Castle: “It’s what fathers do.”
Last week, we were given an episode in which we learned something new about many of the characters we tune in to watch every week. This week, in the second of the traditional February two-parter, the theme was love. The love between a parent and child, the love between two people in a relationship and the love among colleagues were all explored. It resonated all the more because of what we had learned last week.
The fundamental relationship in this show is the one between Castle and Beckett. It is a relationship built on love and trust that has been growing in strength over time. It says a lot about the love these two have for each other that when Beckett discovers that Castle has lied to her and excluded her, she still does everything she can to help him. She is able to remove herself from the emotion of the situation and make very smart decisions about the best way to help Castle.
The emotions may be hidden and controlled, but they are there. The scene where Beckett is interrogating Pauline is something to watch. We have seen Beckett lose control before, both in jest and for real, but I can’t recall a time where she was quite this scary. There was nothing staged about it; being called a bitch was the proverbial straw and Beckett loses it. It is she who epitomizes what Henri told Castle; she is “emotionally compromised” and, therefore, “unpredictable and dangerous.”
Ryan and Esposito care about both Castle and Beckett. These four are colleagues; this is not the type of relationship in which overt declarations about how one feels are appropriate. Instead, we are shown each of them acting in ways that leave no doubt about how they feel. Esposito calls Beckett “Kate,” always a sign that he is looking out for her. He is the one who gives her “permission” to go the Castle house and he is the one who asks her what she needs from them.
Ryan does what he can as well. In the scene where he tells Beckett that Henson had a girlfriend, he literally pushes both Gates and Esposito aside so that he can give Beckett the news. In effect, she is the only one in the group that matters at that moment. Ryan is always the one who worries when Beckett gets emotional. As they go kicking in Henson’s door and when Beckett orders him to tech, Ryan’s expression is one of grave concern about his friend. He does, however, have her back and he does what she asks.
Although I am not a parent and so cannot speak with any authority, I have been told by everyone I know who is a parent that the love one feels for one’s child is unlike any other love there is. It is immediate; it is deep; it is forever. We saw three generations of this form of love and it was a powerful thing to watch.
Martha is so crazy and so fun, it is possible to forget that she is Castle’s mother and think of her as the batty roommate or a fun older sister. The fact remains, however, that she is his mother and loves him accordingly. Martha is the one who figures out where he has gone and she completely ignores Beckett until she talks to her son. Her anger at Castle is driven as much by her fear for him as it is the fact that he lied to her.
Although Castle loves his mother and is in love with Beckett, his first priority is to his daughter. He is so focused on getting her home that he lies to both of these women and, similar to last week, he becomes like one of the heroes in his book. Instead of trusting either the American or the French law enforcement communities, he uses the contacts he made while writing his books to help him. Gaston warns him that this is a dangerous road to go down and he was right; it very nearly cost Castle his life.
It doesn’t, however, because Castle’s father comes out of the woods and saves it. As the audience, we knew what this relationship was before Castle did and, as soon as I saw him, I knew that Alexis’s kidnapping had something to do with him. It didn’t matter, because watching these two men interact was one of the best things this show has ever done.
In the ongoing debate between nature and nurture, there is obviously a great deal of shared DNA between Castle and his dad. They are both sarcastic (I’m not sure there has ever been a line on this show that made me laugh harder than the briefcase line); they both use names they made up; they are both smart and do whatever it takes to protect those they love.
Almost from the beginning, Castle’s dad has been a huge mystery and Castle himself has said more than once that he didn’t really care who his dad is. Watching Castle process the information about who the man in front of him is, it is immediately clear that he was covering up his true feelings. In typical fashion, what interests Castle is the story behind his dad. He wants to know why his father made the choices he did.
The story of the library book, although a bit forced, is very sweet. The bonding moment, however, is when Castle realizes that his dad has read his books and that he helped Castle get access to the CIA. Castle’s demeanor immediately changes; he trusts his dad implicitly to do what has to be done to help him. The look on his face when his dad tells him that it is time to play spy just made me melt. Here is a man who has wanted to be James Bond, or write James Bond, since he was a child. Not only is now able to do so, he is able to do so with his dad.
The last three minutes of this episode left me in a puddle of emotion. As soon as Castle’s dad called him “son” and then ended his goodbye with “always,” the tears flowed. I watched Brolin deliver that line a few times; it was perfectly done. The tears kept falling during the reunion at the Castle loft. Beckett makes it clear that this relationship means that he never goes off again without her; he agrees with a smile that expresses his love more than words, or even that kiss, could. Beckett calls Alexis “honey” and wraps her in one of the tightest hugs we have ever seen this woman bestow. Beckett loves Castle's child, not just because of what Alexis is but because of who she is.
But, as always, it is Martha who is expressing the emotions we all feel. Hugs all around, loud expressions of her joy and she has made breakfast for them all. Considering the mess she made of the pancakes just a few mornings ago when this story started, it is a great moment.
But, the final shot is of the book. Castle knows his dad is safe. As Martha looks at him, trying to figure out the significance of it all, Castle chooses to open up to her and to tell her the truth. And, he does it by calling her “mom,” only the second time in nearly one hundred episodes that he does so. Meeting his dad has helped break down some of those walls Meredith warned us about.
In my opinion, this was the best of the two-parters. Exciting and character driven, we learned a lot about the people we care about and we finally got to meet Castle’s dad in a wonderful way. There is only one rating for a show that made me laugh out loud and cry like an idiot. Four out of four books in the mail.
-- The spoiler debate continues. I was adamant about staying off all spoiler sites this week as I did not want to know if James Brolin turned up in this episode until I either saw him or not. I clicked on Hulu this morning to watch the show, and the photo for the episode was Mr. Brolin. Oh well, at least I tried.
-- It’s obvious that Fillion was not one of the actors sent to Paris. The green screen shots were appalling and the double they used for the distant shots of him in Paris proper was not the greatest double I have ever seen.
-- Alexis in a cage is not something I need to see again in a hurry.
-- It’s nearly impossible anymore for anyone to say the “I’m your father” line without all of us flashing back to Luke and Darth Vader. Brolin did as good as job as it possible to do, but I still went there.
--There is a great callback to last year’s two-parter. At one point, Sophia alludes to the fact that she knows who Castle’s father is and that he has helped Castle in the past.
Esposito: “Kate, you should go. He needs you.”
Ryan: “What, so he’s Liam Neeson now?”
Esposito: “Liam Neeson? The dude’s barely Ashley Judd.”
Beckett: “Look, he’s acting like a father and I have to act like a cop.”
Beckett: “I’m not a cop today, honey.”
Castle’s Dad: “Given how you’re feeling so bad about your 200 buck phone, you might want to pick up that three million dollar briefcase.”
Castle: “My dad’s a spy.”
Castle’s Dad: “What do you say, kid? You been playing cop for years. You ready to play spy?”
Castle’s Dad: “I know this has been tough for you, Richard, and I just want you to know, son, I’ve always been proud of you. Always.”
ChrisB is a freelance writer who spends more time than she ought in front of a television screen or with a book in her hand.