I specifically didn't post a reaction to last week's "Castle", because I wanted to take in the whole two-part event as a whole, and after seeing "Countdown", I have to say that this year's two-parter was significantly better than last year's, though still not perfect.
Last week's episode ended on a cliffhanger, and surprisingly, it wasn't immediately resolved this week. They took some time leaving Castle and Beckett in the freezer storage, and that gave them some time to share some incredible character moments. The moment where Beckett appeared to slip away, then suddenly we jumped to Castle waking up in an ambulance was pretty awesome.
(As a complete tangent here, how freaky would it be if in three or four years or whenever this show ends, they reveal that everything that happened after this scene was all in Castle's mind and that they'd really died in that freezer? It would easily rank as one of the most controversial series endings of all-time, but it'd be fucking amazing).
To be entirely honest, the rest of the episode played out like standard "Castle" fare, with Castle and Beckett being way more awesome than everyone else at figuring out what was going on. I did think that this was one of Jon Huertas's stronger episodes, bringing in some of his own military background when the plot began to focus on a disenfranchised vet rather than a Middle Eastern terrorist. It was impressive that "Castle" went for a more political and complicated villain, rather than sticking to what would have been the easy way out.
I thought aside from the freezer scene, the best stuff was between Castle and his family, when he finally had to tell them the truth about what was going on and that they had to leave New York but couldn't tell anyone (so not to cause a panic). His admission to Beckett about how he felt doing that was another big character moment, and I think it pushes the two of them closer to admitting their feelings about each other.
I do think it was a little too convenient that Adrian Pasdar's homeland security character had a tragic past that explained why he took his job so seriously. It's a common flaw with TV characters today, but it's still annoying. Sometimes, in the real world, people are dicks about their job because its their job and its what they have to do to get it done. I know that may not always make for the most compelling storytelling, but going back to the cliché well isn't always compelling either. Still, Pasdar did a great job, which goes a long way toward proving to me that the downfall of Nathan Petrelli on "Heroes" wasn't really his fault.
Oh, and I'd be remiss if I didn't adress Castle's way of saving the day: pulling all the wires on the dirty bomb right before it was going to go off. It was stupid, reckless, shouldn't have worked at all and was entirely within character, plus helped release almost all of the tension from two very tense hours of television. It also led to a significantly better wrap-up scene than we got in last year's two-parter, which shows the writers have learned from their mistakes.
For more coverage of the 2010-11 television season, visit the AdamReisinger.com TV Reviews home page.