Where to even begin? I'm still trying to catch my breath after Castle Season 6 Episode 22 because Kate Beckett finally achieved the goal she's pursued her entire career. She arrested her mother's killer.
Let's start from the beginning…
Although I never expected Beckett to stop trying to take down Senator Bracken, I really had no clue that she was conducting her own covert investigation. To be honest, I worried.
For as much progress as Kate and Rick have made in their personal relationship, there are times when Kate falls into old patterns and hiding things is second nature to her. So after so many years of going at this alone, I can't even explain how relieved I was that she and Castle were working on it together.
It's what Castle has wanted since the start of the series.
When Jason Marks turned up dead after Beckett spent the night surveilling him, I kept hoping she would tell Gates. That seemed the only way to get ahead of this.
Once again, Beckett got sent home when Vulcan Simmons became a suspect and their history made the case personal. At least this time she didn't leave the precinct alone. Last time that happened Castle came hesitantly to her door and found her in tears. This time he got to go home with her.
But Castle was right.
When Beckett searched out the car on her own, that wasn't a calculated risk, that was reckless. Heck, it was downright stupid. In some ways I'd say it was out of character for a detective who is usually by the book but when it comes to her mother's case, Kate has blinders on.
Montgomery was correct back on Castle Season 3 Episode 24. It's as though she can't help herself. She needs someone to reign her in.
I appreciated that they didn't show who killed Vulcan Simmons. Not that I ever thought it was Beckett, but I liked the way they left us hanging, if only for a few minutes.
When Lanie called Kate about the bullet left in Vulcan's body being from her gun, you could feel Lanie's terror concerning the fate of her best friend. You could actually see her hands shake and hear the tremor in her voice. Not only did it convey the seriousness of the situation, it made my chest tight witnessing their conversation.
The return of Smith surprised me. I really thought he was dead but he was Kate's only hope at figuring out what could bring Bracken down.
Once again, I was impressed with Capt. Gates. Even with the evidence piling up against Beckett, she never believed that her detective murdered Simmons and it was an absolute relief when Esposito and Ryan finally let her in on the truth.
Speaking of Esposito and Ryan, they had Beckett's back every step of the way, even when she chose to keep them in the dark…
Castle: Guys, she wouldn't want you involved.
Esposito: We're already involved. We're family, bro.
As much as I enjoyed another visit to their swings, I much preferred it when their was a marriage proposal playing out instead of a plan to go on the run.
The moment Castle left that motel room I knew Beckett was in trouble. And, on a side note, I was kind of looking forward to seeing what she'd look like as a blonde.
Senator Bracken was equal parts arrogant and impressed with Beckett's tenacity. The complete dichotomy of how his mind works is what I find fascinating about the character. Jack Coleman's portrayal always makes me believe that despite all that Bracken has done, the man truly has no doubt that in the end it's for the greater good.
And in this Castle quote he shared how he even somehow believed that Beckett owed him for having killed her mother…
Bracken: Everything you are. Everything you've accomplished is because of me.
Beckett: Is that how you justify murder? It builds character?
I can't even comprehend the twists and turns one's conscience must take to arrive at that conclusion.
The flashback scene with Montgomery was an unexpected delight. We'd heard about the first moment they'd met but we'd never seen it play out on the screen. It was fitting that his first words to her were what held the key to finding the proof to take Bracken down.
The elephant family that has resided on Beckett's desk since the beginning of the series have always been a fan favorite. What a wonderful twist that they've actually held the answers she's sought throughout her whole career.
When Beckett arrested Bracken for the murder of Johanna Beckett, it was a heart wrenching moment. Kate's mother was killed when she was only 19. The horror of that night has haunted her, shaped her, and driven her throughout her entire adult life. It's been a long and grueling road to get to this moment.
And Richard Castle helped her bring him to justice. It wasn't so much joy but relief as Bracken was led away in cuffs and Kate and Rick's words to one another reflected everything that they've felt and fought for over six seasons.
Castle: She's proud of you. Wherever she is. She's proud.
Beckett: I never could have done this without you.
How very appropriate that Kate Beckett can put this darkness behind her as she marries Richard Castle and they begin an entirely new chapter in their lives.
But I have to ask, TV Fanatics, do you think this is the last we'll see of Senator Bracken?
Here is your first look at Castle Season 6 Episode 23, "For Better or Worse."
C. Orlando is a TV Fanatic Staff Writer. Follow her on Twitter.