This review contains spoilers.
I’ve always said that Castle is at its best when dealing with its larger myth arc. However fun individual killer-of-the-week episodes are—and many of them really are—it’s the storyline about the death of Joanna Beckett that gives Castle its heart.
And that heart is Kate Beckett’s.
It’s always bothered me just a little bit that that the show is called Castle, because Rick Castle is not really the protagonist. Since the beginning of the entire series, Castle’s character has not changed all that much. Sure, he was supposedly this playboy who wined and dined the most gorgeous women in Manhattan until he met Beckett, but the simple truth is that the show has never truly sold that version of Castle. Aside from a couple of references and two dates (both in the first couple of episodes), romantic Castle has always been Castle: essentially a serial monogamist with questionable judgment—until he meets the detective. And the rest of his character is now, in the sixth series, the same guy we met in the first episode—loving dad, long-suffering son, overgrown child.
Beckett, on the other hand, has changed a great deal. First series gave us a sharp, no-nonsense, closed-off LEO control freak who had no life beyond her job and no interest in anything but solving her mother’s murder. Today’s Kate, on the other hand, is warm, empathetic, funny, and willing to marry a man who likes playing laser-tag in his own front room. And that change did not happen, for the most part, as a result of chasing the killer-of-the-week. Much of what Beckett has become is a direct result of her pursuit of her mother’s killer. In following the leads, she’s had to learn patience, trust of those around her, and that sometimes you have to let go of your own stuff to keep those around you safe.
It’s been great to watch. And this week brought that storyline to a satisfying conclusion.
Granted, the story is not without issues. The introduction of the tape at this point in a six-year storyline is just a little too convenient to be believable. And Beckett being able to avoid swallowing the pill while under the scrutiny of her would-be killers also tends to strain credulity. But as always, the actors make up for the difference, giving this episode the gravitas it deserves and the emotional truth it needs to work.
A great deal of the credit for this goes to Stana Katic who, always a solid actress, pulled off the entire episode masterfully. We see this in the startlingly calculating glance under her lashes while Bracken’s thugs forcefeed her drugs and booze. In her nervous interaction as a rookie with the much-missed Capt. Montgomery (how fitting and wonderful to have him here at the beginning and the end). In the quick shifts from apology to heartbreak to bittersweet longing to life-changing realization after she and Castle are arrested. In Beckett’s shocked reaction as she approaches Bracken to arrest him that the day she has longed for is finally here. And in the look on the detective’s face at the end, in Castle’s embrace, that communicates it all: her years under the crushing burden of her mother’s murder are over, and she is finally free to start fresh with the man she loves.
And both Fillion and the writers have the good sense to keep Castle in his place in this story. He chides her gently for running risks but does not try to stop her. He is not the one to save her from the thugs. He does not hesitate to give up the quite-considerable everything-he-has to protect her. And attention-whore that he is, he stands back and lets her have her moment as he remains in the background, Fillion’s face reflecting the pride, relief, and tenderness he feels for her. This is her story. He’s just lucky enough to share in its happy ending, and knows it. The man knows when to stop being Fillion and just be an actor and it helps ensure our attention is in the right place.
That’s not to say that the episode doesn’t have flaws. Several things are never really explained, which usually wouldn’t be a problem if so much weren’t hanging on those specific things: how did Bracken’s thugs get their hands on Beckett’s gun (which was in a safe)? how did Smith get the number of Castle’s burner phone? How the heck did Joanna get tape into the elephants in such a way that Kate never suspected anything was in there all these years?
But that said, after so long in the making, those gaps really don’t distract all the much for those of us who have been caught up in this storyline. Instead, our own hearts swell as we watch Kate march Bracken down the stairs to the police car that will take him to the prison he so richly deserves, and overflow when she and Castle finally embrace. If anything, the wedding that may happen next week will likely be anti-climactic after this. In a way, I’m sort of sad that this was not the show’s finale. Because it’s hard to imagine them ever coming close to this triumph again.
Still, with Beckett finally free of her mother’s death, and Castle free from worrying his lover might get herself killed in pursuit of Joanna’s killer, who knows where these two might go next? Series seven will be a whole new ballgame. Can’t wait to see where they take it next.
Read Laura’s review of the previous episode, Law & Boarder, here.
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