they were just looking at wedding fonts, it’s a pretty emotional moment. For a moment, we can’t help but wonder if Castle will have to read that letter at some point in the future.
Then Beckett (as Elena) gets an interesting deal—the good news is that she can meet with Lazarus! The bad news is she has to kill a guy. The scene where she is driven to this person’s house, and gets no information about who he is (along with the very clear instructions to kill him) is very Tom Cruise/Jamie Foxx in Collateral; it’s bad. But she comes up with a great plan to get her target to fake the shooting with her, so he can get in touch with the precinct. Beckett thinks she’s fooled everyone, until she comes face to face with Lazarus. And Lazarus is actually Vulcan Simmons AKA the guy who didn’t quite murder her mom, but knows enough about what happened to be Beckett’s mortal enemy for life.
Simmons goes on to torture Beckett, and sends her off to her death. Enter the real Elena, whose killer skills (lit’rally) finally pay off, as she manages to save Beckett’s life. She claims to have been sent by the real Lazarus, and Beckett realizes that she must be speaking of good ol’ Senator Bracken. He’s caught up in all of the money laundering, and—naturally—getting ready to run for president. And Beckett clearly has plans to take him down, though the final scene between her and Castle suggests that her fiancé would rather they bow out of the whole thing gracefully, while Beckett’s still alive. It’s pretty clear that Beckett’s conscience won’t let that happen.
See? Working on your day off is just the worst. Not only did she get tortured, and reintroduced to the political schemes that cost Joanna Beckett her life, but they didn’t even decide on a font.
Shannon M. Houston is a New York-based freelance writer, regular contributor to Paste, and occasional contributor to the human race via little squishy babies. You can follow her on Twitter.