Credit: Ron Tom/ABC Television Group © 2011 Disney    
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Castle Recap of Season 4, Episode 21: “Headhunters”

Tonight’s Castle begins in a shadowy back alley with a dead young man. Well, actually, a few dead young men. Next to our vic is a bag full of severed heads.

Cut to Castle’s pad, where Castle — ever the doting dad — is stockpiling Alexis’ college acceptance (or rejection) letters. Just as Martha calls him out, Castle sees the severed head case on TV — and catches a few seconds' footage of badass gang unit cop, Ethan Slaughter.

“Forget severed heads, I wanna meet that guy!” he says. We have a feeling that’s exactly what’s going to happen.

Castle drops by the precinct and Beckett lights up like a little girl at Christmas. Although he hands her their signature coffee, this visit is not about Beckett — it’s about Slaughter. Poor Becks is visibly disheartened. Not that we blame the girl!

Slaughter hits the morgue — and simultaneously hits on the mortician — but his little fiesta is interrupted by an unannounced visit from an overly-eager mystery writer: Rick Castle.

The rough n’ tough cop is so miffed that he refuses to shake Castle's hand! However, Slaughter's tune seems to change when Castle offers up his (brown)coat in exchange for a couple ride-alongs. But it appears we spoke too soon. Slaughter saunters off, Castle's jacket in tow, and slams the door behind him.

Well, that is, until Castle mentions his friendship with the mayor. Guy’s in like Flynn!

First off, the newly-formed team check in with Glitch, the victim’s dad. Slaughter’s convinced the man is going to track down his son’s killer himself, so they follow him. And although Castle’s giddy with glee at his new assignment, his mood drastically changes when Esposito reveals Slaughter’s last three partners were taken out in the line of duty. Maybe this isn’t gonna be so fun after all!

As Slaughter and Castle sit and watch Glitch’s dad, Slaughter — who is throwing back some flask liquor, may we add — tells Castle his muse is “smokin’ hot,” followed by a legit (we think) question: "You’re tappin' that, right?” We kinda like that Slaughter’s not one to mince words. At least somebody is!

And then it happens: Slaughter sends Castle into a bar alone, and he winds up fighting off a suspect by himself. He struggles for a minute, but ultimately cracks the guy’s head open with a beer bottle — as Slaughter lazily chews on the bar’s free peanuts. Yeah. This guy is one great partner. Missing Beckett yet, Castle?

Credit: Ron Tom/ABC Television Group © 2011 Disney    

Up next, Castle saunters into the 1-2 with his new confidant and their suspects, as well as a bloody nose. Beckett is alarmed — and frankly, a little pissed off — that he would put himself in the line of fire like that.

In the interrogation room, Slaughter takes out his innate anger on their suspect, who reveals (after a few blows to the head) that Glitch — a professional criminal, basically — was being cut out of business deals by the “Westies” for too many mess ups.

After negotiating with Esposito, Castle I.D.’s the three severed heads from Glitch’s bag. They all belong to members of the Trenchtown posse — a famous Jamaican gang. As Castle checks out with Slaughter, Beckett checks in with her therapist. There, she admits she might have waited too long to tell Castle her true feelings. Um, ya think?

Next, Slaughter “jokes” with Castle about hitting on Alexis, and without a thought, the crime writer throws a mean punch into his partner’s (ruggedly handsome) face.

“You’ve got quite a punch on you, for a writer,” Slaughter muses.

Slaughter follows a suspect into a storefront, while a black car filled with what look like gangsters roll by Castle and stare him down. Two gunshots later, Slaughter’s back with a name.

“Did you kill anyone?” Castle asks, to which Slaughter responds, “You don’t wanna know.” Creepily enough, it’s all a cruel joke Slaughter played on Castle to “test” him. We’re gonna go with Castle on this one: Guy. Is. Insane.

Castle’s visibly on edge, but he’s not the only one. Poor Ryan says “I feel like he’s cheating on us” when he sees Castle laughing it up with his new partner. Like Esposito, he also refuses to help Castle without a little something in return: a date with one of his wife’s Jenny’s friends. Oh, say it ain't so!

Credit: Ron Tom/ABC Television Group © 2011 Disney    

Slaughter continues to prove his craziness (and that he doesn’t seem to have anyone's interests but his own at heart), when he shoves a suspect in a garbage truck and keeps pushing the button that could pulverize him.

Somehow, even after that little stunt, Castle agrees to pursue another suspect, Valez — who is supposedly involved in a third gang. Valez is “high-level mafia,” according to Detective Ryan. And also according to Ryan? If the dynamic duo pursue Valez, they’re both toast. Eesh!

Luckily, the sidekicks-that-could show up in the nick of time to stop Castle from becoming the next vic in the morgue. Back at the precinct, Ryan urges Beckett to say something about Castle’s crazy partner, but it seems this lil’ lady cop has washed her hands of Castle — for now.

Then, Castle and Slaughter — who has apparently locked a suspect in the trunk — start doing doughnuts to get said suspect to talk. In the midst of their impromptu drag race, Slaughter asks Castle to make a statement for him to get charges of “excessive force” dropped. Castle replies, “You’re crazy” and the (legit crazy) cop speeds off down the street — forcing Castle to agree to testify or face sudden death.

But, in his favor, the guy also gets the suspect to reveal that Valez killed Glitch. We gotta say, Slaughter sure does know how to negotiate!

Finally, after a gut-wrenching interrogation of their suspect — where Slaughter forces him to make a false statement — Castle tells Slaughter he can’t take it anymore. He’s out. WTG, Castle! Morals rule!

Credit: Ron Tom/ABC Television Group © 2011 Disney    

Even better: After nixing Slaughter, Castle turns to Beckett, who we discover had his back the entire time and dug up some evidence on her own. Caskett travel to the crime scene together and Slaughter is there, too. Obvi. With Beckett’s (apparently much-needed) help, they discover the real killer was Glitch’s dad!

Back at the station, Castle thanks Beckett for her help, to which she responds, “No problem Castle. That’s what partners do” — as she walks right on by.

Back at home, everything comes full circle. Alexis is mulling over her (many) acceptance letters, and is confused about whether to go to Stanford — her dream school — although they rejected her for early acceptance.

Castle asks his daughter: “Do you want it enough to get over being hurt?” And that is the question, dear friends. Only time will tell!

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04.17.2012 / 10:27 AM EDT by Erica Strauss
Related: Castle, Recaps

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