ABC’s ‘Castle’ season 8, episode 1 review: Beckett goes missing; Hayley Shipton’s arrival

Hayley -Castle” airs its season 8 premiere entitled “XY” on Monday night, and it should be clear over the course of the hour that there is a great deal of change with the show. You have new showrunners in Terence Paul Winter and Alexi Hawley, a new cast member in Toks Olagundoye, and also a new occupation for Richard Castle: Private investigator. He is no longer a part of the NYPD, and with Beckett now a Captain, the series decided to not leave Castle in a place where he would not have nearly as much to do.

Are all of these changes successful? After one episode, it’s not really fair to judge. The thing is that due to some movie work, Stana Katic started production on season 8 later than much of the cast and was only available for so many scenes. Therefore, “XY” is not a good representation for what her relationship with Castle will be like in the future. Still, there was a sweet scene in the beginning regarding the biggest cupcake we’ve ever seen, and by the time we made it to the end of the episode, they at least shared another scene together.

Still, we do have a little issue with why the show continues to need these two hiding so much of their past from one another, even if you do have the go-to excuse of “they’re trying to protect one another.” The only way we buy it is if maybe Beckett has just been through so much that it is hard to tell her husband about every single person who is out to get her.

The truth is, we still have no clue what is really going on with Beckett, other than that someone clearly wants her head on a platter, and it seems to be tied back to the work she briefly did in Washington a couple of years back. We do like the fact that it between this, Bracken, and the disappearance of Rick last year, Winter and Hawley did reference many key elements of the show’s mythology in the hour.

As for the private-eye story, we do think Castle’s new office looks awesome, and while we still think that Alexis has a little bit of work to do to become a beast at undercover missions, we’re glad that she is more involved and excelling at something. Martha was missing in action in the premiere, but she will be around in due time.

Now, let’s talk Hayley. We do like her for the most part as a character; she is whip-smart, aggressive, and very different from anyone else we’ve seen on the show. It did feel at times that the writers were working a little too hard to implement her right away, but we get it when you are introducing someone new; you want to make them feel comfortable as soon as possible. Once she has some time to settle in, we think that she will be a little more of a natural fit in the ensemble. If you are using Alexis more, it is good that you are giving her someone other than Castle and Beckett to interact with.

“XY” wasn’t perfect; it was confusing at times, and the whole spider sequence for better or worse is nightmare fuel for some time. It may be unfair to judge this until seeing “XX,” but this is still our job to try and render a verdict for now. Grade: B-.

Let us know what you thought about the premiere in the comments, and head over here to preview more of what is coming up on “XX” next week! Also, you can sign up now to get some other TV news on everything we cover via our CarterMatt Newsletter. (Photo: Fox.)

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