'Castle' recap: Is the Caskett relationship doomed after 'The Squab and the Quail'?

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Are Castle and Beckett doomed already? Considering the tension that continued throughout the most recent "Castle" episode, "The Squab and the Quail," it's a reasonable question. If nothing else, the relationship is certain to change -- and soon.

In the meantime, there's always murder!


Why it's important for the waiter to get the order right ...

"The Squab and the Quail" begins with those two entrees, along with a couple of salmon dinners. Unfortunately for the poor rich man who takes a bite of his squab, dinner means death. The victim keels over within seconds.

Unfortunately for everyone -- but especially for the victim -- the squab was actually quail. And that quail had been intended for one Erik Vaughn (guest star Ioan Gruffudd), a billionaire inventor and philanthropist and all-around good guy that somebody wanted to kill.

The poison just found someone else.


In which we come close to Beckett committing murder.

An almost-as-tragic scene is meanwhile occurring at the loft. You see, some of the thrill has dwindled in the Castle-Beckett relationship, making it tough for Castle ( Nathan Fillion) to choose sex with Beckett ( Stana Katic) over video games. Not that his priorities are messed-up or anything.

This is, alas, only a symptom of a bigger problem -- Beckett is feeling taken for granted in general. Castle does seem a little shocked by this, but his efforts to fix the situation (foam heart in the coffee notwithstanding) don't help. Seriously, this guy is rotten at relationships.


A man who is more Castle than Castle

At the restaurant crime scene, the detectives meet Vaughn for the first time. He's dismissive of Castle (and will continue to be throughout the episode) and enamored with Beckett. The amusing -- and threatening -- part of all of this is the way in which Vaughn acts an awful lot like Castle to get Beckett's attention.

Vaughn compliments Beckett's career successes and asks her about herself. He insists that Beckett, and only Beckett, can protect him. He charms and casually mentions good deeds while totally being a player.

It's like the first four seasons of "Castle" condensed into a single episode and embellished with a British accent.


Blame it on the busboy.

Back on the more direct matters of the murder case, a busboy named Cory tells Ryan ( Seamus Dever) that he saw some stranger leave the kitchen with what might have been the poison bottle. Only it wasn't a stranger who did that -- it was Cory.

Cory doesn't live long enough to take the blame though. By the time the detectives realize that Cory is the poisoner, he's dead, shot in the head in a professional-style killing. We soon learn that Cory had been blackmailed into putting the poison in Erik Vaughn's food. The man who did the blackmailing is a professional hitman.


Babysitting (a target) is a dangerous job.

Elsewhere in the "Castle" world, Beckett is trying desperately to keep Vaughn alive. This is complicated by a) Vaughn ordering room service, b) Vaughn insisting on sharing champagne, c) Vaughn not realizing that roughly everyone who works for him probably wants him dead and d) Vaughn "hiding" in a hotel suite with giant windows.

Whatever. Vaughn's main goal seems not so much to stay alive as to woo Beckett. It almost works too: Vaughn points out that Beckett and Castle should have figured out what they were to each other by then. Since they haven't, it's time for another man to swoop in.

Don't worry though. Vaughn doesn't steal away Beckett forever. He does get in one kiss before the bullets start flying, but Beckett pulls away. She isn't ready to give up on Castle quite yet.


This is why a boss should do thorough background checks on all employees.

As the case progresses, fueled mainly by Castle's jealousy and many cups of coffee, it becomes clear that Vaughn's biggest enemies are his own employees. The poison meant for Vaughn was provided by a researcher jilted by the billionaire playboy. And the mastermind behind the whole murder plot was Vaughn's trusted butler.

These results don't quite make Castle happy -- he wants Vaughn as the murderer. But at least the man's stupid trust in his underlings drives Beckett back into Castle's arms.


What is going on with Castle and Beckett?

With Vaughn heading off on his merry way, Castle and Beckett get their happily-ever-after ending and a romantic evening at home. You'd think everything would be great. You'd be wrong.

Castle, for whatever reason, seems reluctant to say or do anything that would imply true commitment. Considering that he is completely and totally committed whenever his hand is forced (or whenever his mother or daughter talks about it), this seems odd. There is definitely something up with the guy. Is he just afraid of another ruined relationship?

Beckett's issues are clearer. Ever since Castle's ex, Meredith, brought up the fact that he doesn't truly share much of anything, there has been a bit of doubt on Beckett's side of the relationship. Does she really know him? After all, the man is always a surprise to her. But Beckett never asks directly. When she comes close, she lets Castle deflect.

That's what has been happening: deflection. Beckett is refusing to face her fears about the relationship, while Castle continues to keep himself hidden under layers of jokes and outward passion.

This could all become a big problem.


They write "Castle" better than I recap it.

"This food is sublime." -- A guy named Arthur, right before he dies

"Oh my God. Oh my God! You actually have to think about this!" -- Beckett on whether Castle would prefer sex or video games

"No. It's not my mom. It's worse!" -- Castle to his gaming buddies

"At least Gretzky knew how to score." -- Beckett

"He's who the 'me's of the world aspire to be." -- Castle on Erik Vaughn

"When someone is trying to kill you, I think you've got every right to complain." -- Beckett to Vaughn

"Is this you being jealous?" -- Beckett
"Jealous? ... Yes!" -- Castle

"The guy's so impressive ... " -- Castle
"But he's not you." -- Beckett

"Unlike you, his helicopter doesn't need a remote control." -- Esposito to Castle

"I can't believe that the department is forcing her to hang out with some womanizing rich guy against her will!" -- Castle
"Yeah. Unbelievable." -- Ryan
"Yeah, she's never done that." -- Esposito

"Straight out of a Carrie Underwood song." -- Esposito
"You know what Carrie never sang about? Using a chemically enhanced neurotoxin to kill a guy at a restaurant." -- Ryan

"Coffee?" -- Wired Castle
"No." -- Ryan and Esposito
"I should probably stop too ... One more." -- Wired Castle

"Coffee break? At a time like this? Really guys?" -- Castle

"You need to call Jenny, and you need to call whoever it is you call, because we are not going home 'til we solve this murder." -- Castle

"If someone's trying to kill you, you might as well make the most of it." -- Vaughn

"You're sounding like my dad dropping me off at summer camp." -- Beckett to Castle

"I'm not letting you turn this investigation into some sort of twisted competition." -- Beckett to Castle

"Erik Vaughn is way sexier than Clooney." -- Martha

"Are you and Castle ...?" -- Vaughn
"Yes." -- Beckett
"Is it serious?" -- Vaughn

"There's nothing complicated about meeting a woman like you and knowing what to do." -- Vaughn

"Of all the confessions in all the years, this one is going to hold a special place in my heart." -- Castle

"You know, that's an extraordinary woman you have there." -- Vaughn
"I know." -- Castle
"Do you?" -- Vaughn

"Don't worry. I have more cords. This is just symbolic." -- Castle

"Castle, where are we going?" -- Beckett
"To the bedroom." -- Castle

Photo/Video credit: ABC