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“Dead Red” is a raucous riot…and more. As the latest” Castle”- Valentine’s Day, double- date episode, penned by Jim Adler and directed by Jeannot Szwarc reveals spies and complicated cold war subterfuge, someone could have asked me about the convolution, and I would have said: Who knows, but I’m having a heck of a good time.
Kate and Rick are together again, at last, under an unusual premise. Wait, not so unusual a premise at that, with history repeating itself, just a wee bit. The Mayor and Captain Montgomery along with Nikki Heat novels brought Rick and Kate together, and now Russian diplomacy and the Commissioner bring them together…and Nikki, in a funny, so reminiscent phone scene, each talking to the boss at the same time, standing next to each other. All we need is, “Castle, you coming?” Anyway it happens, with the Castle family and extended family together, we are totally delighted.
The precinct family works together, the guys accept Castle. Kate accepts Castle. And they like the guy; he is family, too, even though he does not quite win the guys, or the baby shower invites in the separation. Rick is happy and Kate is keeping him that way, with “sexual subterfuge” (step mother Rita’s words), even Mother Martha recognizes Rick’s new, not tortured self.
Martha does laugh at Rick’s endeavors to buy baby gifts for Ryan’s new baby. It is funny, but it feels a bit sad, too. He comes home from baby shopping, ever so proud and hopeful with his gifts: a baby bullet proof vest onesie; a baby-sized light saber? A creepy robot that sings Leonard Cohen lullabies? Machine washable Kevlar. He doesn’t even get to show them off, for Alexis checks him, and I assume he does have them in his treasure bag.
Martha and Alexis laugh at him and deflate him in their way.
Yet, Alexis has the perfect gifts and that upstages him a bit. Martha should know. She, however, says: “We would have missed torturing you; if we had told you. You are our favorite reality show.”
“I am so happy to entertain you.” I feel for the hidden, hurt child in Rick. That is another issue addressed a little later in this story of family reunion, bonding, loving, and working together, in direct contrast to an entirely dysfunctional Russian family.
For now we’ve got zingers, double entendres, jokes, one liners, drama, comedy, mix ups, the zany, Russian spies and truly delightful eccentrics, not us. We faithful will take Rick and Kate together under any pretext. Only “Castle” can master this lightning bolt jump from heartbreaking to hilarious in back to back episodes and sometimes in the same episode. In the future we shall always remember and be thankful we have had this love story of family and friends and of Rick and Kate.
We have the delightful Joan Cusack’s Rita, Rick’s step mother, and their poignant, step mom and son, first meeting.
Yes, Kate lights up, too, and beams loving eyeballs every time Rick appears with a theory or two; she is proud of her guy. As for Rick, it is as it has always been: just to be near her is enough. He will take the laughter and the tears.
Family and the wonderfully familiar: Alexis and Martha, Ryan’s baby; and buddies together. Even Ryan takes a front seat to the often dominating and higher ranked Esposito. Kate interrogates like no one else, prompting Vasily later to call her “Catherine the Great.” When step mother Rita surfaces, protecting Kate and now her step son, the story elevates to another level, highlighting the Castle theme: Yes, it’s family, together, there for each other. “Ours is a great love story,” Rick has said before.
So many wonderful characters have illuminated the Castle story. Who can forget the Time Traveler, the Nose or Slaughter? Nick E. Tarabay’s Vasily simply brings the house down as the Russian diplomatic security officer assigned to the Grigory Mishkin murder case. Vasily is remarkable, engaging, so spot on: devious, mysterious, violent, sweet, bear hugging, encouraging”russkiy yazyk” as spoken by Kate, igniting a veritable love fest.
“Beckett without Castle is like Boris without Natasha; like Starsky without the Hutch.” Vasily proclaims this when meeting Rick and Kate and learning his heroes are not working together. We want to add Turner and Hooch, too. The fandom agrees totally.
He loves the Nikki Heat novels and is a wannabee writer, sort of, with an idea for a Nikki Heat novel. What’s a writer to do? Rick checks with his wife who convinces him.
“And if I keep him happy?”
“Then I will keep you happy.”
“Vasily” Rick yells as he takes him off hold.
To get him out of Kate’s hair as she works to solve young Grigory Mishkin’s murder and deal with his father and the Russian diplomacy, Rick takes the effervescent, cagey fox Vasily on a tour of NYC, the “nickel tour.” Still, Vasily has his agenda, too, for there is a leak in Russian Diplomatic circles, someone selling Russian economic trade secrets, and Vasily is bound to find the leak and plug it. We also have left over Soviet sleeper cells, spies such as Anatoly, in witness protection, hiding in plain sight.
Vasily was working undercover with Anya, young Grigory Mishkins’s mother in an effort to expose the leak. With Vasily and her own son unaware, Anya fakes her death in order to save herself from her estranged husband, diplomat Sergei. Grigory attempts to prove his mother’s death was no accident, setting the end game in motion, and in the opening scene meets a violent death. Thus Kate and her team are on the case.
Out and about town they go, Rick and Vasily, quite a pair, then accidentally encountering the diplobrat, with immunity, who gives Esposito a bratty hard time with his nasty superiority and dirty talk about his” little man.” Vasily drags Rick into conversation with the obnoxious one, introducing Rick: “Pick up book young man, this is Richard Castle, one of the great mystery writers of our time.” He also threatens the young man for information: “You might wake up on the beach without your feet.” Rick blanches a bit.
From Jurgan, Rick and Vasily learn that Grigory was trading for a manual to hack a Cherokee computer, to learn more about his mother’s death in the automobile crash.
What we don’t learn about the ubiquitous Mr. Castle along the way? To Kate and the team’s consternation, Rick can identify the engine sounds of a most specific car, the Diplobrat’s car, a Lamborghini Hercan which sells for over 200,000 dollars. Just saying! I’m impressed.
Grigory was also searching FBI archives, attempting to learn more about his mother. I’m reminded of an old 1988 movie “Little Nikita,” starring River Phoenix as the son of two undercover, Soviet Russian spies, in sleeper cells, and a boy needing protection and aided by an agent played by Sidney Poitier.
So into this, I really liked the movie. And then, of course, growing up 50s and 60s, our mantra then: “Better Dead than Red,” but, yes, we did take measures to stay alive, with alarms and drills: hide under your desks children, protect yourself should a nuclear attack occur. Living near NYC will do this to you. But I digress with my own little dead red stories.
Trying to stonewall Vasily a bit, Ryan calls Rick and Espo out to give them additional Intel. Remember the old how many jokes, as in: How many carpenters does it take to change a light bulb? Two! One to hold it and one to hammer it in.
So our cagey fox Vasily now innocently asks, and I fall off the chair with the question and Rick’s answer: “How many American members does it take to plan a ….baby shower?” hmm.
“Three! Shall we? “
Rick is overjoyed with the espionage intrigue. Indeed he is a John Le Carre fan as we have learned.
“This novel writes itself.”
“What happens next?” Ryan asks.
“I don’t know. That’s what makes it so good.”
Needing help in this caper, Kate places a call: “Hello, I need my curtains cleaned.” Kate and Rita meet.
“So you blew up your marriage and went down the LokSat rabbit hole.”
“You’ve been watching us and you think we’ve broken up?” To Kate that fact spells subterfuge success.
“I like a little sexual subterfuge; it makes things so much hotter.” If your husband gets in Vasily’s way, he is going to be collateral damage.” Kate climbs out of her mother’s rabbit hole with Rick’s help and now she is working her way out of this one and are we ever happy? Love lights do guide her home.
Now she is worried for Rick out with Vasily and she places a phone call to him to no avail.
Yes, another Rick phone bites the dust. He is hard on his phones. But he is so connected with them, that something has to give when he is being abducted or challenged. Vasily tosses it out the window as Slaughter does weeks earlier. “Who are you?” Rick asks of Vasily.
Regarding the Slaughter effect, Rick’s hanging with Vasily sounds just about the same. Wild, violent, funny and crazy, Slaughter and Vasily both take no prisoners. For Rick’s own good we surmise, and because Vasily likes him, Vasily handcuffs Rick to the steering wheel after tossing his phone. It’s too funny. Rick and handcuffs. Cuffed by Kate; cuffed with Kate. And still Rick is a good guy about it when Vasily releases him. But where is the pin Rick used to release himself when cuffed by Kate?
Vasily kidnaps Anatoly, the ex sleeper cell guy, Frank, stashes him in the trunk and then releases him to pound him into talking and to prod him along with some electrical current hurting. To Rick, “You’re a nice guy; I like you so please don’t make me hurt you.”
“There’s always another way. Just give me 60 seconds.” Rick is such a non violent guy. How he gets involved with the crazies is amazing.
THE 60 SECOND SOLUTION:
Frank aka the former spy won’t talk, the simple approach, so Rick stuffs the handkerchief back in his mouth.
Rick looks for clues in Frank’s, aka Anatoly’s wallet and finds a laminating kit receipt.
Rick searches for a uniform store as his next hunch.
Rick checks Anatoly’s phone call history and finds the same number called three times: a caterer.
They are planning to make fake id’s Rick theorizes out loud and as caterers, slip into the party at the Russian Consulate.
Out of seconds
Vasily declares it late because the party has started. But Richard Castle is a genius.
Meet at the Embassy. Rick calls Kate for reinforcements.
At the Embassy Kate saves the life of the Consul General, diving to knock him down, risking her own life, only Sergei is wounded.
Later, Rita, an old Vasily, part adversary, part friend appears at the precinct. We learn Anya was close to taking down the traitor, but fearing Sergei, faked her own death. Then she attempts to assassinate her estranged husband Sergei and fails.
In a powerful moment, Kate reveals to Rick that Rita is his step mother: “She’s been helping me take down LokSat. I’ve wanted to tell you sooner but…”
“You couldn’t because you needed to protect me.”
“I’m so sorry.”
“This is getting really old, Beckett.” The universe agrees with this statement. He is that upset.
In the break room, Rick meets Rita. “How is he?”
“Alive.” In their business that is saying a lot. It’s a sweet meeting, tinged with sadness for what might have been.
Still Rick wants a connection with his father, for he has so many questions. He has made peace with the absence of a father, but some part of him still wonders and grieves; the child in him cries out for recognition. Ever hopeful, he asks Rita: “Has he ever mentioned me?”
“No! Doesn’t mean he’s not thinking about you. He does it for your safety. “
“I am so sick of people pushing me away for my safety.” And, yes, he confesses, “the anger still flares up from time to time,” anger with his father and Kate. He has such an ability to forgive and forget to be cheerful and hopeful.
“She did it out of love,” and Rick knows this is true.
“And at the end of the day, she’s worth it.” Rick proclaims while looking at Kate, loving her so.
“He’s so very proud of you.” Rita embraces her step son who resembles his father.
As Rita leaves, Rick smiles, a happy, sad smile, knowing they will never see each other again. He has searched in his own way for a father’s recognition, always willing to befriend, to be a good father, to give praise to others and yet remain so remarkably hesitant to accept it for himself.
Finally Sergei is unmasked as Grigory’s killer. He’s being recalled to Russia he thinks. “Small thieves get hanged; great ones go free,” he tells Kate in Russian. Rick and Kate fear he will receive no punishment only fines and will get away with murder.
“You two look so unhappy this breaks my heart,” Vasily confides to Rick and Kate just before he too departs. Now he will end their story; “Nikki Heat and Jameson Rook think the evil Russian has gotten away.” But Sergei is being sent to the coldest place on earth. There are worse places than prison.
Alone now, Rick turns to Kate: “Beckett, we’ve kissed in six different countries.”
“Really you’re keeping count?” How can Kate doubt it?
Before Ryan’s wedding, Rick asks Kate for a number. How many men had she been with? He will tell her his number if she will tell him hers. Actually she tells him off. But also he has counted how many times he has saved her life and how many times she has saved his. Was it nine to eight then, a few years ago?
Ah, numbers. “You know there is one other thing we’ve done in six other countries?” Kate informs her husband. “Follow me and find out.”