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7x11, "Castle, P.I.": Note that's P.I. with initials, and not a horrifying newspaper-headline-esque indication that the worst mistake of Alexis' life has re-entered the picture. Although Alexis does show up in a couple of scenes to be his adorably plucky sounding board, and if he were actually going to be stuck as a P.I. forever I'd say she should totally consider working alongside him as a career path. But I digress. (also, how great was her face after he sulked "she took something beautiful we created and shared it with another man")

That was a whole lot of kooky wonderful, from Beckett's protest that "I saw him spending hours on the computer, I just thought he was playing Terra Quest" to his uncanny ability to materialize at locations minutes before the detectives and her exasperation. Also Gates' exasperation, which is like Beckett's but multiplied by a billion. It was like watching someone continually shoo a stubborn dog off the furniture.

I got quite a kick out of their mutual case-working sparking a passionate night, and her flirty teasing while racing off in the morning without him. And also his joy in having a proper Sherlockian cap & magnifying glass, rivalled only by her delight in presenting him with both items.

Plus Perlmutter's glee over Castle's absence combined with his sputtering outrage when Castle shows up in the morgue anyway marked the first time Coroner Not Lainie has ever been tolerable, so there's that.
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7x12, Private Eye Carumba: Can we just talk about how they're ramping up the sexy game this year, and I like it a lot.
I like this 1940s roleplaying almost as much as I like Beckett's decision to start tearing his shirt open in an unlocked office up against a giant window. I personally got a giggle out of him struggling briefly with her top button, adding a cute touch of realism without interrupting the flow. Also, there is a beautifully brightened slo-mo edition here, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2r7saz3MMJM
which despite being low-quality, will definitely allow you to see a thing or too you probably did not catch in the dark regular-speed version, such as her leg wrapped around his waist or his bug-eyed expression right before he whirls around, or at the very least allows you to more thoroughly appreciate wandering hands.

P.S. Dear Grey's Anatomy, I would like you to take notes on how to walk the line between "hot" and "gross."

...did other things happen in this episode? No, wait, of course they did.

-"Have a good day at work, honey," + cheek kiss
-Beckett's crankiness when Castle crawls into bed only to ask a favor instead of offering the bedroom-appropriate variety to make up for earlier
-Kevin "Baby Castle" Ryan proudly continuing to step up to the plate with more wacky theories.
-Castle managing to nearly get himself killed, in one of the more glossed-over such instances of the series (I did enjoy Espo and Ryan pressuring Knicks game floor seats out of him in return for saving him, though)
-It's really cute that despite being married, Castle still doesn't feel like he has enough time with her unless he's tagging along at work
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7x13, I, Witness
(apparently we're just gonna keep rolling with these punny titles)

We don't often see Castle genuinely discouraged or doubting himself. It was really nice to see Beckett's gentle support and encouragement. I particularly liked her kissing the top of his head after promising to help with the case, another rare gesture from her, as it's usually the other way around. What a sad way for an ex-classmate to end, especially when Castle flatly refused to believe they'd really found her body.

(though I am still not clear what Castle thought he would accomplish by running onto the scene and chasing after a supposed murderer in a deserted area with no cell reception, the full stupidity of which is neatly outlined here with some of the best use of some commn gifs/memes you've ever seen.

On the lighter side, Esposito glaring daggers into Ryan's well-meaning soul for setting him up on a blind date found through the online profile Ryan & Jenny made for him was delightful at every turn. Good confirmation that he and Lainie broke up, even if it felt a little like "we are sorry for being so cryptic and assuming you could read into the situation. We should have listened to the network notes about how audiences are dummies. This time we'll have Beckett spell it out for you in no uncertain terms."

Also, I see Beckett has not been discouraged in the slightest from propositioning him in his office. Good girl.
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7x14-15, Resurrection/Reckoning
"You know the part I liked best? The pain in your eyes. The suffering. And all that fear, knowing that I have her."

I'll allow that it's time for 3XK to end, but oh my god these episodes are always so good. Each one just keeps getting better, and this was no exception, with the suspense and masterful twists and Kelly Nieman's maddeningly calm, polished exterior. I'm so proud that neither Castle nor Beckett wavered in their certainty about or visible contempt for who they were talking to, even before all hell broke loose.

I mostly came for Unhinged Castle, and I was not disappointed. Dark!Castle from Alexis' kidnapping is back and better than ever. It's incredible how he can go from the affable Labradoodle mode of everyday to lethal wolf mode when it comes to rescuing people he loves, and he is genuinely scary. Particularly with that phenomenal slamming of the door into Tyson's face and continue to slam him against walls and throw him against bookshelves before advancing on him with a gun -- all very cathartic, if not helpful.

And really interesting to watch a second time after you hear that quote I put above.

Also, there are those lovely moments where he is confronted head-on with a news clip of what she looked like right after she went missing, and his ineffectual "she's my wife" plea to Gates (as if she doesn't know the level of their relationship), which I think was mostly there just so we could revel in that word some more. Still not tired of it!

The team charging in to where it looks like Beckett is tied, and the gun going off -- that's one of the most well directed murder scenes I've ever seen. I want to articulate it, but when I do I feel squeamishly like it makes me sound like I'm enjoying it versus just impressed by how it affected me, so I'll just say that between the shadowy backlighting and that last bullet, I was really struck by how deeply I got a sense of the violence involved without a lot of explicit gore. That's hard to do. And even knowing it wasn't Beckett, it feels like seeing it happen to Beckett (the voice placement is very effective).

And I know I mentioned this before, but his face + broken-voice apologies are gutwrenching. As is that noise he makes before he can bring himself to touch "her."

I liked Gates sitting down with Castle as an encouraging figure and telling him she understands what Beckett sees in him.

I loved Castle's sudden panic over his remaining family, followed in true herd stallion fashion by sending the ladies off to the safe haven of Europe.

I'm still not quite sure what to make of the reunion scene -- she seems so shell shocked and out of it that I can't believe she's so Totally Fine one scene later. As her experiences with kidnapping go, this one ranked pretty low on the pain/terror scale, at least until right near the end, but that kind of visceral stabbing seems like the kind of thing that would haunt you in a way shooting a gun does not. Especially as I'm assuming that tiny scalpel took more than one blow to to end it. We get a hint of it later with "every time I close my eyes I see her face," but the timing seems interrupted.

(Also, I read one person's reaction about how with the way they didn't show the murder happening, and her vacant expression when she turned, it was almost like Kelly had succeeded and was taking over Beckett's life. Let me tell you, that would make one wonderful horror AU and also might be one I have trouble shaking off. The what if.)

But I really like how carefully he approaches, the slow sinking into each other and his visible exhale, the first time he relaxes in two days.

The best thing about this two-parter is that its Caskett endings just keep going. Stop #2, at the precinct, gives us his arm tight around her before releasing her to hug Lainie, plus Beckett's short reaction to hearing about his assault charges, and their happy hug when he's reinstated. (also, not one but TWO Gates/Castle hugs. HUGS ALL AROUND.)

And stop #3, bedtime cuddling. (I am officially declaring this show to have reached MEDIUM'S level of domesticity, opening every episode in either the bedroom or the kitchen and ending in bed more than half the time. There is no higher level of achievement than Medium.)

"You know how I deal with it? I open my eyes and look at you." Plus affirming kisses and her curled up on his chest to fall asleep, awww. That part is my favorite thing.

[HOLD SPACE HERE FOR POST-DVD ACQUISITION SCREEN SHOT]

Oh! And I almost forgot, since this season seems determined to manipualte me into wanting a Caskett baby (...that just sounds wrong, but the other way sounds worse), I liked their brief discussion about it. I like how immediately Castle is on board with it, as well as how Kate seems pretty shiny and happy about the possibility too. I didn't think I would, but it's kind of a relief that it's easy with them and it's not a big Thing or point of contention.

Obviously the best part was still Alexis giving them both a kiss on the cheek, though. Isn't this so much better than her random aggravation?

Plus, my favorite dialogue exchange in quite some time:
Castle: Where are you off to?
Alexis: Oh, I signed up for an escort service. I have to meet a client.
Castle: WHAT? On a what??
Alexis: =D

I have to say, I'm getting super excited for the release of the DVD set. Much more than last year, I am pumped for commentaries & other bonus features. 5 and 8 are the only episodes I've even been lukewarm about so far. Just confirmed there is DVD commentary with Nathan Fillion for Reckoning, YES!

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