Credit: Jordin Althaus and Vivian Zink/ABC Television Group © 2011 Disney Photo: Esposito, Castle, Ryan, and Beckett in Season 4, Episode 4: “Kick the Ballistics”

Castle creator Andrew Marlowe warned us Season 4, Episode 4: “Kick the Ballistics” was emotional. Detective Kevin Ryan came out of the shadows and into the limelight. Who knew he was actually such an extraordinary cop? (OK, so we had an inkling.)

Before we get to see our fave sidekick shine, there’s a murder to attend to! (Always, right?)

On their way to the latest crime scene, Castle and Beckett have a brief discussion about Beckett’s shooting, which Becks claims she still doesn’t remember. Even Castle has started to doubt her white lie, as evidenced by his eye-squint.

This episode’s victim is a female, who’s found dead and buried in concrete. Castle suggests a mob hit, until they realize the woman is a college student, Jane Herzfeld. “Not your usual mob hit,” Beckett muses. True that! But Jane, a tutor and all-around good girl, did have one vice: dating drug dealers like Finn McQueen. Never a good thing.

As the team continues their investigation, they discover Jane was shot with a service weapon registered to their own: Detective Kevin Ryan. The same one the 3XK killer stole from Ryan in Season 3. Poor Ryan looks terrified. But he definitely isn’t going to let the elusive killer get away with pinning the murder of an innocent college girl on him. It’s time for Ryan to bust out the big guns. Figuratively, that is.

Credit: Jordin Althaus and Vivian Zink/ABC Television Group © 2011 Disney Photo: Ryan at the Crime Scene in Season 4, Episode 4: “Kick the Ballistics”

Ryan isn’t the only one with problems. Back at home, Castle and his brood are a bit downtrodden. Not only is Rick down on himself for “play acting” as a cop, baby girl Alexis is pretty upset, too. As we all know, Alexis didn’t get into her top school, Stanford, and it seems she still hasn’t quite recovered from the rejection.

Jane’s drug dealer past comes up again when the investigation leads our team to Seth Carver, a cop in narcotics who works as an undercover and just so happens to carry a glock. This guy really gets under Ryan’s skin.

Apparently, Carver was in contact with Jane because he thought she might have inside info on the Lees, a Chinese drug dealing family Jane was connected to due to her tutoring the youngest, Ben. Ryan gets super annoyed once he realizes Carver planted evidence on her, forcing her to work as his informant. He even slams him against the wall in the interrogation room. Wow! This is a whole new side to Ryan, and we like it.

We also discover why this pisses Ryan off so much — back in his narcotic days, Ryan accidentally revealed the identity of one of his informants, which obvi put said informant in serious danger. Luckily, he got her into witness protection, but he calls it his “most stupid mistake” as a cop — besides, you know, losing his gun to 3XK. Beckett tries to calm her co-worker, but he’s in full-on guilt mode and can’t be consoled.

When Castle and Beckett meet with the Lees, the family head says he knows Jane was an informant, and suggest Carver killed her. Um, no dice there.

Credit: Jordin Althaus and Vivian Zink/ABC Television Group © 2011 Disney Photo: Beckett and Ryan Interrogate Philip Lee in Season 4, Episode 4: “Kick the Ballistics”

Back at home, Castle learns that a friend of Alexis tried to offer her some “help” — by offering her the job of class advocate — but it turns out it’s actually a pretty crappy gig and her pal totes knew this. But Alexis’ friend’s double-crossing turns on a light bulb in Castle’s brain and — by Jove, he thinks he’s got it and jets back to the precinct. Her friend set her up!

Later, team finds out Jane had plans to skip town with a mystery man, who isn’t her McQueen. However, the team has vid of McQueen and Jane fighting. He also just so happens to carry a glock — yet another one that doesn’t match Ryan’s.

Castle is still stuck on Alexis’ friendship foible, and uses it to lead him to Ben Lee’s brother  Philip, who was locked up under his Chinese name, and who Castle thinks might have got the gun from 3XK. And more deets come to light: Reports show Mr. Lee bailed McQueen out of jail and was the one who suggested Jane — McQueen’s lady — take up tutoring for the Lees to sort of ‘cover’ for McQueen working for the Lees.

Ben Lee, however, is the “other guy” Jane was going to leave town with. Student and tutor became lovers, and they wanted to run away to be together. Castle also realizes 3XK sold the gun to Phillip Lee, and Phillip is most likely the killer.

Turns out Ben Lee wanted to run away from more than just being his lover, he also wanted to get away from his Soprano-like fam and live a more peaceful existence. Eventually, Ryan convinces Lee to wear a wire on his own family to get Phil to confess to the crime. Philip, however, isn’t stupid and becomes suspicious of Ben’s questioning and pulls a gun on his brother. The team rushes in, but Ben still gets a bullet anyway. (No worries, though, he survives. Yay!)

Back at the precinct, Phillip wants to make a deal to divulge some deets about 3XK in exchange for less time served. But since Castle assumes 3XK only gave Phillip the gun because they were enemies and wouldn’t know any real info about the elusive killer. The most important thing here is avenging Jane’s death. Good thinking Castle!

“We’ll get 3XK and we’ll do it right,” Castle says before the episode ends. Castle’s really starting to act like a real cop!