Before we get on with this recap, I’d like to point out that “The squab and the quail” was supposed to be the 22nd episode of the season; however, “Still”, the original 21st and an episode that deals with a bomb threat, was postponed due to last week’s tragic events in Boston. Hence any chronological inconsistencies you might find between this and next week’s episodes.

It often happens that when I watch Castle I remember things I said in previous recaps, and then I either pat myself on the back for guessing what was to come correctly or I shake my head in bemusement for reading it all wrong. In this instance, I had to laugh a little at a line I wrote back in my Secret Santa recap: “Richard Castle has grown.” He has, for the most part, yes, but when he relapses into childishness, there’s nothing about him that actually resembles an adult. Case in point: the ‘this-is-my-toy-not-yours’ attitude he displayed for most of the episode.

When Arthur Felder, a 54 year old businessman, dies from poisoning over a restaurant table, Beckett and Castle are called to investigate. Upon interrogating his dinner party, among which is counted rich and famous inventor and innovator Eric Vaughn (Ioan Gruffudd, former Fantastic Four Reed Richards), they make a connection that’s going to set the tone for the rest of the episode. Because as we later find out, Vaughn was the intended target of the poison, which means he’s in danger until the NYPD catches the killer. Vaughn is a man who believes in having the best of everything, in this case, the best protection – in other words, Beckett. She has to stay with Vaughn until the danger is over, something that does not sit well with Castle at all.

This episode was only case oriented in the vaguest of ways. The real significance of it lay in the presence of Vaughn, as well as in his interest in Beckett – an interest that far surpassed Castle’s, I might add. Right from the beginning, when she tried to seduce him and he chose to play videogames instead, it became obvious, both to Beckett and to us, that Castle has taken her for granted. This becomes even clearer when he mentions his Last Supper List, compiled with 12 people from any time in history. Who is in this list of his, you ask? Well, we didn’t, but he obliged anyway. Suffice to say that Beckett’s name was added as an afterthought, and only after she glared at him.

By this point, I was more than ready to see Beckett either temporarily dumping Castle or spending some time with somebody who appreciated her. In this case, that somebody turned out to be Eric – “please call me Eric” – Vaughn.

Castle continued to grate on my nerves for the rest of the episode. Horrified at the thought of Beckett alone with a powerful man who’s clearly interested in her, he rushes into solving the case as quickly as possible. His obvious jealousy would have been cute had he not treated Beckett like an afterthought until Vaughn showed an interest in her. As it was, it looked more like a child suddenly wanting a discarded toy back after somebody else chose to play with it than a man worried about losing the woman he loves. I found it childish and, quite frankly, irritating. Especially when he somehow decided he was entitled to be angry at her because her job entailed spending time with a good-looking man.

Meanwhile, Beckett was in the Presidential suite of a top-notch hotel, working on the case and keeping an eye on Vaughn. Not more, I should say, than he was keeping an eye on her. After flirting with her and persuading her to drink some champagne, he moves in for a kiss – right in front of a window, which is a bad idea according to, well, every action movie ever -, only to be pushed away. Being pushed away, however, is what ensures his survival, given that the man who was paid to kill him chose this exact moment to aim a gunshot to his head. This is quite a difficult scenario for Beckett to explain: when Ryan asks her to reconstruct the scene, she has to tell them why the gunshot missed its mark. Castle is very pissed off to hear that Vaughn kissed Beckett, but she promptly lets him know that she pushed him back.

In the meantime, the list of suspects grows and shortens, until we come to one suspect in particular that knocks Beckett off her feet and makes Castle extremely happy: Vaughn himself. Castle’s (far too smug and borderline obnoxious) theory is that he was robbing people of their money by making them invest in fraudulent enterprises. He claims that he’s been playing them (“well, mostly you”, he says to Beckett) all along. Beckett interrogates Eric, who insists that he doesn’t know anything. He doesn’t personally handle all of his businesses. But his lawyer, a man who turns out to have been embezzling from Vaughn’s company, does.

Case closed, the lawyer gets put behind bars, moving on.

This was a very important episode in terms of Castle and Beckett’s characterizations. Not only did it serve to shed light on the fact that the honeymoon period of their relationship is most definitely over, it also brought into question the possibility of marriage: when Alexis tried to reassure her father of Beckett’s total commitment to their relationship, Martha pointed out that she couldn’t possibly be totally committed until she had a ring on her finger. It’s a good point, to an extent, but if this episode proved anything to me, it is that Castle and Beckett are not ready to get married, not by a long shot. In my opinion, there is much communication to be exchanged before either of them is ready for that step.

The episode ends with Castle setting up a romantic evening for Beckett after admitting that he has indeed taken her for granted. However touched she is by this, her doubts regarding the future of their relationship are only heightened when his reply to her question of “where are we going?” is “to the bedroom.” All in all, this was not the best episode for either Richard Castle or Castle and Beckett’s relationship, but I’m interested in seeing what happens in the two remaining episodes of the season. Will Castle open up to Beckett or will she have to take a step back and reevaluate where they’re going?

I suppose the season finale will tell.