'Castle': There's no statute of limitations on murder -- or kissing

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With "Knockdown," we get a real doozy of a "Castle." And not just because of the serious headway Beckett ( Stana Katic) makes in her mother's murder investigation -- there's also one serious make-out session between the detective and our titular hero.

Hallelujah! But before we get to the ramifications of this rather heated exchange of tongue and saliva, hows about we start from the top?

As with any good hyped episode, we start with an artful (if melodramatic) cold open. It's an ambiguous shot of a man going through the ritual of suicide, assembling his gun just so. But before he pulls the trigger, he places a call to Beckett. Turns out its the same detective on the scene the night of her mother's murder. And he wants to meet. In private.

Privacy has to entail Castle ( Nathan Fillion), who Beckett turns to in the first of several very misty-eyed showings of trust. He follows her to a coffee shop where, mid-confession, the suicidal detective is sniped. 

His identity and connections lead Beckett to interrogate a drug trafficker they think might have ordered the hit on her mom -- though as much as his behavior might back that theory up, he's clearly a red herring. Beckett doesn't realize this yet and sends him flying into a two-way mirror, getting herself taken off the case in the process.

Like that's going to stop her.

But his unlikely involvement is soon exposed when Beckett finds film that her mother had shot the week before her murder. It includes pictures of the same alley where she died, making it clear the location was anything but random. Apparently it's the site of some mob kill on an undercover FBI agent from the early '90s, but the rest of the episode will pass by without any additional development on this front.

For now, we get more ambiguous warnings from all types of characters loosely related to the conspiracy that led to Johanna Beckett's demise. There's a corrupt cop, a drug-dealing trust fund brat and a client who'd sought her mother's legal counsel.

All parties lead to the gunman from the beginning, who took out Detective Raglan, while he was trying to offer some very useful exposition. They're a little too good at finding him though, and Esposito ( Jon Huertas) and Ryan ( Seamus Dever) end up getting taken hostage. The mystery gunman tortures them to see how much the police know, and you just know this episode is even bigger than we expected. Torture always has long-term ramifications on procedural. It gives minor characters something to talk about.

Fortunately for them -- and us -- this torture doesn't last long, because Castle and Beckett discover where he's holding them. And the only way in? Playing drunk and full-on making out in the street to distract the guard. It's really a thing of beauty, especially considering they both took it so much farther than they needed to.

Castle is still reeling after it's over, but not so much that he doesn't have the mental wherewithal to save Beckett's life when the gunman has her in his sights. He punches him real good, several times in the face.

Gunman ends up in custody, anonymous, and certainly not revealing who he works for -- the same person we're now led to believe directly ordered the hit on Beckett's mother. At least he's not dead like that other assassin.

Beckett shares this perspective. She tells him about all of his fellow prisoners who want her dead -- and all the ones who adore her like a favorite school teacher. She tells him after spending some time with them, he might come around and spill some beanage.

It's awesome on several levels, because she's absolutely badass in her delivery and Beckett would so clearly be able to pull strings on the inside.

So there you have it. The overarching mystery that loosely weaves its way through the series is drawing closer to a conclusion. And our two will they/won't theys sort of... did. We take a lot of satisfaction in that smooch. But we get a little bit more out of Castle's heartfelt acknowledgment that he's become Beckett's partner. We're emotional like that.

Did "Knockdown" live up to your expectations? Or will you not be satisfied until the smooching isn't just to maintain cover?
Photo/Video credit: ABC