Castle Stepmother Returns

Castle Recap: Stepmother, Russia

[Whispers] Is ABC’s Castle on a bit of a roll…?

Season 8 resumed last week with a musically frothy episode that also highlighted the faux feud between “estranged” marrieds Rick and Kate. That was followed by a special (if missed/little-watched) Sunday outing that served up a twisty case and measurable Caskett goodness.

Then, this Monday — the third new episode in eight days — delivered arguably the best guest star (Spartacus‘ Nick Tarabay) since “The Nose” while also bringing back Rick’s stepmother for a first meeting that was surprisingly moving.

The Case of the Week had its strengths. Though the “Cold War” roots of it seemed a bit dusty at times (as did the movie references that came with it, though “I must break him” made my Rocky-loving self LOL), there was a gravity to its tone that reminded me of the series’ traditional February sweeps two-parters, where the stakes tend to be a bit higher. The details and later twists of mystery admittedly lost me in the final act, but Tarabay’s performance — as Vasily Zhirov, an agent with the Russian Diplomatic Security Service — smoothed over those rough edges, be he bro-ing out with famed author Rick or showing his significantly more threatening side, as a “cleaner.”

But again, the castle-rick-ritahighlight of the episode, for me, began with Beckett making that call to get her “curtains cleaned” — the code phrase Rita (Ann Cusack) had entrusted her with in this season’s (ahem) memorable second episode. Rita’s return, brief as it was, managed to serve multiple purposes, including affirming that Kate’s marital ruse was fooling outside observers and providing critical intel on the case at hand/Vasily’s true nature. But it was her scene with her stepson that had emotional resonance, affording Rick a chance to express his frustration with the many people hiding things to keep him safe (but then acknowledge, “At the end of the day, [Kate] is worth it”) and then assuring him that, though Spy Daddy doesn’t speak of his boy, Jackson is “so very proud” of what Rick has become.

In the end, the killer was identified — though not thrown behind bars, due to diplomatic immunity and all that jazz. But in a fun final twist, wannabe Nikki Heat co-author Vasily disclosed that he had arranged a worse-than-prison fate for the culprit, who was unwittingly en route to the coldest place on Earth. Rick and Kate then commemorated the closing of the case by seeking out a dark corner of the Russian consulate that might allow them to check a sixth name off their list of countries they’ve copulated in….

What did you think of this Monday’s episode? And who will be first to quip about Rick/Kate’s “This is getting old” LokSat commentary?

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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84 Comments
  1. Brad says:

    It’s was pretty good the episode has been better then Most of last years and nick was awesome he was also cool as boomerang on arrow and Beckett speaking Russian was cool

  2. LDS says:

    Good episode. Too bad it was up against the Grammys.

  3. James D says:

    Yes Matt, Yes it is. two goodies in a row. Loved it. And please Lord can we get a Nick E Tarabay spinoff he’s so wasted on guest spots he needs his own show, and Vasily Ice would be a great one to watch.

  4. John NYC says:

    Solid episode for me. Didn’t know who the quest star was but liked him.

    The Grammy’s? Awards shows…. meh.

  5. Teri says:

    Castle always outdoes itself. The acting by this cast is just stellar. Guest star AnnCusack just adds so much to this show. I really hope she is back many more times. People are really missing out on great TV by not watching Castle.

  6. David4 says:

    “The Case of the Week had its strengths.”

    I think you mean ‘Case of the Day’.

  7. DarkDefender says:

    Very well rounded episode. Did not see the twist coming with the mother being alive. Beckett needs to speak Russian more often (sexy!). If it is all uphill from here.. They are officially back on track. My favorite episode of 2016 (along with the anniversary episode).
    .
    My favorite line (that was not is Russian): “Beckett just asked me for some time. So I am giving it to her …. once a day… Sometimes twice.” ~ Castle (explaining why he isn’t upset anymore about the break up)

  8. Carol C says:

    Three great shows in a row. The best minute: when Castle has 60 seconds to get info so “Frank” isn’t tortured.

  9. Laura says:

    Pitty, these ones are much better. But since people left the ship last term with the break up, I don’t think ratings will recover.

    • Citygirl says:

      There really is no “breakup” if you’ve been watching!!

      • I'm going to let you finish but says:

        Right, only if you’ve been reading every interview the show runners have done.

        • John NYC says:

          Well the interview transcripts miss their little “air quotes” gesture they make every time they say “breakup”.

          Written words are so limited that way.

          • I'm going to let you finish but says:

            Right, because I’m leaving you and moving out of the loft (where does she live now?) is NOT a “breakup”. Let’s agree to disagree. :)

  10. N says:

    Loved Sergai!

  11. Disappointed says:

    The last three episodes seem to have been commented on much more favourably than most of the previous eight. Is it a coincidence that they have had no Hayley and Alexis has reverted to being just his daughter and not getting involved with the cases as a supersleuth. It’s a shame that doesn’t look like it is going to last with the upcoming 8×14 and 8×18.

    • Is it just me or does Stana Katic look pregnant? Check out the obvious camera angles trying to avoid a full on shot of her, the loose fitting clothing, and the fact that she is often holding something to strategically cover possible a baby bump. However, if it is true, it doesn’t take away from her exquisite beauty.

      • Just one thing says:

        DRINK!

        • Castlefan says:

          Even I need a drink now and I don’t even like alcohol! Reminds me of the British tabloids who had Princess Diana pregnant solidly from the late ’80s until her death in 1997.

      • Mary says:

        Is it just me or you desperatly want S.K. pregnant? Because you don´t even comment about the episode, you just keep saying the same thing!
        Do me a favour, check the answers people (me included) gave you yesterday about this same nonsense!:)

        • Mary, so sorry I upset you!! I am a huge Castle fan and have tried to stay positive about this season 8 all along. I loved both of these most recent episodes and dispite all the negativity that folks have spewed since September, I feel that Castle is still one of the best quality shows on TV right now. My only reason for questioning Stana’s situation is in hoping if it is true that it won’t mean the possibility of her leaving the show. And I’m sorry, I did not see any answers that you or anyone else gave to my question posted one day before this. I was only hoping some one had some insight. Thanks for reading this.

          • Mary says:

            You are not upseting me, sorry if it looked like it:(
            It´s just that you only posted about something that had no relation with the episodes.
            But I´m glad to know you are a fan:)

          • Just one thing says:

            Can you imagine if someone constantly saw photos or videos of you and asked the Internet if you were pregnant – and you weren’t?
            .
            I understand the curiosity, but when grown women (and men) do this, I find myself wondering about their social IQ.
            .
            If a woman is pregnant, you’ll find out eventually. There are no brownie points or deeper insight about the greater meaning of life to be earned by guessing.

          • Wow, Just One thing, I consider myself an educated woman ( 2 Masters’ Degrees ) with a sensitive social IQ. I’ve only asked this question since the last episodes. I’ve never asked it before, nor even thought about it.. It is born of a tremendous fondness for Stana and a love of the chemistry between her and Nathan. I want the series to continue into a ninth season and had a concern that it might not be able to if Stana chose to leave because of a pregnancy. I do not equate this topic with a “greater insight into the meaning of life.” Thank you for bringing me up short. I will be careful in the future about posting any musings of the characters I might have. Long live Castle!!!

  12. S. says:

    Honestly I’m having a blast with the show now. Whenever something about Loksat comes up I just roll with it because I can’t always remember what’s going on and what it’s causing in terms of the fun between Castle, Beckett, and the others right now works great for me. Some nice guest star performances this season.

  13. jim hamlet says:

    LOK/SAT is still an oddity to me, the quicker it is over, the sooner the story lines can assume some semblance of the “old” Castle. The past few shows since the break has showed a lot of promise. The most recent on 2/15 was the the best of the show since the break, but the Court Room drama gave us a look into the near future.

    Castle is a show that succeeds when the entire cast is utilized, not just the two main Casket characters. They work good together, they enjoy their craft, and it shows.

    Keep up the good work.

  14. titnaskers says:

    I would have to say that this most recent epsoide felt much more like the ones before this season eight got started. I really love the Russian ride along cop in this epsoide. Especially the you got 60 seconds to find out Rick or he was going to break him grin. Also love that finally we heard from Castle when he was talking to his step mom for the few moments. He show that even now that he understands Beckett’s reasoning a little he feels irriatied by the way that she had to push him away to keep him safe. Also love when Castle, Espiosito, and Ryan were together in those just right touch of comedy moments. Once againit finally like one of those great Castle fans originally feel in love with the show. Now I hope the ptb don’t screw it up again. Please don’t do that because I belive the hardcore Castle fans might just be pushed beyond the abyss for this great show if it happens again.

  15. Black says:

    I give high expectations for this episode,especially from Rita,Actually I found myself a little disappointed,But scene between Castle and Rita very emotional moment!

  16. George H. says:

    Dead Red was a great episode. They have all been pretty strong since resuming from the break in my opinion. Would love to see Nick in more episodes, he was fun. As was Stephanie in “The Nose”. Really hope those who swore off Castle after the second episode come back and give it a try. Really has gotten much better.

    • JImN says:

      Unless you want to see Nathan and Stana working their chemistry together for more than 4 minutes or so an episode.

      • Boiler says:

        Give it a break. Show is now and always been great. Try appreciating the awesome talent of the other actors

        • PacIslRocks says:

          Boiler, I agree. What makes the show enjoyable for me is when all or most of the fine ensemble cast are in an episodes. While I watch the show because of Stana, too much of “Caskett” would be boring without the other actors. I wish the Fandom would acknowledge the fine cast more in their comments but it seems most are “Caskett-centric”, oh well.

  17. Castlefan says:

    Two good episodes on successive nights. Good guest stars, not too much Alexis, some of the old sense of fun. If they’d done this sort of thing from the start the ratings may not be so low and (stars willing) we’d have a much better chance of season 9. At least I’m now looking forward to the last 11 episodes rather than gritting my teeth and hoping for the best as I was earlier in the season.

  18. JImN says:

    Some nice acting and what could have been a good story.

    Seemed like two or three too many things tacked onto the script for a 43 or so minute show. Could have cut the baby shower scene with Martha and Alexis. Really didn’t need Castle’s step-mother and the six or seven one-liners of exposition which were unrelated to the COTW. After ignoring and denying their relationship all episode (doing a really bad job of lying to boot) then tack on a scene that is supposed to be Caskett at the end was just as useless as the baby shower gift thing.

    Badly written, directed and edited for a 43 minute show. Would have made a good 90 minute show. Someone doesn’t understand the limits of the medium.

  19. Imzadi says:

    Ann Cusack may not be as famous as her brother John and sister Joan (I see a resemblance to Joan, BTW), but I think she’s equally good. Nice to see her. I also enjoyed Kristoffer Polaha (I discovered him on Ringer and he did a great guest shot on Hawaii 5-0) on Sunday’s episode, and I’m sure he’ll be back.

  20. Ana Rubio says:

    This roll is making me optimistic! Hard to choose between “Witness for the prosecution” and “Dead Read”, they were really good! Castle is back!!!

  21. Tennisnsun says:

    The episodes after the break have been far superior than the ones before. Good to see all characters in settings other than dreary police dept. as in courthouse. The Russian guy brought humor and life to the show. Now only If I could stop falling asleep before the end of every episode my world would be totally on track.

  22. I love this show, just need more of Kate and Castle. Hoping for a season 9.

  23. Tom-VA49 says:

    I don’t know what kind of deal Stana made with the show runners but she’s less visible and less important than she has been in the past. The show suffers when all that Beckett and Castle do is plan their next trip to the bedroom.

    • White Tulip says:

      ^ THIS. SO MUCH THIS…
      There’s an obvious lack of open honest conversation between Castle and Beckett on this show and it drives me bonkers each time it’s suggested that important things have been discussed off screen.
      Some events deserve more time and being shown on screen (TV is a visual medium, stop saying and start showing for God sake) but clearly it’s very low on the writers’ checklist and 99% of the leads’ (greatly reduced) interactions end up being very superficial.
      Writers want so much to suggest that C & B have a hot/kinky/wild s*xual relationship that everything else of substance is sidelined . *Le Sigh*

  24. Castlebuzz says:

    Finding it increasingly difficult to type something and get it to post on this site so I’ll be quick. Disappointed and bored with Witness on Sunday, delighted by Dead Red Monday.

  25. …..Still watching CASTLE !!! The Grammys don’t have STANA ……

  26. Noz says:

    Nice episode..fast pace,great dynamic Backett-Castle (like a peanut butter & jelly sandwich. It’s the COMBO that makes it so delish :D) and caper like atmosphere worked well.nicely done.Rita not only to help with the current case but to assure us that Kate has been working with her on LokSat during the past few months as well as to introduce her to Rick. Nice moment with her and Rick and how it became about Kate.this episode reminds me of episode “Target-Hunt”

    • Castlebuzz says:

      Noz: thanks for the nod to what I wrote on another site (which I switched to last night when I couldn’t post here), but it’s not nice to plagiarize even on anonymous comment sections without indicating that it’s someone else’s words.
      .
      Here’s what I wrote as CBuzz, posted Feb 15 and 11:57 PM:
      “After being so disappointed by last night’s ep, I was surprised to find myself enjoying tonight’s so thoroughly. For me, at least, it was one of those so-over-the-top Castle murder scenarios that allows for one to suspend disbelief and go with the flow. Last night’s courtroom scenario was too realistic and slow paced for that. Tonight’s fast pace and caper-like atmosphere worked well. I loved the jovial Russian inspector who’s a Nikki Heat fan and not at all what he seems — innocuous one moment, abducting Rick the next, sweet on Kate then threatening to cut off a kid’s feet, and in the end, good guy delivering justice to the bad guy. And the actor played him perfectly — lively and with a great dynamic with Katic, Fillion, et al. Kudos to Nick Tarabay. Nicely done, too, was the reappearance of Rita not only to help with the current case but to assure us that Kate has been working with her on LokSat during the past few months as well as to introduce her to Rick. Nice moment with her and Rick and how it became about Kate, too. Tonight’s ep also saw the four main regulars, particularly the two leads, invigorated and lively. Maybe it was all the energy Tarabay brought to his role and to the set. Whatever it was, it was fun to see.”
      .
      The PB&J/COMBO line came from Stana Katic’s tweets last night as she answered fans’ 10 questions.
      .
      Again, don’t mind you doing it, Noz, just as long as you preface the remarks with something even as vague as “as someone else said.”

  27. truecat says:

    It not good , none of these were worth watching . it shows that the writers are bad and the rating are down prove it

  28. John Z says:

    One of the best episodes of the season, but not saying much. Liked that Caskett was working together more (than earlier in season 8). I think the Locksat story still brings everything in the show down. Also still feel the show is uneven, like writers are trying to swift through the wreckage of the “breakup” for moments that the fans will enjoy. As the majority of the first half of the season was a waste of time talent and money (IMO).
    I do think the show is getting better, but I think too little , too late, the damage is done, alot of fans are just done. Time to end the show with dignity .

    • Emor says:

      I agree 100 percent. End the show this year so all we have is the good memories. Be like House not the X-files.

      • kath says:

        House had 3 brilliant seasons and then went downhill for the next 5. So Castle’s still doibg better.

        Although I agree they’re sinilar in terns of bad ideas in trying to reboot the show — the Castle/Beckett split was as bad as House’s Team New Coke.

  29. KLS says:

    Is Castle on tonight too? I didn’t see any ads! :)

  30. martd says:

    3 eps in 8 days is pretty cool. Downside is it will be a long week until the next ep! Guess I’m one of the few Castle fans that have enjoyed the whole season. Some eps have been better than others but Nathan & Stana never disappoint me. I also love Molly & enjoy whenever she’s on. Dead Red was a really good one…looking forward to the rest of the season!

  31. Tina says:

    I quit watching after they got married.

  32. annek says:

    3rd decent episode, but too little, too late. The lovestory is just sad now, characters too OOC, and LockStat nonsensical. I watch S1 thru 7 repeatedly but if i dont see another S8 episode again it will be too soon.

    • KLS says:

      So, the show is decent, but being a fan of S1-S7, you won’t watch S8? I guess that’s what the other missing 6 million viewers think as well.

    • Annie says:

      I’m with you AnneK- I find seasons 1-7 enjoyable and will frequently give them a re-watch but I could barely watch last night. All of the love, fun, and sophistication are gone. It saddens me to think that these writers think that a relationship is just sex and are completely ignorant about how hot a deep, loving relationship can be.

      As someone else mentioned previously, look at the difference between the secret handshake in “Secrets Safe with Me” and the goofy/juvenile secret sign in “Witness for the Prosecution”. Worlds apart.

  33. kath says:

    A great episode!

    Amazing work by Nick Tarabay copying Nathan Fillion’s portrayal of Castle and transforming it into Russian form. If there is a spin-off, I want him on it.

    Yes to the meta statement that Beckett protecting Richard is getting old.

    Good story, great guest stars and Beckett and Castle working together. This is what I want from Castle.

    • kath says:

      The only sour note is Alexis buying “the perfect baby shower present”. I liked her much more when she was less Mary Sue.

      • FormerCastleFan says:

        The daughter’s “perfect baby shower present” really wasn’t perfect…a pre-packed basket that required no effort and didn’t have much stuff in it….very lame coming from a multimillionaire. Castle’s gifts were creative and the bullet proof vest was awesome. The only thing that would have been better would have been matching sweater vests for the Ryan family.

        • kath says:

          Matching sweater vests for the whole family would have been awesome!

          You’re right that Castle’s presents were much better. And that’s the problem — we’re told how great Alexis is but she’s really not. They seriously need to dial back on the Mary Sue.

  34. Suzy says:

    I’ve enjoyed the last 3 episodes with each one better than the last. I think they may start to be getting their footing. Hopefully the lost viewers come back.

  35. I’m loving this second part of season 8.
    great stories, much laughter and Caskett moments. Perfect!

  36. lame says:

    I thought Dead Red and Nose were the best episodes thus far this season. Problem is the viewership on the last two was frighteningly low. Compounding the problem is the departure of Paul Lee, the driving force behind keeping Castle alive. Without Lee in their corner the weekly ratings take on greater significance.

  37. Ra's al Ghul says:

    Do we ever find out which agency Rita works for?