The Monday, Feb. 18 episode of "Castle" season 5, episode 15, "Target," kicked off the two-parter as the case ended up hitting close to home in what may have been Nathan Fillion's finest hour of the series thus far.
This case on "Castle" started like any other—with a death—but as they figured out more about the circumstances of the victim's death and the victim himself, they realized there was more to this case than a hit-and-run. Hasim Farouk had stood in the middle of the street, shooting at a van until it hit him, and once they found footage of that van, they realized why: he had been trying to prevent the kidnapping of Sara El-Masri, whose father, Anwar, was a very wealthy man who had hired Hasim to guard her discreetly after she refused a bodyguard. Anwar thought it was about money, not about any enemies he may have made as his wife, Lina, suggested. FBI Agent Harris was brought in to run point on the kidnapping, and while he spoke to the EL-Masris, Castle said the words that foreshadowed what was to come: "I just can't imagine what they're going through right now." He wouldn't have to imagine as they discovered that Sara had been attending a science presentation the night before, and Alexis had been with her. Her phone was found in the hotel's lost and found box, and just as Castle had been trying to convince himself to let go of being the overprotective father, his world came crashing down as he realized that she had been taken too.
They were able to identify the man in the video of the van as Roger Henson, a mid-level narcotics smuggler, but since Anwar did admit to close ties with the previous regime in Egypt, which meant he had powerful enemies, revenge, not money, could've been the motivation behind the kidnapping. And in a time like this, keeping their relationship secret wasn't a priority as Beckett hugged Castle, telling him, "I don't care," when he said Gates would see. They did find a couple of clues as Castle realized Alexis had mentioned the presentation on her blog, which was how the kidnappers knew Sara would be there, and the van was found. But they also found blood on the van's floor, blood that fortunately did not match Alexis or Sara, and the kidnappers had changed cars.
What had Alexis and Sara been drawn into? When they woke, they found themselves in a room with an attached bathroom, which had clothes and towels inside, and found that they were being given food. They determined they weren't in a basement, it was an old building, and the room was either soundproofed or they weren't in New York based on the lack of sound from outside. Alexis tried to use what Sara had learned in a lecture about kidnapping and build a relationship with the guy who returned for the food tray, but he left when someone spoke over a radio. And once he did, Sara said it had been Arabic and an order to return to their posts because they had visitors.
The detectives did identify the person whose blood they found: Douglas Stevens, the driver, who hid out at his sister's place. And while he refused to talk at first, that didn't last after Castle took a few minutes alone with him. "I will do whatever it takes to get her back," he warned Stevens before demonstrating just that. "I appealed to his humanity," Castle later told Beckett, who admitted, "I didn't think you had that side to you." "When it comes to the people I love, I do." Stevens had given up the address of a farm, and all they could do back at the police station was wait as Harris and a tactical team moved in. "She just stared at me, and when I looked down at her, this feeling hit me, like I'd been struck by lightning. It was love. That instant, inexplicable love you can only feel for your child. In that moment, I knew. I knew my life had changed forever," Castle said of the day Alexis was born as they waited for news. "And now it's about to change again." When they did receive news, it was nothing good. The farmhouse was empty aside from the girl's jackets and a dead Roger Henson, who had been tortured by someone who knew what they were doing first.
As for the girls, Alexis turned out to be a handy person to have around during a kidnapping as she was able to use Sara's bobby pins to pick the lock on the door (good thing Castle bought that door for that book!), and once they split up to find an exit, Alexis got her hands on a phone. While 911 didn't work, she lucked out since she was able to get onto Skype and contact her father. However the phone's battery was dying and her kidnappers had realized they escaped, so she had to run. And while she ran, back in Castle's apartment, they worked on tracing the connection. As Alexis got out onto a roof and saw a familiar landmark, back in New York, they realized she was in Paris, France. And just as she was yelling down to the street for help, someone grabbed her from behind.
All in all, "Target" was the perfect first part for this season's two-parter, with an impressive performance from Fillion, touching father/daughter moments (even when Alexis wasn't on screen, such as Castle telling Beckett about the day she was born), its fast pace, and the surprise location at the end.
"Castle" season 5 airs Mondays at 10 p.m. on ABC. What did you think of "Target"?