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“Writers, we’re really good at altering reality to fit the narrative,” Rick informs Trapper John in season four’s “Cops and Robbers,” explaining how infamous bank robber Willie Sutton never said: “That’s where the money is,” a reporter did. Rick bravely adds: “And the story I see you guys spinning here is really not about stealing money.”
Rick is correct. It isn’t about money. “Something is going on here; ...something weird is going on here, and we need to figure out what it is,” Rick tells his mother, both of them and others hostages in an apparent bank robbery. In “Cops and Robbers” we see the template for “Target.”
Again, misdirection and reality altering shake us up, the police, the FBI, Kate and Rick…at first. Our perception of reality is dead wrong. “Target,” the first of two parts is not about kidnapping a student for ransom, Sara el Marsi, daughter of a millionaire of dubious, foreign political complications and of her friend Alexis Castle, caught up innocently in the intrigue. Alexis is not the girl in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Alexis is the target.
How many times has Rick said blithely or otherwise seriously: “And I know what to do!” In “Cops and Robbers,” Rick, making a foray to the bathroom to survey the situation reassures his mother, “Don’t worry, mother, I saw this work on ‘Die Hard.’”
Is Rick “going Liam Neeson on us,” Ryan alludes, suggesting the scenario in “Taken,” being duplicated by Rick: A distraught father, ex Special Forces, Intelligence, crosses France on a wild and violent mission, goes rogue to save his kidnapped daughter, freeing both of them from the horror and the nightmare.
Rick has money and some connections. We collectively hold our breaths for a week of horrifying suspense, waiting, worrying about all of the ramifications for Alexis’ life, for Rick and Kate as a couple, the outcome, the twists, the hints of Rick’s father on the scene. We have been set up; now the reality awaits: “Hunt.”
“I don’t look, I hunt, and trust me you don’t want that,” Kate threatens Trapper John as the “Cops and Robbers” scenario unfolds. Rick begins “Cops and Robbers” looking to get involved with a case, anything to get away from his mother’s loan application fiasco. Throwing Kate a bit out of sync, Rick quizzes Kate: “Tell me you need me.
As the robbery unfolds, Kate searches for the reality of the narrative and explains to the Captain in charge: “Something is going on here; we’re just not asking the right questions.”
On the inside Rick takes charge and promises his fellow hostages: “I’m going to figure how to get us out of here.” And he does. The apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree, this ingenuity: Morse code; lock picking; caring calm in face of dread, family traits as evidenced by Rick and Alexis, perhaps inherited from a father, a grandfather whom we will meet… soon.
Undercover, risking her life, in the bank, Kate reassures Rick: “I want you to know there are people out there who care about you. I promise you I’ll get you out of here.” And well she could be talking about their relationship, any time, and especially now in “Target.” And “Hunt.” Each would do anything for the loved one.
“If you pull that trigger, I will walk through those doors and personally put a bullet through your skull.” Kate warns the mercenary leader. Enough said.
Later, in terror for Rick’s life, Kate stands stricken as C4 explodes; then in a scene of love’s pure expression, relief, floods Kate’s face, no guards or walls evident. Finally she watches, longingly, the family reuniting, Rick, the loving father and son embracing his family, encircling them in his protective arms. Kate’s eyes reveal; speak: Kate wants to be a part of him, of them, of this love.
“Even as a hostage,” Rick proclaims, “I help you solve murders. Beckett, I think you have the perfect partner.”
Kate concludes: “Cops and Robbers” plays out like a spy novel, for “Ron Brandt orchestrated the whole thing.” His wife faked her own death and her son’s and disappeared to escape her violent husband; “she walked away from everything she knew.” With his military contacts, her husband hires mercenaries to rob a bank, to alter reality, all to locate a safety, security box: “a cold war drop box.” And then he ruthlessly kills the mercenaries, not the hostages.
Understanding the complexity of the plot, the scheme, Rick mentions another author: John le Carre. Indeed, Derrick Storm is Rick’s spy child born from his fertile imagination. However, Le Carre, perhaps, is best known for his cold war novel: “The Spy Who Came in from the Cold,” a bleak tale set 50 years ago. Nothing is incidental or accidental in “Castle,” or so it would seem.
And we prepare to meet Rick’s father. Just who is he? Why has he been gone so long?
“The Spy Who came in from the Cold,” depicts “a complicated act of deadly triple-bluff perpetrated by the British Secret Service against its enemies,” and according to William Boyd, writing in “The Guardian,” July 2010, the novel in its “cynicism is resolutely de nos jours.” Indeed, the Berlin Wall separated a world, a nation, families, individuals: lovers.
In the end, the spy, Leamas is betrayed and tricked, now only desiring to get the girl he is with back to the West. He does not care what happens to him. The title has several meanings, but Boyd reveals one explanation which heartens, which elevates the emotions and leaves us thinking about “Hunt.”
“Coming in from the cold also means displaying a fundamental human empathy, of living with sympathy for others. It means the very opposite of being hard. The paradox at the end …is that Leamas, in refusing to come in from the cold as a spy, does in fact come in from the cold as a person. His destruction is coincidental with his attainment. In his deliberate orchestration of his death he shows that he is a human being.”
Into a heightened reality, Rick hunts, to save his daughter. Perhaps he has excluded others from his circle of love, but not Kate who participates, listens, counsels and helps Rick understand a woman’s point of view on raising Alexis. Any other wall Rick has erected is understandable, for he has no model for this kind of love and fear.
Rick often claims he never cared about a man he never knew existed. How to father, the fatherless child learns alone; he channels his love to be the nanny, the playmate, the friend, the confidant, all a single father can be to his only child. Rick’s money, his writing gives him time to be with his child; he cherishes this privilege.
In “Hunt” Rick comes running to Alexis…alone to save her and finds another father, guarding and protecting, his own father. Rick leaves for France without telling Kate or his mother, to meet his contact Gaston, a man who works as an assistant to the Minister of Defense. Rick appeals to Gaston, father to father, to help him locate a man, “a man the French government would hire when they could not afford to take official action.”
With the words: “Vengeance is mine says the Lord; I will repay,” the shadowy man approaches Rick in a church. Where does Rick start to find Alexis, with the entire city of Paris within the parameters of the cell phone intelligence? They move stealthy on to “a friend,” a unique man, blind, who can hear Rick’s heart beating, he is that sensitive to sound and Rick’s heart pounding that heavily.
He analyzes Rick’s last recorded conversation with Alexis, amazingly hears a chopper and other sounds and pin points the part of town where Alexis is being held. And on Rick marches, heart racing, to locate Alexis’ holding cell, praying she is alive. The agony grieves Rick. Every move hits him harder; the chance of Alexis’ survival grows dimmer, with every lost minute and hour, but a father will not quit, and he will take risks, too, for love.
The breathless roller coaster ride builds tension, anxiety, we are numb with expectation. Next we see Kate working the case at home. Kate doesn’t look; she “hunts” and she and her team track down Roger Henson’s girlfriend, hoping for more information, and another avenue to find Alexis. Save Alexis.
Kate knows Rick must search as a father and she must search as a cop. Henson’s girlfriend snarls at Kate: “Listen Bitch, I don’t talk to cops.” Violently, without pause, Kate kicks the chair right o
ut from under her. No doubt Kate is not messing around and the rattled woman knows it.
Kate’s partner’s daughter is missing, and Kate informs the girlfriend: “You’re in my way and I’m not a cop today, honey.” Oh bad- ass Kate takes over; she doesn’t care, and she is coming down hard, ready to do anything to bring Alexis home to Rick, to Martha and to her.
They ultimately find Henson’s trashed apartment and computer and are able to salvage some data: pictures of Alexis, surveillance photos, proof she was stalked.
Alexis is the target. Kate calls Rick.
Racing, Rick continues the hunt for Alexis. They locate the girls’ holding rooms, and in a moving scene Rick finds a strand of Alexis’ red hair. Heartbreak! She was there. Now Alexis is gone.
The room is bugged and Rick and Henri inform the kidnappers through the wire that they will negotiate anew for Alexis. Henri’s words “tradecraft” grabs Rick, and sends the search to another level of danger and operations. The bugs are the work of Intelligence, spies and way beyond ordinary tracking tactics.
Meeting the men in the woods, prepared to make a three million dollar exchange for Alexis, Rick suspects something is wrong and it is. Henri, now joined by the other men, turns on Rick. No Alexis. Henri tells Rick he changed sides, when he discovers “Who your daughter really is.” She is nobody Rick cries out. What do they want from him? What is really going on?
Who is Alexis? Rick cannot fathom an answer. A hail of bullets shatter the scene, killing the conspirators and saving Rick, who remains kneeling, preparing to die, in shock at first. Who is this sniper, this grizzled, older man, who demands with a touch of humor and irony that Rick gets into his car?
Rick doesn’t know where to turn now, bodies strewn all over the scene. But with a degree of humor returned, Rick claims he is not getting in the car and is angry when the guy shoots Rick’s expensive two hundred dollar phone, oh, Rick and your phones. Of course Rick needs to be reminded to grab the three million dollars and forget the phone’s expense.
The man calls himself Hunt.
All over Hunt’s home walls, pictures of Alexis hang…as a child, graduating, with family, with Kate, in all stages of her life. Rick needs answers: Who are you?”
When Rick’s phone rings, a clone, Rick speaks to the men holding Alexis, although Hunt thinks it might be Beckett, for he knows all about Rick. They want to talk to Hunt. “A life for a life,” is the demand. “If you show, I’ll spare her; if you don’t I will put a bullet in her brain.” Hunt knows everyone will be killed no matter what. But they know Hunt will come for Alexis.
Why would this man want to help Rick and Alexis? Why would he put his life on the line? “Why would you come for her?” Rick asks, but he seems to know already.
“She is my granddaughter. Richard, I’m your father.” The words sink in. Rick has wondered all his life, telling Alexis that not knowing who his father is makes it possible for him to be anyone, even someone great.
But, oh, Rick is happy and oddly proud when he says: “My dad is a spy!” The man entranced with CIA, FBI, police and crime detection, and life threatening adventure is his father’s son after all.
“My dad is a spy.”
His hobbies, his brilliant mind, his survival skills, and plotting, his love of electronic equipment, of disguises, Rick comes by it naturally, and his words of encouragement to Kate, “And I’m not so bad myself scream the truth,” when he encourages her a while ago to pursue Smith’s identity.
What a moment of earth-shattering and personal discovery? My dad! Of course, Rick is thrilled.
But reality sets in. “You’ve known about me, about us all these years, and you never once let us know you were there?” How could a father do this? It hurts very much. A child tends to think maybe it is his fault or merely his presence that keeps a parent away; he is not wanted; he isn’t worthy of his father’s love. Hunt (we never get his name) sees the hurt in his son’s eyes.
“I’ve been around; we have met before.” His father followed them once to the library, his ten year old son, and his mother and gave his boy a copy of “Casino Royale.” Searching his memory, Rick recalls the man and reveals to his father: “That book made me want to become a writer.”
His father also “greased some wheels at the CIA” when Rick began his writing career. (Sophia Turner, the turncoat, was speaking the truth more or less when she plotted to reveal Rick’s parentage while planning to kill him.) “It made me feel like a father. I’ve been checking on you, your mom and Alexis your whole lives.”
He has followed his son and read all of his books. Rick’s face reveals how hard it is to find him, his father, suddenly, only to lose him. Yes, his father knows all about his son, but Rick is denied the chance to know him, to receive his love and to give love.
“What do you say, kid? You’ve been playing cop for years. Ready to play spy?” Oh, yes, to be sure. His dad knows him.
They plan an elaborate scheme to get Alexis out of captivity and run through the tunnels to the US Embassy. But first Rick sets a detonator for a 30 seconds diversion. Captured, Rick immediately runs to Alexis and they comfort each other, father and daughter looking through the wire cage, telling each other they are sorry.
As part of his job, Rick’s dad, twelve years earlier, arrested the KGB’s most feared operator, killing his wife. The Russian knows he can draw Hunt out if he has his granddaughter captive. Her grandfather will take care of his own. Hunt informs his enemy that he will be dead in a few seconds, for a bomb is placed in the receiver. And it explodes.
Rick uses a watch device a gadget, to explode the lock keeping Alexis caged, and away they run, together, father and daughter bull dozing their way through any obstacles.
Flashing back to their few minutes of planning, Rick recalls the conversation with his father. The child in him speaks: “We just met. I’ve got a lot of questions. We need more time.” We know it may never be, although his father holds out hope.
“That’s the job; that’s my life.” Such a lonely life it is, and we hope he makes it and gets away. He has provided for his son and for his granddaughter; he has saved them, perhaps he has paid the ultimate sacrifice. Briefly Rick’s father, the spy, has come in out of the cold.
Earlier Rick’s father tells his son: “I’ve always been proud of you…always.”
Always faithful to the ones he loves, Rick brings his daughter home to her family, to Martha and Kate waiting to celebrate Life, and rejoice in simply being together. As Martha says in “Cops and Robbers,” “Facing death demands celebrating life.” Now Alexis worries if her grandfather made it out, echoing Rick’s unanswered words to his father: “How will I know if you make it?” Rick answers Alexis: “I wish I knew.”
Alexis thanks her dad for being there for her and risking his life to save her from the monsters. Rick responds and pledges with keen awareness to his daughter: “That’s what fathers do.”
After holding and kissing Kate, Rick promises to Kate not to do such a thing alone again; she must be with him. Then Rick opens a package delivered to his home, and in it finds a copy of “Casino Real.” The faithful son informs his mother that he has a story to tell her.