Like last week, this review is mostly going to focus on characters and relationships because to be honest I wasn’t particularly interested in the whole double-agent, CIA, massive conspiracy, WWIII plot line. Of course, that’s kind of the norm for me when I watch Castle; I’m much more invested in Rick and Kate’s romance than in any of the cases that they solve. There were definitely some moments I liked in this week’s conclusion to the two-parter, but on the whole I don’t think either “Pandora” or “Linchpin” will break any records for favourite Castle episode.
My main criticism (I’ll get it out of the way now, and then move on to the fun stuff) is that the episode itself was, well, a little bit boring. As far as Castle’s two-part cliff-hangers go, I didn’t like this year’s installment nearly as much as the ones that preceded it. The stakes just didn’t seem as high (or I wasn’t made to feel they were as high), and I know that’s really weird to say given that World War Three was the potential outcome of this episode. I guess what I mean is that a stronger impression is made when the characters’ lives are more directly involved in the case…like the crazy guy murdering people in the name of Nikki Heat, stalking Beckett, and blowing up her apartment in season 2. Even last year’s two-parter felt more personal (though on a much larger scale), perhaps because Castle and Beckett were locked together in a freezer and then faced with a dirty bomb about to blow up in their faces. But mainly I think those episodes worked really well because it was all up to Castle and Beckett to solve the case and save everyone. Here, there were too many double-agents and shifting allegiances to keep track of; Castle and Beckett could barely do anything but observe and get carried along by the CIA. If they have absolutely no clue what’s going on (which they didn’t until the very end of “Linchpin”), then neither do we, and I think that’s what diluted the episode’s overall impact.