One of the things I love most about Castle is that it always allows all of its characters room for growth and character development. Every season has one episode centered almost exclusively on Ryan and Esposito, giving us the chance to get a glimpse of their backstories and further explore their personalities. “Under the influence” was Esposito’s season 5 episode – now it was Ryan’s turn, with “The Wild Rover”.
“The Wild Rover” started out normally: there’s a dead body, Beckett and Castle are called to the crime scene, and so on and so forth. In this case, the victim is Jimmy Whelan, a baker whose constant trips to Staten Island, home to an Irish mob, make Beckett and co. suspect that there was more to his livelihood than met the eye – especially when a suitcase filled with money is found in his safe. It turns out that Whelan is actually an informant for FBI agent Sam Walker, with whom he was working in order to get his hands on “the Bible”, a book where records of every transaction done by the mob over the past few years are kept. However, Whelan isn’t the only informant – Siobhan O’Doul, a bar owner who just so happens to have history with Ryan, is one too.
This is where the episode begins to delve into Ryan’s 14 month-stint as Fenton O’Connell, an undercover role he assumed while working in the Narcotics department. The team finds out, as does the audience, that not only was he one of the best, he was also the one responsible for putting away half the crew of the Staten Island Irish mob. The surprises surrounding him don’t end there: O’Doul had no idea that he was a cop, and she doesn’t take the news happily. The fact that he is now married doesn’t exactly make her happy, either – or Jenny, who happened to witness the kiss Siobhan gave him upon first seeing him again. Long story short, Ryan now has to face the wrath of two angry women and the curiosity of the precinct.
But that isn’t the only thing that he now has to face. Upon finding out that Siobhan is now going back to her role as an informant, which is guaranteed to end her life, Ryan insists on becoming Fenton O’Connell once again and finding the mob’s “Bible” himself. And let me tell you, had I ever had any doubts about Seamus Dever’s acting skills, this episode would have put them to rest: I barely recognized him when he was in his mobster persona. Everything about him changed – not only his clothes and hair, though the jeans and leather jacket did plenty of favors to his looks (speaking from a strictly shallow point of view), but his mannerisms, even his very accent transformed into a thick Irish brogue. It was frankly incredible to watch. And I’m not the only one who was fooled: Bobby S, leader of the mob or mobster in charge or however the mob terminology goes, and prime suspect for Whelan’s murder, believed him when he told him he’d been waiting until the charges against him had prescribed in order to show back up at the mob scene. The one who didn’t believe him was Bobby S’ second-in-command, Liam Finch, who devoted himself to proving that O’Connell was indeed a rat.
Meanwhile, Beckett, Esposito and Castle gather evidence to use against Bobby. Only, it doesn’t exactly work out as they expected: as they learn more facts, it becomes increasingly evident that Bobby was framed for the murder of Whelan. The team’s suspicions, therefore, divert towards Finch. They attempt to warn Ryan about it, but he’s too busy playing pool with Bobby S and co. and trying to stay alive to hear the phone. Finch isn’t, and upon receiving a phone call that confirms the existence of an informant within their group, he tells Bobby. However, they only find concrete evidence against Siobhan – all they have against Ryan are suspicions; and so they try to kill two birds with one stone by telling him to kill her. He doesn’t – he reveals that he’s a cop and that he called Esposito earlier that night, and with Finch’s own phone.
Badassery, thy name is Kevin Ryan.
But he’s not the only badass in town. Esposito shows up, as does Beckett, as does Castle. Bobby, Liam and Guy Whose Name I Don’t Know are placed under arrest – an arrest that doesn’t seem likely to end, considering that Ryan did manage to get his hands on the “Bible” during the pool game. It seems that the case has been neatly wrapped up now, doesn’t it? But oh no, it hasn’t. Liam has an alibi for Whelan’s time of death. You know who doesn’t, though? His wife. That’s right, Liam’s wife was not happy with her husband’s place in the mob, and she wanted him to occupy Bobby’s.
I’m pretty sure that we can all agree on it being a fantastic case. But it goes further, because “The Wild Rover” was also a fabulous episode for character interactions. First of all, we find out that Ryan and Jenny wishes have been granted, because – yes, you guessed it – she’s pregnant. They’re delighted to find this out, at least after Ryan’s stint as an undercover cop is over. Then Lanie and Esposito – we only get a short mention about them playing doctor, but it’s enough to know that the couple is back on full swing.
And, finally, Castle and Beckett. The episode started out with Beckett asking him who Jordan is – apparently, he mentioned that name over and over in his sleep. He refuses to tell her at first, insisting that it’s nothing, but in the end he comes clean: it’s the name of a company he was supposed to make a paper about in school, a paper he paid somebody else to do for him. This paper was wildly successful, something that made him feel horrible and for which he considered himself a fraud. So he wrote and wrote in order to make up for that lie. It’s a lovely glimpse into what made Richard Rodgers become Rick Castle. He never told Beckett about it because he was afraid that it would change the way she saw him – and it did. In Beckett’s words, “it makes me like you just a little bit more.” I really love that the show is delving into Castle’s backstory more, and I’m eagerly looking forward to more of it.