This week’s episode of “Castle,” “Target,” was a tight, scary thriller. Castle (Nathan Fillion), facing every parent’s worse nightmare, is pushed to break his own moral code. Alexis (Molly Quinn) is the rare teen character on a adult show that I want to see more fully explored. I think it’s because she’s not the stereotypical whiny, pouting spoiled brat. (I’m looking at you, Dana on “Homeland.”) Alexis has been shown, despite her privileged upbringing, to be more interested in getting good grades than wearing designer clothes. She’s, on the whole, a happy, hard working person who likes her family. That’s true of a lot of college freshmen, but it’s a refreshing rarity on television. That’s why when she gets kidnapped, my first thought was that I hoped she was all right, not that I hoped she would disappear forever. Here are the highlights.
Castle Has Empty Nest Syndrome: The episode begins with a lot of foreshadowing about Castle and Alexis’s relationship. Martha has unsuccessfully attempted to make Alexis’s favorite pancakes. She and Castle admit they miss her even though Alexis is just a few subway stops away. Castle must thank God every day that she didn’t decide to go to Stanford. But Castle tells Beckett, “Like a bird, Alexis needs to leave the nest,” though he doesn’t want to see where she lands.
Professor Dracula: Hassim is the initial victim of the week. He died after firing a round of bullets at a white van. He is a Columbia student, which alarms Castle. A guy named Bram Stoker (hee) filed assault charges against him. Bram is a grad student. He is also the child of two English scholars with a sense of humor. He filed the complaint after Hassim accused him of being overly familiar with female students. he threatened to kill him if it happened again. Bram admits to flirting, because his name allows him to capitalize on the vampire craze.
An Ivy League Kidnapping: Esposito (Jon Huertas) suspects Hassim is a terrorist since he is Saudi and has a huge apartment full of guns and surveillance cameras. Twenty-five grand is wired to him every month from a Swiss account. Hassim was bugging the apartment of a woman named Sara El-Masri, a student in Bram’s class. There is footage of Sara being kidnapped and thrown in the van. Hassim died trying to save her. It turns out that Sara’s parents are wealthy Egyptians. Her dad hired Hasim to discreetly guard Sara because she refused a bodyguard.
Federal Agent Harris (Dylan Walsh, who seems to be doing a tour of all the ABC dramas) is brought in to investigate the kidnapping. Sara went to a speech on climate change at a hotel the night she was kidnapped. She was with Alexis, whose phone was left behind at the hotel Castle realizes Alexis was kidnapped too!
Alexis’s Video Blog Provides a Clue: Harris thinks Alexis was just in the wrong place at the wrong time. Mr. El Masri has enemies in Egypt who targeted Sara. Harris thinks the kidnappers will realize Alexis also has a rich dad and is valuable in her own right. Beckett hugs Castle in the station, not caring who sees. Gates sets aside her animosity towards Castle, telling Beckett to do whatever she has to to find Alexis.
Castle watches Alexis’s video blog, which seemed like a throwaway plot when it was introduced in a prior episode. Nice plotting, Castle writers! She talks about going to see the speech with Sara. It’s how the kidnappers knew Sara would be there.
Beckett finds the van. Castle is scared Alexis’s body will be in it. Beckett tries to keep him away for the same reason, but he insists on looking at it. He sees blood stains and freaks.Fortunately, the blood is mot a match for Sara or Alexis.
Castle Crosses the Line: Clues lead to the van’s getaway driver Douglas Stevens. Castle and Beckett find him at his sister’s house. He refuses to talk. Castle talks to him alone. saying he is Alexis’s father and will do whatever it will take to get her back. Beckett hears Douglas scream as Castle hurts him. Who knew he had a Jack Bauer streak? He gets an address – a farmhouse upstate. Beckett is surprised Castle has a violent side. He says “When it comes to the people I love, I do.” That’s something they both have in common, as a certain senator can attest.
Alexis Proves to Be Castle Junior: Alexis opens her eyes. in appears to be a cell with Sara. They are both foggy on what happened. Alexis thinks they were drugged. She points out that it’s a good sign that they are wearing clothes. Sara thinks they are being held for ransom and her dad will pay. Alexis, proving she inherited her dad’s puzzle solving abilities, notices an unlocked door to another room. It’s a bathroom filed with clothes and towels. Someone slides a tray of food to them. She realizes they are on an upper second floor. They can’t hear traffic. Either the room is soundproof or they aren’t in New York City.
The kidnapper tells them to put the food tray under the door as the FBI seemingly gets close. Alexis, trying to make contact ass for blankets. Arabic on radio saying they have visitors. The feds bust in. But the farmhouse is empty. Their coats are, though. They were moved.
Alexis picks the lock on their room with Sara’s bobby pins — a skill Castle taught her. They escape to a hallway. Sara goes one way and Alexis the other. She finds herself in a room filled with surveillance equipment. She uses a cell phone to call 911, but it doesn’t work. So she Skypes Castle (watch the clip to see the emotional moment for yourself). She can’t give him much information. Then she hears screaming. Castle tells her to run. She does, not taking the phone for some reason. She manages to get outside to a roof. There’s a view of the Eiffel tower. She is in Paris. France! Before she can process this shock, she is grabbed from behind.
Oh my God, That Preview: Next week, Castle goes Liam Neeson (TM Ryan) — only to come face-to-face with his father for the first time in his life!