With the long-awaited Caskett wedding and honeymoon having played out over the past two episodes and the mystery of Castle’s disappearance still looming in the shadows, it seemed like an appropriate time to shift the focus of this seventh season of Castle towards the supporting cast. The series has always done well to showcase its incredibly talented ensemble cast with a few very well-placed episodes in each season and the first of this current season aired on Monday night, with Esposito taking centre stage. Not only was this is a prime opportunity for Jon Huertas to shine as he always does when taking on a starring role in an episode, but it was also a wonderful way to further develop his character as well as Esposito’s on-and-off relationship with Lanie. What ensued was a dramatic, intense, and exciting hour that kept the focus on Esposito while also allowing the rest of the ensemble cast to come together and show their strengths in working as a team to protect one of their own.
Penned by season seven showrunner and longtime series writer, David Amann, and directed by legendary film and television director, Jeannot Szwarc, Monday’s “Kill Switch” began as any typical Castle episode, with Castle and Beckett investigating the mysterious murder of a government investigator who was seemingly killed as a means of silencing him from blowing the whistle on one of his latest cases. In fact, there was a lightness to the opening scenes and a sense of routine to it all, especially as Castle and Beckett bantered on their way to the crime scene about this being their first case as a married couple, all while cleverly calling back to a classic line from early on in the second season. But when Esposito later followed a potential informant onto a subway car, the routine became anything but as he unknowingly set the man off into taking the entire subway car hostage. With nothing to lose but his own quickly-fading life, their prime source of information soon became a desperate suicide bomber, leaving Esposito on his own to diffuse the situation while the rest of the team scrambled helplessly to save him and the rest of the hostages.
It was a brilliantly intense episode, with plenty of mystery, a great deal of drama, and a wonderful touch of personal emotion from the characters as they faced their fears of potentially losing one of their own. It was also a stark reminder to all of them that even the most routine investigation could put them in grave danger, something that certainly weighed on each of them throughout the hour. Yet even despite the harrowing moments and terrifying possibilities, the story was one that held a deep undercurrent of how strong love is as a driving force in our lives. Jared’s motivation to do what he did sprung solely out of his love for Erin, a twist that seemed to bring the case and the personal storyline together so perfectly in the end.
There were wonderful moments from each of the ensemble cast featured in Monday’s episode, from Seamus Dever’s portrayal of Ryan beating himself up over not staying side-by-side with his partner, to the obvious concern yet steadfast dedication of Penny Johnson Jerald’s Captain Gates as she stayed focused on getting her detective out of harm’s way, to the heartbreaking helplessness delivered by Stana Katic and Nathan Fillion as the caring couple who were so used to being the ones in danger themselves that they seemed almost lost at times in knowing how to handle seeing their friend in such dire circumstances. It was also wonderful to see recurring cast member Maya Stojan take on a more personal role as Tory showed her heartfelt concern for Esposito’s plight throughout the episode as she has now become a vital part of this team as well.
But the focus of the episode was squarely on both Jon Huertas and Tamala Jones as the two showcased how each of their characters handled this heart-pounding situation with Esposito in very real danger and Lanie struggling to deal with seeing her love in the line of fire. We have seen their relationship turn back into something very promising this season, sparked by them seeing what Castle and Beckett went through and prompting them to take a much clearer look at how quickly life can change. But early on in the episode, Esposito revealed to Ryan that things were right where the two had left them before their rocky breakup years ago; Lanie was happy with the status quo while Esposito was finding himself wanting more from their relationship, even considering the notion of being a father someday soon.
Of course, being taken hostage by a suicide bomber quickly forced Esposito to keep his mind focused on other things, mainly on diffusing the situation and saving himself and everyone else on that subway train. Huertas was brilliant in his performance, portraying Esposito as the seasoned and brave man that he always has been, yet also infusing a slight sense of fear in him at times. After all, as much as Esposito was able to stay in control of the situation, always thinking and being wary of the possible outcomes of each challenge along the way, he was also facing the uncertainty of exactly what Jared Stone was capable of. It was that recognition of his own vulnerabilities and mortality that were most intriguing to see within Esposito during the episode, even in the midst of his usual strength and heroism. In the end, Esposito displayed his courage and sensibility more than ever as he overthrew Jared in a brief moment of weakness and diffused the hostage situation without anyone being harmed in the process. Unless, of course, you count the fact that they were all unknowingly exposed to a potentially deadly virus, the perfect twist to tarnish Esposito’s shining moment in a rather brilliant way.
Meanwhile, Tamala Jones delivered a remarkable performance as Lanie helplessly struggled with this dire situation. While she has certainly seen Esposito in danger before, most notably during last year’s epic “Under Fire”, the progression of their relationship over this season perhaps left her feeling even more devastated than ever before that something could potentially happen to him. It was heartbreaking to see Lanie’s vulnerability, especially given that she is typically the character helping everyone else to be strong and stay focused on what is most important. That often unseen sense of vulnerability was something that Jones infused beautifully into her performance on Monday night. With that said, it was also fitting to see Lanie’s practicality and reason take over at one point, leading to her doing anything but standing by helplessly. Rather, Lanie’s brilliant medical observation that Jared was showing signs of being infected by a flu-like virus eventually led to the break in their case that would allow Castle and Beckett to ultimately save Esposito, Jared, and all of the hostages.
In the end, the team was happily reunited with heartwarming sentiments and joyous hugs all around as Castle offered to treat them all to a night out at The Old Haunt, another classic reference to bring the story back to its earlier days. And while Castle made a few horrific jokes about taking the subway (very much “too soon,” Mr. Beckett, very much indeed), the episode concluded in the same lighthearted manner in which it began, almost as though the story had come full-circle and that sense of happiness had been restored. Of course, all would not be forgotten and the experiences that both Esposito and Lanie went through during the episode should surely push them forward in their relationship, even if only slightly for now. After all, we have witnessed what such life-and-death experiences have done to force Castle and Beckett to recognize what was most important to them, so perhaps the same will be true for their friends as well.
What did you think of Monday’s episode of Castle? Did you enjoy seeing Esposito become the main focus of the episode? Were you happy with the way this case showcased and developed Esposito’s relationship with Lanie? What was your favourite moment in the episode? Share your thoughts with us below!
Castle airs Mondays at 10pm on ABC and CTV.
QUOTE OF THE NIGHT:
RYAN: “You have to admit, Castle’s theory is surprisingly logical.”
BECKETT: “Yes, and it’s conveniently unburdened by evidence.”