Castle Where Is Beckett

Castle Recap: When the Kate's Away...

In retrospect, given the title of this week’s Castle episode, “Cool Boys,” how did we not see the West Side Story number coming?

A confluence of scheduling events — Stana Katic’s time off in Milan coupled with Last Ship star Adam Baldwin’s window of availability — resulted in an episode minus Beckett but plus Ethan Slaughter, the rough-around-the-edges detective who apparently got demoted from the Gang Task Force due to suspect behavior.

With Kate out-of-town at a work thingamajig (and the whole separation thing “getting old”), Rick seeks a distraction, a bill that Slaughter for better or worse fills when he seeks out his pal “Sherlock” to assist in solving the theft of a million-dollar microchip from a high-tech, robbery-proof office tower. But when Slaughter’s CI turns up dead — killed by a knife with the detective’s prints on it — Rick finds himself and Slaughter “on the run” from Ryan and Esposito, who theorize that the disgraced cop had plotted the heist as a “retirement plan.”

For sure, Nathan Fillion and Adam Baldwin’s Firefly-era banter and camaraderie can be entertaining to watch, especially when Rick laid out the kinder, gentler “rules” that Slaughter must begrudgingly follow — and again later, when Rick discovered that his frenemy 1) had been married 2) to a famous opera singer whom he met in college 3) where they both majored in musical theater. It was the latter reveal that inevitably set up the “Cool” number, which Rick and Slaughter used to confound a small army of before putting the big hurt on the… well-warmed small army.

That said, I felt a bit icky about Rick duping Espo and stealing the boys’ car in the name of spiriting away Slaughter, whom they were about to haul back to the 12th. As Espo said, they could have easily brought in Rick, too, so for him to usurp that already tenuous thread of good faith…. Again, icky.

The killer turned out to be the guy who runs the organization for underprivileged youth and as such had paired the victim up with a super-genius 16-year-old with a propensity for hacking — which I pretty much sensed the moment they gave Corey Reynolds (The Closer) that extraneous line about his previous job “moving money around for Wall Street types.” But at least the killer wasn’t the throwaway girlfriend who appeared for 15 seconds at the top of the hour!

Elsewhere in the hour:

* We learned that Martha is writing a book literally titled Unsolicited Advice — which her son Rick can totally get behind!

* Slaughter’s “charms” made zero impression on Hayley, as much as he digs her British accent.

* Rick received marital/separation advice from both Martha (who noted that Kate’s tragic past obviously affected her in ways she is only now realizing) and then Slaughter, who spoke from his own surprising life experience: “Quit asking permission” to be let in, he advised. “I wasn’t man enough to put my wife’s needs ahead of mine. Don’t make the same mistake.”

And with that freshly lodged in his mind, Rick eyeballs his wife’s desk nameplate, seemingly forming an idea for next week’s “first anniversary” episode….

What did you think of the Beckett-less “Cool Boys” episode?