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?