I have been so excited for this Castle episode – and not just because it’s episode number 99 and next week is the 100th episode of Castle! (I did say not “just because” that’s certainly a part of it!) My excitement was also because I knew what the episode was going to be about. I knew the ‘B’ storyline would be just as interesting as the main one!
Notice I didn’t say anything about what those storylines were? That’s because doing so would make that paragraph a SPOILER. From this point onwards – you can expect major SPOILERS for “The Wild Rover” episode 5×19. You have been warned!
“Wild Rover” exceeded my expectations! I knew the writing would be excellent, Terrence Paul Winter has written some all-time favorite episodes of mine, including season four’s phenomenal “Cops and Robbers.” I also had enjoyed the season four’s Ryan-centric episode “Kick The Ballistics” There Seamus Dever brought an intensity to Ryan’s character that was riveting and I was looking forward to seeing more of the other side of Kevin Ryan in “The Wild Rover.” So, coming into this episode, my expectations were pretty high!
Let’s start with the case set up: a baker named Jimmy Whelan is found face-down in an industrial sized mixing bowl of chocolate. The momentary gimmick of the body being found it a vat of chocolate at a bakery was cute, but incidental. Of more importance was the briefcase with fifty thousand dollars the victim had stashed in the back. I’m glad the chocolate thing wasn’t important to the case, that would have been too comedic for the bulk of this episode. It did give the viewers a fun moment of Lanie (Tamala Jones) getting furious with Esposito by insinuating that the two have been “playing doctor” lately. Woo hoo! Esplanie is on!
Ryan wasn’t at the crime scene because he and his wife Jenny (Juliana Dever) had a doctor’s appointment at a fertility clinic to see if there’s any reason they’ve had problems conceiving a child. Ryan has to bring a “sample” to the appointment, which he hasn’t procured yet. He admits to Jenny he’s scared that it’s his fault she hasn’t conceived yet. Jenny assures him there’s no fault involved – whatever they find out. She’s so sweet! She then asks him if he needs a little “help” getting said sample. Mrs. Ryan! Then again, sweet Jenny is also “gyrating Jenny” (season four, “‘Til Death Do Us Part”) who buys see-thru Santa outfits. oh yeah, Kevin Ryan’s definitely got the luck of the Irish! However, after they kiss he’s doesn’t need any help and can…handle it himself.
Don’t blame me for playing the FCC game! Castle started it! Who out there caught that they cut from that scene with Kevin and Jenny, to Castle (Nathan Fillion) talking about “The Master Baker?” That’s just one of several fun word-play and visual moments sprinkled through this episode. For instance there’s the cake that says, “Happy 99th” – in this ninety-ninth episode. My favorite one word fun moment is the cut from the victim face-down in the chocolate to Castle and Beckett (Stana Katic) at his loft.
Castle: I sure could go for something sweet
Beckett: Do you wanna grab a bite to eat?
Castle: Actually, it’s not food that I’m craving.
Only this show makes talking in rhyme sound normal! Kudos again to Terrance Winter!
Anyway, by the time Ryan makes his way into work, Beckett, Esposito (Jon Huertas) and Castle have discovered that the car seen by a witness belonged to the notorious Irish mob boss Bobby S. (Michael Rodrick - who, really nails this role! Loved him!). They’ve also figured out that the victim was doing money laundering for Bobby S. – due to the mass invoices for unseen kitchen equipment. Castle spins the theory that a problem developed and Bobby S. had Jimmy Whelan “wacked.” Beckett doesn’t disagree, but without proof they can’t do anything. Esposito has a possible solution: the dead baker had received several calls from a Siobhan O’Doul (Cara Buono) who happens to own a bar where Bobby S. “does a lot of his business.” A veiled threat to her liquor license has Ms. O’Doul grudgingly sitting in Beckett’s office. She’s all tough and sarcastic until she hears the baker’s dead. Visibly shaken, but pretending not to be, she insists on her phone call.
This is when Kevin Ryan’s worlds collide! He’s standing there with Castle and Esposito. Jenny is walking up to him with the lunch he forgot at home, and two uniform cops are taking Siobhan back from her phone call. Siobhan does a double take of Ryan, calls him “Fenton,” flies around the room and plants a serious kiss on him – right in front of Jenny! Jenny is not happy about any of it. Even after Ryan takes her aside and explains that Siobhan was a woman who knew him when he worked narcotics…undercover.
Now, we knew that Kevin Ryan had worked narcotics before being transferred to homicide. What no one knew was that while he was in narcotics he was undercover with the Irish mob for 14 months, which is when he hooked up with Siobhan. Apparently, Ryan had real feelings for the woman when all that went down – seven years prior. Seamus and Cara develop a nice chemistry as former lovers, completely believable.
While Esposito is still tripping over the fact that Ryan never told him about his time undercover, FBI Special Agent Walker (Benito Martinez) shows up. Not only does Walker recognize Ryan, but he tells Beckett and Esposito that Ryan was able to get close enough to the mob bosses to have a wire on and bring down “half the crew in Staten Island.” Ryan’s a bit embarrassed – and tries to brush off the praise and move on. For Beckett and Esposito there’s a certain level of shock - especially Esposito. Beckett’s more impressed than anything, but quickly gets back to the current situation. Esposito doesn’t let it go so fast. I couldn’t tell if he just upset that Ryan never told him – or if he’s can’t understand why Kevin would want to hide doing something that. Clearly he’s surprised to learn that Ryan had it in him to pass as a serious mobster and pull that kind of operation off.
The victim was Agent Walker’s informant – as is Siobhan. Together the two were supposed to steal Bobby S’s “Bible” a book filled with all of the contacts and transactions that have gone down over the years. Walker subtly says that Siobhan turned snitch because after Ryan left “she fell on hard times and had made the offer in exchange for witness protection. Guilt-tripping Ryan after all he did? Someone needed to slap him!
Worse, this Walker guy obviously has no sense of humanity, because he wants to throw Siobhan back out there as an informant. He knows, she knows, and Kevin knows, she doesn’t stand a chance. As Beckett says, if the police could connect her to Jimmy, so can Bobby S. Kevin Ryan, being Kevin Ryan, can’t let that happen, and offers to pick up his identity as “Fenton” go back into the mob world, and get that bible so Siobhan can be put in witness protection. Sure, he says it’s also because the guys are scum and his team can collar the murderer. But it’s clear that if Ryan had never been involved with Siobhan and didn’t feel bad about how he left things, there’s no way he’d risking his life for this.
However, this is who Kevin Ryan is, who he’s always been. When he looks Walker in the eye and says, “I can do this” you see the Kevin Ryan who infiltrated the mob. This Ryan owns authority in a way detective Ryan never does. It reminds me of the changes in Castle during the episode “Target.” The performance by Seamus Dever throughout this episode is just really great, and character-wise it’s believable. As Beckett says to Jenny later, Ryan always wants to do what he believes is right – no matter the cost. We saw evidence of that last season when he goes to Captain Gates (Penny Johnson Gerald) and tells her what Beckett and Esposito were up to, which ends up saving Beckett’s life. It also nearly cost him his friendship with Esposito. Now Esposito is worried that his friend is risking too much, but knows he can’t stop him. Instead, he covers as the cab driver who drops Ryan at Siobhan’s bar, the workplace of Bobby S.
Once inside the bar, it’s not so smooth. He gets punched by Siobhan’s friend Maggie (Christina Cox) right off the bat, and then her husband Liam (Brian Letscher) starts making threats. Ryan is cool though. Liam is now Bobby S’s number two guy and he ends up taking Ryan to Bobby S. Ryan is able to convince Bobby that he’s legit and Bobby welcomes him back into the fold. Liam is not pleased and tells his wife that he’s going to be checking into “Fenton’s” story.
Back at the precinct Beckett, Castle and Esposito figure out that Bobby S. wasn’t the killer. Someone was trying to frame him. Which means it’s someone inside the organization. One thing I will say is the case was really well done this week. The more dramatic episodes usually are less obvious though so I’m not surprised. Esposito calls him and they meet in secret. Ryan/Fenton is mad, but Esposito says Ryan needed to know. However, when Esposito tries to tell Ryan he needs to get out, Ryan completely shuts him down. It’s an interesting moment, because Ryan’s role in their partnership a bit like being the little brother.
That night is pool night, the night Ryan is supposed to steal the mob bible. As he’s playing Liam gets a phone call, after which is gives Ryan a dirty look and goes to talk to Bobby S. At that point I’m thinking he knows Ryan is a cop. It seems like Ryan knows something’s up too, but he plays it cool and goes through with the plan to steal the ‘bible’ out of the safe. He manages to do that, but then gets stopped by Liam. Bobby S. wants him to take a ride with Liam down to the docks. Ryan briefly scuffles with Liam, but then goes along with it.
At the docks it turns out that they hadn’t made Ryan – they figured out that Siobhan was a federal informant. Because of when ‘Fenton’ turned up, Bobby S. isn’t sure of Fenton’s loyalty. He wants Fenton to kill Siobhan to “prove he had nothing to do with it. It’s a dire moment. Siobhan tells Ryan to just do it – that’s it’s okay – but Ryan tells Bobby S. he can’t. Instead, he turns the gun on Bobby. The problem is, the gun can’t fire. It’s a total set-up. However, Ryan had already set things up himself. The little scuffle he’d had with Liam was to steal Liam’s cell phone. He then called Esposito and left the phone on, which let Esposito hear all the plans that were going down and get there first! This leads to my line of the night. Honestly, this line is more about Seamus Dever’s awesome delivery than the line itself. I mean, did you ever expect to hear Kevin Ryan get all rough and urban with “Yo, Javi! Where you at?” Heck, no! That was just awesome!
Esposito’s not alone of course. Ryan calls out Beckett, and then Castle….this is Castle. Of course, our writer’s response is, “Seriously? I didn’t…I didn’t bring my vest.” It was a close second for my line of the night, but Castle’s funny all the time – Ryan bringing the serious swagger? Not ever. So, yeah, Ryan got the vote.
So the case wraps up in a happily ever after. Siobhan gets into witness protection, the mob bible is full of information that going to put that whole gang away. All that’s left is to get Liam for murder. Only surprise – it’s not him! The guy knew nothing about it. It turns out his wife Maggie did it. She wanted Liam to become the top guy, but knew Liam would never betray Bobby S. – so she tried to set up Bobby S. for murder. As for Ryan, he’s pretty much back to his old self. Best of all, he comes home to Jenny, who, after being reassured that all of Ryan’s undercover past is wrapped up, tells Ryan that all those fertility tests were unnecessary because she’s already pregnant!
That wraps up the case! If you’ve been watching Castle for a while though, you know it’s never just about the case. The second storyline is about Castle and Beckett. I knew that there would be some mirroring of Richard Castle’s story in this episode, despite it being focused on Ryan, because that’s what show-runner Andrew Marlowe does. There’s always another connection going on. All last week fans were trying to guess what that connection would be – and of course, no one got it quite right. The closest theory to what happened is this one: Castle’s made-up story about finding the housekeeper’s son dead on the beach (back in season two) would turn out to be true – and “Jordan” was the name of the boy. It’s the closest theory because Castle makes up that story when Beckett asked him what made him become a writer. In this episode he actually answers the question: he became a writer because he felt like a fraud for taking credit when he didn’t deserve it. He wanted to live up to being deserving of that credit.
This “B” storyline is an excellent mirror because in the episode we watched Ryan become a fraud – because he wanted to make things right. Both Castle and Ryan took the actions they did to right a wrong for which they felt responsible. There’s a reason that Ryan is usually paired as being “Castle’s boy” in this series. Usually it seems to be for laughs, such as last week when Ryan, like Castle, partially buys into the idea that the CD could be haunted. However, the characters also have more to them that what appears to be. It’s why Esposito was so shocked to realize Ryan had it in him to have been undercover in the Irish mob for fourteen months. I suspect if he had seen what Castle did to the guy in “Target” who knew where Alexis was, he would have been even more floored.
I did say that the storyline was about Castle and Beckett though, not just Castle. There are some interesting things that happen in that first scene. When Beckett says what she’s worried about is “nothing,” Castle won’t let her get away with it. He states that “he’s an expert on nothing” which, given the ending of this arc, has a couple of different meanings. The first is that he’s an expert on Beckett’s ways of shutting down and knows when it is or is not a big deal. however, the second layer is commentary on how he sees himself, as a mass of trivial knowledge, a jack of all trades.
Every word choice on Castle is deliberate. When Beckett calls Castle on trying to shut her out by not telling her who “Jordan” is (the name he was saying in his sleep) she doesn’t claim expertise, nor does she make the tactic an internal part of herself. Her phrasing only acknowledges that the tactic is one that she’s familiar with – therefore she recognizes when he’ doing the same thing. It reflects just how much she’s changed over the years. The wall she referred to in season four’s “Rise” is no longer a standing part of her. It’s become an external defense that she’s aware of whenever she puts it up – and is now quick to take it down. By that same reasoning, Castle is claiming an expertise in using that defense himself – which in this scene he does. Whoever Jordan is, he’s not about to tell her.
This scene struck me, because in “After the Storm,” there’s that thing with the closets where Beckett gets mad because Castle won’t hide in her closet the way she did in his. There’s also the whole Meredith thing from the “Significant Others” episode. The idea that Castle doesn’t share himself is an idea that this scene seems to be verifying. Yet, this time Beckett doesn’t even get mad. She only says that they aren’t done with the topic. On the way to the crime scene she tells him that she’ll just get him to tell her when he’s sleeping. She continues to tease and bait him throughout the episode, taking every opportunity to point out how keeping secrets isn’t good and how she hates when she doesn’t know something. Essentially, she plays Castle to his Beckett-like behavior, giving him the space that he gave her – despite what Meredith has said.
I loved Nathan in the scene where he tells her how paying someone to write a term-paper for him led to him becoming a writer. When he’s praised for writing such a great paper, it left him feeling like a fraud. It was the first time anyone had ever “celebrated” him – and it was for something he didn’t even do. He was so mortified that he began practicing writing so that he could be as good as people thought he was and legitimately receive that praise. On top of that, in the moment with Beckett, he realizes that he still tries to prove his worth to people. Nathan really lets us see the vulnerability in Castle, and his fear that Beckett will see what he saw in himself.
Naturally, Beckett’s reaction is the total opposite. Much like in “Significant Others,” Beckett tells Castle that his sharing about Jordan her makes her, “like him a little more.” Speaking as a viewer, she didn’t even have to say it. Stana Katic’s reactions to his words show Beckett’s compassion and adoration growing the more he talks. By the end of his story Beckett’s holding back tears, and while in “Significant Others” the line reading is playfully reassuring, here those same words are said gently, almost like she’s speaking to that young teenaged Castle. She may use the word “like” but it’s obvious that it’s really love. Then she brings it back to the grown-up stuff. She and Castle move towards each other and start to kiss, with Castle pulling her into his arms as they fall back onto the couch. It’s make-out time!
As we’re coming into the finale episodes of the season, I’m really excited to see where all this is leading to. It seems like Meredith’s words to Beckett have been shown to her as being false in several episodes, not just this one. Instead, Castle is slowly revealing he’s not just the charming, ruggedly handsome, happy-go-lucky writer she first met. Just like Ryan has a darker side that comes from his past – Castle does too. If there’s any foreshadowing going on, it could that while there may be a moment where Castle’s past causes a bit of a rift, at the end of the day, Beckett, like Jenny, will be able to count on Castle and live happily ever after…whatever that means for a NYPD cop and a crime novelist tag-along, “cop-helper.”
That’s my 5×18 Castle recap/review! Did “The Wild Rover” live up to your expectations? How’d you like that kiss! (You loved it, I know. How could you not?) Do you think Andrew Marlowe was giving us a clue about what’s coming up next? Let me know your thoughts in the comments!