The opening scene gave us some of the best Caskett interplay we’ve seen in the past episodes. From the coffee to the bear claw to the Nikki Heat cover art, Caskett is starting to hit its stride regarding snappy back-and-forth that makes us laugh out loud.

And a little laughter is a good thing, especially when the case is a kidnapping, not a murder. Castle’s obvious sympathy for the parents is evident throughout and one almost wonders how long it’ll be before his daughter, Alexis, is put in harm’s way due to some disgruntled fan or deranged criminal. I know—we can only hope, right?

But it’s Beckett’s determination to capture the kidnapper and safely return the two-year-old girl to her parents that illustrates just how deeply some cases can affect the investigators who work them.

The case itself was pretty interesting as was the final resolution. I have to admit, I liked the change-up at this point in their run; investigating something besides a murder, looking for someone besides a killer. While only nine episodes in, catching murderers can get kind of old. It’ll be interesting to see if “Castle” expands their case topics in the future.

I still don’t quite buy that Beckett and Castle are romantically linked. However, reintroducing an old flame gives us more background on Beckett and while Castle may not have found out she’s actually a pretty huge fan of his work or that his novels helped her get through her mother’s death, we as the audience know. And that gives Kate Beckett a little more heart. And makes her a heck of a lot more interesting.

Also, a standout in this episode was Susan Sullivan as Castle’s flighty, yet wise mother. Her foray into life coaching, while no doubt short-lived, did give us some wonderful bon mots, including: “Say nay to your inner naysayer;” and “Mistakes are the building blocks to wisdom.” These "Martha-isms" aren’t only true, but Sullivan delivers them with the aplomb of a former actress looking for another stage to grace. (We’re not related, by the way. At least, I don’t think.)

“Castle” is still a fun ride and I’m a little sad that next week’s ep will be the season finale. Hopefully not the series finale, but until the upfronts are announced, we just won’t know what’s in store for Richard Castle, Kate Beckett or Nikki Heat. I, for one, am hoping it’s more banter, murder and poker games. They make my Monday nights far more enjoyable.

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