Castle Post Mortem: In the Wake of Kate's Huge Discovery, 'The Stakes Are Higher Than Ever'

Castle Spoilers Bracken Drug LordThis week on ABC’s Castle, an undercover assignment gone sideways first brings Beckett face-to-face with a familiar foe — and then gobsmacks her with a shocking discovery.

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As the hour opens, Rick and Kate are fixing to spend the latter’s day off by engaging in, well, the sorts of things couples do. (Apparently they both need a good font.) That plan however is derailed by a call from Gates, asking Kate to get to the 12th, pronto — and alone.

At the precinct, Captain Fowler from narcotics explains how they caught Elena Markov, a low-level courier for a rising drug lord known as Lazarus, whom they have yet to get eyes on. Alas, Elena is now hospitalized after a suicide attempt, but the NYPD wants to keep her next meet — with Beckett assuming her identity. Kate agrees, thinking it’s a simple couple-of-hours gig, yet once on en route to the meet, she is abducted, thrown into a van and driven to a remote location.

Kate’s abductor, Harden, says that Lazarus is interested in giving Elena a permanent position in the organization. Kate accepts, with the stipulation that she gets a face-to-face with her employer. When Harden and his superior, Jones, step outside to mull it over — rather than ask Elena to wait in the guarded hallway, thus conveniently leaving Beckett unattended near a phone — Kate quickly rings the 12th, but her call cannot be traced.

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In the meantime, Beckett finds a block of time to write an “In case we don’t see each other again…” letter to Rick, professing that their relationship is the greatest thing that has ever happened to her and that he is an “amazing man,” signing the note, “Always” — and then hides it, to hopefully never be found.

Kate is told that Lazarus has accepted her terms, if she agrees to an assignment: Whacking some attorney in the ‘burbs. Realizing that Elena was in fact an assassin, Kate carries out the kill, thanks to some quick thinking/staging of a murder scene with her target’s help. (Good thing Frank Ryan had beet juice handy!) Meanwhile at the 12th, Rick frets about Kate’s fate, now that they know she’s trying to pass herself off as a contract killer. Javi, though, reassures that Beckett’s a “damn good cop, so don’t sell her short.”

When Kate gets her meeting with Lazarus, Castle Spoilers Bracken Drug Lordshe is promptly made — because the man across the table is Vulcan Simmons, the Washington Heights drug lord she suspected in her mother’s murder back in Season 3. When Kate, despite some torture tactics, refuses to disclose what they want to know, Vulcan tasks Harden with killing her out in the woods — except Elena shows up in the nick of time to slay Harden and save Beckett’s life. (“He sent me because he owed you. He wanted you to live.”) But who is “he”? “Lazarus.”

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Back at the 12th, as Gates and Fowler report that there’s no evidence to back up charges against Vulcan, Kate expresses to a helpless-feeling Rick, “Babe, I wasnt alone… The only thing that kept me going was thing about you… You were with me the whole time.”

But who was having all these tens of millions funneled into some secret super PAC fund? Turns out, Senator Bracken aka the real “Lazarus” is atop this drug chain, and has been using the ill-gotten gains to fill his war chest — with an eye on the White House. (Meaning Sally Langston’s dead husband will run against her and Fitz? What?) But since Kate once saved the life of her mother’s killer, he returned the favor — thus cleaning the slate between them. “So,” Kate notes with a hint of dread, “the next time we see each other….”

Though Stana Katic, when I spoke to her last week, did not know when this Bracken thread would next be picked up — “I’ve been digging on my own with the producers to find out where they’re going,” she shared — one thing is certain: “They’ve upped the ante,” she attested. “We built up the Bracken character, talking about him as a sleeping dragon that was awoken, and this story re-mythologizes him.” As an aspiring POTUS, “His status now is at another level, which means that the stakes are higher than ever. And so keeping Beckett at bay is more important than ever,” Katic observed. “She’s a bigger threat than she’s been in the past.”

What did you think of “In the Belly of the Beast”? And as always, any scoop-seeking Qs can be sent to InsideLine@tvline.com.