Cops and Robbers, the seventh episode from Season 4 of Castle, was an exercise in how chemistry can work wonders for any visual medium. It tackled a familiar plot for a TV series of this kind, where one of the principal characters is caught in a hostage situation while the others are on the outside working to make sure he gets out safely. Though the writers put a different spin on the proceedings as befits the general theme of Castle, the over-arching plot was familiar. The primary reason for the episode being as good as it was, the best of season 4 no less, was the chemistry, not only that between the primary two but also between the secondary characters.
In case you missed the trailer or the promos (what with Breaking Bad’s Dean Norris making a special appearance as a hostage negotiator), Castle and his mother Martha choose to visit the bank on the wrong day and are taken hostage by robbers. Castle is on the phone with Beckett when this happens, and therefore, the police are alerted to the situation as early as possible. Beckett’s initially frozen out by the police captain in charge of the situation, but the leader of the robbers recognizing her personal relationship (yeah right!) with Castle requests for her to be the mediator. Meanwhile, our favorite cop buddies Esposito and Ryan find other alleys to investigate, and Castle as usual uses his qualities as a charming author to provide them information from the inside using rather innovative means.
As I said earlier, this episode was all about the chemistry. In case it hasn’t been abundantly clear for the past few seasons, Caskett (the portmanteau given to the central pair by us fans) has been one of the best pairings on TV. In Cops and Robbers, the pair provides ample evidence to be moved to the top of the pile as the numero uno. The scene that highlighted just how effective good chemistry can be was when Beckett, disguised as a paramedic, went into the bank to retrieve a hostage and spoke comforting words to him which were actually meant for Castle. Not a lot is said in the sequence but the looks they give each other spoke volumes regardless. Beckett’s passionate monologue to the leader was one of the episode’s best scenes; it is one of the few times she has opened herself to display how much Castle means to her. Not to mention her relieved smile at seeing Castle was just the icing on the cake.
Of course, what makes Castle one of the best current shows on TV is not just the chemistry between Fillion and Katic but also the secondary characters. The relationship between Castle and his mother Martha has always been one of the series’ strengths, and this episode demonstrated the funny and serious nature of that. Be it worrying about whether Castle’s curiosity might get him in trouble or helping him send messages to the outside, Susan Sullivan was at her best. Needless to say, there was a moment for Ryan and Esposito as well, when they break in to the suspected house to find a dead body waiting for them. Esposito calling Ryan “Castle Junior” while the latter calls him “Supercop” did enough to alleviate the tension from the happenings elsewhere.
Cops and Robbers also showed exactly what sets Castle apart from other cop shows. The writers were neatly able to weave in a homicide investigation into a traditional hostage standoff, and the revelation of the robbers’ actual motivation would’ve come as a surprise to most viewers. The family get-together at the end was pure Castle. Very few cop shows work to give us something more than the usual investigatory aspects, but the amount of personal interactions in Castle is what makes it a show worth the investment of an hour each Monday night.
P.S: At the end of the episode, Castle says he has saved Beckett’s life nine times whereas she has repaid the favor only eight times. As a Castle super-geek, I went about figuring out whether it was actually true and the findings are provided below. Feel free to skip this self-indulgent exercise if you want.
“Pilot - Flowers For Your Grave” (S01E01) – Beckett goes after Castle and Harrison Tisdale, though it could be argued that Castle would’ve been fine without her help also. (Castle 0 – Beckett 1)
“Always Buy Retail” (S01E06) – Castle dives down with Beckett just as the deranged killer fires. (Castle 1 – Beckett 1)
“Deep in Death” (S02E01) – Castle is stupid enough to get too close to a Russian mobster and Beckett saves his ass. (Castle 1 – Beckett 2)
“Sucker Punch” (S02E13) – Castle head butts Dick Coonan forcing Beckett to shoot her mother’s killer in order to save him. (Castle 1 – Beckett 3)
“Tick, Tick, Tick…” (S02E17) – I am not sure about this. On one side, you could argue that Beckett was already in the bath tub and might’ve been when the bomb would’ve gone off. On the other hand, you could say it was Castle who warned her of the imminent danger. I am willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. (Castle 2 – Beckett 3)
“Boom!” (S02E18) – Beckett loses her gun to the serial killer Scott Dunn and Castle comes to the rescue taking out the gun from his hand with one helluva shot. (Castle 3 – Beckett 3)
“A Deadly Affair” (S03E01) – Towards the end, they shoot the suspects standing behind the other to save each other’s lives. (Castle 4 – Beckett 4)
“Knockdown” (S03E13) – Castle takes down Lockwood just as he has a clear shot at Beckett. (Castle 5 – Beckett 4)
“Countdown” (S03E17) – Castle saves both their, and countless other, lives by disarming the bomb in his own style. (Castle 6 – Beckett 4)
“Rise” (S04E01) – Not sure whether this counts, but Castle does have Beckett’s back towards the end; just putting it out there to get a grip on the numbers used by Castle. (Castle 7 – Beckett 4)
“Cops and Robbers” (S04E07) – Finally, we come to last night’s episode. Again, Beckett really did not have much to do with the ultimate escape, but we should give her the point. (Castle 7 – Beckett 5)
There you go. In spite of being a self-proclaimed Castle super-geek, no matter how much I tried, I couldn’t get the numbers up to nine and eight respectively. I have a feeling I may have missed a few on there (might conduct further investigations later when I feel like it) and would gladly like someone to correct me. P.P.S: Just how pretty is Stana Katic becoming these days. “Cops and Robbers”, along with last week’s “Demons”, has to be the best she has looked for the entire season. Oh and don’t even get me started on that smile…